Lancaster CastleLancashire is in north-west England. It is bordered by Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and parts of Yorkshire, and to the west by the Irish Sea. Lancashire takes its name from the city of Lancaster, which is still considered by many to be the county town, despite the seat of local government being in the city of Preston, 20 miles to the south. The population of the county is 1.5 million and the people are known as Lancastrians.

Lancashire’s worldwide renown stems from its central role Cotton Mill, Lancashirein the Industrial Revolution, the milestone event that helped to transform Britain into a world power from the 18th century. The growing cotton mill towns contained skilled capable of harnessing steam power to operate the thousands of looms, such that by the third quarter of the 19th century, more than 80 per cent of all cotton manufactured worldwide came from Lancashire.

Blackpool Tower and Central PierPreston, Accrington, Blackburn, Rochdale, Bolton, Oldham,Chorley, Darwen, Nelson, Colne and Burnley were the the most important mill towns.In search of recreation during the summer months, the mill workers and their families headed to the Lancashire seaside resort of Blackpool, which eventually developed into Britain’s premier holiday town.

By the 20th century, Lancashire not only had a booming textile industry but had become a major centre for coal mining, heavy engineering, shipbuilding and fishing. Sadly, many of these industries fell into decline during the last century. Today the largest private industry in Lancashire is defence, with BAE Systems leading the way, closely followed by nuclear power. Truck and paint production also loom large, with the state sector represented by National Savings and Investments, the state-owned savings bank, which employs many workers.

Lancashire has excellent motorway links, with the M6 running north to south, the M65 east to west, starting in the town of Colne and ending in Preston, where the M55 connects to Blackpool, while the M61 heads inland towards Manchester and the M58 connects Wigan and Liverpool.

For rail travellers the west coast main line provides direct rail links with London and other major cities, with stations at Preston and Lancaster, which also provide services to elsewhere in Britain. For air travellers, the county is served by Blackpool International Airport, although that is overshadowed by airports at Manchester and Liverpool, both of which are easily accessible by motorway from anywhere in Lancashire.

Major rivers in Lancashire include the Ribble, Wyre and Lune, all of which flow through largely rural and farming areas. In the north-west corner of the county, straddling the border with Cumbria, is the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while to the east are upland areas leading to the Pennines.

In the centre of the county is Beacon Fell Country Park and Pendle Hill, Lancashirethe Forest of Bowland, another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Much of the lowland around this area is devoted to dairy farming and cheesemaking, whereas the higher ground is more suitable for sheep farming, and the highest ground is uncultivated moorland.

To the east is found Pendle Hill and most of the bigger Lancashire towns, while to the south are the West Pennine moors and Forest of Rossendale, in a locality where many former cotton mill towns are located.

Article written by Donald Edgar

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