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Burnley takes its name from “Brun Lea” the meadow by the River Brun. The rivers have played a pivotal role in the town, from the providing water to the first settlement in the 12th century to powering the mills that milled wheat.

In the last 100 years the river stopped being seen as a provider and became a conduit to remove waste from the Town – the Victorians re-built the rivers to transport sewage and wastes from industries like abattoirs and print works out of the town. This resulted in the rivers being built over and generally the town turning its back on them.

The URES project has worked to improve the rivers, bring back wildlife to the centre of the town, highlight the importance the rivers to the town of Burnley.

Our river heritage is fascinating
so why is it so difficult to find out about the rivers of Burnley?

Here you can access the URES collections of maps, newspaper articles, photographs, oral histories, videos and art as well as lots more amazing facts –

Did you know …

  • that the river Brun was once ‘moved’? Click here for more info.
  • that Himalayan Balsam seeds could be purchased in packets and promoted as ‘From the land of the yeti’
  • that ‘Burnley weir’ in Thompson Park is medieval, built in 1292, which means that it has been a barrier to fish migration for over 700 years!

Links to more info…

BVFP: click here for more info
Artists – Hidden Rivers: learn about the hidden history of the Brun and Calder
Limestone Hushings: learn about limestone kilns and silver mining.
Brun 3: Poets Corner
Fantastic New River Calder Book
Reference Docs