Accrington

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Arms of Accrington Borough Council

Accrington, in the County of Lancashire, is a small former mill town in the industrial north-west of England. Its name is thought to be a corruption of 'acorn-ring-town', although the old oak woods that once encircled the town have long-since gone, victims of the Industrial Revolution. Since the redrawing of the political boundaries in 1974, the town has formed part of the Borough of Hyndburn — a merging of Accrington together with the smaller 'satellite' towns of Oswaldtwistle, Church, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood and Rishton, into one political 'seat'.


Contents

The Accrington Pals

One well-known association the town has is with the 'Accrington Pals', the nickname given to the smallest home town battalion of volunteers formed to fight in World War I. The Pals battalions were a peculiarity of the 1914-1918 war: Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, believed that it would help recruitment if friends and work-mates from the same town were able to join up and fight together. Strictly speaking, the 'Accrington Pals' battalion is properly known as the '11th East Lancashire Regiment': the nickname is a little misleading, since of the four 250-strong companies that made up the original battalion only one was actually composed of men from Accrington. The rest volunteered from other East Lancs towns such as Burnley, Blackburn, and Chorley.

The Pals' first day of combat, Saturday 1st July 1916, took place in Serre in the north of France. It was part of the 'Big Push' (later known as the Battle of the Somme) that was intended to force the German army into a retreat from the Western Front, a line they had held since late 1914. The German defences in Serre were supposed to have been obliterated by sustained, heavy, British shelling during the preceding week; however, as the battalion advanced it met with fierce resistance. 235 men were killed, and a further 350 wounded — more than half of the battalion — within half an hour. Similarly desperate losses were suffered elsewhere on the front, in a disastrous day for the British army.

Later in the year, the East Lancs Regiment was rebuilt with new volunteers — in all, 865 Accrington men were killed during World War I. All of these names are recorded on a war memorial, an imposing white stone cenotaph, which stands in Oak Hill Park in the south of the town. The cenotaph also lists the names of 173 local fatalities from World War II.

Reference

William Turner Pals: the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington), East Lancashire Regiment ISBN 0950789240

See also

Recruitment to the British army during WW I

Accrington's football teams

The town's other famous association is with Accrington Stanley F.C., the butt of many (largely affectionate) jokes. The team's name is often invoked as a symbol of British sport's legion of plucky but hopeless causes (much like British ski-jumping's 'heroic failure' Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards). The club entered the Football League in 1921 with the formation of the old Third Division (North); after haunting the lower reaches of English football for forty years, they eventually went into enforced liquidation and were ignominiously ejected from the League in 1962. The club was reformed in 1968 and currently plays in the 'non-league' Nationwide Conference divisions.

An earlier club, Accrington F.C., were one of the twelve founder members of the Football League in 1888. However, their time in league football was even less successful, and considerably briefer, than that of Accrington Stanley: they dropped out of the league in 1893, and folded shortly afterwards due to financial problems. The town of Accrington thus has the unique 'distinction' of having lost two separate clubs from league football, over the years.

Famous sons and daughters

Accrington's famous sons and daughters include: Jon Anderson of rock band Yes; author Jeanette Winterson, whose Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is an account of her childhood in the town; and composer Harrison Birtwistle.

Famous ex-residents include darts player Ronny Baxter, actress Jane Horrocks, Jim Bowen of Bullseye fame and the National Lottery's Mystic Meg!

Geography

Accrington is located at Template:Coor dms (53.7667, -2.3500)1.pl:Accrington

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