Nelson Lanc's Named after a Pub ? Answer attached

Answer: Sean asked whether Nelson, in Lancashire, had been named after a pub and were there any other towns with a similar story? Well, the simple answer is; yes Nelson was named after a pub, but some amount of credit must be given to Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson as well. Many towns throughout the county and the country have derived their names through a whole host of extensive and constantly developing cultural variables but Nelson is an original of pragmatism for sure.

Town names are usually connected in some way to physical or geographical locations and are originally connected to Britain’s large and expansive changing cultural history. The fact that two-thirds of British rivers have taken their names from the Celtic language (, March 9, 2016) informs us of how expansive British cultural language heritage really is. The Anglo Saxons for example, gave us the words ‘burh or bury’, meaning fortified place. The later Viking settlements gave us more words such as ‘booth’, meaning cattle shelter and ‘toft’ meaning homestead, or ‘thwait’, meaning clearing or meadow. The Normans, being of French descent, gave us even more distinctions. The town of Bewdley comes from the French ‘beau lieu’ meaning beautiful place and Ridgemont comes from ‘rouge mont’ meaning red rising.

Lancastrian towns follow a similar pattern. Liverpool was recorded as ‘Liverpul’ in 1190 acquired its name from old English terms such as ‘lifer’ meaning muddy water and ‘pul’ meaning pool or creak. Burnley for instance, derived its name from two rivers, the Brun and the Lea. Skipton is a nomenclature that derives from the old English wording for ‘sheep town’ and Rochdale formed its name from its position on the River Roch. The town was recorded in the Domesday Book as Racedham, the name being originally derived from old English ‘raced’ meaning hall and ‘ham’ meaning a homestead.

However, Nelson’s name was an event of a much more modern and practical nature. Originally, the community in the area was very small and the hamlets were known there as Little Marsden and Greater Marsden. Matthew Pollard built a pub in the early nineteenth century on Manchester Road and baptised it in honour of the victor of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson. However, from about 1849 onwards, when Ecroyd’s opened up mills in the Lomeshaye area of the town, the tiny village began to grow rapidly. With this growth came the arrival of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and its station terminal adjacent to Manchester Road. As there already existed a ‘Marsden’ station in Yorkshire further along the line, it was decided, and why would it not be……. to call the railway station posting Nelson, it being in so close proximity to the local pub and the name stuck.

Yep! Nelson had been called a ‘frontier town’ by Jill Liddington and it has shouldered the mantle of ‘Little Moscow’ for its socialist activities that bubbled under its surface in the early twentieth century, but at the end of the day, good old practical Lancashire common sense decided its namesake. Bearing in mind the huge and speckled list of British admirals over time, the good people of Nelson might be quite relieved that they did not become; Dashwood, or Ommanney, Codrington, Dalrymple or Arbuthnot.

Put kettle on mum!

Peter John Fyles

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