Two small boys from Liverpool were sat in the kitchen of one of their homes. One remarked, ‘ My Dad says if I drink my milk regularly, when I grow up, I will be able to play for Accrington Stanley’ The other asked, ‘ Who are they?’ Some time ago a young man joined the Royal Marines. The Regimental Sergeant Major asked him is name and where he came from. The young man replied, ‘I’m from Accrington sir and my name is Donald.’ The sergeant pondered and said, ‘ They have a good football team don’t they - Accrington Stanley - you’d better come with me Stan?’ The first instance was a milk commercial on television - You may remember? The second was my younger brother who retired from The Royal Marines after 22 years service and was known to all as ‘Stan’ throughout his service. Accrington Stanley are regarded by some, as the most famous football club in the land and it’s origins date back to 1878. They were one of 12 original members of the Football League, as we know it today. They played in Scarlet and black and were known as ‘Th Owd Reds.’ They became known as Accrington Stanley and for 41 years from 1921 they played league football at ‘Peel Park’ against many of the teams that still survive today. Troubled finances led to them resigning from the league in 1962. It was a sad day indeed for the town but many believe that is only a matter of time before ‘Stanley ‘ will rise again – to the chants of ‘On Stanley On’ echoing around the packed terraces. Accrington Stanley Football Club was re-formed in 1968 and now competes in the Uni Bond (Northern) Premier Division. They are currently in 10th position with 48 points from 37 games having won 13, drawn 9, and lost 15, scoring 56 goals and conceding 58. There are 22 other teams competing in this league. Home matches are played at The Crown Grou
nd, Livingstone Road, Accrington with a crowd capacity of 4000 of which 700 are seats. They are nicknamed ‘The Reds’ and ‘Stanley’ and play in red shirts and white shorts. Admission to the ground is £5.00 with £3.00 concessions. They have their own web site www.accystan.co.uk where famous names including: Emlyn Hughes (ex Liverpool FC), Matt Jansen (Blackburn Rovers) and Tommy Doherty (former Manchester United manager) are columnists. However, there is slightly more to this former cotton-manufacturing town than meets the eye. Accrington is situated within the Borough of Hynburn, between the much larger towns of Burnley and Blackburn and about 35 miles away from Manchester. The town is nestled at the foot of hill known locally as the ‘Coppice’ from where there are spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The towns of Blackburn and Burnley are visible and the views extend to Clitheroe and the imposing Pendle Hill. There is a large metal crucifix on the summit where the locals gather during Easter and Christmas. Tree lined Avenue Parade will lead you away from the ‘Coppice’ into a bustling town centre. It is small and compact with all amenities close at hand. A good place to start your visit would be from the Town Hall where you could pick up information leaflets to show you all that there is to do and see during your visit. The tourist information centre is within the Town Hall. (Tel.01254.380295) ‘Accrington’ means a town surrounded by oaks so you could follow the Acorn Trail around the streets. The trail is marked out on paving stones all around the route and starts at this location. The Town Hall was built 1858 and named ‘The Peel Institute’ in memory of the former Prime Minister ‘Sir Robert Peel’ who was held in high esteem locally. It became The Town Hall in 1865. He was the founder of The Irish Police Force and the Metropolitan Poli
ce Force in 1829. The word ‘Bobbies’ and ‘Peelers’ derive from this source. His grandfather Robert ‘Parsley’ Peel lived locally and was the founder of calico printing. He engraved a sprig of parsley onto a pewter plate creating a metal printing block. James Hargreaves from the same era invented The Spinning Jenny. Adjacent to the Town Hall is a century old Victorian Arcade, where long established market traders offer a wide selection of goods. It is basically an indoor market, where you can purchase anything you want. Fresh food, crafts, linen, crockery, cutlery, exchange book stalls and video exchange to name but a few. There are several cafes within the arcade providing snacks and substantial meals. High above - surrounding you, is a minstrel gallery. Directly outside, at the rear of arcade, is an open-air covered market with equally as many stalls offering similar goods. If you have forgot something indoors you can always find it outside. Look out for ‘Bramwells’ fish stall where fresh fish is collected daily from Fleetwood on the ‘Fylde coast’ and transported to Accrington whilst the town is asleep. Also look out for ‘Lamberts’ stall who offer delicious home made lemon curd the likes of which you have never tasted. Many a small boy, sent out to purchase this product, has been severely chastised by his mother having returned home with a half empty container. Both markets are open every day of the week except Wednesday and Sunday and there is a lively flea market each Thursday. All the well-known high street brand names are found on ‘Broadway’ and in ‘The Arndale Centre’ alongside the markets. It is a conservation area and there are many Victorian Buildings. There is also a good selection of smaller stores giving a local flavour and shopping is made even easier as the car parking is free of charge within the precints of the stores.
