COLNE, a market-town and parochial chapelry, in the parish of Whalley, union of Burnley, Higher division of the hundred of Blackburn, N. division of the county of Lancaster, 35 miles (S. E.) from Lancaster, and 217 (N. N. W.) from London; containing 20,761 inhabitants, of whom 8615 are in the township of Colne. This place is supposed by the geographer of Ravennas to have been a Roman station, the site of which is referred by Whitaker, the historian of Manchester, to Caster Cliff, a lofty eminence about a mile south of the town, where are still the vestiges of a quadrilateral camp, 120 yards in length, and 110 in breadth, surrounded by a double vallum and fosse. The camp is considered by Dr. Whitaker, the historian of the parish of Whalley, only as the castra æstiva of the primary station, which, perhaps on better authority, he places in the low grounds beneath the town and near the bank of the Colne water, but of which every vestige has been obliterated by cultivation. Numerous Roman coins have been found at various times, and among them several of Gordianus and other emperors, inclosed in a large silver cup turned up by the plough in 1696.
The town seems to have arisen with Lancaster, Manchester, and other places in the county, soon after its conquest by Agricola, in the year 79, and derives its name either from Colunio, the supposed name of the Roman station, or from the Saxon Culme, coal, with which the neighbourhood abounds. It is situated on an elevated point of land between the river Calder and the Leeds and Liverpool canal; the streets are paved, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. A subscription library was established in 1793. The woollenmanufacture was carried on here previously to the arrival of the Flemings in England in the time of Edward III., as appears from the rent-roll of the last Henry de Lacy, lord of the manor in 1311, in which a fulling-mill is returned as being valued at 6s. 8d. per annum; and the manufacture of shalloons, calimancoes, and tammies, was also extensively carried on. A Piece-hall was erected in 1775, a substantial stone building, for many years the principal mart in the district for woollen and worsted goods, but now appropriated to the sale of general merchandise at the fairs only. The cotton-manufacture is at present the principal branch of business; the chief articles are calico and mouselin de lain for the Manchester market, both of them being made to a considerable extent. The Leeds and Liverpool canal passes through a tunnel a mile in length, at a small distance from the town, affording a facility of conveyance for the coal, freestone, slate, and lime, with which the neighbouring hills abound, and for the produce of the factories; and the East Lancashire railway and the Bradford Extension both terminate at this place, in a common station. The market days are Wednesday and Saturday; on the last Wednesday in every month is a market for cattle, and the fairs are March 7th, May 13th, for cattle, and 15th for pedlery, October 11th, and December 21st. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates: the powers of the county debt-court of Colne, established in 1847, extend over the sub-registration-districts of Colne and Pendle.
The chapelry includes the townships of Barrowford, Foulridge, Great and Little Marsden, and Trawden, and comprises by computation 23,040 acres, chiefly pasture and meadow land: of this area, 4526 acres are in the township of Colne. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £179, with a good glebe-house; patrons, Hulme's Trustees. The chapel, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, is a very ancient structure, erected probably soon after the Conquest, and in the reign of Henry I. given to the priory of Pontefract by Hugh de Val. It was repaired, or partly rebuilt, in the reign of Henry VIII., when the only remains preserved of the original edifice were the finely-carved screen at the entrance and on the sides of the choir, and three massive circular columns in the north aisle, one of which, having been undermined by some interments, suddenly gave way in 1815, and endangered the whole building, which has since been rendered firm and secure. There is a church or chapel at Little Marsden; and since 1835 four additional churches have been erected in this chapelry, viz.: Christ Church, Colne, built in 1836; St. Thomas', Barrowford, in 1838; St. Mary's, Trawden, in 1844; and St. John's, Great Marsden, in 1847. A district has been assigned to each of the five churches, and the benefice of each augmented by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to £150. The livings of Little Marsden, Christ Church, and Barrowford, are in the gift of Hulme's Trustees, and those of Trawden and Great Marsden in that of the Crown and the Bishop of Chester, alternately. In the same period five national schools have been built, capable of accommodating 1700 children. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists. The grammar school, of very uncertain foundation, is endowed with about £15 per annum, for which six boys are taught free, four of them by means of a bequest of £40 from Thomas Blakey in 1687; the old schoolroom was taken down, and on its site a new one erected by subscription, in 1812. There is a tradition that Dr. Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury, received the rudiments of his education at the school. A school was founded, and endowed with £16 per annum, in 1746, at Laneshaw Bridge, by John Emmot, Esq.