Martholme Greenway

Site:                                 Martholme Greenway

Location:                         Martholme Lane (North entrance)/Mill Lane (South entrance), Great Harwood

Grid Reference:             SD 7506 3344

What3Words:                 loafing.cabbies.gestures

Nearest Postcode:        BB6 7TD

Owner:                            Lancashire County Council

Size of site:                     8.00 hectares

Initial Planting Year:         Unknown                 Age: Unknown

General comments about the site

Stretch of former railway line from Mill Lane to Martholme viaduct, planted with broadleaf species by Lancashire County Council following reclamation. A very well used and beautiful walkway and cycletrack through woods.  Potential for opening the viaduct to public access and linking to greenway north- and east-wards into Read and Simonstone (outside borough).

There is an active group that look after the site and further information on them can be found on their Facebook Page

Get there by public transport:

Bus: Number 7 to Martholme Lane Bus stop on A680 Whalley Road.

Condition Assessment

Copy Wood & Martholme Railway Woodland Condition Assessment

Species of Trees and Shrubs recorded on site: Alder, Apple, Ash, Aspen, Blackthorn, Beech, Birch, Dog Rose, Elder, Hawthorn, Hazel, oak, Rowan, Sycamore, Wild Cherry, Willow,

Species of plants recorded on site: Nettle, Hogweed and Wood Avens, Cow Parsley, Wood Dock, Meadow Crane’s-bill, Hedge Woundwort, Cleavers, Reed Canary, Primrose, Bluebells, Snowdrops, Creeping Cinquefoil, Rosebay Willowherb, Lords and Ladies, Bush Vetch, Teasel, Bramble, Buckler Fern, Marsh Thistle, Burdock, Enchanters Nightshade

Species of birds observed on site: great tit, blue tit, willow tit, chiffchaff, wren, blackcaps, stock dove, wood pigeon, robin, bullfinch, goldfinch, tree sparrow, dunnock, magpie, jay, jackdaw, carrion crow, pied wagtail

Species of Fungi: Blood Elf Caps, Shaggy Ink Caps, Turkey Tail, King Alfred's Cakes, Birch Polypore, Horseshoe Fungus, Dryad's Saddle


(With many thanks to Brian Jeffery, local historian for his assistance)

The site was originally acquired by LCC from North West Water and landscaped in 1995. 

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway constructed Martholme viaduct, a Grade II listed sandstone structure, to take the North East Lancashire loop line over the River Calder.  It was completed in 1877. This line operated between Great Harwood and Simonstone and was built to serve Martholme Colliery and the mills of Great Harwood and Padiham.  The line closed in 1964.

Early History

Martholme Manor and Estate was the seat of the Hesketh family from around 1577 with the estate being known as “The Leeches” and now known locally as “Harwood Bar”.  The present house is the oldest building in Great Harwood.  A previous house occupying the site dates back to 1177 and the site had a surrounding moat.  

Mining History

The Heskeths, while still having mining rights, issued leases to extract coal from their estate from 1661 until 1848.  These coal pits were worked mostly by the Lomax family of Clayton Hall who mined Cop Meadow in 1786.  Some shafts were worked by the Taylors, Forts, Birtwistles, Rippons and Barlows.  

Martholme, or Cock Pit or Cop Colliery, as it was also known, was situated 175  metres East of Cop Hall at the junction between A680 and Martholme Lane.  The colliery worked the Upper and Lower Mountain Mines with the deepest shaft being 210 yards (192m).

In 1805, the Heskeths sunk 3 shafts in Great Harwood.  They sold most of their estate to James Lomax but retained the mining rights.  Martholme Colliery was started by the Hesketh family in 1844, but 2 of the 3 shafts were sold to Richard Fort of Read Hall who completed the 3 shafts at the colliery with the help of Mr Jillet, a Derbyshire mining engineer.  

In 1864,ownership was transferred to the newly-formed Great Harwood Colliery Co, owned by Richard Fort, John Taylor of Morton Hall and textile manufacturers, the Birtwistle family.  On 22 December 1892, Altham Colliery Co, originally created by Taylor and Rippon but now owned by James Barlow, bought Martholme colliery.  

The sale was completed by Sir George W Macalpine Mech Eng, who later became the owner.  In 1898 Great Harwood Colliery Co Ltd was formed as a subsidiary of Altham Colliery Co Ltd.

The mine suffered serious flooding following the miners’ strike of 1921.  This in turn led to the mine being abandoned.  Pumping was resumed after the strike, because all the local mines were inter-connected.  Martholme Colliery was linked underground to Bridge Hey Colliery, Read, as a safety escape route.  The Lower Mountain Mine was abandoned in 1927 with its owners being Altham Colliery Co (1924) Ltd. An attempt was made to re-open the Upper Mountain Mine in 1927, but this was abandoned in 1930, its owners being at that time Hargreaves Colliery Co Ltd of Burnley. With nationalisation of coal, Martholme colliery eventually became part of the National Coal Board.  Pumping and ventilation was turned off in 1948.

Timber Volume and Tree number survey

MARTHOLME tree & timber estimates 2023

Martholme Greenway Scything
Autumn Plant ID Walk Martholme Greenway 3.11.21
Dead hedging at Martholme Greenway 7.4.22
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