Central Pier and the Tower, Blackpool; the Ashton Memorial, Lancaster; and a view of Clitheroe with the Forest of Bowland beyond
Coordinates: 53°48′N 2°36′W / 53.8°N 2.6°W / 53.8; -2.6
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionNorth West England
Establishedc. 1182[1]
OriginHonour of Lancaster
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
UK Parliament16 MPs
PoliceLancashire Constabulary
Largest townBlackpool
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantAmanda Parker[2]
High SheriffDavid Taylor[3]
Area3,066 km2 (1,184 sq mi)
 • Rank17th of 48
 • Rank8th of 48
Density506/km2 (1,310/sq mi)
Non-metropolitan county
County councilLancashire County Council
Admin HQPreston
Area2,894 km2 (1,117 sq mi)
 • Rank9th of 21
 • Rank4th of 21
Density433/km2 (1,120/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2GB-LAN
GSS codeE10000017
Unitary authorities
CouncilsBlackpool Council
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Districts of Lancashire
Unitary County council area

Lancashire (/ˈlæŋkəʃər/ LAN-kə-shər, /-ʃɪər/ -⁠sheer; abbreviated Lancs) is a ceremonial county in North West England. It is bordered by Cumbria to the north, North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire to the east, Greater Manchester and Merseyside to the south, and the Irish Sea to the west.

The county has an area of 3,079 square kilometres (1,189 sq mi) and a population of 1,490,300. After Preston (147,800),[6] the largest settlements are Blackpool (141,100) and Blackburn (124,995); the city of Lancaster has a population of 52,655.[7] For local government purposes, Lancashire comprises a non-metropolitan county, with twelve districts, and two unitary authority areas, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool. The county historically included northern Greater Manchester and Merseyside, the Furness and Cartmel peninsulas of Cumbria, and some of northern Cheshire, and excluded the eastern part of the Forest of Bowland.

The west of Lancashire contains flat coastal plains, which rise to the hills of the Pennines in the east. The county contains large parts of two national landscapes, Arnside and Silverdale and the Forest of Bowland, and other protected areas such as the Ribble and Alt Estuaries National nature reserve. The major rivers in the county are, from north to south, the Lune, the Wyre, and the Ribble, which all flow west into the Irish Sea. The highest point in Lancashire is either Gragareth or Green Hill, both approximately 628 m (2,060 ft) high and located in the far north-east of the county.

Lancashire was founded in the 12th century; in the Domesday Book of 1086 much of what would become the county is treated as part of Yorkshire and Cheshire. Until the Early Modern period the county was a comparatively poor backwater, although in 1351 it became a palatine, with a semi-independent judicial system. This changed during the Industrial Revolution, when the county rapidly industrialised; until 1974 it included both Liverpool, a major port, and Manchester, which with its surrounding towns dominated the manufacture of textiles.[8] The Lancashire coalfield was also exploited, with many collieries opening. By 1971 Lancashire had a population of 5,118,405, which made it the most heavily populated county in the United Kingdom after Greater London.


Main article: History of Lancashire

Before the county

During Roman times the area was part of the Brigantes tribal area in the military zone of Roman Britain. The towns of Manchester, Lancaster, Ribchester, Burrow, Elslack and Castleshaw grew around Roman forts. In the centuries after the Roman withdrawal in 410 AD the northern parts of the county probably formed part of the Brythonic kingdom of Rheged, a successor entity to the Brigantes tribe. During the mid-8th century, the area was incorporated into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria from the north of the River Ribble and the Kingdom of Mercia from the south, which both became parts of England in the 10th century.

In the Domesday Book, land between the Ribble and Mersey were known as "Inter Ripam et Mersam"[9][10] and included in the returns for Cheshire.[11] Although some historians consider this to mean south Lancashire was then part of Cheshire,[10][12][full citation needed] it is by no means certain.[note 1][13][note 2] It is also claimed that the territory to the north formed part of the West Riding of Yorkshire.[12][full citation needed]

Early history

Map of the countie pallatine of Lancaster, 1610 by John Speed

The county was established in 1182,[14][full citation needed] and came to be bordered by Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire. It was divided into the hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby.[15] Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, the detached part north of the sands of Morecambe Bay including Furness and Cartmel, and Lonsdale South.

