Lancashire (/ˈlæŋkəʃər/ LAN-kə-shər, /-ʃɪər/ -sheer; abbreviated Lancs.) is the name of a historic county, ceremonial county, and non-metropolitan county in North West England. The boundaries of these three areas differ significantly.

Lancaster, the county town of Lancashire
"In Concilio Consilium"
("In Council is Wisdom")
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionNorth West England
Time zoneUTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
  Summer (DST)UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of Parliament
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantCharles Kay-Shuttleworth[2]
High SheriffCatherine Penny[3] (2020–21)
Area3,079 km2 (1,189 sq mi)
  Ranked17th of 48
Population (2021)1,498,300
  Ranked8th of 48
Density487/km2 (1,260/sq mi)
Ethnicity89.7% White British
6.0% S. Asian
2.1% Other White
0.9% Mixed
0.7% E. Asian and Other
0.5% Black
2005 Estimates
Non-metropolitan county
County councilLancashire County Council
Admin HQPreston
Area2,903 km2 (1,121 sq mi)
  Ranked12th of 26
  Ranked4th of 26
Density422/km2 (1,090/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2GB-LAN
ONS code30

Districts of Lancashire
Unitary County council area
  1. City of Lancaster
  2. Wyre
  3. Blackpool
  4. Fylde
  5. City of Preston
  6. Ribble Valley
  7. South Ribble
  8. Hyndburn
  9. Burnley
  10. Pendle
  11. West Lancashire
  12. Chorley
  13. Blackburn with Darwen
  14. Rossendale

The non-metropolitan county of Lancashire was created by the Local Government Act 1972. It is administered by Lancashire County Council, based in Preston, and twelve district councils. The ceremonial county has the same boundaries except that it also includes Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, which are unitary authorities. The historic county of Lancashire is larger and includes the cities of Manchester and Liverpool as well as the Furness and Cartmel peninsulas, but excludes the Bowland area of the West Riding of Yorkshire transferred to the non-metropolitan county in 1974.

The ceremonial county borders Cumbria to the north, Greater Manchester and Merseyside to the south, North and West Yorkshire to the east, and the Irish Sea to the west. Although Lancaster is still considered the county town, Preston is the administrative centre of the non-metropolitan county.


Before the county

During Roman times the area was part of the Brigantes tribal area in the military zone of Roman Britain. The towns of Manchester, Lancaster, Ribchester, Burrow, Elslack and Castleshaw grew around Roman forts. In the centuries after the Roman withdrawal in 410AD the northern parts of the county probably formed part of the Brythonic kingdom of Rheged, a successor entity to the Brigantes tribe. During the mid-8th century, the area was incorporated into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria from the north of the River Ribble and the Kingdom of Mercia from the south, which both became parts of England in the 10th century.

In the Domesday Book, land between the Ribble and Mersey were known as "Inter Ripam et Mersam"[4][5] and included in the returns for Cheshire.[6] Although some historians consider this to mean south Lancashire was then part of Cheshire,[5][7] it is by no means certain.[note 1][8][note 2] It is also claimed that the territory to the north formed part of the West Riding of Yorkshire.[7]

Early history

The Countie Pallatine of Lancaster Described and Divided into Hundreds, 1610, a map of Lancashire engraved in around 1627 by John Speed. The map features a street plan of the county town, Lancaster, and side panels containing portraits of kings from the House of Lancaster and the House of York.[9]

The county was established in 1182,[10] and came to be bordered by Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire. It was divided into the hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby.[11] Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, the detached part north of the sands of Morecambe Bay including Furness and Cartmel, and Lonsdale South.

Victorian era to late 20th century

Since the Victorian era, Lancashire has had multiple reforms of local government.[12] In 1889, the administrative county of Lancashire was created, covering the majority of the county. Multiple county boroughs were outside the county council control; Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, St. Helens, and Wigan. The area served by the Lord-Lieutenant (termed now a ceremonial county) covered the entirety of the administrative county and the county boroughs. It expanded whenever boroughs annexed areas in neighbouring counties such as Wythenshawe in Manchester south of the River Mersey and from Cheshire, and southern Warrington. It did not cover the western part of Todmorden, where the ancient border between Lancashire and Yorkshire passes through the middle of the town.

