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What the locals really think of Great Harwood

PUBLISHED: 10:48 09 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:59 09 July 2018

View from Blackburn Road

View from Blackburn Road


A new generation of businesses are making the Lancashire town a destination in its own right

Lauren and Rachel Finch of Finch BakeryLauren and Rachel Finch of Finch Bakery

Great Harwood folk are fond of saying their town, high on the hills above Blackburn, it isn’t really on the route to anywhere. But a new generation of businesses wants to make sure it becomes a destination in its own right. One that has customers coming from far and wide is the Finch Bakery, which was highly commended in last year’s Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards. When twins Lauren and Rachel Finch announced they were opening their own cake business, their parents weren’t exactly over the moon.

‘They definitely weren’t happy to begin with,’ says Rachel, who is expecting her first baby very shortly – an event that will require a very special cake. ‘We began by making cakes for friends and learned as went along. I guess we had a knack for it – and even our mum and dad are now happy with our career choice.’

Their business has become so popular that customers can regularly be seen queuing into the street to buy cupcakes, brownies and their signature treat, the now famous cakes in a jar. One problem with the job is the temptation to sample the goods. ‘Yes, we have to admit to that but they’re all made with top class local ingredients so it’s practically a health kick,’ laughs 26-year-old Lauren who, for most of the time, agrees with her twin that sisterly love is an advantage in business.

It certainly has plenty of love from its fans, with 80,000 followers on social media. ‘We recently had a lady fly in from Dublin, just for the day, in order to see us! So many people wanted to take pictures of themselves inside the bakery that we had a frame drawn on our blackboard wall for posing purposes,’ says Rachel who, with Lauren, also makes wedding and birthday cakes – a recent commission featured two sleepy dogs drunk on cake.

Lucy Crook of Creative BrandingLucy Crook of Creative Branding

Another local who took a career swerve – this time with her parents’ approval – is Lucy Crook. Mum and dad have a clothing business in nearby Whalley and 26-year-old Lucy, who has a first class degree in law, opened her own boutique, Creative Branding in 2017.

‘The town is buzzing, so coming here was a natural choice,’ she says. ‘My dad comes from Great Harwood and I can recall visiting what is now my premises when it was a fruit and veg shop. That seemed as good an omen as any. I was nervous to begin with but I needn’t have been as customers now come from all over Lancashire and Cheshire. It’s small but it’s very pretty and there is plenty of room for our regular prosecco evenings.’

Lucy specialises in gorgeous tops made of cotton, silk and cashmere, sourced mostly from France and Italy, stocking only one of each design. Does she think she will swap tops for briefs and go back to the law? ‘Unlikely,’ she says.

Harriet HallHarriet Hall

Artist and writer Harriet Hall is another person with high hopes for Great Harwood and, thanks to her, it might have a visit from royalty one day.

‘It was a complete coincidence that the rabbit in my new children’s book, The Tales of Louis the House Rabbit, shared the name of the new prince but I’ve sent him a copy hot off the press,’ says Harriet, who exhibits her work across the county. ‘Who knows, one day he might want to come along and see the scenery that inspired it?’

If the prince waits until he is 18, one of his first stops could be Tipsy Cows, a wine and gin tasting bar. Owned by Mickii Edwards, who played rugby for St Helens and who has raised almost £1 million for charity with feats such as running 100 miles in a day. His bar is home to 117 gins and 426 premium wines. Local cheese is always available to accompany the drinks, which include a wine made by the Mafia!

Mickii Edwards of Tipsy CowsMickii Edwards of Tipsy Cows

‘Don’t worry, it’s all above board and I’m not expecting the delivery of a horse’s head any time soon,’ says Mickii who designed and made the bar himself, using materials such as recycled apple boxes and lamp fittings which began life in a Lancashire World War Two munitions plant.

His next project involves taking delivery of 40,000 bees so he can produce his own mead, an ancient honey drink traditionally made by monks. Not bad for a man who doesn’t drink alcohol.

Great Harwood must have some of the best turned out dogs in Lancashire if they are regular clients of Furstyle, a stylish dog grooming parlour run by Stephanie Cotton. Don’t expect run of the mill dog trims.

Stephanie Cotton of Furstyle Dog Grooming with Woody the dogStephanie Cotton of Furstyle Dog Grooming with Woody the dog

As well as the usual short back and sides, there are fashion styles to be had, blueberry facials and even paw treatments for when pounding the streets takes its toll.

‘It’s all about the dogs! In fact, it’s easier for me to recall a dog’s name than their human’s but most dog lovers understand that,’ laughs Stephanie.

Rona Westwell, Stephen Horrocks, Mark Pickup and Colin Heyes from The Great Harwood ShowRona Westwell, Stephen Horrocks, Mark Pickup and Colin Heyes from The Great Harwood Show

Ministry of fun

They like a laugh in Great Harwood – just ask Rev Chris Krawiec of the parish church of St Bartholomew’s. He and fellow clergyman, Alex Frost, from Burnley are making a name for themselves on the comedy circuit.

Their act is Jack and Krac – 31-year-old Chris is Krac – and they’ve appeared on The X-Factor Extra. Another television appearance, as yet top secret, might be in the pipe line.

‘We met on a silent retreat in Whalley, where we promptly got into trouble for not only talking but telling jokes,’ says Chris. ‘We did the same thing a bit later at a pretty dry conference and it took off from there.

Mercer Memorial Clock and The ChambersMercer Memorial Clock and The Chambers

‘We write our own material – my wife and children are a reasonably willing audience – and we are very lucky in that the Bishop thinks we’re funny too! We’ve done fairly well on social media and the idea of a UK tour has been mooted but we are clerics and the parish has to come first.’

Both of us had done comedy before they trained to become priests. ‘We were asking ourselves what place was there for an Anglican clergyman who “does” comedy,’ adds Chris.

‘We concluded that in laughter, there is healing, and in Christ, there is healing and the two belong together. A life lived in all its fullness includes laughter, as well as the full range of human emotions.’

You can see them in the flesh when Jimmy Cricket will be joining them for a comedy night, in St Bartholomew’s on July 20.

Great show

The recent Great Harwood Show is a contender for the oldest agricultural show in the country, according to its chairman Stephen Horrocks.

‘Yes, May 2018 was the 154th year and it is such an important part of Great Harwood community life that all the papers relating to its history are now safely lodged in the Lancashire Archives,’ he says. ‘Its future is guaranteed too, as we now own the 40-acre site. We lease some of it to Great Harwood Rovers FC and there are plenty of plans to make it an even better resource for the whole community.’

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