Victorian era to late 20th century

Since the Victorian era, Lancashire has had multiple reforms of local government.[16] In 1889, the administrative county of Lancashire was created, covering the greater part of the county. Multiple county boroughs were outside the county council control; Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, St. Helens, and Wigan. The area served by the Lord-Lieutenant (termed now a ceremonial county) covered the entirety of the administrative county and the county boroughs. It expanded whenever boroughs annexed areas in neighbouring counties such as Wythenshawe in Manchester south of the River Mersey and from Cheshire, and southern Warrington. It did not cover the western part of Todmorden, where the ancient border between Lancashire and Yorkshire passes through the middle of the town.

During the 20th century, the county became increasingly urban with Warrington (1900), Blackpool (1904) and Southport (1905) becoming county boroughs, with 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.[17] Lancaster, the historic county town, became a city in 1937.[18]

The administrative county was also the most populous of its type outside London, with a population of 2,280,359 in 1961. By the census of 1971, the population of Lancashire and its county boroughs had reached 5,129,416, making it the most populous geographic county in the UK.[19]


The historic county palatine boundaries in red and the ceremonial county in green

On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, southern parts of administrative Lancashire were transferred to the two newly established metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester.[20] Widnes and Warrington, which did not form part of either new county but which were cut off from the rest of Lancashire, were transferred to Cheshire.[14][full citation needed] In the north, the new county of Cumbria incorporated the Furness exclave.

The new ceremonial county of Lancashire also gained land in 1974, as the urban districts of Barnoldswick and Earby, Bowland Rural District, and the parishes of Bracewell and Brogden and Salterforth from Skipton Rural District were transferred from the West Riding of Yorkshire.[21]

One parish, Simonswood, was transferred from the borough of Knowsley in Merseyside to the district of West Lancashire in 1994.[22] In 1998 Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen became unitary authorities, removing them from the non-metropolitan county but not from the ceremonial county.

As the new boundary changes came into effect on 1 April 1974, a government statement in The Times newspaper stated: “They are administrative areas and will not alter the traditional boundaries of counties”.[23]


Geology, landscape, and ecology

See also: Geology of Lancashire

Topography of Lancashire

The three main rivers in Lancashire are the Ribble, Wyre and Lune, which all drain west to the Irish Sea. The Wyre rises in Bowland and is entirely within Lancashire, while the Ribble and Lune rise in North Yorkshire and Cumbria respectively. Many of Lancashire's other rivers are tributaries of the Ribble, including the Calder, Darwen, Douglas, and Hodder. The Irwell, which flows through Manchester, has its source in Lancashire.

To the west of the county are the Fylde coastal plain and West Lancashire coastal plain, which lie north and south of the Ribble Estuary respectively. Apart from the coastal resorts these areas are largely rural and devoted to vegetable crops. Further north is Morecambe Bay. In the northwest corner of the county, straddling the border with Cumbria, is the Arnside and Silverdale National Landscape, characterised by its limestone pavements and home to the Leighton Moss nature reserve.

In the east of the county are upland areas leading to the Pennines. North of the Ribble are Beacon Fell Country Park and the Forest of Bowland, another National Landscape. Much of the lowland in this area is devoted to dairy farming and cheesemaking, whereas the higher ground is more suitable for sheep, and the highest ground is uncultivated moorland. The valleys of the River Ribble and its tributary the Calder form a large gap to the west of the Pennines, overlooked by Pendle Hill. South of the Ribble are the West Pennine Moors and the Forest of Rossendale, where former cotton mill towns are in deep valleys. The Lancashire Coalfield, largely in modern-day Greater Manchester, extended into Merseyside and to Ormskirk, Chorley, Burnley and Colne in Lancashire.

The highest point of the ceremonial county is Gragareth, near Whernside, which reaches a height of 627 m (2,057 ft).[24] Green Hill near Gragareth has also been cited as the "county" top.[25] The highest point in the historic county is Coniston Old Man in the Lake District, at 803 m (2,634 ft).[26]

Human geography

Further information: North West Green Belt

  The North West Green Belt
  Ceremonial county borders
  District council borders

The north of the ceremonial county is less densely populated than the south, especially inland. The Fylde coast forms a continuous built-up area from Lytham St Annes to Fleetwood, including Blackpool, and further north is the Lancaster/Morecambe built-up area. The rest of the region is characterised by small towns and villages in the flat farmland surrounding the lower reaches of the Ribble, Wyre, and Lune and the sparsely populated uplands of the Forest of Bowland.

