Burnley is a town in Lancashire, England, situated at the confluence of the River Calder and River Brun. The town is located near the countryside to the south and east. It has a reputation as a regional centre of excellence for the manufacturing and aerospace industries. The town began to develop in the early medieval period as a number of farming hamlets surrounded by manor houses and royal forests, and has held a market for more than 700 years. During the Industrial Revolution it became one of Lancashire's most prominent mill towns; at its peak, it was one of the world's largest producers of cotton cloth and a major centre of engineering. Burnley has retained a strong manufacturing sector, and has strong economic links with the cities of Manchester and Leeds, as well as neighbouring towns along the M65 corridor. In 2013, in recognition of its success, Burnley received an Enterprising Britain award from the UK Government, for being the "Most Enterprising Area in the UK". A direct train service operates between the town's Manchester Road railway station and Manchester's Victoria station.
A series of high-profile regeneration schemes, including: an aerospace supply village and multimillion-pound investment in the former Victorian industrial heartland through a project called 'On The Banks' are radically transforming the economy of the Lancashire town. Although traditional manufacturing has been in decline in the town for several decades, high end advanced manufacturing remains very strong in the town. The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: "Burnley in the north of Lancashire is currently now booming economically on the back of manufacturing and proximity to the aerospace industry."
The largest employment sector in the town is now Health (21%), followed by Manufacturing (16%). Modern economic developments have been industrial estates and business parks with the following currently in Burnley: Heasandford, Rossendale Road, and Healeywood Industrial Estates; Network 65, Shuttleworth Mead, Smallshaw & Chestnut, Elm Street, and Gannow Business Parks; and Burnham Gate Trading Estate. A further large business park called Burnley Bridge, on a site near Hapton formerly belonging to Hepworth Plastics has recently opened.
Key manufacturing employers today are in highly specialised fields: Safran Aircelle (aerospace), GE subsidiary Unison Engine Components (aerospace), AMS Neve (professional audio), and TRW Automotive and Futaba-Tenneco UK (automotive components). The town has also had a long association with Endsleigh Insurance Services, providing its main training facility and an important call centre. Endsleigh acquired a number of the former Burnley Building Society's properties in the town centre following its merger with the Provincial Building Society and subsequent merger with the Abbey National. It also hosts the head office of The Original Factory Shop chain. In 2004, the Lancashire Digital Technology Centre was opened by Sir Digby Jones on land formerly occupied by the Michelin factory, to provide support and incubation space for start-up technology companies. The rest of the Michelin site has recently been opened as Innovation Drive, a new business park aimed at businesses in the Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing supply chain.
Burnley's main shopping area is St James Street, along with the nearby Charter Walk Shopping Centre. The centre incorporates the council-run market which is open four days a week.
The town centre is home to a large number of high street multiples, along with other shops, including specialist food shops, independent record shops and an independent bookshop. On the edge of the town centre, there are four retail parks; there are also a number of mill shops. The town has gained new high street names in large retail units including Next and River Island. The Market Square is currently under redevelopment with a number of retailers already moved in and more said to be 'signed up' to move in once the development is complete. As well as traditional motor dealerships, the town is home to the second Motorpoint car supermarket in the UK.
The local brewery, Moorhouse's, which was founded in 1865, produces a range of award-winning beers – including the very popular Pride of Pendle and Blond Witch – and currently operates six pubs in the area. The Worsthorne Brewing Company produces a number of cask ales including Chestnut Mare, Packhorse, Foxstones Bitter, Some Like It Blonde, Old Trout, Collier's Clog and Winter Ales. The Moonstone Brewery is operated within the "Ministry of Ale", Burnley's first Brewpub. Reedley Hallows Brewery, whose ales include Old Laund Booth and Pendleside was launched in 2012 by the former Head Brewer at Moorhouses.
Burnley has a population of over 125,000 people. Burnley also forms part of the wider Blackburn-Burnley metropolitan area which has a population of over 391,000 people.