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Entering Chorley town centre
Chorley is located in Lancashire
 Chorley shown within Lancashire
Population 34,667 (2011)
OS grid reference
District Chorley
Shire county Lancashire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CHORLEY
Postcode district PR6, PR7
Dialling code 01257
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Chorley
List of places

Chorley is a market town in Lancashire, in North West England. It is the largest settlement in the Borough of Chorley. Chorley is located 8.1 miles (13 km) north of Wigan 10.8 miles (17 km) south west of Blackburn, 11 miles (18 km) north west of Bolton 12 miles (19 km) south of Preston and 19.5 miles (31 km) north west of Manchester. As in much of Lancashire, the town's wealth came principally from the cotton industry, although it also became a major market town due to its central location between four other towns. As recently as the 1970s the skyline was dominated by numerous factory chimneys, but most have now been demolished: remnants of the industrial past include Morrison's chimney and a few other mill buildings, and the streets of terraced houses for mill workers. Chorley is the home of the Chorley cake. Chorley's population increased from 31,556 in 2001 to 34,667 in 2011.[1]



The name Chorley comes from two Anglo-Saxon words, Ceorl and ley, probably meaning "the peasants' clearing".[2] Ley (also leah or leigh) is a common element of place-name, meaning a clearing in a woodland. Ceorl refers to a person of status similar to a freeman or a yeoman.


There was no known occupation in Chorley until the Middle Ages, though archaeological evidence has shown that the area around the town has been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age.[3] There are various remains of prehistoric occupation on the nearby Anglezarke Moor, including the Round Loaf tumulus which is believed to date from 3500 BC.[4] A pottery burial urn from this period was discovered in 1963 on land next to Astley Hall Farm and later excavation in the 1970s revealed another burial urn and four cremation pits dating from the Bronze Age.[5]

Roman period

During the Roman era a Roman road ran near Chorley between Wigan and Walton-le-Dale.[3] It is believed that Romans settled at Brindle to the north of the town, as Roman remains were discovered there in the late 1950s. Hoards dating from the Roman period have also been found at nearby at Whittle-le-Woods and Heapey.[3]

Medieval period

Chorley was not listed in the Domesday Book, though it is thought to be one of the twelve berewicks in the Leyland Hundred.[6]

Chorley first appears in historical records in the mid-13th century as part of the portion of the Croston Lordship acquired by William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, around 1250.[7] The Earl established Chorley as a small borough comprising a two row settlement arranged along what later became Market Street.[3] It appears that the borough was short-lived as it does not appear in a report of a commission on the Leyland Hundred in 1341.[8]

The manorial history of Chorley is complex as the manor had no single lord throughout most of this period as it had been split into moieties and was managed by several different families.[7] This led to Chorley having several manorial halls, which in this period included Chorley Hall, built in the 14th century by the de Chorley family, and Lower Chorley Hall, which was owned by the Gillibrand family from 1583 (later rebuilt in the 19th century as Gillibrand Hall).[7][9] It is believed the borough of Chorley was not a success in this period because of the lack of manorial leadership and the dispersed nature of the small population.[9]

St Laurence's Church is the oldest remaining building in Chorley and first appears in historical records when it was dedicated in 1362, though it is believed there was already an earlier Anglo-Saxon chapel on the site which was a daughter foundation of Croston Parish Church.[7][9] It is believed that the church is named after Saint Laurence, an Irish saint who died in Normandy in the 12th century, whose bones were interred in the church in the 15th century by a local noble named Sir Rowland Standish (a relation of Myles Standish) who had fought at the Agincourt. The bones went missing in the Reformation under the rule of King Henry VIII.

Towards the end of the 15th century a market was held every Tuesday in Chorley and a fair was held annually on the feast of St Lawrence.[8]

19th century to present

Chorley Town Hall (opened 1879)

Chorley, like most Lancashire towns, gained its wealth from the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century which was also responsible for the town's growth. Chorley was a vital cotton town with many mills littering the skyline up to the late 20th century. Most mills were demolished between the 1950s and 2000s with those remaining converted for modern business purposes. Today only a minority remain in use for actual manufacturing, and the last mill to stop producing textiles was Lawrence's in 2009.[10]

Also Chorley in its location on the edge of Lancashire Coalfield was vital in coal mining. Several pits existed in Duxbury Woods, the Gillibrand area and more numerously in Coppull. Chisnall Hall Colliery at Coppull was considered the biggest Lancashire pit outside of Wigan and one of many located in the Chorley suburb. The last pit in the area to close was the Ellerbeck Colliery in 1987 which was located south of Chorley, between Coppull and Adlington.

The town played an important role during the Second World War, when it was home to the Royal Ordnance Factory, a large munitions manufacturer in the village of Euxton about 2 miles (3 km) from the town centre. A smaller factory was also built near the Blackburn-Wigan railway line in Heapey.