The centre and south-east of Lancashire is relatively urbanised, especially around the major settlements of Preston, Blackburn, and Burnley and near the border with Greater Manchester.[27] The Central Lancashire urban area includes the city of Preston and the towns of Penwortham, Leyland and Chorley. A short distance east, Blackburn and Darwen are the first of several adjacent areas urban areas which stretch east toward West Yorkshire and south into the valleys leading to Greater Manchester, the others being Accrington and Rossendale and Burnley. West Lancashire in the south-west is rural with the exception of Skelmersdale, which forms part of Wigan urban area.[28][29]

The North West Green Belt covers a large part of the south and centre of the county, including all of the non-urban areas in the boroughs of West Lancashire and South Ribble and the majority of Chorley. Elsewhere it is less extensive but covers the areas between the major settlements to prevent their convergence both with each other and with the nearby Merseyside and Greater Manchester conurbations. There is a further area of green belt in the north of the county, between Lancaster, Morecambe, and Carnforth.

Some settlements within the historic county boundaries are in the ceremonial counties of West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cumbria:[14][full citation needed][21][30][20][31][32][33]

To ceremonial From historic Lancashire
Greater Manchester
West Yorkshire Todmorden (part)
From historic To ceremonial Lancashire
West Riding of Yorkshire

Boundary changes before 1974 include:[33]


Main articles: Lancashire County Council, Borough of Blackpool, and Borough of Blackburn with Darwen

Local government

The coat of arms of Lancashire County Council

The ceremonial county of Lancashire is divided into fourteen local government districts. Twelve are part of the two-tier non-metropolitan county of Lancashire, which is administered by Lancashire County Council and twelve district councils. Lancashire County Council is based in County Hall in Preston, and has 84 councillors.[34] The council has been controlled by the Conservative Party since the 2017 Lancashire County Council elections; the 2021 elections they won 48 seats, the Labour Party won 32, and the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party won two each.[35] The twelve districts of the non-metropolitan county are Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, and Wyre.[36][37]

Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen are unitary authorities, meaning their councils combine the functions of a district and county council. They were formed in 1996, before which each district was part of the non-metropolitan county of Lancashire.[38] Both authorities currently have a majority Labour administration.

County Hall, Preston

The ceremonial county itself only has a minor administrative functions, being the area to which the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire is appointed; the shrieval county has the same boundaries and is the area to which the High Sheriff of Lancashire is appointed. As of 2023 these positions are held by Amanda Parker and David Taylor respectively.[39][40]

Parliamentary constituencies

See also: List of parliamentary constituencies in Lancashire

The ceremonial county is divided into sixteen constituencies for the purpose of parliamentary representation.

General Election 2019: Lancashire[41]
Conservative Labour Liberal Democrats Green Brexit Party Others Turnout
Overall Number of Seats as of 2019
Conservative Labour Liberal Democrats Green Brexit Party Others
1 (Speaker)

Duchy of Lancaster

See also: History of Lancashire

The Duchy of Lancaster, the private estate of the sovereign, exercises the right of the Crown in the County Palatine of Lancaster.[42] The most prominent effect of this is that 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.[43] The county palatine boundaries remain the same as the historic boundaries, ignoring subsequent local government reforms.[44]


Lancashire in the 19th century was a major centre of economic activity, and hence one of wealth. Activities included coal mining, textile production, particularly that which used cotton, and fishing. Preston Docks, an industrial port is now disused. Lancashire was historically the location of the port of Liverpool while Barrow-in-Furness is famous for shipbuilding.

As of 2013, the largest private sector industry is the defence industry with BAE Systems Military Air Solutions division based in Warton on the Fylde coast. The division operates a manufacturing site in Samlesbury. Other defence firms include BAE Systems Global Combat Systems in Chorley, Ultra Electronics in Fulwood and Rolls-Royce plc in Barnoldswick.