During the 20th century, the county became increasingly urban with Warrington (1900), Blackpool (1904) and Southport (1905) becoming county boroughs, with many boundary extensions. The borders around the Manchester area were particularly complicated, with narrow protrusions of the administrative county between the county boroughs – Lees urban district formed a detached part of the administrative county, between Oldham county borough and the West Riding of Yorkshire.[13]

The administrative county was also the most populous of its type outside London, with a population of 2,280,359 in 1961. By the census of 1971, the population of Lancashire and its county boroughs had reached 5,129,416, making it the most populous geographic county in the UK.[14]


The historic county palatine boundaries in red and the ceremonial county in green

On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the southern part of the geographic county was transferred to the two newly established metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester.[15] The new county of Cumbria incorporated into the Furness exclave and otherwise newly exclaves were incorporated into Cheshire.[10]

The new metropolitan boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, St. Helens and Sefton were formed in Merseyside. In Greater Manchester the new metropolitan boroughs were Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham (part), Rochdale, Salford, Tameside (part), Trafford (part) and Wigan. Newly created Warrington borough and parts of Halton borough, south of the new Merseyside and Greater Manchester, were transferred to the administrative county of Cheshire.

The former urban districts of Barnoldswick and Earby, Bowland Rural District and the parishes of Bracewell and Brogden and Salterforth from Skipton Rural District in the West Riding of Yorkshire became part of the administrative county of Lancashire.[16] One parish, Simonswood, was transferred from the borough of Knowsley in Merseyside to the district of West Lancashire in 1994.[17] In 1998 Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen became unitary authorities (reform equivalent of a county borough), removing them from the non-metropolitan county but not from the ceremonial county. In the same year Warrington and Widnes (which joined with neighbouring town, Runcorn to form Halton) became unitary authorities and were no longer part of the non-metropolitan county of Cheshire.


Divisions and environs

Lancashire, the shire county controlled by the county council is divided into local government districts, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, and Wyre.[18][19]

Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen are unitary authorities that do not come under county council control.[20] The Lancashire Constabulary covers the shire county and the unitary authorities.[21] The ceremonial county, including the unitary authorities, borders Cumbria, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside in the North West England region.[22]

Geology, landscape, and ecology

Topography of Lancashire

The highest point of the modern county council area is Gragareth, near Whernside, which reaches a height of 627 m (2,057 ft).[23] Green Hill near Gragareth has also been cited as the "county" top.[24] of the modern council area. However, the highest point in the historic County Palatine is Coniston Old Man in the Lake District at 803 m (2,634 ft),[25] which is regarded as the County Top by those who feel the Local Government Act 1972 (enacted 1974) did not abolish the historic county borders of Lancashire.

Lancashire rivers drain westwards from the Pennines into the Irish Sea. Rivers in Lancashire include the Ribble, Wyre and Lune. Their tributaries are the Calder, Darwen, Douglas, Hodder, and Yarrow. The Irwell has its source in Lancashire.

To the west of the county are the West Lancashire Coastal Plain and the Fylde coastal plain north of the Ribble Estuary. Further north is Morecambe Bay. Apart from the coastal resorts, these areas are largely rural with the land devoted to vegetable crops. In the northwest corner of the county, straddling the border with Cumbria, is the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), characterised by its limestone pavements and home to the Leighton Moss nature reserve.

To the east of the county are upland areas leading to the Pennines. North of the Ribble is Beacon Fell Country Park and the Forest of Bowland, another AONB. Much of the lowland in this area is devoted to dairy farming and cheesemaking, whereas the higher ground is more suitable for sheep, and the highest ground is uncultivated moorland. The valleys of the River Ribble and its tributary the Calder form a large gap to the west of the Pennines, overlooked by Pendle Hill. Most of the larger Lancashire towns are in these valleys South of the Ribble are the West Pennine Moors and the Forest of Rossendale where former cotton mill towns are in deep valleys. The Lancashire Coalfield, largely in modern-day Greater Manchester, extended into Merseyside and to Ormskirk, Chorley, Burnley and Colne in Lancashire.


Much of the southern half of Lancashire and its coast is heavily urbanised especially around the settlements adjoining Greater Manchester and the county's largest settlements of Preston, Blackburn, Lancaster, Blackpool and Burnley.[26] The towns of Nelson, Brierfield, Colne and Burnley form a large urban area which covers both the Burnley and Pendle Boroughs. Rawtenstall, Bacup, Accrington and Haslingden form an urban area which is almost contiguous with the nearby borough of Blackburn with Darwen and the Greater Manchester boroughs of Bolton, Bury and Rochdale. Parts of West Lancashire form part of the Wigan urban area (Wigan being also in Greater Manchester) which includes Skelmersdale. Central Lancashire forms an urban area around the city of Preston and the towns of Penwortham, Leyland and Chorley. Lancaster forms an urban area with Heysham and Morecambe.[27][28]

Lancashire contains green belt interspersed throughout the county, covering much of the southern districts and towns throughout the Ribble Valley, West Lancashire, and The Fylde coastal plains to prevent convergence with the nearby Merseyside and Greater Manchester conurbations. Further pockets control the expansion of Lancaster, and surround the Blackpool urban area, as part of the western edge of the North West Green Belt. It was first drawn up in the 1950s. All the county's districts contain some portion of the belt, the portion by Burnley also abutting the Forest of Pendle Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


The table below divides settlements by their district. Each district has an administrative centre; taking the largest town's name or the geographical area.

