Population: 15,000
Ordnance Survey
OS grid reference: SD742417
District: Ribble Valley
Shire county: Lancashire
Region: North West England
Country: England
Ceremonial county: Lancashire
Historic county: Lancashire
Police force: Lancashire
Post office and telephone
Post town: CLITHEROE
Postal district: BB7
Dialling code: 01200
UK Parliament: Ribble Valley
European Parliament: North West England
Arms of Clitheroe Town Council
Arms of Clitheroe Town Council

Clitheroe is a small town in Lancashire, England. It lies on the southern edge of the Forest of Bowland and is often used as a base for tourists in the area. The most notable building in the town is a Norman keep, quarreled as one of the smallest in the country.

The town elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons. The Great Reform Act reduced this to one.

The place has been claimed to be the most (geographically) central town in Britain, by virtue of its proximity to the village of Dunsop Bridge.


The three main schools in the town are Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Ribblesdale High Technology College and Moorland School.

The castle

Clitheroe Castle (52°53′17″N, 2°23′31″W) is believed to be the smallest keep in the whole of England. It stands atop a 35-metre outcrop of limestone and is one of the oldest buildings in Lancashire. It is also the only remaining castle in the county which had a royalist garrison during the English Civil War.

The castle's most prominent feature is the hole in its side which was made in 1649 and was ordered by the government. It was to be put in "such condition that in might neither be a charge to the Commonwealth to keep it, nor a danger to have it kept against them".


Clitheroe enjoys one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the UK. This is largely due to the presence of several companies that each employ hundreds. Most significant are Ultraframe, Castle Cement, Tarmac and Johnson Matthey.

Castle Cement has been criticised for using industrial waste in its kilns, which locals claim produces poisonous dioxins. Castle Cement claims that its filters remove these and that government inspectors have approved the plant. However, locals continue to campaign for the use of industrial waste as fuel to cease.


Clitheronians are generally quite traditional. A Conservative member of parliament has represented the town for many years, with the exception of Michael Carr, elected in 1991 for the Liberal Democrats. The current MP is Nigel Evans. Previous to both these was the high profile David Waddington.

The town has a large Roman Catholic community, along with many places in north Lancashire.

The Catholic Saint, Margaret Clitherow, was not from Clitheroe but lived and was martyred in York.

Jimmy Clitheroe, a comedian well known for his bawdy radio shows, was also not from Clitheroe but from nearby Colne. However, a cafe in the town is named after him.

Grammar school

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School was established in 1554 by Queen Mary and her husband Philip of Spain. There may be a connection with the strength of Roman Catholicism in the area.

One famous student was Captain James King, who accompanied Captain James Cook on his third voyage around the world. After the death of Captain Cook, King took charge for the rest of the voyage.


Arms of the former Rural District Council
Arms of the former Rural District Council

Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA)

Return to Main Index