The nuclear power industry has a plant at Springfields, Salwick operated by Westinghouse and Heysham nuclear power station is operated by British Energy. Other major manufacturing firms include Leyland Trucks, a subsidiary of Paccar building the DAF truck range.

Other companies with a major presence in Lancashire include:

Enterprise zone

The creation of Lancashire Enterprise Zone was announced in 2011. It was launched in April 2012, based at the airfields owned by BAE Systems in Warton and Samlesbury.[46] Warton Aerodrome covers 72 hectares (180 acres) and Samlesbury Aerodrome is 74 hectares.[47] Development is coordinated by Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council and BAE Systems.[46] The first businesses to move into the zone did so in March 2015, at Warton.[48]

In March 2015 the government announced a new enterprise zone would be created at Blackpool Airport, using some airport and adjoining land.[49] Operations at the airport will not be affected.[50]

Economic output

Cattle grazing on the salt marshes of the Ribble Estuary near Banks

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of the non-metropolitan county of Lancashire at basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British pounds sterling.[51]

Year Regional Gross Value Added [note 3] Agriculture [note 4] Industry [note 5] Services [note 6]
1995 13,789 344 5,461 7,984
2000 16,584 259 6,097 10,229
2003 19,206 294 6,352 12,560


Main article: List of schools in Lancashire

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 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 depend on FE colleges and sixth form colleges, where they exist. South Ribble has the largest school population and 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 Church of England and Catholic faith schools in Lancashire.

Lancashire is home to four universities: Lancaster University, the University of Central Lancashire, Edge Hill University and the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria. Seven colleges offer higher education courses.



The M6 near Carnforth

The Lancashire economy relies strongly on the M6 motorway which runs from north to south, past Lancaster and Preston. The M55 connects Preston to Blackpool and is 11.5 miles (18.3 km) long. The M65 motorway from Colne, connects Burnley, Accrington, Blackburn to Preston. The M61 from Preston via Chorley and the M66 starting 500 metres (0.3 mi) inside the county boundary near Edenfield, provide links between Lancashire and Manchester, and the trans-Pennine M62. The M58 crosses the southernmost part of the county from the M6 near Wigan to Liverpool via Skelmersdale.

Other major roads include the east–west A59 between Liverpool in Merseyside and Skipton in North Yorkshire via Ormskirk, Preston and Clitheroe, and the connecting A565 to Southport; the A56 from Ramsbottom to Padiham via Haslingden and from Colne to Skipton; the A585 from Kirkham to Fleetwood; the A666 from the A59 north of Blackburn to Bolton via Darwen; and the A683 from Heysham to Kirkby Lonsdale via Lancaster.

Several bus companies run bus services in the Lancashire area serving the main towns and villages in the county with some services running to neighbouring areas, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire. Some of these include:


Lancashire is located in Lancashire
  Primary route
  Secondary route
  Rural route
  Goods only
  Disused railway

The West Coast Main Line provides direct rail links with London, Glasgow and other major cities, with stations at Preston and Lancaster. East-west connections are carried via the East Lancashire Line between Blackpool and Colne via Lytham, Preston, Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley. The Ribble Valley Line runs from Bolton to Clitheroe via Darwen and Blackburn. There are connecting lines from Preston to Ormskirk and Bolton, and from Lancaster to Morecambe, Heysham and Skipton.


Blackpool Airport are no longer operating domestic or international flights, but it is still the home of flying schools, private operators and North West Air Ambulance. Manchester Airport is the main airport in the region. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is nearby, while the closest airport to the Pendle Borough is Leeds Bradford.

There is an operational airfield at Warton near Preston where there is a major assembly and test facility for BAE Systems.


Heysham offers ferry services to Ireland and the Isle of Man.[52] 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, Sankey Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Rochdale Canal, Ashton Canal and Manchester Ship Canal.


See also: List of settlements in Lancashire by population

The major settlements in the ceremonial county are concentrated on the Fylde coast (the Blackpool Urban Area), and a number of notable settlements along west to east of the M65: including the city of Preston and towns of Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington, Burnley, Padiham, Brierfield, Nelson and Colne. South of Preston are the towns of Leyland and Chorley (which, with Preston, formed Central Lancashire New Town designated in 1970), as well as Penwortham, Skelmersdale and Ormskirk.