In the 1970s Chorley was designated as part of Central Lancashire new town, together with Preston and Leyland. The original aim of this project was to combine the three settlements into a single city with a population of around half a million. Although this never came to pass, and the project has since been abandoned, Chorley benefited from the urban renewal commonly associated with new towns. Examples include a bypass of the town centre, and the Market Walk shopping centre.


St Laurence's Anglican church, on Union Street, has been a place of Christian worship for over 800 years.[11]

The Anglican Thomas Rickman, a major figure in the Gothic Revival. It was built as a Commissioners' church in 1822.[12]

Chorley United Reformed Church[13] is home to one of the oldest and largest United Reformed Churches in the north west. Founded in 1792 as an Independent Church it later affiliated to the Congregational church and in 1972 voted to become part of the new United Reformed Church (URC). The church enjoys extensive youth work, with two church youth groups affiliated to the URC's youth fellowship FURY, and a Junior Church together with Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. During 2012 the church became the first church to advertise from the air when a very large cross was painted on the church car park. The cross is now visible on earth mapping websites such as Google Earth. The church has a large puppeteer team and music and drama are a regular part of church services.

In 1998 Chorley saw the completion of the largest Latter-day Saints temple in Europe. Known as the Preston England Temple, it is a prominent landmark next to Junction 8 of the M61 motorway

Chorley's only mosque[14] is to be found on the corner of Brooke Street and Charnock Street.


In 1837, Chorley joined with other townships (or civil parishes) in the area to become head of the Chorley Poor Law Union which took responsibility for the administration and funding of the Poor Law in the area.[15] Chorley became incorporated as a municipal borough in 1881 by its first mayor William Augustus Smethurst. The town's population remained roughly static in the 20th century, with the 1911 census showing 30,315 people and the 1971 census showing 31,665. Under the Local Government Act 1972, Chorley became the core of a larger non-metropolitan district on 1 April 1974. The present Borough of Chorley has forty-seven councillors, representing twenty electoral wards.


A panoramic view over Chorley from Healey Nab

The principal river in the town is the Yarrow. The Black Brook is a tributary of the Yarrow. The name of the River Chor was back-formed from "Chorley" and runs not far from the centre of the town, notably through Astley Park.

Chorley is located at the foot of the West Pennine Moors and is overlooked by Healey Nab, a small hill which is part of the West Pennine Moors. It is the seat for the Borough of Chorley which is made up of Chorley and its surrounding villages. Chorley had a population of 33,424 at the 2001 census, with the wider borough of Chorley having a population of 101,991. Chorley forms a conurbation with Preston and Leyland and was once proposed as being designated part of the Central Lancashire New Town under the New Towns Act,[16] a proposal which was eventually scaled back.[17]


Chorley Market
The Bookcase Shop, Chorley Market
Shoppers on Chapel Street, Chorley town centre

The first signs of industry as with many towns in Lancashire was mining, evidence of which can be seen by the various abandoned quarries on the outskirts of the town. One of the most beautiful of these is Anglezarke Quarry, between Chorley and Horwich. Remnants of mining include an old railway bridge from the Duxbury Mine on Wigan Lane. Eventually the mining industry was replaced by cotton mills.

Manufacture of trucks was inherited from the neighbouring town of Leyland. A large factory on Pilling Lane produced, including military vehicles and tanks during the Second World War. Spare parts continued to be manufactured until the collapse of Leyland DAF in the 1990s. The works emerged as a central parts depot for Multipart, which was later acquired by the RAC. The plant was closed in 2006 and work was moved to a new smaller site on Buckshaw Village. The Pilling Lane site has now been demolished to make way for new homes.

Another major industry was the manufacture of ammunition and armaments. During the 1930s one of Britain's biggest arms factories was built at Euxton. The site known as ROF Chorley was vital in the Second World War and during that time over 40,000 people worked at the site. It is also the site where the bouncing bomb was built. The Nazis tried to bomb the site but could not find it as the roofs at the time were painted green, matching the surrounding grass-lands and making it very hard to spot from a plane. After the Second World War, production was reduced, and the final part of the site was closed in 2008 by BAE Systems.[18] A large part of the site has been redeveloped for residential and industrial use as Buckshaw Village.

Through the 20th century, especially the latter half, Chorley suffered the loss of much of its manufacturing capacity with great losses in or the completely disappearance of its coal, textiles, motor vehicles and armaments industries.

Leyland Trucks and BAE Systems are the Central Lancashire area's largest employers at their sites in Leyland and Samlesbury respectively.

