This edited article about Lancashire originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 722 published on 15 November 1975.
In the prehistoric era, most of Lancashire was composed mainly of marsh and was sparsely inhabited. In the 1st century, A. D., the Romans took over the county and established many settlements. Lancaster in the north became one of the most important settlements as a barrier against the raiding Scots and it kept this position until the Middle Ages.
In 1453, King Henry VI of the royal house of Lancaster, became mad and unfit to rule. His wife, Queen Margaret, wished to take over the throne. This brought her into direct conflict with the Duke of York and his followers, thus leading to the Wars of the Roses.
In the 17th century, Lancashire became a county divided against itself. The north and west of the county supported Charles I and the south and east stood for Parliament. Later, during the 1715 rebellion, the last battle to be fought on English soil, took place at Preston.
With the building of large towns and the invention of machines such as James Hargreave’s Spinning Jenny, Richard Arkwright’s spinning frame and Samuel Crompton’s “mule”, this somewhat backward county found itself caught up in a feverish web of industry.
In the 19th century, it led the world in the cotton trade, the damp air proving ideal for the spinning of cotton threads. But now other countries such as Japan have studied the Lancashire cotton mills’ techniques and provide serious opposition.
Today, a tremendous variety of products emanate from this county. Paper at Darwen, motors at Leyland, iron foundries at Nelson, paint-works at Burnley, brickworks at Accrington, brewing at Blackburn, aircraft construction at Warton and Samlesbury, near Preston, to name but a few.
Fleetwood, situated at the mouth of the River Wyre, has the distinction of being the most important fishing port on the west coast of Britain. Tons of fish are brought here from the Irish Sea and from the more northern waters.
Each summer, factory workers flock to the coastal resorts such as Morecambe, Lytham St. Anne’s and, of course, Blackpool. Blackpool is world-renowned being known even to people who have never been within miles of the resort. It stands for a typically British way of seaside enjoyment. Miles of sands, donkey rides, bathing and boating all combine to make a memorable holiday.
For those not so energetic, there are many piers, each with its own concert hall, ballrooms and amusement parks and the famous Blackpool tower, looking down on all the merrymaking like a benign giant. Famous artists, singers and comedians count it a privilege to appear at Blackpool and entertain the 7,000,000 visitors that pour into it each year, one and all with the avowed intention of enjoying themselves.
If the pleasures of a seaside holiday prove too strenuous, there is always the Lake District starting at Westmorland, north of Lancaster, with such famous sights as Coniston and Windermere Lakes, all within easy reach of the lucky Lancastrians.
It may no longer be true that “what Lancashire thinks today, the world thinks tomorrow” but this county peopled by its highly individual inhabitants, has always led the way.
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