Set amidst some spectacular countryside, the Clarion House at Nelson-on-Colne is a real gem that any trade union or labour movement visitor would enjoy.
Clarion House is the only clubhouse remaining from what was once a large network of similar countryside buildings.
In Victorian England, working conditions across East Lancashire were atrocious, especially for children. The atmosphere was putrid from the cotton in the air and the soot and smog created by mill chimneys. Nelson socialists set up societies, such as rambling, camping holidays and cycling clubs, aimed at improving the health and well-being of the working class.
Andrew Smith was a Nelson Independent Labour Party (ILP) member who believed people should be able to engage their physical training in the open unpolluted countryside. Nelson ILP rented properties from 1899 onwards. As membership levels rose steadily form around fifty towards a thousand the ILP set up a land society and purchased in June 1912 land ‘near New Church in Pendle.’ Clarion House cost £350 to build and since when the day to day running and maintenance has been carried out by volunteers.
Clarion House can be reached by easy or moderate walks from the surrounding towns of Nelson, Colne, Burnley & Clitheroe. It is open every Sunday from 10.30am to 4.00pm as well as some bank holidays. On other days, visitors are welcome to sit and relax outside. There is plenty of space for children to safely run around in. There is an outside toilet.
All visitors get a warm welcome.
“I moved near here with my partner five years ago. A neighbour mentioned Clarion House and its historical significance. We walked the four miles and still visit regularly. I like the Clarion House values in terms of community and a little bit of rebellion, doing things independently, which in a way sums up this whole area.
“There are always people here. Most come of their own steam and you get many ramblers and cyclists. We enjoy sitting in the garden and the view is outstanding. I doubt there are many better anywhere in England,” said Sarah Jane Grey from Barrowford.
The Clarion House building itself is basically one large room of benches and chairs, an attached porch, toilets and a large kitchen serving refreshments and a great cup of tea. Along with colourful banners, the walls are decorated with local and national historical figures associated with the clubhouse.
“We largely exist on the money we make from our sales. I enjoy helping as I see this as socialism in action. We work together co-operatively. Visitors get a cup of tea and can sit down and, if they want, chat and exchange ideas about how to improve things for working people. You can also just sit outside and relax. We’d be delighted to welcome Unite members,“ explained retried postal worker Sue Nike, who first volunteered at Clarion House around 35 years ago.
ILP Clarion House, Jinney Lane, Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire NN12 9LL Donations from trade union branches would be welcomed. See also a recent released video on Clarion House:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsQznVb3biM