Victorian Burnley

The second half of the 19th century saw Burnley develop into the cotton-weaving capital of the world. By 1900 it had almost 100,000 inhabitants. As the population increased the Town Committee could no longer cope with administering of the town. Improvement commissions were set up and finally in 1861 Burnley was incorporated as a borough.

As Burnley grew in size, St Peter’s was no longer able to accommodate the increased number of worshipers and several daughter churches were built.

Inside the church, the Tudor pillars were shortened and slimmed down. Pointed arches were added. The organ was moved to the west end of the church and the large pulpit removed. A new east window was installed to commemorate the incumbency of the Rev. Robert Mosley Master.

St. Peter’s in the 1860s. with the school on the left

In 1854 there were extensive alterations to the church. The nave roof was raised to accommodate five clerestory windows .

The Rev. Robert Mosley Master

He was curate-in-charge from 1826 to 1855. He supervised the building of St. Peter’s School in 1828 and the alterations to the church itself in 1853-4. He masterminded the development of six new parishes to meet the needs of the growing town. He was called the ‘clogging parson’ because he saw to the provision of clogs for barefoot children. He died in 1867.

Burnley from Springhill in 1854

South Parade and Market Street (now Manchester Road ) lead into the centre of the town. Numerous mill chimneys indicate how important the cotton industry had become, but sheep still graze near the town centre. On the left can be seen the railway viaduct opened in 1848 when the railway reached Burnley. On the right are the railway goods yard and the roof of Thorneybank Station.

Burnley Improvement Acts 1846 & 1854

By the 1840s Burnley was administered by a confusing number of committees and boards. These two Acts of Parliament placed the running of the town in the hands of Commissioners elected by the ratepayers. They were responsible for the amenities of the town and the supply of water and gas

Burnley Mechanics Institute, Manchester Road

This was founded in 1834. The building on Manchester Road was opened in 1855 It soon became the centre of academic and social life in the town. It housed a subscribing library and technical and art schools.

Bank House Pit c. 1860

By the 1850s coal mining was becoming important in Burnley. There were many small pits near the Centre and by the end of the century other, larger ones, had been sunk in the town.

Charter of Incorporation, 1861

By 1861, Burnley’s population had reached over 28,000 and the town was granted the status of a Borough. The newly-elected Council met for the first time in January when John Moore was elected Mayor..

Burnley’s First M.P.

On 13th November 1868 Burnley elected its first Member of Parliament. He was Richard Shaw, a Burnley solicitor and businessman who represented the Liberal Party.

His Conservative opponent was General Scarlett, who lived at Bank Hall and worshipped at St. Peter’s. He had led the successful charge of the Heavy Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.

Sir James Yorke Scarlett.

Burnley Grammar School in c. 1865

Dr Butler , the headmaster is on the right. At this time the school was at a low ebb. The old building was dilapidated and pupils were few. In 1871 the governing body was reorganised. Representatives of the Borough Council and the recently formed School Board were included in return for financial support.

This new building was opened in 1874. It was designed by the local firm of architects, William Waddington.

Burnley Market Hall

In 1865, the Corporation took over control of the town’s markets. A new market hall was opened in 1870 The building was designed by James Green but the tower was never built.

Burnley Town Hall

It was designed by Holtom and Fox of Dewsbury and opened in 1888. The Council had previously met in a room over the fire station and then in the Public Hall In Elizabeth Street.

The Rev. Arthur Townley Parker was incumbent at St. Peter’s from 1855 to 1901. He became the first Rector of Burnley in 1867 when St. Peter’s ceased to be a chapelry of Whalley and became a parish in its own right. He continued the work of Robert Mosley Master in establishing more new parishes in Burnley. He also promoted the legal changes that established the bishopric of Burnley.

This engraving shows the church before the porch was added in 1889. In 1872 the chancel had been extended in memory of General Scarlett. A vestry was built at the east end of the south aisle. Above it was the organ, moved from the west end of the church.

These photographs below show the interior of the church in c.1900.

Victoria Hospital

The hospital was opened in 1886 by Prince Albert Victor. It cost £21,578 and was paid for by public subscription.

A Burnley Weaving Shed

By the end of the 19th century Burnley could claim to be the cotton-weaving capital of the world, with more looms than any other place. Coal-mining and textile engineering were also very important in the town.

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