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Nelson is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Pendle in Lancashire. It was developed as a mill town during the industrial revolution, but today has lost much of its industry and has seen some decline in recent years.

Nelson is undoubtedly a modern town. Fifty years ago it was entirely unknown, and no mention of it appears in any books dealing with the ancient history of the County.— Preston Guardian, 12 Feb 1881

It has some of the lowest house prices in the country. It does have some good walks and lovely parks, good access to recreational activities and good transport links.

Nelson is minutes by car to some breathtaking countryside such as Barley, Roughlee and Newchurch which are steeped in history, provide excellent walks and some fine country pubs.  A beautiful view of Pendle Hill can be seen from many areas of Nelson.


Nelson's a typical gritty, Lancastrian industrial town built on the cotton weaving industry and in terminal decline for more than thirty years.

In the 1820s, between the towns of Burnley and Colne there was a coaching inn called the "Lord Nelson". Just off the road was a tiny village called Marsden. As the Lancashire cotton industry grew, a town started to grow around the inn and the nearby station on the new East Lancashire Railway, and it took its name from the inn. Nelson grew at a very fast rate, and soon swallowed up both the villages of Marsden and Lomershaye. Consequently, Nelson is probably the only town of any size in the entire British Isles that's named after a pub!

Nelson's peak population of 39,841 in 1921 has now dwindled to less than 29,000 and it has lost most of its industry. The town had a heavily redeveloped and fully pedestrianised centre, but the main road through the town was converted back to a road in June 2011 to try and boost trade.

There's ample parking in the centre, including a multi storey car park with a covered walkway connecting it to the shopping precinct. There's a railway station with hourly trains to Burnley, Blackburn, Preston and Blackpool in one direction, and Colne in the other. The bus station has recently been renovated.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Radical left wing politics in the early 20th century led to Nelson being labelled "Little Moscow" by both the local and national press and fully 13.8% of the population described themselves as Pakistani at the last census, so it's a great place for a political debate over a curry and, possibly as a result of so much social deprivation, it does have some of the lowest house prices in England.

According to Wikipedia, the " is strikingly segregated: the Marsden ward, which in 2006 elected the borough's first British National Party councillor, is 96.58% White, while the Whitefield ward is 68.72% Asian or Asian British."


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 6 7 9 11 14 17 19 19 17 14 9 7
Nightly lows (°C) -1 0 2 3 7 10 11 11 9 7 3 1
Precipitation (mm) 69 50 61 51 61 67 65 79 74 77 78 78

BBC 5 day weather forecast for Nelson, Lancashire

The damp East Lancashire climate was ideal for production of cotton goods but in Nelson, unlike the larger surrounding towns, the emphasis was on weaving rather than spinning. Nelson no longer has its own meteorological station.

As you can see from the blue sky in the thumbnail images below, it doesn't rain all the time in Nelson, Lancashire !

Get in[edit]

Disused cinema on Leeds Road, Nelson

Good access to the M65 motorway. It's around 45 minute by car from Manchester to the south, and less than an hour from Leeds to the east.

By boat[edit]

From Leeds to the North West or Liverpool to the south east by narrowboat on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Get around[edit]

Map of Nelson (England)

By bike[edit]

Be careful. Cobbles and potholes (the size of tank traps) are challenging.

By foot[edit]

By bus[edit]

Report problems such as hazardous smashed glass at bus shelters.


  • 1 British in India Museum, Hendon Mill, Hallam Rd, BB9 8AD (Burnley & Pendle bus 93 from Colne {not Sundays}), +44 1282 613129, fax: +44 1282 870215, e-mail: . M-F 10:00-16:00. On show are swords, kukris, commemorative boxes and plates, models carved in ivory, photographs, paintings, Indian army cap badges and buttons. The postage stamp collection may be of particular interest to philatelists. There's a tiger skin which was shot in the Saugor area in 1915 together with clothes worn by E.M. Forster when he was secretary to H.H. The Maharajah of Dewas State, Senior. The uniform of Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck is prominently displayed and, quite poignantly considering that the centre of the cotton textile industry has now shifted to India and Pakistan, the last Union Flag to be lowered at the Residency, Lucknow in 1947 is exhibited. Adult: £3.50, child: 50p.
Queen Street Mill is just a few hundred yards south of Nelson's municipal boundary
  • 2 Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, Harle Syke, Burnley, BB10 2HX, +44 1282 412555, fax: +44 1282 430220. May-Sep Tu-F 09:00-17:00. Unfortunately the nineteenth-century steam engine, which had powered the looms in Queen Street's weaving shed, has developed a fault and is currently out of operation. There are still weaving demonstrations of their looms in the warehouse area. Like most mills in East Lancashire, Queen Street Mill specialised in producing plain cotton calico known as 'grey cloth'. The architecture of the mill was designed to allow this process to be carried out as efficiently as possible. Ample free parking; café serving snacks and light refreshments; toilets include disabled and baby change facilities with full access for disabled users (visitors with guide dogs welcome) £3, Burnley residents and accompanied children get free entry.. Queen Street Mill on Wikipedia Queen Street Mill (Q12066704) on Wikidata

