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Rishton had survived for hundreds of years, through the Roman invasion, the Saxons, Danes and Normans, without hardly being touched, and it wasn't until the Normans that records were finally made about the town. Prior to this there was no district and the only settlers would have been farmers, the population amounting to little more than a couple of hundred people, if that.

Even by 1800, the centre of the village was still the Holt and the population was still only 1,051.

In 1662 a tax was imposed on hearths, two shillings per annum being paid to the King for every fireplace in any dwelling house. In 1666 the returns for Dunkenhalgh declared 31 hearths, and this was also the total number of hearths in the whole township of Church. This tax was abolished in 1688, but was replaced by a tax on windows.

By 1861 the population of Rishton had increased to 1,196, and in 1873 work began on building the parish church.

Over a twenty year period, from 1851, several members of the Clarke family followed George to Rishton were he had established brickworks at Norden, and by the end of 1871 they accounted for more than 4% of the population.

By the turn of 1900 Rishton was to see a quite staggering rate of growth. The population of 800 was to swell to over 7000 people.

In 1811 there was a slight increase, and again in 1821; but from this time there was a steady diminution, till in 1851 the population was only 800. No mill had so far been erected in Rishton, and the decline in population clearly points to a migration to Accrington, Blackburn, and other places where mills had been erected. About this time Rishton mill was built, and at the next census in 1861 the population had risen to 1,196. In the following order were erected Wheatfield, Victoria, Spring, Daisy Hill, Bridgefield, Britannia, Wellington, York, and Albert Mills, so that each succeeding census has shown increasing population, till 1914 it is estimated to reach 8,000.

By 1935, the township contained 2,981 acres, mostly of the property of G. E. A. Petre, Esq., who was also lord of the manor; and its population in 1841 was 916; 1851, 800; 1861, 1,196; 1871, 2,577; 1881, 4,056; 1891, 6,010; 1901, 7,031; and 1931,7,000. Rateable value 39, 235.

Year Population Males Females
1801 1,051    
1811 1,084    
1821 1,171    
1831 919    
1841 917    
1851 800    
1861 1,196    
1871 2,577    
1881 4,056    
1891 6,010    
1901 Unknown    
1911 7,441    
1921 7,016    
1931 6,631    
1951 8,848 5,800 3,048
2001 7,350 3,630 (49.39%) 3,720 (50.61%)

The population density of Rishton in 2001 was approximately 1,717 people per square mile, The actual size of the ward was 4.3 square miles (1,108 hectares). 45.03% of people over the age of 16 were married.

New Looms Compared to Blackburn, 18th November, 1911, Blackburn Weekly Telegraph

New Weaving Enterprise. The cutting of the first sod on the site of the new mill to accommodate 650 looms, which is being built on a piece of land known as Hastonlee Farm by the Blackburn Mill Building Company Ltd., recently formed, took place on Saturday. Mr. Thomas Gregson, of Great Harwood, the chairman of the directors, who performed the ceremony, said the Company was embarking upon a system of mill building which was altogether new to Blackburn but had been a great success in Burnley, Nelson, Great Harwood, Barnoldswick, and other towns. During the last week or two, in connection with the municipal elections, a great deal had been said about the progress and prosperity of the town. Years ago Blackburn was known as the Cottonopolis of Lancashire, but during the last few years it had been a deteriorating town, and had now taken second place by 10,000 looms to the neighbouring town of Burnley. During the last twelve months, whilst Blackburn had put down 700 looms, Nelson had put down 3,000, Barnoldswick with a population of 12,000 had added 4,000 and Great Harwood and Rishton had each put down more looms than Blackburn. The shed now to be erected had been let to a well-known Blackburn manufacturer on a 14 years lease, at a rent already fixed, and which would pay good interest. When completed it would employ 250 hands, and pay 300 a week in wages.

There is correlation between population and industry in Rishton as can be seen from the graph of population.

There was a decrease in the population in the 19th century until Rishton mill was erected in 1859. The figure of 1851 which was 800 shows that many people left Rishton to find work elsewhere.

The decline in population figures from 1939 to 1946 reflects reduction in cotton supplies, unemployment, war, and the closure of Daisy Hill mill.

From 1950, the population figures show a marked decline until 1961 when the figures once again begin to climb. This is because of large private building projects, and the influx of people into Rishton who work elsewhere.

The present pattern for residential development is following the present trend of the town dying from east to west. The development in the west end gives opportunity to promote higher quality residential properties. With the present trend in building the population of the town should increase. This is possible because the urban district itself is large and there are sites available for housing if not for industry. Unfortunately present and future building programmes are and will be at the expense of the farmers, and the farms are gradually being cut away and reduced in size.

At the present time Rishton is developing into a dormitory town for the larger surrounding towns of Accrington, Blackburn and Burnley. People come to live in quiet Rishton that is in pleasant surroundings and it is often hard to realise that it is in the heart of the industrial area of North East Lancashire.


North East Lancashire is in a declining area with regard to industry and population, and with reference to industry, Rishton is no exception. The cotton industry, which brought prosperity to the area, has almost disappeared from Rishton, and not enough industry has been developed to take its place completely. The older members of the population have been brought up in the cotton tradition, and many of them have been reluctant to seek other work. Although conditions could have been better in the mills, many people regret the passing of the cotton era because of the hardship it has caused, especially if both husband and wife were employed in the cotton industry.

Today, there are very few attractions for young people to come and live in Rishton, if they do not want to travel long distances to work.

The west end of Rishton is attracting private housing, and physically, Rishton is almost linked with Blackburn. Recently Blackburn corporation has been making strong claims for absorbing Rishton within its borough. Should this occur, the narrow green belt round Rishton would be developed. To be absorbed by Blackburn would be of no direct value to Rishton as even less attention would be paid to the amenities.

The increasing development of residential property and the lack of any true industry development on a large scale, have created the concept that Rishton is becoming a dormitory town for Accrington and Blackburn and there is no valid reason to dispute this fact.

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Population of Rishton: 1851 800


Area in Statute Acres: 2,982 
Valuation in pounds: 1854 4,893
 1872 10,700
 1877 19,002
 1884 23,332

In 2001 Rishton comprised of 7,350 people. 49% were male, 51% female. The overwhelming population was cocation (98.3%) with just 0.8% ethnic. This can be compared to the national average of 4.6%, and 7.4% across the borough of Hyndburn.

In 2001 28% of Rishtons population was under 20 years of age, with 18% being over 60 years old. This made the average age 36.6 years old. Hyndburns average age was 37.6 and the national average was 38.6.


East Lancashire Cotton Town by Marian Sleigh.

Barretts Directory 1935.

Council Minutes