21st Century Living
With its historic abbey, impressive viaduct and beautiful surrounding countryside, Whalley offers rural living combined with a whole host of 21st century lifestyle amenities
While Whalley is well known for its great selection of small independent businesses, the newly opened Whalley Wine Bar and the lovely boutique-style shops, Whalley’s history and the impressive buildings associated with it, are often overlooked.
While most people know that Whalley is home to the historic abbey, one of the most impressive structures is Whalley Viaduct – known locally as Whalley Arches.
This 48-span railways bridge, which crosses the River Calder, is a listed red brick structure. It was built between 1846 and 1850 under the engineering supervision of Terrence Wolfe Flanagan and formed part of the Bolton, Blackburn, Clitheroe and West Yorkshire Railway. It is the longest and largest railway viaduct in Lancashire.
Over seven million bricks and 12,338 cubic metres of stone were used in its construction during which timber was used for temporary platforms and also for the permanent foundation piles. During construction in 1849, two of the 41 arches then completed, collapsed with the loss of three lives.
The only decorative features on the viaduct are on the east side of the bridge, nearest the remains of the 14th century Cistercian abbey – for which Whalley is well known.
The abbey is located on the banks of the River Calder, which has a man-made weir section, which is said to have allowed the monks to collect water. It has been suggested that was one of the main reasons for the abbey being built where it was.
The dam was built to guide water to a channel, that fed a water wheel in a local corn mill, which has since been converted into housing, but the remains of the wheel can still be seen at the back of the building.
In 2015 a 100kw hydro installation and fish pass was completed at Whalley Weir on the Calder – the micro hydro-electric generating plant uses a variable speed Archimedean screw.
With its own railway station, Whalley is well-placed taking commuters to Clitheroe, Blackburn and Manchester and in recent years the town has seen a huge surge in housing development on a number of sites.
The town is popular with young families, who are keen to take advantage of all that Whalley has to offer in terms of schools, rural living, independent shops and, of course, the wider Ribble Valley renowned for its fine food, artisan producers and first class bars, restaurants and country inns.