Marsden Park is the largest park in Pendle, with many historical and architectural features which include a pseudo-roman spa bath, an ornamental pond and marsh area, a circular garden, sensory garden and a Lady's Garden. There are also woodland walks to enjoy. The park has five tennis courts and two bowling greens. Walton Lane, Nelson, BB9 8BW

Victoria Park was first awarded a prestigious Green Flag in 2009, and has maintained its flag ever since. It is designated a district park and covers over eight hectares of land. Specific features of interest in the park are a large lake, bandstand, bowling green, health walk routes, MUGA and a children's play area which are all spread evenly throughout the park. Carr Road (B 6249), Nelson, off Barrowford Road (A 6068) BB9 6DG.


Former Public Baths in Bradley Road that were closed more than thirty years ago when the Pendle Wavelengths pool was opened nearby. It's one of Nelson's most distinctive buildings but is now unused.

Pendle Wavelengths in the town centre at Leeds Road, BB9 9TD has a swimming pool with a "Black Hole" feature, a gym, and Inside Spa which has a Jacuzzi, sauna, solarium, foot spas, steam room and relaxation room and offers a full range of body treatments. ☎ +44 1282 661717

Marsden Park Golf course is an 18 hole golf course which provides stunning views of Pendle Hill and the surrounding countryside. For listings, bookings and enquiries please visit Pendle Leisure Trust website.

The ACE centre is one of the North West's newest destinations for arts, culture and enterprise. Operated and managed by Pendle Leisure Trust, it aims to provide the very best facilities and leisure opportunities for the local community, and the best in business class services for any functions, corporate events or meetings. The Centre hosts films, plays, live music, exhibitions, dance events, comedy nights and more. It has a bistro which serves food and has a licensed bar.


Nelson has a "re-invigorated" (marketing jargon for barely resuscitated and still on life-support after the government's austerity cuts) indoor shopping centre with both indoor and outdoor markets open Mo-Sa 09:00-17:15. Look out for special events throughout the year, including continental markets. ☎ +44 1282 661240.

A Tesco Metro closed in 2010, as did Ethel Austin, Bonmarche, B & M, Iceland, Poundstretcher, Woolworth's and Argos in July 2011.

Morrisons is the main supermarket in the town.

Nelson's Tesco superstore, which only opened in February 2008, closed at the end of August 2010 when Pendle MP, Andrew Stephenson, said: “It’s terrible news for the workers, and for the regeneration of Nelson town centre. I have never heard of a Tesco closing like this before. You usually expect them to open stores." Apart from a Tesco Express in Colne, the nearest Tesco store is now in Burnley.


Many small businesses have made a special effort to smarten up their exteriors but the constant through traffic coats awnings in traffic filth
  • 1 Spice of India, 98-100 Manchester Rd BB9 7HD, +44 1282 613353, e-mail: . M-Th 17:00-23:59, F/Sa 16.30-01:00, Su 14:00-23:59. Bright exterior that appears to be permanently covered in a layer of dust and traffic filth. You might want to avoid the Sunday buffet: diners have described the food as luke warm with rock hard bhajis like frisbees and very dreary music not helping the atmosphere. Speciality is Lamb Sag and all main dishes are served with polau (sic) rice or boiled rice or egg fried rice and the staff are really lovely and make an effort with everyone. You can book tables on-line. Does deliveries and takeaways too. £17-25 (takeaway delivery is free for orders over £10 to Nelson only with a £1.50 charge for orders under £10).

Slater's Ice Cream is a family owned business selling ice creams made on the premises in a wide selection of traditional flavours. they have a 9 seater ice cream parlour with views over to Pendle Hill.


Station Hotel, Hibson Rd is no longer a hotel - just Nelson's largest pub
  • 1 Station Hotel ('station' or 'spoons' because it used to be one of the "Wetherspoons" chain years ago), Hibson Rd BB9 9SB (Hibson Road junction with Broadway). Grade II listed building dated 1893, with minor late 20th century alterations and with carved lettering: "STATION HOTEL" in the ashlar dressing. Much original interior detailing survives, including wall panelling, door joinery and finely-detailed surrounds, ornamental plasterwork, hearths and hearth surrounds, together with screens to all the principal bar areas. This consciously-detailed railway hotel was built at the height of Nelson's rapid industrial development and deliberately designed to impress those arriving in Nelson by rail. Probably the biggest public house in the neighbourhood and now a Freehouse.