Borough or district Administrative centre Other places
Blackburn with Darwen Borough[lower-alpha 1] Blackburn Belmont, Chapeltown, Darwen, Edgworth, Hoddlesden, Tockholes, North Turton
Blackpool Borough[lower-alpha 1] Blackpool Bispham, Layton
Burnley Borough Burnley Padiham, Hapton, Harle Syke, Worsthorne, Cliviger.
Chorley Borough Chorley Adlington, Clayton-le-Woods, Coppull, Croston, Eccleston, Euxton, Mawdesley, Whittle-le-Woods
Fylde Borough Lytham St Annes Freckleton, Kirkham, Warton, Wrea Green
Hyndburn Borough Accrington Altham, Church, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton
Lancaster City Lancaster Bolton-le-Sands, Carnforth, Heysham, Morecambe, Silverdale
Pendle Borough Nelson Barnoldswick[lower-alpha 2], Barrowford, Brierfield, Colne, Earby[lower-alpha 2], Foulridge, Trawden
Preston City Preston Barton, Broughton, Fulwood, Goosnargh, Grimsargh, Whittingham
Ribble Valley Borough Clitheroe Bolton-by-Bowland[lower-alpha 2], Chipping, Hurst Green, Longridge, Read, Ribchester, Slaidburn[lower-alpha 2], Whalley, Wilpshire,
Rossendale Borough Rawtenstall Bacup, Chatterton, Edenfield, Haslingden, Helmshore, Waterfoot, Whitworth
South Ribble Borough Leyland Bamber Bridge, Farington, Longton, Lostock Hall, Penwortham, Samlesbury, Walton-le-Dale
West Lancashire Borough Ormskirk Appley Bridge, Aughton, Banks, Bickerstaffe, Burscough, Downholland, Great Altcar, Halsall, Lathom, Parbold, Rufford, Scarisbrick, Skelmersdale, Tarleton, Upholland
Wyre Borough Poulton Cleveleys, Fleetwood, Garstang, Great Eccleston, Pilling, Preesall, St Michael's On Wyre, Thornton


Some settlements which were historically part of the county now fall under the counties of West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cumbria:[10][16][29][15][30][31][32]

Greater Manchester
West Yorkshire Todmorden (part)

Boundary changes before 1974 include:[32]

  • Todmorden, split between Lancashire and Yorkshire then entirely to West Riding of Yorkshire in 1889
  • Mossley, split between Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire then entirely to Lancashire in 1889
  • Stalybridge, entirely to Cheshire in 1889
  • Areas such as Wythenshawe and Latchford, former county boroughs of Manchester and Warrington both extended south of the Mersey into historic Cheshire
  • areas such as Reddish and the Heatons (Heaton Chapel, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Moor and Heaton Norris), former county borough of Stockport extended north into historic Lancashire.


They are three areas to have the name Lancashire: the smallest of these is the non-metropolitan county which has a county council and districts; the ceremonial county which includes the latter, Blackburn with Darwen and the Borough of Blackpool; the final area is the has the most area of the three and is the oldest.


Council logo

The non-metropolitan county is administered on a two-tier system. It is governed by the Lancashire County Council and twelve district councils.

Lancashire County Council is based in County Hall in Preston. Built as a home for the county administration, the Quarter Sessions and Lancashire Constabulary, it opened on 14 September 1882.[33]

Local elections for 84 councillors from 84 divisions are held every four years. The Conservative Party currently form a majority on Lancashire County Council.