Companies with a presence in the borough are:

In 2011 Chorley Council launched an initiative, "Choose Chorley", to encourage SME's and large businesses to relocate to Chorley. The website at was launched in 2014 after the domain name was acquired from Chorley-based web design agency, Alien Media. The initiative offers red carpet introductions to key people in the town, financial incentives and tailored support for business growth.[19]


Chorley town centre is the main location of shopping facilities in the town. The town centre in recent years has seen the new Market Walk development and the building a new town centre Booth's supermarket.

The town is also famous for its market heritage and is quoted as "Lancashire's market town". The outdoor market which has run for over 200 years, takes place every Tuesday on the Flat Iron. There is also a covered market place in the Market Square.

As well as these, Chorley has seen development out of town including retail parks which have seen the addition of Currys and B&Q to name a few. Chorley is also home to three of the four big supermarkets, including Asda, Morrisons and Tesco. Further to this Chorley was the starting point for the Chorley Group with their flagship dealership Chorley Nissan. The motor group now boasts eight dealerships across the North West with the newest addition appearing in the form of Chorley Fiat in Blackpool. The Chorley group are continuing to promote the Chorley name across the country and beyond.

A £20m development, Market Walk Phase Two, is planned to add four shop units and a multi-storey car park to the existing Market Walk shopping centre. As of January 2008 this is on hold until the council finds another developer.[20]


Chorley is served by the local NHS hospital Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital which is located on Euxton Lane in addition to a private hospital located in Euxton. The town also had another major hospital formerly on Eaves Lane before this closed in the 1990s. There was also the Heath Charnock isolation hospital on Hut Lane which dealt with infectious diseases before reverting to use for long term patients before closing in the 1990s.



Chorley is bisected by the A6 Roman road which goes straight through the town centre. The town is also near to the M61 of which Junction 6 and 8 serving the town. Also the M6 motorway serves the west of the town with Junction 27 connecting the town to the motorway, Charnock Richard services on the M6 are located in Chorley Borough.


Chorley Interchange

The town's bus station, Chorley Interchange, opened in 2003, replacing an older bus station also in the town centre. Bus services are provided by several operators:


Chorley railway station

The main central railway station is Chorley railway station in the town centre. The railway station is used by:

The railway station was also served by the Wigan-Blackburn Railway line up until it was closed in 1960. The line also had stops at Heapey, Brinscall, Withnell and the White Bear railway station at Adlington.

Elsewhere in the borough there are railway stations at Euxton on the Wigan-Preston line, at Adlington and Buckshaw Village on the Manchester-Preston line, and at Croston on the Ormskirk Branch Line.


Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Chorley

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs parallel to Chorley and several marinas and locks are located on the Chorley area. Marinas along the canal include:

  • White Bear Marina, Adlington
  • Cowling Launch, Chorley
  • Top Lock, Whittle
  • Botany Bay Boatyard, Botany Brow
  • Boatel Party Cruises, Botany Bay Boatyard
  • Riley Green, Hoghton


Chorley is home to numerous primary schools both council and church supported. Chorley has the following 6 high schools:

Some independent schools are also present just outside the borough. Most Chorley children go on to attend the nearby Runshaw College in Leyland. Runshaw College has also expanded into the former administration site of ROF Chorley and is using, amongst others, the main administration building.

Lancashire College, based in Chorley, is a part of Lancashire County Council's Lancashire Adult Learning, offering a wide range of courses, a speciality being intensive residential language courses. From 1905 to 1981 the town was home to Chorley Training College (from the 1960s known as Chorley 'Day' Training College), designed by the Victorian and Edwardian architect Henry Cheers, and the town centre building now occupying this site is now Chorley Public Library.[22]


Victory Park, the home of Chorley Football Club
Duxbury Golf Course, Duxbury Park

Chorley is home to the semi-professional football team, Chorley F.C., also known as the 'Magpies' due to their black and white strip. Founded as a rugby team in 1875, they switched to playing football eight years later. Since then they have had limited success, with their most memorable moments being two appearances in the second round of the FA Cup, and two seasons in the Football Conference in the late 1980s. They currently play in the Conference North league.

The town and surrounding boroughs boast a number of cricket clubs, with two teams taking the town's name. Chorley Cricket Club currently play in the Northern League, and were finalists in the ECB National Club Cricket Championship for three consecutive seasons from 1994 to 1996, winning the trophy on the first two occasions. Chorley St James Cricket Club are the second side in the town, competing in the Southport & District Amateur Cricket League, having been members of the Chorley League until its demise in 2005.

Chorley RUFC was founded in the early 1970s and initially their matches were on played on fields at Astley Park. Since there was no club house in the early days the team played from the Prince of Wales pub, near the town's covered market. Work started on a new clubhouse on 22 March 1984, on an area of land off Chancery Road, situated on the edge of the freshly constructed Astley Village Estate. The club currently run two senior sides and a mini section, the 1st XV playing in the RFU North Lancs 2 division.

