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The Brun Lea

Discover the history of Burnley.

31–39 Manchester Road, Burnley, Lancashire, BB11 1HG

The name of this pub recalls the town’s origins in a Saxon settlement called Brun Lea, meaning the field by the Brun or brown field. In 1294, the lord of ‘the manor of Brunleye’, Henry de Lacy, was granted a charter for a weekly market and an annual three-day fair. In 1800, the ancient weekly market was moved to a position near the bottom of Manchester Road, then called Market Street. The Bull Inn, one of the town’s most important inns during the 19th century, stood on the corner of Manchester Road, a stone’s throw from this site.

Illustrations, prints and text about The Brun Lea.

The text reads: The name of this Wetherspoon pub recalls an ancient settlement in a clearing, or leah, by the River Brun. It was one of several; small communities which merged over the centuries to form the town of Burnley.

Burnley was once part of a group of manors known as the Honour of Clitheroe, and later part of the Manor of Ightenhill. The town was owned in the late 13th century by the de Lacy family, who were granted a charter in 1294 to hold a weekly market and annual fair.

A cross was set up by St peter’s Church, where the market was held for over 500 years. The town became a trading centre though its dominance was challenged by Padiham in the 17th century.

However, by 1800 the market was too small, and a new one was chosen at the end of Manchester Road. There was no system for renting spaces, so the best sites went to those stall-holders fastest off the mark when the market bell rang at six o’clock in the morning.

A Market Hall set up nearby was rebuilt by the town corporation, and opened in 1870. It was in use for nearly a century before the market was moved again, this time to a new building on Curzon street.

Above: left, Market Place and the new cross, 1830s, centre, the old Market Cross, erected in 1295, right, St Peter’s Church, c1850
Far right: Market Hall, opened 1870, right, the Market Hall, c1900.

Illustrations, prints and text about Philip Hamerton.

The text reads: Philip Gilbert Hamerton was born in 1834, the same year that Burnley’s Mechanics’ Institute was founded. He later became one of its lecturers. An art critic and painter whose work may be seen at Towneley Hall, Hamerton was an influential figure in the town’s cultural life.

Author of several novels, as well as biography and verse, Hamerton lived at The Hollins, Red Lees. He taught at the Church Institute, once on the site of this Wetherspoon pub, and at the Mechanics’ Institute, which moved into a new building on the next block in 1855.

Mechanics’ Institutes were set up in many towns in the 19th century, with aim of educating working class men. The first, in Glasgow and London, were founded by George Birkbeck.

Burnley’s Institute was considered one of the most successful in the country.

Completed in 1869, the Brunswick Chapel stood further along Manchester Road. Its early ministers included the brothers Joseph and Silas Hocking. They were also prolific novel writers.

Silas’ earliest works, including the best-selling Her Benny, were written here. The brothers wrote 50 or so novels, mostly religious in theme. Joseph died in 1935, and Silas two years later.

Left: top, Philip Gilbert Hamerton, below, The Hollins, Hamerton’s home.
Above: The Mechanics’ Institute opened 1855
Right: top, Brunswick Chapel, below, another early print of the Mechanics’ Institute.

Photographs of classes at Burnley Mechanics’.

Above: An art class Burnley Mechanics, c1905, before the art school moved to the Technical Institute, Ormerod Road in 1909. Below: An engineering class at Ormerod Road, c1936. The School of Art, and Burnley Girl’s High School also shared the building. 

Photographs of the Culvert.

Above: Aqueduct Junction, Yorkshire Street, 1926. New tram tracks being laid during the Culvert scheme. Top right: During 1925-6 the original aqueduct was replaced by one carrying the water in a metal channel.

Right: The Culvert, c1920.
Far right: The new Culvert in 1925, straddling the old, before it was removed.

Illustrations of Burnley.

Above: Looking down South Parade (now part of Manchester Road) from Springhill in 1854.
Below: The junction of Market Street (now Manchester Road) and St James’ Street in 1854.

Photographs of Manchester Road.

Above: The Town Hall (opened in 1888) and the Mechanics’ Institutes (opened 1855) in Manchester Road, c1905.
Below: Looking up Manchester Road from close to the Junction with St James’ Street, c1905.

Photographs of tram tracks being laid and removed.

Above: Laying tram tracks at the junction of Church Street and York Street in 1927.
Below: Removing tram tracks at the junction of Gunsmith Lane and Yorkshire Street in 1936.

An illustration and print of Market Place.

Above: Market Place, 1854
Below: The same view, c1900.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: