Heritage Regeneration in Whitefield


We are working with a number of partners to deliver successful regeneration through heritage in the Whitefield Conservation Area in Nelson. There are two key schemes which are currently underway: 

  • The Whitefield Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) - supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
  • The Whitefield Partnership Schemes in Conservation Areas (PSICA) - supported by English Heritage

The Whitefield Conservation Area

A small conservation area was designated in the streets immediately surrounding the Grade II listed St Mary's Church in 2000. This is known as the St Mary's, Nelson Conservation Area, and makes up one part of the larger Whitefield area.

Whitefield was a planned settlement that provided for the employment, accommodation, education and spiritual needs of its community. All of the buildings that fulfilled these needs remain and, with this in mind, an 'Enquiry by Design' Master planning exercise carried out in conjunction with The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment determined that a wider Whitefield Conservation Area should be designated.

The Whitefield Conservation Area was designated in 2004 and is bounded by the canal, Carr Road, Manchester Road and Kensington Street.

The area incorporates a traditional grid pattern of mill town terrace streets, the Grade II listed St Marys church,  former cotton mills, and Grade II listed bridges over the Leeds-Liverpool canal which, before the advent of steam power provided transportation for textiles, roofing slate and other materials.

By 2005, we had formed the Whitefield Regeneration Partnership, the role of which is to attract funding and drive forward the renaissance of the area.

The designation of the Conservation Area has attracted a number of heritage based grant schemes through English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. This has allowed the reinstatement of a number of key buildings which contribute to the Conservation Area through their architecture and historic character, original function and general setting and appearance.

A History of Whitefield

The mill towns of  Lancashire developed rapidly during the latter part of the 19th century with Nelson expanding from a scattering of small hamlets to become a major location for cotton weaving, a process aided by the damp climate.

Establishment of the Local Board in 1864 resulted in implementation of early town planning and building regulations which helped influence the characteristic grid pattern of streets with terraced houses which still slope down the hill sides. Mills and weaving sheds punctuated this urban landscape with smoking chimneys rising above the roof lines in scenes very reminiscent of those captured in the paintings of L.S. Lowry.

The Leeds Liverpool Canal, and later on the steam railway allowed cotton fabrics to be distributed to key towns, cities and the port of Liverpool from where Lancashire textiles were exported world-wide.

By the end of the First World War the cotton industry was in decline due to foreign competition, and later, the introduction of man made materials, but that earlier industrial activity had provided the area with Lomeshaye Bridge Mill and St Mary's Church, both located in the West of the town in an area known as Whitefield.