ElectionNumber of councillors elected by each political party
ConservativeLabourLiberal DemocratsIndependentGreen PartyBNPUKIPIdle Toad


General Election 2019: Lancashire[35]
ConservativeLabourLiberal DemocratsGreenBrexit PartyOthersTurnout
Overall Number of Seats as of 2019
ConservativeLabourLiberal DemocratsGreenBrexit PartyOthers
1 (Speaker)

The ceremonial county is defined in the Lieutenancies Act 1997 as consisting of two unitary authority boroughs - Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen - and the non-metropolitan county.[36] The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire is the King's personal representative in the ceremonial county and has been Charles Kay-Shuttleworth since 1997.[37]

The High Sheriff of Lancashire is the King's judicial representative, a position which is a largely ceremonial and changes holder each year.[38] High Shrievalties are the oldest secular titles under the Crown, in England and Wales. The High Sheriff is the representative of the monarch and is the "Keeper of The King's Peace" in the county, executing judgements of the High Court.[14]

Following similar moves by other counties, in 2020, councils in the county proposed a reform to establish a combined authority (to provide strategic priorities) and three unitary authorities with roughly equal population.[39] The three new council areas would be:

Proposed unitary authorities of Lancashire[39]
District name Consisting of Population
Northwest Lancashire Blackpool, Fylde, Lancaster, Ribble Valley, Wyre 540,000
Central Lancashire Chorley, Preston, South Ribble, West Lancashire 485,450
Pennine Lancashire Blackburn and Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale 483,250

Historic duchy

Lancashire, County Palatine shown within England

The duchy area (also known as a county palatine or historic county) includes most of the other definitions of the county as well as areas of all its neighbouring ceremonial counties and of Cheshire. The Duchy of Lancaster is one of two royal duchies in England, the other being Cornwall. It has landholdings throughout the region and elsewhere, operating as a property company, but also exercising the right of the Crown in the County Palatine of Lancaster.[40] While the administrative boundaries changed in the 1970s, the county palatine boundaries remain the same as the historic boundaries.[41]

The Duchy administers bona vacantia within the County Palatine, receiving the property of persons who die intestate and where the legal ownership cannot be ascertained. There is no separate Duke of Lancaster; the title merged into the Crown with the ascension of Henry V. Rather, the Duchy is administered by the King in Right of the Duchy of Lancaster. A separate court system for the county palatine was abolished by Courts Act 1971. A particular form of The Loyal Toast, 'The King, Duke of Lancaster' is in regular use in the county palatine. Lancaster serves as the county town of the county palatine.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a government minister. Formally, the Chancellor is responsible for administration of the estates and rents of the Duchy, but in practice the post is treated as a high-ranking minister without portfolio.


County Hall, Preston

Lancashire in the 19th century was a major centre of economic activity, and hence one of wealth. Activities included coal mining, textile production, particularly that which used cotton, and fishing. Preston Docks, an industrial port is now disused. Lancashire was historically the location of the port of Liverpool while Barrow-in-Furness is famous for shipbuilding.

As of 2013, the largest private sector industry is the defence industry with BAE Systems Military Air Solutions division based in Warton on the Fylde coast. The division operates a manufacturing site in Samlesbury. Other defence firms include BAE Systems Global Combat Systems in Chorley, Ultra Electronics in Fulwood and Rolls-Royce plc in Barnoldswick.

The nuclear power industry has a plant at Springfields, Salwick operated by Westinghouse and Heysham nuclear power station is operated by British Energy. Other major manufacturing firms include Leyland Trucks, a subsidiary of Paccar building the DAF truck range.

Other companies with a major presence in Lancashire include:

  • Airline Network, an internet travel company with headquarters in Preston.
  • Baxi, a heating equipment manufacturer has a large manufacturing site in Bamber Bridge.
  • Crown Paints, a major paint manufacturer based in Darwen.
  • Enterprise plc, one of the UK's leading support services based in Leyland.
  • Hanson plc, a building supplies company operates the Accrington brick works.
  • Hollands Pies, a major manufacturer of baked goods based in Baxenden near Accrington.
  • National Savings and Investments, the state-owned savings bank, which offers Premium Bonds and other savings products, has an office in Blackpool.
  • Thwaites Brewery, a regional brewery founded in 1807 by Daniel Thwaites in Blackburn.
  • Xchanging, a company providing business process outsourcing services, with operations in Fulwood.
  • Fisherman's Friend, a confection company, famous for making strong mints and lozenges, based in Fleetwood.

The Foulnaze cockle fishery is in Lytham. It has only opened the coastal cockle beds three times in twenty years; August 2013 was the last of these openings.[42]

Enterprise zone

The creation of Lancashire Enterprise Zone was announced in 2011. It was launched in April 2012, based at the airfields owned by BAE Systems in Warton and Samlesbury.[43] Warton Aerodrome covers 72 hectares (180 acres) and Samlesbury Aerodrome is 74 hectares.[44] Development is coordinated by Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council and BAE Systems.[43] The first businesses to move into the zone did so in March 2015, at Warton.[45]

In March 2015 the government announced a new enterprise zone would be created at Blackpool Airport, using some airport and adjoining land.[46] Operations at the airport will not be affected.[47]

