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Clitheroe town centre - - 74167.jpg
Clitheroe Town Centre
Population 15,278 (2015)
OS grid reference SD742417
Civil parish
  • Clitheroe
  • Ribble Valley
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BB7
Dialling code 01200
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Ribble Valley
List of places
LancashireCoordinates: 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.

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", and was also spelled Clyderhow and Cletherwoode. 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.

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. 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.

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.

Jet engine development

During World War II, the jet engine was developed by the Rover Company. 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.


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.


The Castle

Clitheroe 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. His son Aurthur Ingram Robinson lived at the Castle after 1878, and inherited the Steward title too (see Honour of Clitheroe).


Clitheroe Railway Station - - 54783
Clitheroe railway station
View 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. 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.



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.

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.

Twin town

Clitheroe is twinned with a small town in France.

Notable Clitheronians

See also: Category:People from Clitheroe
  • Michael Bisping, UFC World Middleweight Champion.
  • Jimmy Clitheroe (1921–1973) a comedian well known for his radio shows, was born in the town but raised in Blacko, near Colne.
  • Lee Davies, Musician, Lee was raised in Clitheroe during his early years.
  • Peter Hargreaves CBE, co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown plc.
  • James King (1750–1784), a Royal Navy officer who was with James Cook on his last voyage around the world.
  • John Lund, Eight-time BriSCA F1 Stock Cars World Champion.
  • Samantha Murray, a modern pentathlete, considers Clitheroe to be her hometown.
  • Amanda Parker, J.P., High Sheriff of Lancashire.
  • Dixon Robinson (1795–1878) Steward of the Honour of Clitheroe, Blackburn Lawyer and major landowner / employer of Clitheroe and Chatburn. Built the Pendle Hotel. Owned the Horrocksford Lime Co, Bold Venture Kiln, Limeworks, Gasworks and Quarry from 1837 to his death in 1878. Lived at Clitheroe Castle.

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