1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland
"BURNLEY, a chapelry and market town in the parish of Whalley, hundred of Blackburn, in the county palatine of Lancaster, 28 miles to the N. of Manchester, and 217 miles to the N.N.W. of London, by the London and North-Western and the Lancashire and Yorkshire railways, with the latter of which it is connected by a branch line of 9 miles from Todmorden. There are three railway stations in the town. It is situated in a pleasant, fertile, and wooded valley, on the hanks of the river Burn, a branch of the Calder, into which it runs about a mile below the town. It is an ancient town, and is thought to have been the site of a Roman station, numerous Roman relics having been found in the vicinity. A spot named Saxifield, near the town, is noted by tradition as the scene of a battle about the end of the 6th century. Burnley is an important seat of manufacturing industry, and has made rapid progress in population and prosperity during the present century. The cotton manufacture has become the staple business of the place, which was formerly the woollen and worsted manufacture. There are many large mills, some print-works, several flour-mills, besides iron and brass foundries, engine manufactories, several breweries, rope-walks, and tanneries. Coal is obtained in abundance in the neighbourhood, and there are quarries of good freestone and slate. The greater part of the town is of modern date; the houses are mostly built of stone, and the streets are paved and lighted with gas. The water supply is abundant. The Leeds and Liverpool canal passes by the town, winding nearly round it, and greatly promotes its trade by opening easy communication with both the North and Irish Seas. Burnley is the seat of a Poor-law Union, and the head of a County Court district. It is also a polling-place for the north division of the county. Petty sessions are held weekly in the court-house, the chief public building. In the town are the Union poorhouse and a savings-bank. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Manchester, of the annual value of £1,400, in the patronage of R. T. Parker, Esq. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, has been recently repaired. It is a large and very ancient edifice of stone, exhibiting the early English and several later styles of architecture, but much altered by enlargement and repairs at various times. In a side chapel are monuments of the Townley family, of Townley Hall, near Burnley, among which is one to Charles Townley, the accomplished scholar and antiquary, who formed the valuable collection of marbles bearing his name, now in the British Museum. He died in 1805. Two new churches have been erected, dedicated to St. James and St. Paul respectively; the latter is situated at Lane Bridge. The livings of both are curacies, each worth £150, in the patronage of the crown and the bishop of the diocese alternately. A spacious Roman Catholic chapel was erected in 1849. There are two chapels belonging to the Independents, four each to the Baptists and Wesleyans, and two to the Primitive Methodists. The free grammar school, founded about 1650, has an income, from various endowments, of £150 a year, and an interest in thirteen scholarships at Brasenose College, Oxford. Dr. Whitaker, Master of St. John's, Cambridge, and author of a history of the parish of Whalley, was educated at this school. There are several charitable endowments for the relief of the poor, the principal of which is that founded in the year 1800 by Elizabeth Peel. The various charities are worth about £220 per annum. The town has literary and mechanics' institutes, a reading-room, National, British, and other schools. Markets are held on Monday and Saturday, the latter in the new market-place. There is a cattle market every other Monday. The fairs are on the 6th March, Easter Eve, the 9th and 13th May, the 10th July, and the 11th October."