Blacko is situated on an old turnpike road, now the A682 from Nelson to Gisburn in Pendle Witch country, the coven which led to the infamous trials at Lancaster Castle in 1612, being held on the outskirts of the village not far from Stansfield's Tower, a folly dominating the area built in the late 19th century by a local grocer Jonathan Stansfield. Stansfield wanted to take his friends up it to watch Blackpool Tower being built. That might have been possible, but for the fact that Pendle Hill was in the way!
In the Middle Ages Blacko was
known as Blackho, probably meaning "Black Hill", as shown on what is believed
to be the first map of the area, drawn up in 1580 in connection with a legal
dispute over land.
With a population of 635, the civil parish of Blacko straddles two counties, Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, the detached part of the Parish of Brogden (where the Tower stands) joining Blacko in 1986, 12 years after local government reorganisation, a sensible move, as the isolated hill farms that make up that area all have Blacko postal addresses. Blacko's prominence in local history is further demonstrated by the finding of a Bronze-age axe, believed to be 3,500 years old, near to the tower in 1952. In 2010, when the County Council was rebuilding the retaining wall at the top of the village, an old drinking trough was unearthed, which helps confirm the original line of the turnpike road in the 1790s.
Blacko can boast not only a number of historic houses, but also connections in high places! In one old house, a branch of the Towneley family of Towneley Hall, Burnley lived in the 16th and 17th centuries. Mary Towneley married an early American settler, Augustine Warner of Virginia, and a descendant was George Washington, first President of the United States.
Agriculture still thrives in the
parish, and although acreage still in use remains constant, the actual number
of working farms has decreased considerably in recent years. Until the
1970s, there was a cotton mill in the village, but a tasteful small housing
estate now occupies the site, and the one-time village shop (for a time a
derelict eyesore) is now a very attractive barber's and beauty salon.
Sixty years ago, the village was self-sufficient. There was a post
office, a Co-op, a butcher, a fish and chip shop, a cobbler and a garage, along
with a social club.
Jimmy Clitheroe (the "Clitheroe Kid"
diminutive film actor and star of his own BBC wireless programme in the 1950s),
born in Clitheroe as James Robinson, grew up in Blacko and attended the village
school, where he sat with Tommy
Trafford , who was to become a well-known pantomime dame, both making
their debuts ?on the boards? at Blacko Chapel. His family were mill
owners, and in the 1930s and 1950s sold the village plots of land for a
recreation ground, now a popular facility for villagers and
In the 1970s, Blacko had considerable success in the Lancashire Best Kept Village Competition, and in more recent times there has been a resurgence of interest in that competition, along with entering Britain in Bloom North West. It won the Champions Class in Best Kept Village in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, entitling it to be known as the Best Kept Village in Lancashire. In Britain in Bloom North West it achieved Gold Award status in the Village Class in 2014, 2015 and 2016, along with the Clean Sweep Award in 2016.