The north of the county is predominantly rural and sparsely populated, except for the city of Lancaster and the towns of Morecambe and Heysham, the three of which form a large conurbation of almost 100,000 people. Lancashire is home to a significant Asian population, numbering over 70,000 and 6% of the county's population, and concentrated largely in the former cotton mill towns in the south east.

Population totals within the post-1998 boundaries of the non-metropolitan county
YearPop.±% p.a.
1801 163,310—    
1811 192,283+1.65%
1821 236,724+2.10%
1831 261,710+1.01%
1841 289,925+1.03%
1851 313,957+0.80%
1861 419,412+2.94%
1871 524,869+2.27%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1881 630,323+1.85%
1891 736,233+1.57%
1901 798,545+0.82%
1911 873,210+0.90%
1921 886,114+0.15%
1931 902,965+0.19%
1941 922,812+0.22%
1951 948,592+0.28%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1961 991,648+0.44%
1971 1,049,013+0.56%
1981 1,076,146+0.26%
1991 1,122,097+0.42%
2001 1,134,976+0.11%
2011 1,171,339+0.32%
Pre-1998 statistics were gathered from local government areas that now comprise the non-metropolitan county
Source: Great Britain Historical GIS.[53]



See also: Flag of Lancashire

The flag designed to represent Lancashire

The Red Rose of Lancaster is the county flower found on the county's heraldic badge and flag. The rose was a symbol of the House of Lancaster, immortalised in the verse "In the battle for England's head/York was white, Lancaster red" (referring to the 15th-century Wars of the Roses).

A flag consisting of a red rose on a gold field was designed by the Friends of Real Lancashire, a pressure group which promotes the historic county, and registered with the Flag Institute, a vexillological charity, in 2008.[54][55] The flag has been flown from public buildings within the historic county boundaries on Lancashire Day (27 November), including from County Hall in Preston,[56] St Helens Town Hall,[57] the in the parts of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham which were previously in Lancashire.[58][59] It has also been flown from the Ministry for Housing, Communities, and Local Government building in London.

An alternative flag consists of a red rose on a white field. This design had already been registered by Montrose in Scotland.[60]



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 James Anderson and Jos Buttler. The County Ground, Old Trafford, Trafford, has been the home cricket ground of LCCC since 1864.[61]

Local cricket leagues include the Lancashire League, the Central Lancashire League and the North Lancashire and Cumbria League.

Since 2000, the designated ECB Premier League[62] for Lancashire has been the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition.


The Red Rose of Lancaster

Football in Lancashire is governed by the Lancashire County Football Association which, like most county football associations, has boundaries that are aligned roughly with the historic counties. The Manchester Football Association and Liverpool County Football Association respectively operate in Greater Manchester and Merseyside.[63][64]

Lancashire clubs were prominent in the formation of the Football League in 1888, with the league being officially named at a meeting in Manchester.[65][66] Of the twelve founder members of the league, six were from Lancashire: Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Everton, and Preston North End.

The Football League now operates out of Preston.[67] The National Football Museum was founded at Deepdale, Preston in 2001, but moved to Manchester in 2012.[68]

Seven professional full-time teams were based in Lancashire at the start of the 2023–24 season:

The county's most prominent football rivalries are the East Lancashire derby between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley, and the West Lancashire derby between Blackpool and Preston North End.

A further nine professional full-time teams lie within the historical borders of Lancashire but outside of the current ceremonial county. These include the Premier League clubs Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Rugby league

Main article: Rugby league in Lancashire

Along with Yorkshire and Cumberland, Lancashire is recognised as the heartland of Rugby League. The county has produced many successful top flight clubs such as St. Helens, Wigan, Warrington, Oldham, Salford and Widnes. The county was once the focal point for many of the sport's professional competitions including the Lancashire League competition which ran from 1895 to 1970, and the Lancashire County Cup which ran until 1993. Rugby League has also seen a representative fixture between Lancashire and Yorkshire contested 89 times since its inception in 1895.[69] In recent times there were several rugby league teams that are based within the ceremonial county which include Blackpool Panthers, East Lancashire Lions, and Blackpool Sea Eagles.