Until 2004, Chorley had a rugby league side, Chorley Lynx, who played in league two of the national league. However, the club was forced to close in 2004 due to small crowds and the withdrawal of funding by backer Trevor Hemmings. Many of the club's players and staff joined Blackpool Panthers, operating out of nearby Blackpool.

Chorley boasts of being home to some of the country's most successful track cyclists including Olympic gold medal winners Jason Queally and Bradley Wiggins, and Paralympic silver medallist Rik Waddon. The presence of these well-known cyclists is due in part to the proximity of the town to the Manchester Velodrome. Chorley is also the home town of Paralympic gold medallist Natalie Jones.

In terms of local sporting facilities the town is home to Chorley Fitness, Lancashire's first 24-Hour Health Club who has been awarded UK Fitness Centre of the Year in 2012, 2010 and 2007 at the Club Mirror and National Fitness Awards. They also boast BUPA accreditation and some of the most modern leisure facilities in Chorley. There's also a council owned leisure centre; All Season which contains a swimming pool, sports hall, squash courts and a small fitness suite. The borough also includes other gym facilities, two other council owned leisure centres; Clayton Green and Coppull and another public swimming pool at Brinscall. The town is also home to a Next Generation fitness centre, other private pools and leisure centres, and a David Lloyd Tennis Centre.

1 mile (2 km) south of Chorley town centre is Duxbury Park municipal golf course.

The town is home to many amateur football, rugby and cricket teams. There are also several grass football pitches, bowling greens and tennis courts in the town. A public outdoor swimming, formerly as Astley Park, was demolished in the 1990s for Health and Safety reasons.

Chorley Harriers Running Club regularly compete in road, cross country, fell and athletics events. Chorley Cycling Club was formed in 2011, resurrecting a club which had disbanded around 1953. The club caters to both leisure and racing members and runs regular training and social rides on local roads.[23] Chorley JKS Shotokan Karate Club established a club in the town 2012.


Chorley has two local newspapers: the weekly Chorley Guardian and the free Chorley Citizen. A British comedy television show, Phoenix Nights, cited Chorley's radio station, Chorley FM, whose slogan was "Coming in your ears". The station, based in Chorley, originally broadcast for only a few weeks, but in 2005 received a licence to broadcast from Chorley Community Centre (see Chorley FM).

As well as Phoenix Nights, comedian Dave Spikey based his comedy series Dead Man Weds in, and filmed most of it in, Chorley. Steve Pemberton, the creator of The League of Gentlemen, based most of its characters on folk from Adlington.

Seal Films, a local film production company, was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award for a short film in 2001. The company continue to operates in Higher Wheelton.

Culture and community

Chorley Little Theatre

Chorley has two historical societies, the Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society and the Chorley and District Natural History Society. It also has a civic society.

Chorley Little Theatre was built as one of the town's first electric cinemas in 1910, it has been owned and operated by volunteers from Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (CADOS) since 1960. The society put on at least six productions a year (typically four plays, a pantomime, and a musical) and shows by Chorley Youth Theatre and big-screen films from Chorley Empire Community Cinema. It underwent refurbishment in 2010 and hosts touring comedy and music shows from old and new acts.

Astley Park, the town's urban, town centre park includes the Grade I listed, Astley Hall and also the renovated and refurbished Coach House Gallery and Walled Garden. The Coach House Gallery presents a seasonal programme of visual arts exhibitions from local and regional artists alongside an outdoor cultural events programme in the Walled Garden. These events include live music, theatre, dance and community arts events.

The Arts Partnership is a youth arts charity that operates from their own venue on Railway Street in the town centre. They run a number of arts and creative schemes with a diverse range of young people. The murals at the railway and bus stations were produced as part of projects from the registered charity.

Cedar Farm Galleries in Mawdesley houses a number of artists' studios, retail stores and a restaurant.

Places of interest

Astley Hall

Twin towns

Chorley is twinned with:

Notable residents

Chorley Council Building, Union Street
Yarrow Valley Country Park
Chorley Central Library

See also


  1. ^ The sum of the ward populations 6,823 (Chorley East), 6,651 (Chorley North East), 5,961 (Chorley North West), 6,635 (Chorley South East) and 8,597 (Chorley South West), all accessed 25 August 2015, UK Census Data.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ , p.6
  7. ^ a b c d
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^ John Harrison 'William Lawrence's Mills, Lyons Lane, Chorley, Lancs', Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society, retrieved from on 25/04/2014.
  11. ^
  12. ^ History at
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ [2] Archived 9 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ [3]

External links

  • Chorley Borough Council
  • Chorley and District Natural History Society
  • Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society
  • Chorley at DMOZ
  • Chorley at
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