Longridge - The heart of Lancashire
PUBLISHED: 13:06 13 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:11 20 February 2013
Watercolour artist Gordon Wilkinson paints Longridge, the town which stands in the centre of Lancashire
The road to Longridge
Location: Longridge stands in the Ribble Valley, around six miles to the north east of Preston at the junction of the B6243, B5269 and B6245. The town no longer has a railway station, it closed to the public in 1930 and was finally dismantled in 1967.
Where to park: There is free on street parking around the town and the supermarkets, and some of the pubs, have their own car parks.
Where to eat: There are plenty of places to eat in town, with a selection of delis, cafes, restaurants and pubs guaranteed to cater for everyone.
Longridge grew from a small settlement near St Lawrences Church around 500 years ago
The town once boasted four cotton mills and a railway station which stood near the Towneley Arms. There are now seven reservoirs around Longridge
In the 1840s stone from Longridges quarries was used to meet the huge demand for housing in Lancashires rapidly growing mill towns
The population of Longridge has almost doubled in the last 60 years
Most of the roads which lead off Berry Lane to the east are named after rivers, including the Hodder, Irwell, Mersey - Church Street bucks the trend, although it was originally named after the Calder.
Longridge stands pretty much at the heart of our great county, in more ways then one. If you were ever to draw lines connecting the furthest corners of Lancashire - from Liverpool to the fringes of Kirby Lonsdale and from Broughton-in-Furness to Ashton-under-Lyne, they would cross in (or very near to, lets not pick hairs) Longridge.
Some people who have drawn those lines found they met in a field a few miles up the road but if its not exactly the geographic centre, Longridge is certainly the nearest town to it and can claim to be our spiritual heart.
The towns influence has spread far and wide, with stone from its quarries used to build many of the finest buildings in our towns and cities. And Longridge has a special place in the heart of many people - not least the 8,000 who call it home. As the towns website says Friendly people, wonderful countryside and a great social life. What else do you need?
If your answer to that is shops, youre in luck, there are plenty of them. The stone buildings along either side of Berry Lane house all manner of contemporary home and garden stores, gift shops, florists, and just around the corner is Andertons butchers shop with its ornate carvings and stained glass windows. And if you are more concerned about food and drink - dont worry, you are well catered for too, with an impressive array of cafes, restaurants, pubs and delis.
St Lawrences Church dates back to the 16th century and houses a window designed by Oldham-born artist Brian Clarke in the 1970s which features contemporary images of local scenes.
There are terrific views from the churchyard across the Ribble Valley and the reservoirs to the south of the town. For a view in the other direction, head for St Pauls Church from where you can enjoy the expansive views across the town and away to Longridge Fell.