There are many archery clubs located within Lancashire.[70] In 2004 Lancashire took the winning title at the Inter-counties championships from Yorkshire who had held it for 7 years.[71]


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.[72] Some of these have crossed over into the mainstream world of professional wrestling; including multiple Catch wrestling champion Steve Wright father of Alex Wright, Billy Riley the founder of Wigan's catch-wrestling gym, 'The Snake Pit',[73] Billy Robinson, Davey Boy Smith, William Regal, and the Dynamite Kid.[citation needed]


Folk music

Lancashire has a long and highly productive tradition of music making. In the early modern era the county shared in the national tradition of balladry, including perhaps the finest border ballad, "The Ballad of Chevy Chase", thought to have been composed by the Lancashire-born minstrel Richard Sheale.[74] The county was also a common location for folk songs, including "The Lancashire Miller", "Warrington Ale" and "The soldier's farewell to Manchester", while Liverpool, as a major seaport, was the subject of many sea shanties, including "The Leaving of Liverpool" and "Maggie May",[75] beside several local Wassailing songs.[74] In the Industrial Revolution changing social and economic patterns helped create new traditions and styles of folk song, often linked to migration and patterns of work.[76] These included processional dances, often associated with rushbearing or the Wakes Week festivities, and types of step dance, most famously clog dancing.[76][77]

A local pioneer of folk song collection in the first half of the 19th century was Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell,[78] but it was not until the second folk revival in the 20th century that the full range of song from the county, including industrial folk song, began to gain attention.[77] The county produced one of the major figures of the revival in Ewan MacColl, but also a local champion in Harry Boardman, who from 1965 onwards probably did more than anyone to popularise and record the folk song of the county.[79] Perhaps the most influential folk artists to emerge from the region in the late 20th century were Liverpool folk group the Spinners, and from Manchester folk troubadour Roy Harper and musician, comedian and broadcaster Mike Harding.[80][81][82] The region is home to numerous folk clubs, many of them catering to Irish and Scottish folk music. Regular folk festivals include the Fylde Folk Festival at Fleetwood.[83]

Classical music

Lancashire had a lively culture of choral and classical music, with very large numbers of local church choirs from the 17th century,[84] leading to the foundation of local choral societies from the mid-18th century, often particularly focused on performances of the music of Handel and his contemporaries.[85] It also played a major part in the development of brass bands which emerged in the county, particularly in the textile and coalfield areas, in the 19th century.[86] The first open competition for brass bands was held at Manchester in 1853, and continued annually until the 1980s.[87]

The vibrant brass band culture of the area made an important contribution to the foundation and staffing of the Hallé Orchestra from 1857, the oldest extant professional orchestra in the United Kingdom.[88] The same local musical tradition produced eminent figures such as Sir William Walton (1902–88), son of an Oldham choirmaster and music teacher,[89] Sir Thomas Beecham (1879–1961), born in St. Helens, who began his career by conducting local orchestras[90] and Alan Rawsthorne (1905–71) born in Haslingden.[91] The conductor David Atherton, co-founder of the London Sinfonietta, was born in Blackpool in 1944.[92] Lancashire also produced more populist figures, such as early musical theatre composer Leslie Stuart (1863–1928), born in Southport, who began his musical career as organist of Salford Cathedral.[93]

More recent Lancashire-born composers include Hugh Wood (1932– Parbold),[94] Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934–2016, Salford),[95] Sir Harrison Birtwistle (1934–2022, Accrington),[96] Gordon Crosse (1937–, Bury),[97] John McCabe (1939–2015, Huyton),[98] Roger Smalley (1943–2015, Swinton), Nigel Osborne (1948–, Manchester), Steve Martland (1954–2013, Liverpool),[99] Simon Holt (1958–, Bolton)[100] and Philip Cashian (1963–, Manchester).[101] The Royal Manchester College of Music was founded in 1893 to provide a northern counterpart to the London musical colleges. It merged with the Northern College of Music (formed in 1920) to form the Royal Northern College of Music in 1972.[102]

Popular music

The Beatles began in Liverpool before the city's county was changed from Lancashire to Merseyside

Liverpool, both during its time in Lancashire and after being moved to the new county of Merseyside, has produced a number of successful musicians. This includes pop stars such as Frankie Vaughan and Lita Roza, as well as rock stars such as Billy Fury, who is considered to be one of the most successful British rock and roll stars of all time.[80] Many Lancashire towns had vibrant skiffle scenes in the late 1950s, out of which a culture of beat groups emerged by the early 1960s, particularly around Liverpool and Manchester. It has been estimated that there were at least 350 bands—including the Beatles—active in and around Liverpool during this era, playing ballrooms, concert halls, and clubs.[103] A number of Liverpool performers followed the Beatles into the charts, including Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Searchers, and Cilla Black.

