Oswaldtwistle and its close neighbour Church Kirk lie between Blackburn and Accrington.
Before the Industrial Revolution the main trades were weaving and agriculture but by the mid 19th Century the cotton textile industry dominated the town with spinning and weaving mills, print and chemical works. There were also coal mines and stone quarries. The town was connected to the coast by the Leeds and Liverpool canal and Church and Oswaldtwistle share a station on the line between Preston and York.
James Hargreaves, inventor of the Spinning Jenny, was born in Stanhill and Robert Peel, the father of the famous Prime Minister, also came from Oswaldtwistle and made the family fortune by revolutionising the calico printing process.
In all churches, both Anglican and Dissenting, there was a strong link between education and religion, with most churches and chapels running Sunday Schools which then also became Day Schools as the nineteenth century progressed. As the population grew many denominations held services in the schools until new chapels and churches could be built.
Before 1837 the Parish Church for Oswaldtwistle was St James’ at Church Kirk, but with the growth in population due to industrialisation a new Parish Church of Immanuel was built in New Lane. This had Chapels of Ease at St Mary’s (Cocker Brook) , St Andrew’s (at Hippings) and St Michael’s (Belthorn). Other Anglican churches included St Oswald’s (Knuzden Brook) and St Paul’s (Foxhill Bank).
Non-conformism was strong in Oswaldtwistle. The Wesleyan Methodists were represented at Hippings/Mount Pleasant, York St. and Green Haworth. The Primitive Methodists had chapels at Foxhill Bank, Melbourne St, and Union Rd . The United Free Methodists had chapels at Stanhill, Knuzden Brook and Moscow Mill St.
There have also been three Congregational Chapels, several Independent Chapels and a Swedenborgian Chapel. The Baptists had chapels in New Lane, at Belthorn and at Cocker Brook.
Further details on the location of the records for these churches can be found on the GENUKI Oswaldtwistle pages and also at the website for Lancashire Archives at Preston.
Sources for this and other pages within this parish include:
Salford Diocese and its Catholic past, a survey by Charles A. Bolton, a Priest of the above Diocese. Published 1950 on the First Centenary for the Diocese of Salford.
A History of Church and Oswaldtwistle. By David Hogg M.A. Vol1 published 1971, Vol2 published 1973 by Accrington and District Local History Society.
Kelly's Directory of Lancashire (1905).
Egerton Lea Consultancy and Lancashire County Council, June 2005 Oswaldtwistle and Church; Historic Town Assessment Report.
Oxford Archeology North - The Oswaldtwistle School, Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire Archaeological Desk-based Assessment.
Bevan and Palmer’s A History of the Parish of St James, Church Kirk (1956, 2nd edn 1989).