The Thatch and Thistle is on the outskirts of town. It is currently a Hungry Horse pub and serves decent food, and is suitable for families. Phone: 01282 615215

The Shooters Arms is a traditional pub at the very top of Nelson with fantastic panoramic views of Pendle Hill. Phone: 01282 614153

As recently as 12 May 2013, campaigners have called for action to be taken over dilapidated former Nelson pubs such as The Hour Glass, in Walton Lane. This has been empty for around three years and is boarded up but it presents a bad impression to people travelling between Nelson and Colne.


The Lord Nelson pub, 2 Manchester Road BB9 7EG after which Nelson was named; and no, you can't sleep here either!

Few tourists come to Nelson and there are no hotels actually in Nelson.


The closest hotel is in the next-door and larger town of Burnley:

  • 1 The Oaks Hotel, Leisure Club and Spa, Colne Road, Reedley, Nr Burnley BB10 2LF, +44 1282 414141, fax: +44 1282 433401, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 50 bedrooms with free Wi-Fi, restaurant located within the ‘old house’ offering locally sourced produce, lounge bar, conference suites (largest accommodates up to 200 delegates), extensive grounds and outdoor terraces. Disabled access level 2, accepts children of all ages, gym, health/fitness/ beauty facilities, indoor pool, sauna, solarium. Pets and LGBT accepted. Special provisions for cyclists and "Lone Female Travellers" (sic). £70.00 breakfast included.

Bed and Breakfast[edit]

A682 in the village of Barrowford, just north of Nelson town

There is one B&B in Nelson and one in a village about 2 km to the north.

  • 2 Lovett House Guest House, 6 Howard Street, Off Carr Road, Nelson BB9 7SZ (About 700 m from Nelson Station), +44 1282 697352, e-mail: . Victorian terraced house with 3 guest bedrooms of which 2 are en suite. Offers courtesy pick up from local train and bus stations; excursion planning advice; full Lancashire cooked breakfast From £25 per person breakfast included.
  • 3 Holmefield Gardens B&B, 57 Holmefield Gardens, Barrowford BB9 8NW (c. 2 km North, just off the A682), +44 1282 606984, e-mail: . Modern terraced town house with 2 guest bedrooms of which one is en suite. Wi-Fi access; special provisions for cyclists; cooked breakfast. From £30 per person breakfast included.

Stay safe[edit]

Backstreet off Edward Street

There are some rough areas but people are generally friendly and welcoming.

Areas to be careful with include the streets around the Golden Ball Inn and backstreets near Back Commercial Street and Edward Street, which have had problems with anti-social behaviour in the past.

It is generally safe at night in the town centre but stay in the better lit parts. The few bars and clubs in the "centre" are on main streets or near to other pubs so if it feels quiet you've gone the wrong way. Most people are very friendly and approachable but a few are intent on trouble. A likely cause of being attacked would be giving too much attention to a woman that is already spoken for. Heavy drinking and drug use is fairly common in Nelson so reasoning with the male that you were just "having a chat with her" (regardless of your intentions) may not work. The police are necessarily tough and no-nonsense here.


Many buildings used for worship have been demolished or their usage changed


View looking south of the remains of the former Roman Catholic Presbytery in Nelson

Many buildings used for worship have been demolished or their usage changed but there are still active Christian, Hindu and Muslim congregations.


Local radio: 2BR, BBC Radio Lancashire and Pendle Community Radio (local Asian community station).

Local newspapers: the Nelson Leader, published on Fridays, and the daily Lancashire Telegraph, which publishes a local edition for Burnley and Pendle.


There are no Internet cafés but all 5 national mobile phone networks provide a strong and reliable local signal. It would be a bad idea to flash your latest £500 smartphone on the streets here.


Somewhat paradoxically, although a quarter of East Lancashire's post offices have closed in recent years, the only Crown Post Office closure in Nelson was the one at 75 Barker House Road.


Try not to get injured or seriously sick at the weekend, since there's a local "death spike" then according to a recently published (July 2013) National Health Service (NHS) report that made sweeping criticisms of the local Burnley General NHS hospitals.

Go next[edit]

Nelson, Lancashire's not exactly a tourist hotspot, but it does have a lot of attractions on its doorstep including Towneley Hall and Park at Burnley, Gawthorpe Hall at Padiham and Wycollar at Colne. The Pennine Way also runs close to the town and the historic town of Clitheroe is nearby.  

This city travel guide to Nelson is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.