For other uses, see Clitheroe (disambiguation).

Clitheroe Town Centre
 Clitheroe shown within Lancashire
Population 15,278 (2015)
OS grid referenceSD742417
Civil parishClitheroe
DistrictRibble Valley
Shire countyLancashire
RegionNorth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode district BB7
Dialling code 01200
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK ParliamentRibble Valley
List of places

Coordinates: 53°52′16″N 2°23′30″W / 53.8711°N 2.3916°W / 53.8711; -2.3916

Clitheroe /ˈklɪðər/ is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Ribble Valley, approximately 34 miles (55 km) northwest of Manchester, in Lancashire, England. It is near the Forest of Bowland, and is often used as a base for tourists visiting the area. It has a population of 14,765.[1][2]

The town's most notable building is Clitheroe Castle, said to be one of the smallest Norman keeps in Britain. Several manufacturing companies have sites here, including Dugdale Nutrition, Hanson Cement, Johnson Matthey and Tarmac.


The name Clitheroe is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon for "Rocky Hill",[3] and was also spelled Clyderhow and Cletherwoode.[4] The town was the administrative centre for the lands of the Honor of Clitheroe. These lands were held by Roger de Poitou, who passed them to the De Lacy family, from whom they passed in 1311 to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and subsequently, to the Duchy of Lancaster.[4]

At one point, the town of Clitheroe was given to Richard, 1st Duke of Gloucester. Up until 1835, the Lord of the Honor was also by right Lord of Bowland, the so-called Lord of the Fells.[5] The town's earliest existing charter is from 1283, granted by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, confirming rights granted by one of his forebears between 1147 and 1177.[3]

According to local legend, stepping stones across the River Ribble near the town are the abode of an evil spirit, who drowns one traveller every seven years.[6]

Jet engine development

During World War II, the jet engine was developed by the Rover Company.[7] Rover and Rolls-Royce met engineers from the different companies at Clitheroe's Swan & Royal Hotel. The residential area 'Whittle Close' in the town is named after Frank Whittle, being built over the site of the former jet engine test beds.


Mayor James Thomson (from Clitheroe Castle Museum)

The town elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons. The Great Reform Act reduced this to one. The parliamentary borough was abolished under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. It was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and remained a municipal borough until the Local Government Act 1972 came into force in 1974 when it became a successor parish within the Ribble Valley district.

Since 1991 the town of Clitheroe has elected at least 8 out of the 10 Liberal Democrat borough councillors on Ribble Valley Borough Council, while Clitheroe Town Council has been Liberal Democrat controlled for that period too. Likewise since 1993 the town has elected a Liberal Democrat County Councillor to Lancashire County Council.

Clitheroe returned one of the first six ever Socialist MPs at the 1906 general election, due perhaps to the large number of mill workers living locally at that time. Clitheroe has been represented by a Conservative Member of Parliament for many years, with the exception of Michael Carr, elected in an by election in 1991 for the Liberal Democrats. The current MP is Nigel Evans, who was first elected in 1992. Prior to both men, was the high-profile David Waddington.


Clitheroe's main shopping street
United Reformed Church in the Town Centre


ICI founded a chemical plant in 1941, which was sold for a reported £260 million in September 2002, to Johnson Matthey.[8] Conservatory manufacturer Ultraframe was started in Clitheroe, by John Lancaster in 1983. In March 1997, it floated on the stock exchange, being valued at £345 million in 2003. In June 2006, however, a downturn led to a takeover by Brian Kennedy's Latium Holdings.[9][10] Another local firm, the family-owned animal feed producer Dugdale Nutrition can trace its history to John Dugdale who was trading at Waddington Post Office in 1850.[11]

Hanson Cement has been criticised for using industrial waste in its kilns, which some local inhabitants claim produces poisonous dioxins. Hanson Cement claims that its filters remove these and that government inspectors have approved the plant. However, locals continue to campaign for the use of industrial waste as fuel to cease.

There are a number of small industrial sites in and around Clitheroe, the most prominent of which is the newly expanded Link 59 Business Park to the north of the town.


Clitheroe has many small independent shops, as well as some smaller branches of chain stores, such as Timpsons, Sayers, Boots, Ideal Pet Stores, WH Smith, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero, and Homebase (which includes an Argos). There are numerous banks and building societies, including Lloyds TSB, Santander, Barclays, HSBC, NatWest, and Yorkshire Bank. Clitheroe has three jewellers, with Nettletons Jewellers being on the high street. In November 2000, Peugeot (Perrys) opened a dealership in the town, but it has since closed. Majestic Wine now occupies the site.[12]

In May 2007, planning permission was granted for a Homebase, although the store didn't open until April 2009.[13] In April 2015, work officially started on a new development, consisting of Aldi and Pets at Home.[14][15] In October 2015, Aldi officially opened, with Pets at Home and Vets4pets following shortly afterwards.[16]

Clitheroe has five supermarkets: Booths, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Lidl, and Aldi. There is a shopping arcade known as the Swan Courtyard, and two petrol stations, run by BP and Texaco (which includes a Subway). In May 2007, when Kwik Save entered administration, its store on Station Road closed. In September 2008, Booths bought the site, and expanded their store, where it currently houses charity shop YMCA.[17]


There are three Anglican churches: the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene is a traditional Anglican church on Church Brow on a limestone knoll; St James' Church has recently been refurbished; St Paul's is in the area of town known as Low Moor. The town also has a Roman Catholic community. There is St Michael and St John Church in the town. The majority of Roman Catholic children attend St Augustine's RC High School, Billington.