Economic output

Cattle grazing on the salt marshes of the Ribble Estuary near Banks

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of the non-metropolitan county of Lancashire at basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British pounds sterling.[48]

YearRegional Gross Value Added [note 3]Agriculture [note 4]Industry [note 5]Services [note 6]


Lancashire has a mostly comprehensive system with four state grammar schools. Not including sixth form colleges, there are 77 state schools (not including Burnley's new schools) and 24 independent schools. The Clitheroe area has secondary modern schools. Sixth form provision is limited at most schools in most districts, with only Fylde and Lancaster districts having mostly sixth forms at schools. The rest depend on FE colleges and sixth form colleges, where they exist. South Ribble has the largest school population and Fylde the smallest (only three schools). Burnley's schools have had a new broom and have essentially been knocked down and started again in 2006. There are many Church of England and Catholic faith schools in Lancashire.

Lancashire is home to four universities: Lancaster University, the University of Central Lancashire, Edge Hill University and the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria. Seven colleges offer higher education courses.



The M6 near Carnforth

The Lancashire economy relies strongly on the M6 motorway which runs from north to south, past Lancaster and Preston. The M55 connects Preston to Blackpool and is 11.5 miles (18.3 km) long. The M65 motorway from Colne, connects Burnley, Accrington, Blackburn to Preston. The M61 from Preston via Chorley and the M66 starting 500 metres (0.3 mi) inside the county boundary near Edenfield, provide links between Lancashire and Manchester, and the trans-Pennine M62. The M58 crosses the southernmost part of the county from the M6 near Wigan to Liverpool via Skelmersdale.

Other major roads include the east–west A59 between Liverpool in Merseyside and Skipton in North Yorkshire via Ormskirk, Preston and Clitheroe, and the connecting A565 to Southport; the A56 from Ramsbottom to Padiham via Haslingden and from Colne to Skipton; the A585 from Kirkham to Fleetwood; the A666 from the A59 north of Blackburn to Bolton via Darwen; and the A683 from Heysham to Kirkby Lonsdale via Lancaster.


Burnley Central
Heysham Port
Railways in Lancashire
  Primary route
  Secondary route
  Rural route
  Goods only
  Disused railway

The West Coast Main Line provides direct rail links with London, Glasgow and other major cities, with stations at Preston and Lancaster. East-west connections are carried via the East Lancashire Line between Blackpool and Colne via Lytham, Preston, Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley. The Ribble Valley Line runs from Bolton to Clitheroe via Darwen and Blackburn. There are connecting lines from Preston to Ormskirk and Bolton, and from Lancaster to Morecambe, Heysham and Skipton.


Blackpool Airport are no longer operating domestic or international flights, but it is still the home of flying schools, private operators and North West Air Ambulance. Manchester Airport is the main airport in the region. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is nearby, while the closest airport to the Pendle Borough is Leeds Bradford.

There is an operational airfield at Warton near Preston where there is a major assembly and test facility for BAE Systems.


Heysham offers ferry services to Ireland and the Isle of Man.[49] As part of its industrial past, Lancashire gave rise to an extensive network of canals, which extend into neighbouring counties. These include the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Lancaster Canal, Sankey Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Rochdale Canal, Ashton Canal and Manchester Ship Canal.


Several bus companies run bus services in the Lancashire area serving the main towns and villages in the county with some services running to neighbouring areas, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire. Some of these include:


The major settlements in the ceremonial county are concentrated on the Fylde coast (the Blackpool Urban Area), and a number of notable settlements along west to east of the M65: including the city of Preston and towns of Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington, Burnley, Padiham, Brierfield, Nelson and Colne. South of Preston are the towns of Leyland and Chorley (which, with Preston, formed Central Lancashire New Town designated in 1970), as well as Penwortham, Skelmersdale and Ormskirk. The north of the county is predominantly rural and sparsely populated, except for the city of Lancaster and the towns of Morecambe and Heysham which form a large conurbation of almost 100,000 people. Lancashire is home to a significant Asian population, numbering over 70,000 and 6% of the county's population, and concentrated largely in the former cotton mill towns in the south east.

