lancashire chair


[lang-kuh-sheer, -sher]

Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England, bounded to the west by the Irish Sea. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Lancashire County Council is based in Preston. However, Lancaster is still considered to be the county town. Commonly, Lancashire is referred to by the abbreviation Lancs, originally used by the Royal Mail. The population of the county is 1,449,700. People from the county are known as Lancastrians.

The history of Lancashire is thought to have begun with its founding in the 12th century. In the Domesday Book (1086), some of its lands had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the rivers Mersey and Ribble (referred to in the Domesday Book as "Inter Ripam et Mersham") formed part of the returns for Cheshire. Once its initial boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire.

Lancashire emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a major commercial and industrial region. The county encompassed several hundred mill towns and collieries. By the 1830s, approximately 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in Lancashire. Accrington, Blackburn, Chorley, Darwen and Burnley were major cotton mill towns during this time. Blackpool was a major centre for tourism for the inhabitants of Lancashire's mill towns, particularly during wakes week.

The county was subject to a significant boundary reform in 1974, which removed Liverpool and Manchester with most of their surrounding conurbations to form part of the metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester. At this time, the detached Furness peninsula was made part of Cumbria. Today the county borders Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and North and West Yorkshire. The Duchy of Lancaster exercises the right of the Crown in the area known as the County Palatine of Lancaster.


The county was established in 1182 and later than many other counties. In the Domesday Book, its lands between the Ribble and the Mersey were known as "Inter Ripam et Mersham" and were included in the returns for Cheshire. Although some have taken this to mean that south Lancashire was, at that time, part of Cheshire, it cannot be said clearly to have been part of Cheshire. It is also claimed that the territory to the north formed, at that time, part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. It bordered on Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire. The county was divided into the six hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby. Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, which was the detached part north of Morecambe Bay (also known as Furness), and Lonsdale South.

The Red Rose of Lancaster is a symbol for the House of Lancaster, immortalized in the verse "In the battle for England's head/York was white, Lancaster red" (referring to the 15th century War of the Roses). The traditional Lancashire flag, red rose on a white field, was never officially registered with the Flag Institute and when this was attempted it was found that this flag had been registered by the town of Montrose, Scotland. As two flags of the same design can not be registered Lancashire’s official flag is now registered as a red rose on a yellow field.

Lancashire is now much smaller than its historic extent due to a local government reform. In 1889 an administrative county of Lancashire was created, covering the historic county except for county boroughs such as Blackburn, Burnley, Barrow-in-Furness, Preston, Liverpool, Manchester. The area covered by the Lord-Lieutenant (termed now a ceremonial county) continued to cover the entirety of the administrative county along with the county boroughs, and thus was expanded slightly whenever boroughs annexed areas in other neighbouring counties. Examples of this include Wythenshawe (an area of Manchester south of the River Mersey and historically in Cheshire), and southern Warrington. This area also did not cover the western part of Todmorden, where the ancient border between Lancashire and Yorkshire runs through the middle of the town.

During the 20th century the county became increasingly urbanised, particularly the southern part. To the existing county boroughs of Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, St Helens and Wigan were added Blackpool (1904), Southport (1905), and Warrington (1900). The county boroughs also had many boundary extensions. The borders around the Manchester area were particularly complicated, with narrow protrusions of the administrative county between the county boroughs - Lees urban district formed a detached part of the administrative county, between Oldham county borough and the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Lancashire in 1961
County boroughs
1. Burnley 10. Oldham
2. Preston 11. Wigan
3. Rochdale 12. Manchester
4. Barrow-in-Furness 13. Salford
5. Blackpool 14. Bootle
6. Blackburn 15. St Helens
7. Southport 16. Liverpool
8. Bury 17. Warrington
9. Bolton

By the census of 1971 the population of Lancashire (including all its associated county boroughs) had reached 5,129,416, making it then the most populous geographic county in the UK. The administrative county of Lancashire was also the most populous of its type outside of London, with a population of 2,280,359 in 1961. On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the administrative county of Lancashire was abolished, as were the county boroughs. The urbanised southern part largely became part of two new metropolitan counties. The south-western part became part of Merseyside, the south-eastern part was incorporated into Greater Manchester. The new county of Cumbria took the Furness exclave. The boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens and Sefton were entirely from Lancashire. In Greater Manchester the successor boroughs were Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham (part), Rochdale, Salford, Tameside (part), Trafford (part) and Wigan. Warrington and Widnes, south of the new Merseyside/Greater Manchester border, rather than become part of Greater Manchester or Merseyside were instead made part of the new non-metropolitan county of Cheshire. The urban districts of Barnoldswick and Earby, the Bowland Rural District and the parishes of Bracewell and Brogden and Salterforth from the Skipton Rural District from the West Riding of Yorkshire became part of the new Lancashire. One parish, Simonswood, was transferred from the borough of Knowsley in Merseyside to the district of West Lancashire in 1994.

