GEOFF CRAMBIE: Nelson had 20 places of worship in Edwardian era

This week’s column has a splendid picture of Edwardian Nelson which captures so well the sheer pageantry of the annual Whitsuntide procession.

Kindly presented to me a decade ago by Marilyn Metcalfe, the Nelson historian of great note, the century-old scene shows a wonderful horse-drawn float, complete with flags and bunting and lots of happy children dressed in all their finery for the big day.

The procession is travelling along Manchester Road, passing the magnificent St Mary’s Church, which was built on land given by the generous Ecroyd brothers. On Saturday, June 16th, in 1877, the foundation stone was laid and almost two years later on Tuesday, March 25th, 1879, the mighty and proud edifice was duly consecrated with seating for 750 Nelsonians.

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In the year 1908, the noble and awe-inspiring 184-foot spire was added, becoming an iconic landmark for the mill town whose total population was 39,579.

During this booming and prosperous Edwardian era, Nelson could boast of over 20 places of worship of which many have today, sadly, gone forever.

St Mary’s Church still stands, but no longer are her pews filled with worshippers.