Population totals for modern (post-1998) Lancashire
YearPop.±% p.a.
1801 163,310    
1811 192,283+1.65%
1821 236,724+2.10%
1831 261,710+1.01%
1841 289,925+1.03%
1851 313,957+0.80%
1861 419,412+2.94%
1871 524,869+2.27%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1881 630,323+1.85%
1891 736,233+1.57%
1901 798,545+0.82%
1911 873,210+0.90%
1921 886,114+0.15%
1931 902,965+0.19%
1941 922,812+0.22%
1951 948,592+0.28%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1961 991,648+0.44%
1971 1,049,013+0.56%
1981 1,076,146+0.26%
1991 1,122,097+0.42%
2001 1,134,976+0.11%
2011 1,171,339+0.32%
Pre-1998 statistics were gathered from local government areas that now comprise Lancashire
Source: Great Britain Historical GIS.[50]



The Red Rose of Lancaster

The Red Rose of Lancaster is the county flower found on the county's heraldic badge and flag. The rose was a symbol of the House of Lancaster, immortalised in the verse "In the battle for England's head/York was white, Lancaster red" (referring to the 15th-century Wars of the Roses). The traditional Lancashire flag, a red rose on a white field, was not officially registered. When an attempt was made to register it with the Flag Institute it was found that it was officially registered by Montrose in Scotland, several hundred years earlier with the Lyon Office. Lancashire's official flag is registered as a red rose on a gold field.


Lancashire County Cricket Club has been one of the most successful county cricket teams, particularly in the one-day game. It is home to England cricket team members James Anderson and Jos Buttler. The County Ground, Old Trafford, Trafford, has been the home cricket ground of LCCC since 1864.[51]

Local cricket leagues include the Lancashire League, the Central Lancashire League and the North Lancashire and Cumbria League.

Since 2000, the designated ECB Premier League[52] for Lancashire has been the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition.


Football in Lancashire is governed by the Lancashire County Football Association which, like most county football associations, has boundaries that are aligned roughly with the historic counties. The Manchester Football Association and Liverpool County Football Association respectively operate in Greater Manchester and Merseyside.[53][54]

Lancashire clubs were prominent in the formation of the Football League in 1888, with the league being officially named at a meeting in Manchester.[55][56] Of the twelve founder members of the league, six were from Lancashire: Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Everton, and Preston North End.

The Football League now operates out of Preston.[57] The National Football Museum was founded at Deepdale, Preston in 2001, but moved to Manchester in 2012.[58]

Seven professional full-time teams were based in Lancashire at the start of the 2022-23 season:

The county's most prominent football rivalries are the East Lancashire derby between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley, and the West Lancashire derby between Blackpool and Preston North End.

A further nine professional full-time teams lie within the historical borders of Lancashire but outside of the current ceremonial county. These include the Premier League clubs Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Rugby league

Along with Yorkshire and Cumberland, Lancashire is recognised as the heartland of Rugby League. The county has produced many successful top flight clubs such as St. Helens, Wigan, Warrington, Oldham, Salford and Widnes. The county was once the focal point for many of the sport's professional competitions including the Lancashire League competition which ran from 1895 to 1970, and the Lancashire County Cup which ran until 1993. Rugby League has also seen a representative fixture between Lancashire and Yorkshire contested 89 times since its inception in 1895.[59] In recent times there were several rugby league teams that are based within the ceremonial county which include Blackpool Panthers, East Lancashire Lions, and Blackpool Sea Eagles.


There are many archery clubs located within Lancashire.[60] In 2004 Lancashire took the winning title at the Inter-counties championships from Yorkshire who had held it for 7 years.[61]


Lancashire has a long history of wrestling, developing its own style called Lancashire wrestling, with many clubs that over the years have produced many renowned wrestlers. Some of these have crossed over into the mainstream world of professional wrestling, including Shak Khan, Billy Riley, Davey Boy Smith, William Regal, Wade Barrett and the Dynamite Kid.

Folk music

Lancashire has a long and highly productive tradition of music making. In the early modern era the county shared in the national tradition of balladry, including perhaps the finest border ballad, "The Ballad of Chevy Chase", thought to have been composed by the Lancashire-born minstrel Richard Sheale.[62] The county was also a common location for folk songs, including "The Lancashire Miller", "Warrington Ale" and "The soldier's farewell to Manchester", while Liverpool, as a major seaport, was the subject of many sea shanties, including "The Leaving of Liverpool" and "Maggie May",[63] beside several local Wassailing songs.[62] In the Industrial Revolution changing social and economic patterns helped create new traditions and styles of folk song, often linked to migration and patterns of work.[64] These included processional dances, often associated with rushbearing or the Wakes Week festivities, and types of step dance, most famously clog dancing.[64][65]