In 1998 the county borough system re-appeared in all but name, when Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen became independent unitary authority areas. The City of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA, founded in 1742, was named after Lancaster, Lancashire. Its neighbour city, York, PA, is located about 30 miles to the west. The War of the Roses tradition continued with Lancaster using as its symbol the red rose and York the white.

Pressure groups, including Friends of Real Lancashire and the Association of British Counties advocate a return to the pre-1974 boundaries of Lancashire.


Divisions and environs

The area under the control of the county council, or shire county, is divided into a number of local government districts. They are Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, the Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, and Wyre.

Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen are unitary authorities which form part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant but do not come under county council control. The Lancashire Constabulary covers the two unitary authorities. The ceremonial county, the area including the unitary authorities, borders Cumbria, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, and forms part of the North West England region.

Geology, landscape and ecology

The highest point of the ceremonial county is Gragareth, near Whernside, which reaches a height of 627 m (2,057 ft). However, Green Hill near Gragareth has also been cited as the county top. The highest point within the historic boundaries is Coniston Old Man in the Lake District at 803 m (2,634 ft).

Lancashire drains west from the Pennines into the Irish Sea. Rivers in Lancashire include the Ribble, Wyre and Lune. Major tributaries of these rivers include the Calder, Crake, Darwen, Douglas, Hodder, Irwell, and Yarrow.


The county council, serving the shire county, is based in County Hall in Preston, built as a home for the Lancashire county administration (including the Quarter Sessions and Lancashire Constabulary) and opened on 14 September 1882.

Local elections for 84 councillors from 84 divisions are held every four years. The council is currently controlled by the Labour Party.

Duchy of Lancaster

The Duchy of Lancaster is one of two remaining royal duchies in the United Kingdom. It has large landholdings throughout the region and elsewhere, and operates as a property company, but also exercises the right of the Crown in the County Palatine of Lancaster. The Duchy's website now describes the County Palatine as comprising of "the counties of Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the Furness area of Cumbria. These new counties include areas formerly in Cheshire and Yorkshire and it is unclear as to whether this is a reference to the whole of the new counties or just the parts that comprised the Palatine prior to the 1974 boundary changes. However, in 1992 it was stated by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, William Waldegrave that the "boundaries of the county palatine are the same as the county boundaries which existed prior to local government reorganisation in 1973

High Sheriffs for Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside are appointed "within the Duchy and County Palatine of Lancaster".

The Duchy administers bona vacantia within the County Palatine, receiving the property of persons who die intestate, and where the legal ownership cannot be ascertained.

There is no separate Duke of Lancaster, the title having merged in the Crown many centuries ago - but the Duchy is administered by the Queen in Right of the Duchy of Lancaster. A separate court system for the county palatine was finally abolished by Courts Act 1971. A particular form of The Loyal Toast is still in regular local use: 'The Queen, Duke of Lancaster'.


Lancashire in the 19th century was a major centre of industrial activity and hence of wealth. Activities included mining and textile production (particularly cotton), though on the coast there was also fishing. Historically, the docks in Preston were an industrial port, though are now disused for commercial purposes. Lancashire was historically the location of the Mersey Docks (now on Merseyside) while Barrow-in-Furness (now in Cumbria) is famous for shipbuilding.

Today Lancashire is home to firms such as BAE Systems (which has four factories in Lancashire including Warton Aerodrome and BAE Samlesbury, major centres of production for the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter), TVR cars, Leyland Trucks and Telent telecoms.

Economic output

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of the non-metropolitan county of Lancashire at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 13,789 344 5,461 7,984
2000 16,584 259 6,097 10,229
2003 19,206 294 6,352 12,560


Lancashire has a mostly comprehensive system with four state grammar schools. Not including sixth form colleges, there are 77 state schools (not including Burnley's new schools) and 24 independent schools. The Clitheroe area also has secondary modern schools. Sixth form provision is limited at most schools in most districts, with only Fylde and Lancaster districts having mostly sixth forms at schools. The rest (most schools) depend on FE colleges and sixth form colleges, where they exist. South Ribble has the largest school population, with Fylde the smallest (only three schools). Burnley's schools have had a new broom and have essentially been knocked down and started again in 2006. There are many Catholic secondary schools in Lancashire.

Lancashire is home to four universities; Lancaster University, University of Central Lancashire, Edge Hill University and the Lancaster campus of The University of Cumbria. Additionally there are also seven colleges which offer higher education courses.


