Burnley Wharf to be restored

Published: Wednesday, 04 August 2021

THE transformation of derelict buildings at Finsley Gate Wharf will see the restoration of Burnley Wharf.

The £2.9 million restoration of this historic wharf at Burnley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal has  undergone a transformation into a new community heritage and learning hub, café bar, restaurant, function room, guest house and garden.

Major benefits to the town

The restoration by Canal & River Trust, is stated to bring major benefits to the former textile town, with the complex including a working forge which will be firing up for regular demonstrations, thanks to two local blacksmiths. Residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy a wide variety of activities from yoga, paddle-boarding and canoeing sessions to craft classes, school visits, heritage tours, light refreshments and dining.

Opened in 1801, Finsley Gate was an important regional boating centre in the 19th century, fuelling the Industrial Revolution. Known locally as Mile Wharf, it is located on a sharp bend next to Burnley’s famous mile long embankment across the Calder Valley.

Funded by grants

Funded by grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and supported by Burnley Borough Council, the restored complex is set to bring major economic and cultural benefits to the town, as the arrival of the canal did over 200 years ago.

In the 1880s, Burnley was the largest cotton-producing town in the world and by the turn of the century it boasted more than 100,000 looms, with 90% of the town’s population employed in the industry. This thriving economy was supported by the canal which brought cotton from America, coal from the nearby pits, water to power the steam engines and a route to world trade.

By the mid-20th Century, the majority of the cotton mills had closed and commercial traffic on the canal had declined. The Finsley Gate site continued to be used as an operational office and yard for the canal, but was closed in 1995 and has remained empty ever since.

Brought back to life

Daniel Greenhalgh, North West Director of the Canal & River Trust, explained:

“It has been a long-held dream to create a new use for these fantastic Grade II Listed stone buildings, so it is wonderful to see the wharf brought back to life in such spectacular fashion. The buildings have been sensitively restored to modern 21st century standards whilst carefully conserving their unique heritage value.

“Where canals once brought prosperity through trade, they have now been reinvented as a brilliant place for people to spend their leisure time, get fit, enjoy the outdoors and feel healthier.

“Finsley Gate promises to be a huge community asset and this opening is just the beginning of a long term commitment from the trust to ensure the canal continues to make a vital contribution to the life of the town.”