A local pioneer of folk song collection in the first half of the 19th century was Shakespearean scholar James Orchard Halliwell,[66] but it was not until the second folk revival in the 20th century that the full range of song from the county, including industrial folk song, began to gain attention.[65] The county produced one of the major figures of the revival in Ewan MacColl, but also a local champion in Harry Boardman, who from 1965 onwards probably did more than anyone to popularise and record the folk song of the county.[67] Perhaps the most influential folk artists to emerge from the region in the late 20th century were Liverpool folk group The Spinners, and from Manchester folk troubadour Roy Harper and musician, comedian and broadcaster Mike Harding.[68][69][70] The region is home to numerous folk clubs, many of them catering to Irish and Scottish folk music. Regular folk festivals include the Fylde Folk Festival at Fleetwood.[71]

Classical music

Lancashire had a lively culture of choral and classical music, with very large numbers of local church choirs from the 17th century,[72] leading to the foundation of local choral societies from the mid-18th century, often particularly focused on performances of the music of Handel and his contemporaries.[73] It also played a major part in the development of brass bands which emerged in the county, particularly in the textile and coalfield areas, in the 19th century.[74] The first open competition for brass bands was held at Manchester in 1853, and continued annually until the 1980s.[75] The vibrant brass band culture of the area made an important contribution to the foundation and staffing of the Hallé Orchestra from 1857, the oldest extant professional orchestra in the United Kingdom.[76] The same local musical tradition produced eminent figures such as Sir William Walton (1902–88), son of an Oldham choirmaster and music teacher,[77] Sir Thomas Beecham (1879–1961), born in St. Helens, who began his career by conducting local orchestras[78] and Alan Rawsthorne (1905–71) born in Haslingden.[79] The conductor David Atherton, co-founder of the London Sinfonietta, was born in Blackpool in 1944.[80] Lancashire also produced more populist figures, such as early musical theatre composer Leslie Stuart (1863–1928), born in Southport, who began his musical career as organist of Salford Cathedral.[81]

More recent Lancashire-born composers include Hugh Wood (1932– Parbold),[82] Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934–2016, Salford),[83] Sir Harrison Birtwistle (1934–, Accrington),[84] Gordon Crosse (1937–, Bury),[85] John McCabe (1939–2015, Huyton),[86] Roger Smalley (1943–2015, Swinton), Nigel Osborne (1948–, Manchester), Steve Martland (1954–2013, Liverpool),[87] Simon Holt (1958–, Bolton)[88] and Philip Cashian (1963–, Manchester).[89] The Royal Manchester College of Music was founded in 1893 to provide a northern counterpart to the London musical colleges. It merged with the Northern College of Music (formed in 1920) to form the Royal Northern College of Music in 1972.[90]

The Beatles began in Liverpool before the city's county was changed from Lancashire to Merseyside

Liverpool, both during its time in Lancashire and after being moved to the new county of Merseyside, has produced a number of successful musicians. This includes pop stars such as Frankie Vaughan and Lita Roza, as well as rock stars such as Billy Fury, who is considered to be one of the most successful British rock and roll stars of all time.[68] Many Lancashire towns had vibrant skiffle scenes in the late 1950s, out of which a culture of beat groups emerged by the early 1960s, particularly around Liverpool and Manchester. It has been estimated that there were at least 350 bands—including the Beatles—active in and around Liverpool during this era, playing ballrooms, concert halls, and clubs.[91] A number of Liverpool performers followed the Beatles into the charts, including Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Searchers, and Cilla Black.

The first musicians to break through in the UK who were not from Liverpool or managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein were Manchester's Freddie and the Dreamers,[92] with Herman's Hermits and the Hollies also hailing from Manchester.[93] The Beatles led a movement by various beat groups from the region which culminated in the British Invasion of the US, which in turn made a major contribution to the development of modern rock music.[94] After the decline of beat groups in the late 1960s, the centre of rock culture shifted to London, and there were relatively few Lancashire bands who achieved national prominence until the growth of a disco scene and the punk rock revolution in the mid-and-late 1970s.[95]

The towns of Accrington, Burnley, Chorley, Clitheroe, Colne, Lytham St Annes, Morecambe, Nelson, Ormskirk and Skelmersdale as well as the cities of Lancaster and Preston are referenced in the 1991 song, It's Grim Up North by the band the KLF.


