The Pennine Heritage Story

About Pennine Heritage

Pennine Heritage was launched in 1979 as a Development Trust, registered charity and company limited by guarantee, to promote environmental conservation plus economic and social enhancement of the South Pennines.

Very worthy, but we also seek to make it fun with a sense of satisfaction. Read more and come and join us. It costs nothing and there are plenty of volunteering opportunities.



The trust grew from the active project work pioneered by the early Calder Civic Trust in the 1960’s and 70’s. A trio of new initiatives sprang from this beginning:-

  • the South Pennines Association of voluntary and community groups the corresponding Standing Conference of South Pennines Authorities
  • (SCOSPA), which has now evolved into the Pennine Prospects organisation
  • Pennine Heritage Trust, the active ingredient, specialising in ‘hands on’ conservation initiatives and positive promotional activity to influence attitudes to the area’s future.

From the start Pennine Heritage established its focus on practical project work, believing that there was no substitute for active involvement to draw attention to environmental threats facing the area and demonstrating the means to their solution.

The Countryside

The Countryside has also received significant attention through the Pennine Heritage Woodland project and the Countryside Taskforce.

The Pennine Heritage Woodland project was set up to advise landowners and assist them in widespread planting projects.

The Pennine Heritage Countryside Taskforce also employed many previously jobless young people in the 1990’s to learn new skills repairing drystone walls, restoring footpaths and contributing to the ‘Merlin’ Adventure Summer School for children to help them learn about the environment.

A further small project brought young and old together as a team of volunteers set out to record the memories of as many 80 year old people as were prepared to help.

A collection of fascinating personal histories is now secured for all time to throw light on life as it was lived in the 1920’s and before.

The Built Environment

The unique character of the South Pennines results from the close interplay between its dramatic landscape and the rich built heritage of sturdy stone mills in the valleys and domestic terraces lining the hillside contours. In recent years there has been plenty of private interest in housing investment but the larger buildings such as chapels and mills have remained under threat.To counter this problem, Pennine Heritage has carried out a number of demonstration projects to encourage others to follow.

Birchcliffe Chapel  was the Trust’s initial project.

Nutclough Mill, once the home of the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Society Ltd, one of Europe’s foremost worker/producer co-operatives was abandoned and left to rot in the mid 1960’s. Scheduled for demolition in the 1980’s it was purchased by The Trust for £1.00 – though a further £1.2m had to be raised for its renovation and conversion to industrial units by a 1980’s job creation scheme to find work and on-the-job training for unemployed young people.

Today, the mill is fully occupied by Calrec Audio, an electronics company, not only safeguarding an important heritage building but also providing 150 local high-tech jobs.

Queen Street Mill, Burnley, following the success of the above project, Burnley Borough Council appointed The Trust as its agent to renovate and re-open Queen Street Mill as a Heritage Textile Visitor Centre. The original massive steam engine was retained and restored to power over 300 traditional Lancashire looms. A number of small workshops for rent were also created.

The completed project was eventually ‘re-opened’ by HRH Prince Charles and was open to the public until closed recently by Lancashire County Council.

Clegg Hall, a Jacobean manor house dating from 1605, the former Slack Top Baptist Chapel near Heptonstall and many other smaller projects have also been carried out in partnership with others.

The Pennine Horizons Story

General view & Pennine Horizons stall.

Pennine Horizons, Pennine Heritage’s most recent project, based at the Birchcliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge received considerable financial support form The Heritage Lottery Fund and a group of local businesses. The Pennine Horizons vision was to tell the 1000 year old story of the interaction between the Pennine landscape and the move from an agrarian to an industrial society. Through an interlocking network of events, activities and e-Trails and using the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive, we encouraged residents and visitors alike to explore the history of the Pennine landscape and its industrial legacy. We have converted the upstairs of the Birchcliffe Centre to create a Heritage Learning Space for both schools and adults. The new look space continues to offers opportunities for exhibitions, events and activities to take place for both the project and the community at large.

The project aimed to appeal to a wide spectrum of people, from local communities who wanted to discover more about their own heritage, to tourists and other visitors discovering the unique history of the area. To achieve this, we worked with many local community groups, uniformed groups and residents including volunteers, schools, colleges, private businesses, local authorities and public agencies.

Using the landscape of the South Pennines with its rich history, we have developed 13 new Pennine Horizons e-Trails around the valleys and tops and made them available through printed guides as well as offering them as a mobile app.

We have been expanding the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive which hosts a wealth of images, reflecting the South Pennines and its diverse history. The project worked to collect and add material; with some of the collection available online for everyone to use and enjoy. We will continue to take photographic and interactive exhibitions out into the community, alongside gathering new Oral Histories to capture the living history of this inspiring area.