Lancashire (abbreviated Lancs) is a county in northwest England. Its county town is Lancaster although its administrative centre is Preston. The county is home to the well-known seaside town Morecambe Bay – while Arnside, Silverdale and the Forest of Bowland are Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Lancashire borders Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside plus North and West Yorkshire while its coastline verges the Irish Sea. Its major settlements are concentrated on the Fylde coast – and a belt of towns running west-to-east, including Preston, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Nelson and Colne. Meanwhile, Lancaster and Morecambe lie to the north.
Founded in the 12th century, Lancashire emerged as a major commercial region during the Industrial Revolution. (Before becoming separate counties, Manchester and Liverpool grew into its largest cities, dominating global trade and the birth of modern capitalism.) The county was known for the collieries of the Lancashire Coalfield, several mill towns – and by the 1830s, around 85 percent of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed here.
These days, the area’s predominant industries include defence, nuclear power and manufacturing firms like Leyland Trucks. Meanwhile, its principal rural areas include the West Lancashire and Fylde coastal plains. Lancashire’s county's badge and flag showcase The Red Rose of Lancaster. Locals are known as ‘Lancastrians’ – and the county has an estimated population of almost 1.5 million.
Road: Lancashire relies on the M6 motorway (which runs past Lancaster and Preston). The M55, M58, M61, M65, trans-Pennine M62 and M66 motorways provide other links between Lancashire and surrounding regions.
Rail: With stations at Preston and Lancaster, The West Coast Main Line provides direct rail links with London and other major cities. The East Lancashire Line and the Ribble Valley Line offer more local connections.
Air: Manchester Airport is the region’s main airport. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is also nearby, while the closest airport to the Pendle Borough is Leeds Bradford.
Ferry: Heysham and Fleetwood offer ferry services to Ireland and the Isle of Man. Testifying to its industrial past, Lancashire’s comprehensive network of canals flows into neighbouring counties.
Bus: Several bus companies run services in the main towns and villages running to neighbouring areas, such as Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire
Is Lancashire’s property market on the road to prosperity? Millions are flowing into major regeneration schemes – with towns and cities across the county receiving significant investment in property developments. The county is also benefitting from initiatives such as Preston’s City Deal, which promises nearly £1 billion for infrastructure upgrades to strategic sites.
To give an example: Lytham’s residential market has improved significantly – with increased activity and higher sales prices indicating buyer confidence. Tourism and leisure are other major influencers enjoying exponential growth in places like the Lake District.
One of Lancashire’s main advantages is its local motorway network – and projects like the Heysham Link Road are enhancing already efficient road links. Preston is also enjoying better traffic flow, which increases its attractiveness as a location. The proposed high-speed (HS2) rail link between London and the northwest is another beneficial future development; it will deliver more people to the region quicker; and more efficient transport will boost economic growth.
Lancashire offers an array of shopping to suit all budgets. From ornate Victorian stalls to historic farmers' markets selling delectable local produce, mill shops to factory outlets, this abundant county offers it all.
The bustling city of Preston is Lancashire’s primary shopping hotspot. Shopping here ranges from high-street favourites and department stores to independent boutiques. St George’s Shopping Centre offers household brands and some superb eateries.
You need not voyage far to find somewhere that houses a wonderful collection of local crafts and/or antiques. Venture down a side road in most towns or cities and you may encounter an abundance of unique historical items, steeped in character. Oswaldtwistle Mills won the Lancashire Tourism Award 2015 Retail Experience.
Foodies can wander around a traditional Lancashire farmers’ market. Local characters will be glad to offer award-winning dairy produce, cheeses, chutneys, preserves and home-reared meat from the fells. As well as freshly caught fish and the renowned Morecambe Bay shrimps.
Sport: Lancashire County Cricket Club – based at The County Ground, Old Trafford – is one of England’s most successful cricket teams. Eight professional full-time football teams are based in Lancashire: Burnley, Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Bolton Wanderers, Fleetwood Town, Accrington Stanley, Blackpool and Morecambe. The county’s rugby league teams include Blackpool Panthers, East Lancashire Lions, Blackpool Sea Eagles, Bamber Bridge, Leyland Warriors, Chorley Panthers, Blackpool Stanley, Blackpool Scorpions and Adlington Rangers. There are many archery clubs – and a long regional history of wrestling.
Music: Lancashire’s long and productive musical tradition includes balladry, folk, choral and classical music, and brass bands. Led by The Beatles, the region’s beat groups pioneered the ‘British Invasion of the US’, making a huge contribution to the evolution of rock music.
Family: For bright lights and big entertainment, there’s Blackpool – with the UK’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster, the world’s biggest indoor waterpark, and iconic Blackpool Tower. Thornton Hall Farm Country Park hosts seasonal kids’ events, including the spellbinding Halloween Harry Potter and Halloween on the Farm
Outdoors: Walkers and cyclists have two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to explore, including Pendle Hill – world famous for its legend of the ‘Pendle Witches’. Follow twisty country lanes to quirky shops and farm parks; meet fascinating wildlife at nature reserves; or disappear on a stroll into the fells.
Events: Most events are family friendly. They include the outdoor promenade theatre production staged by the Dukes in Williamson Park during the summer; the Lancaster Music Festival in October, which showcases everything from ska to soul and reggae to rock; and the captivating light installations and amazing fireworks of Light Up Lancaster in November.