The Catholic saint, Margaret Clitherow, was not from Clitheroe but lived and was martyred in York. Trinity Methodist Church, part of the wider Methodist Circuit in Clitheroe and surrounding villages, is located on the edge of Castle Park in Clitheroe. There is also a URC church in the town, as well as the Clitheroe Community Church and Salvation Army citadel. In nearby Sawley there is a Quaker Meeting House.

There is a Muslim community in Clitheroe. After years of campaigning for a mosque in the town, permission was granted in December 2006, for the conversion of a former church at Lowergate into a multi faith centre, which has a Muslim prayer room. It is open for all faiths, to use the rest of the building.[18]


The Castle

Clitheroe Castle

Clitheroe Castle is argued to be the smallest Norman keep in the whole of England. It stands atop a 35-metre outcrop of limestone and is one of the oldest buildings in Lancashire. It is also the only remaining castle in the county which had a royalist garrison during the English Civil War.

The castle's most prominent feature is the hole in its side which was made in 1649 as was ordered by the government. It was to be put in "such condition that in might neither be a charge to the Commonwealth to keep it, nor a danger to have it kept against them".

Dixon Robinson was in residence as Steward of The Honor of Clitheroe from 1836 until his death in 1878 and resided at the castle for the same period.[19] His son Aurthur Ingram Robinson lived at the Castle after 1878, and inherited the Steward title too (see Honour of Clitheroe).


View towards Railway Station from Clitheroe Castle

Clitheroe is well connected in terms of public transport links via Clitheroe Interchange.

Train services

There are hourly trains to Blackburn and Manchester Victoria from the railway station that are operated by Northern.[20] Usually, services are operated by Class 150 trains, but sometimes Class 156 and Class 153 operate the service. The Ribble Valley Rail group (community rail group) is campaigning for services from Clitheroe to be extended to Hellifield.

Bus services

There are frequent bus services from Clitheroe Interchange to the surrounding Lancashire and Yorkshire settlements. Transdev in Burnley & Pendle is the most prominent operator, mainly operating interurban services to other towns in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. Other operators include Pilkingtons Buses and Preston Bus.


Clitheroe F.C. Football Ground
Clitheroe Skate Park

Clitheroe F.C. play in the Northern Premier League Division One North. Originally established in 1877 as Clitheroe Central, they play their home games at the Shawbridge Stadium.[21] There is also a youth football club, Clitheroe Wolves, founded in 1992.[22]

Cricket has been played in Clitheroe since the 1800s, with Clitheroe Cricket Club being formed in 1862 as an amalgamation of two sides, Clitheroe Alhambra and the local Rifles Corps. Based at Chatburn Road and members of the Ribblesdale League since its inception, the club won the league title and both the Ramsbottom and Twenty-20 cups in the 2006 season.[23]

Golf The Clitheroe Golf Club was founded in 1891, and originally the course was at Horrockford on land now quarried away. The current course was designed by James Braid, and play began in the early 1930s. It is located south of the town in the neighbouring parish of Pendleton.[24] Clitheroe Rugby Union Football Club, formed in 1977, play at the Littlemoor Ground on Littlemoor Road in the town and run two adult rugby teams.[25]

In August 2005, a cycle race, the Clitheroe Grand Prix, took place in the town, with Russell Downing finishing ahead of Chris Newton.[26] In August 2006, Ben Greenwood, won with Ian Wilkinson second,[27] but in April 2007, the council decided not to support another event, citing poor attendance.[28] The town was also the start point of the second stage of the 2015 Tour of Britain.[29]

Public sports facilities are available at Edisford, with the Ribblesdale Pool and Clitheroe Tennis Centre located there, along with a number of football pitches and netball courts.[30] The site is shared with the Roefield Leisure Centre, developed and operated by a registered charity who's supporters began fund-raising in 1985.[31]

In April 2006, Clitheroe Skatepark officially opened in the Castle grounds, built and funded by the Lancaster Foundation charitable trust.[32]

In June 2016, Clitheroe raised mixed martial artist Michael Bisping won the UFC Middleweight world championship by defeating Luke Rockhold by way of knockout in the first round of the fight. [33]



The first Ribble Valley Jazz Festival for over 40 years – held from 30 April–3 May 2010 – was organised by the Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, based in Clitheroe. Clitheroe has hosted a spring festival since 1997.

