Bank Parade: one of Burnley’s most interesting streets

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There was a time when Bank Parade was one of Burnley’s more interesting streets.

A quick look at a century-old Commercial Directory confirms this as a variety of house types, inns, the headquarters of the local territorials, the offices of Burnley’s largest industrial enterprise, the Thursby Estate Office and the buildings of Burnley Grammar School collectively confirm.

On the other hand, I remember Bank Parade as rather a gloomy street where residential properties sat rather uncomfortably with industrial premises. The latter included Lancaster’s, the cotton waste dealers; Thomas Steen, the scale makers; the Burnley Clog Iron Co and Robert Broughton and Co., the bakers and confectioners.

However, of the buildings in Bank Parade the one depicted in the photo I have chosen to accompany this article was, perhaps, the best known. It was Keighley Green Wesleyan Methodist Chapel which was founded in 1788 though meetings had been held at premises, a joiner’s shop, in Muschamp Yard in the Saunder Bank area of Burnley, from about 1784.

If you look at the building you will see it was not all built at the same time. There are, for example, three roof levels with five sets of chimneys in four separate buildings: a house for the minister, adjacent to Bank Parade; an extension to the chapel next to the first building; the main body of the chapel (in the centre of the photo) and another extension, to the right.

We have dates for when some of these buildings were constructed but I have not been able to sort out when the individual parts were built. What we do know is that, in 1812/3, an extension to accommodate a Sunday School was built. This is the large middle section of the building but, within 30 years, plans were produced to build a new chapel on the site. However, these plans came to nothing.

In 1841 the Sunday School and Monday evening service were transferred to the newly-built Wesley Chapel in Hargreaves Street, Burnley. A year later it was decided all the building at Keighley Green should be disposed of and the members joined the Wesley Chapel.

The story of the building does not end there. It was the intention of the Trustees to sell the building to another denomination of Protestant Christians but, in the end, the building was adapted to become Burnley’s first Magistrates’ Court and Police Station. There were also about 30 prison cells in the building and this situation continued until a new Magistrates’ Court and Police Station was opened in 1888/9 in Burnley’s present Town Hall. Since that time, the main users of the Keighley Green building have been the police-run Burnley Lads’ Club.

The picture is worth a closer look. It was taken when the building was used as a Court and Police Station - that is, before 1888. In fact, though I doubt you will be able to see it when this image is reproduced, above the large doorway, left, there is a sign indicating this was the “Police” entrance.

Another feature to spot is the sundial which can be seen in the middle of the upper floor on the large building. It is not all that clear in this image but it was something that those who knew the building, when it was standing, remember affectionately. The sundial was removed, by J.A. Mitchell (Mitchell Plastics) who owned the building in the 1970s, to the garden of a bungalow in Wiswell Lane, Barrow, near Whalley, about 1976.

The chapel was built in the Keighley Green area of Burnley much of which is now the site of the St Peter’s Centre and its car park. Keighley Green was an area of small cottages and large industrial buildings. Examples of the latter can be seen on the right of the photo. I think these were the huge Malthouse (right) and Keighley Green spinning mill. Just off, to the right, was Parsonage Mill, home of the printers, Burghope and Strange, later known as Anderson’s.

A final point worth making is that the use of the former chapel by the police gave the name “The Police Bridge”, a foot bridge which spanned the River Brun in the area. There were steps up to the bridge outside Parsonage Mill and, once over the river, the bridge emerged into the former Church Street (now Keirby Walk) between what is now the Continental Café and former Well Hall Hotel.

Getting back to Bank Parade, the even numbers of the street began at the Bridge Inn which was originally owned by Burnley’s Old Brewery. This was otherwise known as Hargreaves’ Old Brewery after John Hargreaves who had founded the firm. The brewery itself was just off Bridge Street, but on the other side of the street to the Inn which was built at a corner which took in Bridge Street and Bank Parade.

The Bridge Inn is still standing, a model of its kind, but if you look for the date stone, with its date of 1905, you will also see the letters “GDLF” on the building. These refer to the chairman of the Old Brewery at the time – Guy David Louis Fernandes, a brewer from Yorkshire who married the Hargreaves’ heiress of the Old Brewery.

There was then a piece of partly undeveloped land which had formerly been the mill pond for Burnley’s ancient corn mill, after which there was the Forester’s Arms, another pub which was standing until quite recently.

Continuing up Bank Parade, the next important building is the Drill Hall which dates from the time of the First World War. In the early 19th Century, the street to here was known as “Keighley Green” which then became Bank Street to the junction with Parker Street. The present name of Bank Parade is, therefore, made up from Bank Street and North Parade, the old name for the street above Parker Street.

Incidentally, I think I am correct in saying Lancaster’s, the cotton waste dealers, had their premises on the site of the present Sorting Office. Above this building was Parker Street and, at the corner of Raws Street, there was the Home for Friendless Girls which occupied the first house of the big terrace which ends in the solicitors’ offices at the corner of Bankhouse Street. This last building was, for many years, a doctor’s surgery and, to this day, there is a plaque on the building to the most famous of the doctors who worked there. This was Sir James Mackenzie, 1853-1925, who specialised in diseases of the heart.

Above Bankhouse Street, Bank Parade has changed out of all recognition. It was here that the Thursby Estate Office once stood, as did the offices of the Hargreaves’ Colliery Company, owned by the Thursby family. Then were a number of large private houses, Bankfield, Bankroyd and, lastly, Brown Hill, a sizeable house built by the Holgate family, once Burnley’s bankers, in 1819.

We have not the space to continue our tour of Bank Parade, following the odd numbers, but this is something I will undertake in the coming weeks.