Lancashire has an extensive network of motorways covering the county and the West Coast Main Line provides direct rail links with London and other major cities, with stations at Preston and Lancaster. The county has Railway stations in Lancashire. The county is served by Blackpool International Airport, however Manchester Airport in Greater Manchester is the main airport in the region. Liverpool John Lennon Airport, on Merseyside is also nearby.

Heysham and Fleetwood offer ferry services to Ireland and the Isle of Man. As part of its industrial past, Lancashire gave rise to an extensive network of canals, which extend into neighbouring counties. These include the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Lancaster Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Rochdale Canal, Ashton Canal and Manchester Ship Canal.


The major settlements in the ceremonial county are concentrated on the Fylde coast (the Blackpool Urban Area), and a belt of towns running west-east along the M65: Preston, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Nelson and Colne. South of Preston are the towns of Leyland and Chorley; the three formed part of the Central Lancashire New Town designated in 1970. The north is generally sparsely populated, with Morecambe and Lancaster forming a small conurbation.


The table below has divided the settlements into their local authority district. Each district has a centre of administration; for some of these correlate with a district's largest town, while others are named after the geographical area.

Ceremonial county Administration borough/district Centre of administration Other towns, villages and settlements
Lancashire Blackburn with Darwen Borough (Unitary) Blackburn Belmont, Chapeltown, Darwen, Edgworth, Tockholes
Blackpool Borough (Unitary) Blackpool Bispham, Layton
Burnley Borough Burnley Harle Syke, Padiham, Rose Grove, Worsthorne, Cliviger.
Chorley Borough Chorley Adlington, Clayton-le-Woods, Coppull, Croston, Eccleston, Euxton, Whittle-le-Woods
Fylde Borough Lytham St Annes Freckleton, Kirkham, Warton, Wrea Green
Hyndburn Borough Accrington Altham, Church, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton
City of Lancaster Lancaster Bolton-le-Sands, Carnforth, Heysham, Morecambe,
Pendle Borough Nelson Barnoldswick †, Barrowford, Brierfield, Colne, Earby †, Foulridge, Trawden
City of Preston Preston Barton, Broughton, Fulwood, Goosnargh, Grimsargh, Whittingham
Ribble Valley Borough Clitheroe Bolton-by-Bowland, Chipping, Hurst Green, Longridge, Read, Ribchester, Slaidburn, Whalley, Wilpshire,
Rossendale Borough Rawtenstall Bacup, Chatterton, Edenfield, Haslingden, Helmshore, Whitworth
South Ribble Borough Leyland Bamber Bridge, Farington, Longton, Lostock Hall, Penwortham, Samlesbury, Walton-le-Dale
West Lancashire District Ormskirk Appley Bridge, Aughton, Banks, Bickerstaffe, Burscough, Downholland, Great Altcar, Halsall, Lathom, Parbold, Rufford, Scarisbrick, Skelmersdale, Tarleton, Upholland
Wyre Borough Poulton-le-Fylde Churchtown, Cleveleys, Fleetwood, Garstang, Pilling, Preesall, St Michael's On Wyre, Thornton

This table does not form an extensive list of the settlements in the ceremonial county. More settlements can be found at Towns in Lancashire, Villages in Lancashire, and Parishes of Lancashire.

Some settlements which were historically part of the county now fall under the counties of West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cumbria:

Greater Manchester Ashton-in-Makerfield, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, Bury, Chadderton, Denton, Eccles, Farnworth, Heywood, Horwich, Hindley, Leigh, Manchester, Middleton, Oldham, Prestwich, Radcliffe, Rochdale, Salford, Swinton and Pendlebury, Tyldesley, Westhoughton, Wigan
Merseyside Bootle, Crosby, Formby, Huyton, Kirkby, Liverpool, Maghull, Newton-le-Willows, Prescot, St Helens, Southport
Cumbria Barrow-in-Furness, Coniston, Dalton-in-Furness, Grange-over-Sands, Ulverston
Cheshire Warrington, Widnes
West Yorkshire Todmorden

Note: Cities are in bold
† - part of the West Riding of Yorkshire until 1974

Boundary changes to occur before 1974 include:

  • Todmorden (split between Lancashire and Yorkshire) entirely to West Riding of Yorkshire in 1889
  • Mossley (split between Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire) entirely to Lancashire in 1889
  • Stalybridge, entirely to Cheshire in 1889
  • the former county boroughs of Manchester and Warrington both extended south of the Mersey into historic Cheshire (areas such as Wythenshawe and Latchford)
  • correspondingly, the former county borough of Stockport extended north into historic Lancashire, including areas such as Reddish and the Heatons (Heaton Chapel, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Moor and Heaton Norris).