Lancashire is the origin of the Lancashire hotpot, a casserole dish traditionally made with lamb. Other traditional foods from the area include:

  • Black peas, also known as parched peas: popular in Darwen, Bolton and Preston.
  • Bury black pudding has long been associated with the county. The most notable brand, Chadwick's Original Bury Black Puddings, are still sold on Bury Market,[96] and are manufactured in Rossendale.
  • Butter cake: slice of bread and butter.
  • Butter pie: a savoury pie containing potatoes, onion and butter. Usually associated with Preston.
  • Clapbread: a thin oatcake made from unleavened dough cooked on a griddle.
  • Chorley cakes: from the town of Chorley.
  • Eccles cakes are small, round cakes filled with currants and made from flaky pastry with butter, originally made in Eccles.
  • Fag pie: pie made from chopped dried figs, sugar and lard. Associated with Blackburn and Burnley, where it was the highlight of Fag Pie Sunday (Mid-Lent Sunday).
  • Fish and chips: the first fish and chip shop in northern England opened in Mossley, near Oldham, around 1863.[97]
  • Frog-i'-th'-'ole pudding: now known as "toad in the hole"
  • Frumenty: sweet porridge. Once a popular dish at Lancashire festivals, such as Christmas and Easter Monday.
  • Goosnargh cakes: small flat shortbread biscuits with coriander or caraway seeds pressed into the biscuit before baking.[98] Traditionally baked on feast days like Shrove Tuesday.
  • Jannock: cake or small loaf of oatmeal. Allegedly introduced to Lancashire (possibly Bolton) by weavers of Flemish origin.
  • Lancashire cheese has been made in the county for several centuries.[99] Beacon Fell Traditional Lancashire Cheese has been awarded EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.[100]
  • Lancashire Flat Cake: A lemon flavoured sponge cake, traditionally made with a couple too many eggs, best eaten after being chilled.
  • Lancashire oatcake, resembling a large oval pancake, eaten either moist or dried
  • Lancashire Sauce, a lightly spiced mustard produced by the Entwistle family of Bury
  • "Stew and hard": a beef and cowheel stew with dried Lancashire oatcake
  • Nettle porridge: a common starvation diet in Lancashire in the early 19th century. Made from boiled stinging nettles and sometimes a handful of meal.
  • Ormskirk gingerbread: local delicacy that was sold throughout South Lancashire.
  • Parkin: a ginger cake with oatmeal.
  • Pobs or pobbies: bread and milk.
  • Potato hotpot: a variation of the Lancashire Hotpot without meat that is also known as fatherless pie.
  • Ran Dan: barley bread. A last resort for the poor at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century.
  • Rag pudding: traditional suet pudding filled with minced meat, originating in Oldham.
  • Throdkins: a traditional breakfast food of the Fylde.
  • Uncle Joe's Mint Balls: traditional mints produced by William Santus & Co. Ltd. in Wigan.[101]


Whistle Down the Wind (1961) was directed by Bryan Forbes, set at the foot of Worsaw Hill and in Burnley, and starred local Lancashire schoolchildren.

The tunnel scene was shot on the old Bacup-Rochdale railway line, location 53°41'29.65"N, 2°11'25.18"W, off the A6066 (New Line) where the line passes beneath Stack Lane. The tunnel is still there, in use as an industrial unit but the railway has long since been removed.

Funny Bones (1995) was set mostly in Blackpool, after opening scenes in Las Vegas.

Places of interest

Accessible open space
Amusement/Theme Park
Country Park
English Heritage
Forestry Commission
Heritage railway
Historic House
Places of Worship

Museum (free/not free)
National Trust

The following are places of interest in the ceremonial county:

See also

  • Custos Rotulorum of Lancashire - Keepers of the Rolls
  • Healthcare in Lancashire
  • High Sheriff of Lancashire
  • Grade I listed buildings in Lancashire
  • Grade II* listed buildings in Lancashire
  • Lancashire (UK Parliament constituency) - Historical list of MPs for Lancashire constituency
  • Lancashire dialect
  • Lancashire Police
  • Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner
  • List of collieries in Lancashire since 1854
  • List of mining disasters in Lancashire
  • Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire
  • Scheduled monuments in Lancashire


  1. Harris and Thacker (1987). write on page 252: Certainly there were links between Cheshire and south Lancashire before 1000, when Wulfric Spot held lands in both territories. Wulfric's estates remained grouped together after his death, when they were left to his brother Aelfhelm. And indeed, there still seems to have been some kind of connexion in 1086, when south Lancashire was surveyed together with Cheshire by the Domesday commissioners. Nevertheless, the two territories do seem to have been distinguished from one another in some way and it is not certain that the shire-moot and the reeves referred to in the south Lancashire section of Domesday were the Cheshire ones.
  2. Crosby, A. (1996). writes on page 31: The Domesday Survey (1086) included south Lancashire with Cheshire for convenience, but the Mersey, the name of which means 'boundary river' is known to have divided the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia and there is no doubt that this was the real boundary.
  3. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  4. includes hunting and forestry
  5. includes energy and construction
  6. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


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Further reading

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