Day Around Central Lancashire: Pt 4 – Leyland

After going through Buckshaw, we stopped in Leyland to look at the impressive churches, tour the ancient house the museum is located in, and enjoy Worden Park…

Leyland: 

Status: South Ribble District, Lancashire, Town, England

Date: 07/03/2014

Travel: First Transpennine Express (Preston – Chorley), Northern Rail (Chorley – Preston, via Leyland)

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Worden Park, Commercial Vehicle Museum, Leyland Market, South Ribble Museum, St Ambrose Church, Old Police Station, Leyland Cross etc

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Our first stop in Leyland is a church very similar to St Marys in Chorley, with the three smaller spires around the top of the tower, and the fourth which is taller than the other three.This is the church of St Ambrose, founded in 1884. The tower is a local landmark and can be prominently seen as you pass through the town of the train, and is only a short walk from the station.

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There are a number of old buildings around the town, such as the Old Police Station which is now a cafe, but it retains its impressive outer structure.

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Around Leyland are some sculptures showing the history of the town such as this wheel probably signifying Leyland Trucks.

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Approaching the town centre, you will pass the Leyland Motors Clock. It is a replica built in 1996, of the 7 similar clocks that stood around the country on main roads in the 1930’s, built by Leyland Motors.

The Leyland clock is in a great condition and a good reminder of the town’s automotive history.

Some of the other original clocks can be found at:

1) The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu (Originally from Alconbury in Cambridgeshire)

2) Cobham Bus Museum (Originally from Hook, Hampshire)

3) Kendal Arts Centre (Originally from Shap, Cumbria)

The others were removed from their particular roads on various dates and their locations are unknown and were probably destroyed. Another clock is believed to be held in a garage in Salford, where it was moved in 1966 but this is unverified. One other clock that used to stand in Plawsworth was dismantled and returned to Leyland Motors. It was put back together eventually and send over to Sydney in Australia. Nobody knows what happened to one clock that was sent to Capetown, South Africa.

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On the main high street in Leyland you will find the Market, which has been running since the 18th century. It opened in it’s present location in 2000. The statue is of a former Leyland Motors worker, however he has so far remained unidentified. It was based on a photograph of the man strolling out of the factory.

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Another old building in the town, the old Constabulary Station, now the Citizens Advice Bureau.

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Moving slightly out of the town centre, you will find the contemporary Leyland Courthouse from the 1970’s. It could be considered a bit bland, but I rather like it, especially the contrasting green roof. It stands opposite one of the main features of this part of the town, the large Tesco Store.

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Passing through the Tesco car park, we get back to the main road. In the middle of this stands the Leyland Cross, thought to come from Saxon Times. It is by far the oldest structure in Leyland, and next to it stands a small water fountain. Parts of it have had to be replaced over the years due to collisions with different vehicles, so with hindsight I guess the middle of the road isn’t the best place to put an ancient monument!

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Standing on a small hill above the main Tesco store in the town, is St Andrews Parish Church. Various sections date from different centuries, such as the chancel from the 14th, the tower from the 15th and the nave from the 19th.

The architecture is brilliant, and the golden clock stands out well against the stone. The graveyard at the back is quite extensive, and there are any memorials in around the church yard.

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Directly opposite the church is the incredible War Memorial, one of the most impressive in Lancashire outside of Preston (where the Cenotaph dominates the central square). It is one of a number in and around the town but this is the main one, and was built in 1929, between the World Wars. We got the best view of the memorial from the churchyard as it stands so far above the road.

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Exiting the churchyard at the far end, we arrived at the South Ribble Museum. The building itself is one of the oldest in the area, having been built between 1580 and 1620 as the Leyland Free Grammar School. Following the schools closure in 1876, John Stanning gifted it to the church, who found various uses for it over the years.

The actual entrance visitors use is the Schoolmasters House Door, which is slightly newer, as it was added to the building in 1790. After a period of disrepair, it reopened in 1977 as the current museum, and inside it has all the detail of an ancient building. Timber beams line the inner roof, and on the top floor are various exhibits all about the history of town, including then and now drawings.

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Just up the road from the Leyland Cross is the North entrance to Worden Park, a vast expanse of parkland that runs all the way up to Runshaw College about 1/2 a mile further up the road.

Inside are lots of open spaces, a small lake, a miniature railway and some well kept gardens. Worden Hall (once named Shaw Hall and owned by the Farrington Family) originally stood in the park, but after a fire in 1941 it was left damaged and the majority of it was taken down. Some remnants remain including the gardens and some of the old stone walls. Shaw Brook runs through the park, as a tributary of the River Lostock. In fact, I have been waist deep in the brook as I used to go to Runshaw College and during a team work exercise we spent a day in the park and waded most of the length of the stream, which is great fun. It’s not very deep but enough to give you a good work out! Extensive woodlands run around the outskirts of the park as well, and an Arts Centre can also be found. Every year a massive bonfire is lit in the park to celebrate bonfire night. The park has even been granted Green Flag Status as well.

Leyland is also the site of the internationally renowned Leyland Trucks factory, which I have visited on a trip with University, and the set up is very impressive. It was founded in 1896 as The Lancaster Steam Motor Company and various companies take over resulted in 1993 with the current company, and remains the UK’s leading truck manufacturer. Elsewhere in the town is the Commercial Vehicles Museum as well.

Local buses can take you around Chorley and Preston, as well as the town itself. The train station is quite notable as it is located almost exactly at the midway point between London Euston and Glasgow Central on the West Coast Main Line. Local trains run to Manchester and Preston, but if you are waiting for one anytime watch out, as Virgin Pendolino’s often come flying through the station at full speed. Believe me it is very scary standing on the edge of a platform with a train flying past you at 125 mph! The M6 runs through Leyland and the M61 can be found in nearby Chorley.

Leyland has a lot of history spread around the town, and is an interesting enough place to explore. Our next stop was back into Preston for some shopping and to try the riverside walks…

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