Lancashire County Cricket Club has been one of the most successful county cricket teams, particularly in the one-day game. It is home to England cricket team members Andrew Flintoff, James Anderson and Sajid Mahmood. Due to changes in the county boundaries, the club's home ground, County Ground, Old Trafford, is now outside the county of Lancashire, being in the metropolitan borough of Trafford, Greater Manchester.

Historically important local cricket leagues include the Lancashire League and the Central Lancashire League, both of which were formed in 1892. These league clubs hire international professional players to play alongside their amateur players.


Football in Lancashire is governed by the Lancashire County Football Association. Due to the County Football Associations being aligned roughly along historic county boundaries, the Lancashire County FA contains members which were founded within Lancashire as it was in the late 19th Century, but which now lie outside the county borders, such as Manchester United and Liverpool. However, the Manchester and Liverpool Football Associations operate in Greater Manchester and Merseyside respectively.

The six professional league teams based in Lancashire, as of the start of the 2008/09 season, are:


Several successful rugby league teams are based within Lancashire:

Rugby union teams include Fylde and Preston Grasshoppers.


Lancashire has a long history of wrestling, developing its own style called Lancashire wrestling with many clubs that over the years have produced many renowned wrestlers. Some of these have crossed over into the mainstream world of professional wrestling, including Billy Riley, Davey Boy Smith, William Regal and The Dynamite Kid.


Lancashire is widely-known for its eponymous Lancashire Hotpot, a casserole dish traditionally made with lamb and for Lancashire cheese, reputed to be the best toasting cheese in the world. Other traditional foods from the area include:

  • Bénédictine, 80% of the world's Benedictine is drunk in Burnley.
  • Black peas, also known as parched peas: popular in Bolton and Preston.
  • Black Pudding: long associated with the town of Bury.
  • Bury Simnel: cross between a fruitcake and a biscuit. Eaten on Simnel or Mid-Lent Sunday.
  • Butter Cake - slice of bread and butter.
  • Clapbread: oatcake.
  • Chorley cakes: from the town of Chorley.
  • Ducks: faggots as in savoury ducks.
  • Eccles cakes: from the town of Eccles.
  • Fag Pie: pie made from chopped dried figs, sugar and lard. Associated with Blackburn and Burnley where it was the highlight of Fag Pie Sunday (Mid-Lent Sunday).
  • Fish and Chips: first fish and chip shop in northern England opened in Mossley near Oldham around 1863.
  • Frog-i'-th'-'ole pudding: now known as toad in the hole.
  • Frumenty: sweet porridge. Once a popular dish at Lancashire festivals like Christmas and Easter Monday.
  • Goosnargh Cakes: Small flat shortbread biscuits with coriander or caraway seeds pressed into the biscuit before baking. Traditionally baked on feast days like Shrove Tuesday.
  • Jannock: cake or small loaf of oatmeal. Allegedly introduced to Lancashire (possibly Bolton by Flemish weavers.
  • Nettle Porridge: a common starvation diet in Lancashire in the early 1800s. Made from boiled stinging nettles with perhaps a handful of meal.
  • Ormskirk Gingerbread: local delicacy which were sold all over South Lancashire
  • Pobs, Pobbies: bread and milk.
  • Potato Hotpot, a variation of the Lancashire Hotpot without meat also known as fatherless pie.
  • Ran Dan: barley bread. Food of last resort for the poor at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century.
  • Rag Pudding: Traditional Suet Pudding filled with Minced Meat and Onions.
  • Sad Cake: A traditional cake, perhaps a variation of the more widely known Chorley cake, once common around Burnley.
  • Scouse, a type of stew popular in Liverpool (historically part of Lancashire).
  • Throdkins: a traditional breakfast food of the Fylde.

Places of interest

The following are places of interest in the ceremonial county:

Notes and References


  • Crosby, A. (1996). A History of Cheshire. (The Darwen County History Series.) Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0850339324.
  • Harris, B. E., and Thacker, A. T. (1987). The Victoria History of the County of Chester. (Volume 1: Physique, Prehistory, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Domesday). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0197227619.
  • Morgan, P. (1978). Domesday Book Cheshire: Including Lancashire, Cumbria, and North Wales. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0850331404.
  • Phillips A. D. M., and Phillips, C. B. (2002), A New Historical Atlas of Cheshire. Chester, UK: Cheshire County Council and Cheshire Community Council Publications Trust. ISBN 0904532461.
  • Sylvester, D. (1980). A History of Cheshire. (The Darwen County History Series). (2nd Edition.) London and Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0850333849.

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