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Accrington is a medium size town in Lancashire, with a population of just over 70,000.
Situated between Blackburn and Burnley, some 20 miles north of Manchester, Accrington was a centre, like much of Pennine Lancashire, for the textile industry. It is also renowned as manufacturing the best bricks in the world! Not necessarily the greatest assets for a tourist destination, but Accrington is characterful and unspoiled in its own way, and is well placed as a base for the surrounding Pennine countryside.
For anyone interested in the Industrial Revolution, and looking down on Accrington from the surrounding hills, one gets a tremendous sense of the enormous expansion of the town that took place during the nineteenth century by looking at the identical rows and rows of workers houses laid out over the area north of the town centre. Much of this housing is now occupied by families from a Bangladeshi background who originally came over to Lancashire in the post-war period to find work in the cotton mills. By comparison the housing to the south tends to be grander and surrounded by parkland - and this was where the middle class and managers built their houses.
At the Haworth Gallery Accrington holds the best collection of Tiffany Glass in the UK.
The towns other famous association is with Accrington Stanley F.C., the butt of many (largely affectionate) jokes. The club's name is often invoked as a symbol of British sport's legion of plucky but hopeless causes.
The town is on the M65 motorway which traverses East Lancashire, and just off the A56/M66 route from Manchester.
As well as the transport links above, there are good bus services within the district.
The Haworth Art Gallery contains an outstanding collection of Tiffany glassware presented to the town by Joseph Briggs, an Accrington man who had joined Tiffany’s in the late 19th century and eventually became art director and assistant manager. The Art Nouveau vases are considered to be the most important such group in Europe. One of the most striking items is a glass mosaic exhibition piece, designed by Briggs himself and entitled "Sulphur Crested Cockatoos".
There are also displays about the Accrington Pals, famous within the UK as the smallest home town battalion of volunteers servicemen who fought in the First World War. More than half the battalion were killed or wounded within half an hour on the Pals' first day of action.
Gawthorpe Hall (3 Miles) was built between 1600 and 1605 for the Shuttleworth family who had already been at Gawthorpe for over 200 years.
Other than visiting the Haworth Gallery (above); and visiting the characterful Accrington Market, the real benefit of Accrington is as a centre from which to tour the beautiful and interesting upland country areas of Pendle Hill area (Lancashire Witch Country); The Forest of Bowland, and the Rossendale hills. This will require a car.
The market is an excellent place to buy Lancashire speciality foods - Lancashire cheese, black pudding, pies, oatcakes, pikelets, tripe and cowheel.
There's the usual collection of fast food outlets, and reasonable Bangladeshi restaurants. The best eateries otherwise will be in the hotels, or in the country pubs and restaurants, especially in the Bowland area. .
There are plenty of pubs (some rather dingy) serving good cheap beer. Always ask for cask beer rather than the mass-produced brands; there are many excellent beers available from small local micro-breweries.
Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa (1 Mile) Set in 17 acres of glorious parkland, this 4 star, 700 year old building with 175 bedrooms has restored original features.
Sparth House Hotel (2 Miles) This splendid Georgian house is set in its own wooded grounds on the edge of The Ribble Valley and is within easy reach of the Lake District and the Trough of Bowland.
Pendle Hill is just a few miles north of Accrington. It is the centre of Lancashire Witch Country, and an important site for Quakers, as the place where Fox had his vision to propagate his Quaker beliefs. The Forest or Trough of Bowland, often called Lancashire's hidden gem. The Lancashire Pennine hills surround Accrington.