Early 19th Century Burnley

By the beginning of the 19th century, Burnley was developing into an industrial town. In 1841 the population had grown to over 14,000. The centre of the town had moved from out side St. Peter’s to its present location on St. James’s Street. Cotton Manufacturing was replacing woollens as the main industry.

At the start of the 19th century, St. Peter’s was the only Anglican church in Burnley and had to cater for a rapidly increasing population. In 1789 and 1802-3 there had been extensive alterations to the building. The following engravings show the appearance of the church as it was in the first part of the 19th century.

In 1789 the south aisle had been completely rebuilt and included a gallery. In 1802-3 the tower had been raised by 30 feet to house a peal of eight bells. At the same time the height of the north aisle was increased to incorporate a gallery. In the street in front of the church can be seen the base of the market cross of 1617 and the stocks.

Medallion struck from the metal of the new bells.

Inside the church, the organ was placed in front of the east window and there was a large three-decker pulpit.

The west gallery had been installed in 1837 and the other galleries during the alterations of 1789 and 1802-3.

The Rev. John Raws was assistant curate at St. Peter’s from c. 1887 to 1834, a period when most of the incumbents were absentees For much of the time he was also the headmaster of Burnley Grammar School. He lived on Bank Parade; Raws Street commemorates his name. He was a conscientious man, down to earth and well-liked by all. His memorial can be seen in the north aisle of the church.

Bar and Canal Aqueduct

In 1801, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was opened through Burnley and played a major part in the development of the town. This drawing shows the aqueduct in the embankment carrying the canal across the town. The “straight mile” is regarded as one of the wonders of the British canal network. In the foreground is the toll bar on Eastgate – now Yorkshire Street.

Improvement Act, 1819

This set up the Police Circle, an area of ¾ mile radius from the merestone or marker outside the Bull Inn in St. James’s Street. The Act was not implemented and the administration of the town remained in the hands of a Town Committee elected by the Vestry Meeting set up in 1817.

St. Peter’s School

In 1787, William Todd started a Sunday School in his home on Dawson Square opposite the church. This became associated with St. Peter’s. In 1828, a day school was opened, which still operates as the oldest elementary school in Burnley, A second school was opened in Pickup Croft in 1845 .

Lowerhouse Printworks c.1830

This is the earliest known picture of a textile factory in the Burnley area. It was begun by Peel and Yates in 1795 as a spinning mill. The Peels also owned a spinning mill at the bottom of Sandygate, which in 1790 was the first in Burnley to be powered by steam. In 1815 the Lowerhouse factory was taken over by the Dugdale family. It became a printworks when they opened a new mill in 1836.

“Formerly the trade of the town was confined to woollens or worsted goods, but the manufacture of cotton has almost entirely superseded that trade. Upon the rivers are cotton factories and print works of a very extensive nature. Upwards of 3,000 pieces of calico are manufactured each week in the town and neighbourhood, and the number of spindles in motion exceed 60,000.”

Pigot’s Commercial Directory, 1828

The Market Place St. James’s Street

By the early 19th century, the market had moved from outside the church to the bottom of Manchester Road, then known as Market Street. On the extreme left is the Swan Inn, the only building that still remains. In the centre is the ‘gawmless’ or gas lamp installed in 1823. It was in this year that the Burnley Gas Company was set up.

“Since the year 1822 the improvements to the town have been of considerable magnitude; the streets are well paved and watched, supplied with water by company’s works; and the gas works illuminate the town in a bright and liberal manner.”

Pigot’s Commercial Directory, 1828

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