Ramsbottom - This former mill community has been making waves with its stylish shops and great food

The East lancashire Railway is a major attraction

The East lancashire Railway is a major attraction - Credit: Glynn Ward

Just because something is a cliché that doesn’t mean it’s untrue. So when people describe Ramsbottom has a hidden gem, they have – to throw in one more cliché – hit the nail on the head.

The countryside that surrounds this Rossendale town has attracted walkers and ramblers for generations and the East Lancashire Railway, with steam trains that runs through the Irwell Valley, has added to its allure.

However, Ramsbottom is now gaining a reputation as a good place to live, shop and eat. It’s well known that when the BBC was trying to persuade staff to relocate from London to Salford, they were taken on a tour of Ramsbottom to illustrate the good things Lancashire has to offer.

In recent years, there has been a food revolution fuelled by the many award-winning food producers, restaurants and cafes. Events like Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival have helped to attract thousands to the town for the two-day event. It is now said to be the biggest festival of its kind in Europe. Meanwhile, the Ramsbottom Festival has attracted some big names in modern music and crowds to match.

These things help to raise the profile and make people realise that this is no longer simply a former mill town.

However, history is important to this friendly town founded in the Georgian era.

It was the fast-flowing river Irwell which brought the Industrial Revolution here. Wool, cotton, paper and metal goods manufacture all thrived thanks to the clean and plentiful water.

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Among those industrialists were the Grant Brothers, later immortalised by Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby as the Cheeryble brothers.

Today, visitors will find in the region of 100 shops and businesses in the centre of Ramsbottom – a good number for a compact community. Many are independents and often specialist stores, with goods that can’t be found elsewhere in the region.

It has even been debated as a place to move to by the famously demanding mothers of mumsnet.com, where one contributor concluded: ‘Ramsbottom has become quite desirable - a couple of new nice bars, a fabulous award winning restaurant (and other nice ones) delis, farmers markets etc. Lovely little town within 5 mins of motorway north and south, makes it desirable for commuters.’

Well, they do say that mother knows best!

Five things

1. Ramsbottom is known to be stylish, independent and just a little bit quirky. Where else could you hold the world black pudding throwing championships?

2. The skyline is dominated by the Peel Monument built by one of the industrial families. Hundreds of people climb Holcome Hill at Easter for egg rolling.

3. The Irwell Sculpture Trail, one of the largest public art schemes in the UK, runs through Ramsbottom

4. Ramsbottom Heritage Gallery has exhibitions and information about the area and recently acquired a rare and original oil painting of the centre of Ramsbottom in the early 1800s.

5. The Summerseat Players are a thriving theatre company run by volunteers. They are based in the Theatre Royal, in the heart of Ramsbottom with an auditorium seating 200.

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