Community Safety officers patrol the town centre and it is also covered by closed circuit television cameras. There is an Asda store within the town. Nearby public houses include, The Regency Bar, Warner’s Arms, The Bridge, The Bees Knees, The Castle, The Hope and Anchor, The Railway and The Adelphi. Some of these provide throbbing and vibrant Karaoke nights at the weekend. For extended nightlife ‘Africa’ and ‘Churchill’s’ night-spots are available. There are also several CIU affiliated Working Men’s Clubs in the town where local and national membership is required. Located in a most unlikely spot surrounded by some of the hostelries is St James Parish Church - remarkably in a good state of repair. In excess of fifty gravestones surround the church, laying side by side like a set of fallen dominoes some of which date back to 1847. The main bus station in nearby Peel Street provides a regular service to local and national destinations and the railway station and taxi ranks are within a short walking distance. You may have heard of Accrington Nori bricks that can be seen in buildings all over the world. They are still made today by Marshal’s Clay Products, one of the most modern brick factories in the country. They are bright red in colour, like the colour of the towns footballers shirts. They get their colour from the iron oxides in locally extracted clay from a small town on the outskirts of Accrington – Clayton-Le-Moors which was originally known as ‘Clay Town in The Moors’ Every day 500 tons of shale is processed and the bricks are formed, dried and fired at over 1050 degrees centigrade. ‘Nori’ spelled in reverse is ‘ Iron’ which describes the bricks perfectly. The name was accidentally put in reverse when the letters were put up on the factory chimney! Free group visits can be arranged on Tel.01254.232684. The How
arth Art Gallery houses the finest collection of Tiffany Art Glass in Europe. It consists of mosaics, tiles and over 70 examples of favrile glass vases that made Tiffany famous. Local man, Joseph Briggs, emigrated to America when he was 17 years old and became general manager of The Tiffany Studio in New York. He never forgot his native town and donated this collection to Accrington in 1933. The gallery is set in Howarth Park, Manchester Road - and is open to the public. Entry is free. Tel.01254.233782. Accrington is the smallest town in Britain to organise the raising of a full battalion the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington) East Lancashire Regiment or The Accrington Pals as they were known. Within 20 minutes on the 1st July, 1916 at the Battle of The Somme, 252 Accrington Pals died and 333 were wounded as they tried to cross enemy lines. There is a memorial to the ‘Pals’ on the Somme battlefield fittingly constructed of Accrington Nori brick and the council commissioned a limited edition commemorative plaque, which coincided with the 80th anniversary of this famous battle. Visitors are also welcome at the ‘Pals’ memorial chapel in St John the Evangelist Church in Addison Street, Accrington. Tel.01254.393994. Accrington is located within the borough of Hynburn and other towns include Rishton, Great Harwood and Oswaldtwistle. There are 5 golf courses within the borough and 4 Lancashire League Cricket Clubs – Accrington, Enfield, Church and Rishton. Hynburn sports centre provides leisure facilities that include swimming, squash, cricket and football. You can even call in for a facial massage and a coffee. Tel.01254.3895945. Imagine an Aladdin’s cave of fabrics, crafts and crockery where children have their own play area and can explore a real sweet factory and find a surprise around every corner. On the outskirts of Accrington hundreds of tourists arrive daily at Oswaldtwistle Mills. Entry
is free and it is open from 10 – 5pm. Tel.01254.871025. On the other side of town the massive warehouse of Winfield’s can be found where it would be virtually impossible not to find a decent pair of shoes at a decent price. Hundreds of people visit the site daily and there is a clothing and sports department within the same grounds. Tel. 01706.831952. Accrington may be a small town but is big in history and there are opportunities for walking, sailing, fishing and riding. Within the borough, are 11 parks for relaxed walks or just to visit a pet’s corner. Oakhill Park is slightly different with an aviary and a war memorial. It also contains Oakhill Mansion, which was built in 1815, and now a retirement home. It was once the married home of Alice Liddell – upon whom the author Lewis Carroll based the ‘Wonderland and Looking Glass’ stories. Earlier I gave a brief history of Accrington Stanley Football Club. The town also has Accrington Stanley Ladies Football Team. It was formed in 1991 with permission to use the name of this famous football club. At the last count they had 19 registered players and they were the 400th club to affiliate to the Womens Football Association. They have set their sights very high indeed and aspire to reach Premier League status. I will now watch with interest as to which club will bring the former glory to this proud little town. M.65 Motorway J.7. for Accrington. Www.thisislancashire.co.uk Best wishes, Peter2670