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Barnoldswick, looking across Craven and the Yorkshire Dales.jpg
A view from Weets Hill across Barnoldswick and Craven towards Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales.
Barnoldswick is located in Lancashire
Population 10,752 (2011)
OS grid reference SD875465
Civil parish
  • Barnoldswick
  • Pendle
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BB18
Dialling code 01282
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Pendle
List of places
53°54′53″N 2°11′22″W / 53.9147°N 2.1895°W / 53.9147; -2.1895

Barnoldswick (pronounced ) is a market town and civil parish in the Borough of Pendle in the county of Lancashire, England. It lies near the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Stock Beck, a tributary of the River Ribble, runs through the town, which has a population of 10,752.

Barnoldswick and the surrounding areas of West Craven were previously part of the historic West Riding of Yorkshire, but in 1974 local government was reorganised; West Riding County Council and Barnoldswick Urban District Council were abolished and the area transferred to the Borough of Pendle, Lancashire.

On the lower slopes of Weets Hill in the Pennines, astride the natural watershed between the Ribble and Aire valleys, Barnoldswick is the highest town on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, lying on the summit level of the canal between Barrowford Locks to the south west and Greenberfield Locks just north east of the town, 30 miles (48 km) from Leeds, Manchester and Preston.

Nearby towns include Skipton to the east, Clitheroe to the west, Burnley to the south, and Keighley to the east southeast.


Barnoldswick dates back to Anglo Saxon times. It was listed in the Domesday Book as Bernulfesuuic, meaning Bernulf's Town (uuic being an archaic spelling of wick, meaning settlement, in particular, a dairy farm).

A Cistercian monastery was founded there in 1147 by monks from Fountains Abbey. However they left after six years, before construction was complete, driven out by crop failures and locals unhappy at their interference in the affairs of the local church. They went on to build Kirkstall Abbey. They returned after another ten years to build the isolated Church of St Mary-le-Ghyll close to the road between Barnoldswick and Thornton in Craven.

For hundreds of years Barnoldswick remained a small village. However, the arrival of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and later the (now closed) railway, spurred the development of the existing woollen industry, and helped it to become a major cotton town. The engine of the last mill to be built in Barnoldswick, Bancroft Mill, has been preserved and is now open as a tourist attraction - a 600hp steam engine which is still operational.


Barnoldswick was formerly served by a station on the Midland Railway's branch line off the Skipton to Colne Line, though this was closed under the Beeching Axe in 1965. The pressure group Selrap is currently campaigning for the reopening of the Skipton to Colne line. Which forms part of the modern day East Lancashire Line from Burnley to Nelson and Colne.

At present, would be rail passengers must travel via Colne or Clitheroe for trains serving Lancashire, or via Skipton for trains serving North and West Yorkshire.

Public transport to the town is therefore restricted to buses. Barnoldswick lies on the bus routes between Skipton and Burnley and between Skipton and Clitheroe/Preston, operated by Burnley Bus Company and Stagecoach respectively. On Sundays there is a service from Burnley to Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales National Park that passes through Barnoldswick.

The nearest airports are Manchester (about 1¼ hours by car or about three hours by public transport) and Leeds Bradford (40 minutes by car or about two hours by public transport).


The town's main football club, Barnoldswick Town, plays in the North West Counties League.


Barnoldswick is served by four primary schools; Gisburn Road, Church School and Coates Lane, whilst St. Joseph's caters to the town's Catholic population. Most secondary age students attend West Craven High School, a Technology specialist school situated in Barnoldswick itself, though a significant minority of students attend Ss John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School and Park High School in Colne, and the Skipton Grammar Schools, Ermysted's and Skipton Girls' High School.

Notable residents

  • The footballer Michael Holt was born in Barnoldswick
  • Burnley and Scotland goalkeeper Adam Blacklaw lived in Barnoldswick, and also ran local pub The Cross Keys
  • Gordon Prentice, Pendle Labour MP (1992–2010)

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