The annual Clitheroe Food Festival takes place in early August. Eighty or more Lancashire food and drink producers are selected to participate by the festival organisers. Lancashire's top professional chefs, the town's retailers, groups and volunteer organisations also take part.[34]

Clitheroe Ethnic groups 2011 Percentage
White British 93.8%
Asian 2.6%
Black 0.2%

Clitheroe had a population of 14,765 and is made up of 5 wards (Salthill, Littlemoor, Edisford and Low Moor, St Mary's and Primrose). It has small Eastern European and Asian Populations which are both similar sizes.[35]


Clitheroe Royal Grammar School

The three main secondary schools in the town are Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Ribblesdale High School and Moorland School. There are several primary schools in the town. These are St James's Church of England Primary School, St. Michael and John's Roman Catholic Primary School, Pendle Primary School, Edisford Primary School and Brookside Primary School.


Clitheroe has a health centre, accommodating the Pendleside Medical Practice and the Castle Medical Group. There is a community hospital. The area is served by the East Lancashire NHS Primary Care Trust. Clitheroe also has its own Ambulance, Fire & Police Stations.

Twin town

Clitheroe is twinned with a small town in France.

Notable Clitheronians

See also


  1. "Populations".
  2. "Clitheroe (Lancashire, North West England, United Kingdom) - Population Statistics and Location in Maps and Charts".
  3. 1 2 "Town Council History". Clitheroe Town Council. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  4. 1 2 "Clitheroe". Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14 November 2009.Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 531 of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. "The Lordship of Bowland".
  6. Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 362. ISBN 9780340165973.
  7. David S Brooks (1997). Vikings at Waterloo: Wartime Work on the Whittle Jet Engine by the Rover Company. Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. ISBN 1-872922-08-2]
  8. "Buyer is found for ICI works". Burnley Express. Johnston Publishing. 26 September 2002. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  9. Ben Hewes (3 June 2006). "Ultraframe accept £58m takeover". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  10. Stephen Seawright (3 June 2006). "Kennedy snaps up troubled Ultraframe". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  11. "Red letter lady in Dugdales' long history". The Clitheroe Advertiser & Times. Johnston Publishing. 19 June 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  12. "New jobs as Perry's open garage". 3 November 2000. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  13. "DIY store plan approved". 21 May 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  14. "Jobs in store as £5m development begins in Clitheroe". 9 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  15. "Clitheroe Homebase opens on time despite terror swoop". 9 April 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  16. "Hundreds descend on opening of Clitheroe's new Aldi store". 29 October 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  17. "Ciltheroe supermarket set to expand". 12 September 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  19. 1 2 "Death of Dixon Robinson". The Blackburn Standard (2233): 8. 27 July 1878.
  20. Welch, M.S. (2004) Lancashire Steam Finale, Runpast Publishing, Cheltenham, ISBN 1-870754-61-1
  21. Jon Robinson (3 April 2014). "Clitheroe Football Club faces £40k refurb plan to stay in league". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  22. Steve Tinniswood (16 October 2007). "Anne's holding council". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  23. "A brief history of Clitheroe Cricket Club". Burnley Express. Johnston Publishing. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  24. Historic England. "Clitheroe Golf Course (841735)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  25. "Rugby club's major anniversary". Burnley Express. Johnston Publishing. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  26. "Clitheroe Town Centre Grand Prix". British Cycling. 3 August 2005. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  27. "Clitheroe Grand Prix". British Cycling. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  28. "Council cancels cycling grand prix". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. 6 April 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  29. Jon Robinson (8 September 2015). "TOUR OF BRITAIN: Thousands turn out as sunshine stage wins over East Lancashire". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  30. "Astroturf Pitches, Grass Pitches and Tennis Courts". Ribble Valley Borough Council. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  31. "Leisure centre set to expand". Clitheroe Advertiser and Times. Johnston Publishing. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  32. Adrian Worsley (27 April 2006). "Skate park gets rolling". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  33. BBC (5 June 2016). "UFC: Britain's Michael Bisping wins middleweight championship". BBC.
  34. "Clitheroe Food Festival - Promoting Lancashire's finest food producers - Lancashire's premier food festival dedicated to all that is great about Lancashire food and drink. Join us on Saturday 8th August 2015 and bring your appetite.".
  35. "Ribble Valley - UK Census Data 2011". UK Census Data. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  36. Chris Osborne (4 November 2014). "Michael Bisping: UFC superstar made in Britain". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  37. "Tragic end of Blackpool comic genius". Blackpool Gazette. Johnston Publishing. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  38. Andrew Lynch (22 March 2009). "Fame and Fortune: Peter Hargreaves". Sunday Times. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  39. Williams, Glyndwr (2000). "King, James". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  40. Broderick, Paul; Sharp, Kevin. "John Lund". BriSCA F1 Registered Drivers Website. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  41. Jessica Cree (23 March 2012). "Home rules for Sam and her Olympic dream". Lancashire Telegraph. Newquest. Retrieved 20 September 2015.

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