The first musicians to break through in the UK who were not from Liverpool or managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein were Manchester's Freddie and the Dreamers,[104] with Herman's Hermits and the Hollies also hailing from Manchester.[105] The Beatles led a movement by various beat groups from the region which culminated in the British Invasion of the US, which in turn made a major contribution to the development of modern rock music.[106] After the decline of beat groups in the late 1960s, the centre of rock culture shifted to London, and there were relatively few Lancashire bands who achieved national prominence until the growth of a disco scene and the punk rock revolution in the mid-and-late 1970s.[107]

The towns of Accrington, Burnley, Chorley, Clitheroe, Colne, Lytham St Annes, Morecambe, Nelson, Ormskirk and Skelmersdale as well as the cities of Lancaster and Preston are referenced in the 1991 song, It's Grim Up North by the band the KLF.


Lancashire hotpot
Lancashire cheese
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Lancashire is the origin of the Lancashire hotpot, a casserole dish traditionally made with lamb. Other traditional foods from the area include:


Whistle Down the Wind (1961) was directed by Bryan Forbes, set at the foot of Worsaw Hill and in Burnley, and starred local Lancashire schoolchildren.

The tunnel scene was shot on the old Bacup-Rochdale railway line, location 53°41'29.65"N, 2°11'25.18"W, off the A6066 (New Line) where the line passes beneath Stack Lane. The tunnel is still there, in use as an industrial unit but the railway has long since been removed.

Funny Bones (1995) was set mostly in Blackpool, after opening scenes in Las Vegas.



The county is covered by BBC North West and ITV Granada which broadcast from Salford. Television signals are received from the Winter Hill TV transmitter.[114] A small part of East Lancashire around Barnoldswick and Earby is served by BBC Yorkshire and ITV Yorkshire broadcasting from Leeds. This area is served by a local transmitter in Skipton which is relayed from the Emley Moor TV transmitter.[115]


BBC Local Radio for the county is served by BBC Radio Lancashire which broadcast from its studios in Blackburn, BBC Radio Merseyside can be heard in southern parts, BBC Radio Manchester in the east and BBC Radio Cumbria in the north. County-wide commercial stations are Greatest Hits Radio Lancashire, Capital Manchester and Lancashire, Heart North West, and Smooth North West. Community based stations are Beyond Radio (covering northwestern Lancashire), Pendle Community Radio (serving the Pendle area), Rossendale Radio (for Rossendale), and Central Radio (for The Fylde, Preston, Leyland and Chorley areas of Lancashire). [116]


The county is served by these local newspapers:

The national weekly Farmers Guardian is published in Fulwood, Preston.

Places of interest

Accessible open space Accessible open space
Amusement/Theme Park
Country Park Country Park
English Heritage
Forestry Commission
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
Places of Worship Places of Worship
Museum (free)
Museum (free/not free)
National Trust National Trust

The following are places of interest in the ceremonial county:


See also


  1. ^ Harris and Thacker (1987) write on page 252: "Certainly there were links between Cheshire and south Lancashire before 1000, when Wulfric Spot held lands in both territories. Wulfric's estates remained grouped together after his death, when they were left to his brother Aelfhelm. And indeed, there still seems to have been some kind of connexion in 1086, when south Lancashire was surveyed together with Cheshire by the Domesday commissioners. Nevertheless, the two territories do seem to have been distinguished from one another in some way and it is not certain that the shire-moot and the reeves referred to in the south Lancashire section of Domesday were the Cheshire ones."
  2. ^ Crosby, A. (1996) writes on page 31: "The Domesday Survey (1086) included south Lancashire with Cheshire for convenience, but the Mersey, the name of which means 'boundary river' is known to have divided the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia and there is no doubt that this was the real boundary."
  3. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  4. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  5. ^ includes energy and construction
  6. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


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Further reading