6 miles NE of Chorley, it is a small linear village on the A675. It is very rural and is a great start/finish point for walkers and cyclists. There are miles of paths and tracks through the beautiful Roddlesworth woods and its reservoirs, and there is also easy access onto the West Pennine Moors.It is thought the village took its name from connections it had in the distant past with Whalley Abbey. The village is served by one pub, an Indian restaurant and a primary school. A little to the north of the village there used to be the famous Withnell Brick works. However, they closed in the late 1960s though the name is well remembered.
is a village in the Borough of Chorley...
Abbey Mill was built in the 1840s The main reason the village exists is because of the mill, which was erected in the 1840s. With the mill came houses for the workers, and so the village grew from a few remote farmhouses to the size it is today.The cotton mill closed many years ago but the mill still exists, and has been divided into smaller units, thereby still giving employment to many people.
In 1869 the Lancashire Union Railway opened the Chorley to Blackburn line and this passed the village at its western end where a station was built. For reasons known only to the railway company, they called the station Withnell (the name of the parish Abbey Village is a part of). Spotting the potential benefits of the Railway, a long siding was cut through to the rear of the mill from the line south of the village. The cutting is still evident today. A former resident, Geoff Snape, was born in Abbey Village, in the late 1930s. He told me “My father told me that his grandmother said that when the railway was built, the navvies used to have bare knuckle fights at the Hare and Hounds. There used to be a small circular field outside the pub surrounded by a stone wall (now a car park) and I cannot help feeling that the bouts would take place there but this is only my guess”. He went on to say, “During the war, my father had an allotment 100yds from Gerrards Fold farm, and on the edge of the railway cutting, a couple of hundred yards from Withnell station (on the south side of the cutting). As a child I was puzzled by the numerous bits of blue and white pottery which I used to dig up. Maybe this was the site of a navvy camp??
I am indebted to John Hardman (from Abbey Village). He has sent me several photographs that show the village as it was in 1904. They are superb and show life as it was over a hundred years ago. Enjoy these - they are without compare.
Photo’s from The Past
Abbey Village School - 1904
The railway station - no passengers - but plenty of freight in the sidings behind the station buildings
Abbey Village’s main street in 1904. I wonder what the man outside the newsagents cabin bought? The cabin I’ve been reliably informed once belonged to Ned Sullivan who sold soft drinks etc
Walking Day and ladies from Abbey Village Chapel walk down the main street
New Lodge in 1904. This reservoir is NNE of the village and is accessible from the farm track opposite the old Railway Station. It looks like it was as popular with fishermen then as it is now. There’s 4 visible in the photo
And finally, if you’d been into Chorley or Blackburn then the bus home was the 259, seen here at the Boulevard bus station, Blackburn