Searching for Panopticons in East Lancashire.

Despite being a Lancashire lass born and bred, the East Lancashire Panopticons have totally passed me by. Until very recently that is, when Richard’s post  ‘ Its Grim Up North’ ( honestly it’s not that bad ! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) , brought Burnley’s iconic Singing Ringing Tree to my attention. Ever since I have been very keen to visit this amazing structure and its fellow Panopticons. Panopticons. Panopticons. I love that word! ๐Ÿ™‚

On the Mid Pennine Arts  Website  I found this description of a  Panopticon.

Panopticon  ( noun) Structure, Space or Device providing a comprehensive or panoramic view.

East Lancashire is home to 4 such sculptures and on Saturday Wil, Hugo and I managed to hunt down two of them. Thankfully it wasn’t a bad day weather wise ( unlike Richard’s experience) and my home county was bathed in sunshine. ๐Ÿ™‚

First we drove to the town of  Rawtenstall in Rossendale and parked at The Whitaker Museum & Art Gallery  on Haslingden rd. The museum is set in a pretty park and car parking is free. There is a cafe and a bar in The Whitaker and a children’s playground in the park. Therefore  it is  a great place to start and finish a walk up to The Halo Panopticon on Top O Slate , in the hills above Haslingden.

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We followed a footpath from Haslingden Old Road up Cribden Hill.
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And found ourselves on ‘The Shoe Trail’ that celebrates Rossendales Shoe Industry.
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Saw some friendly sheep.


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And these guys had been rolling in the mud. ๐Ÿ™‚
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The Halo !

It didn’t take to long to find  The Halo an 18 metre diameter  steel structure , supported on a tripod. It definitely resembles a Flying Saucer don’t you think ??

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Hugo and  The Halo.
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Yes Hugo it’s a Panopticon..

In daylight this Panopticon is the perfect vantage point for admiring the panoramic views over  Rossendale.  But it is when darkness falls that The Halo really stands out. The structure lights up at night and it’s blue glow gives the impression that it’s hovering over the valley. Maybe it does get mistaken for a UFO. ๐Ÿ™‚  Check out  for more images.

After our spaceship discovery we walked into Rawtenstall , had a nosy around the shops and enjoyed some refreshments at  Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar &  Emporium.  Fitzpatricks Temperance Bar on Bank Street has been serving Lancashire folks alcohol free tipples since 1890.  In fact it is England’s only remaining original temperance bar !  Having recently been refurbished, Fitzpatricks now sells delicious cakes, icecreams, floats, coffee & tea , as well as  its famed vintage  cordials.

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We sat outside with a couple of hot cordials. Wil had a Blood Tonic and Orange and I had a Lemon & Ginger cordial. Of course we had to sample some cakes as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

These  lovely  Temperance Bar goodies set us up for our next Panopticon.  The Singing Ringing Tree  is situated about 15 minutes drive from Rawtenstall at Crown Point above the town of Burnley. Taking the form of a tree bending in the wind, this unusual musical sculpture is made from  galvanised metal tubes.  The wind whistleing through them creates a humming sound, as though the tree is singing. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Singing Ringing Tree.
Play those pipes. ๐Ÿ™‚

We were treated to a harmonious wailing up there in the Pennine landcape,which I find hard to describe. Think a cross between angels singing in old black & white movies…and a pack of howling dogs. Hugo was most intrigued..

Hugo being serenaded.

With far reaching views over the urban sprawl of Burnley and to the hills beyond ,this Panopticon  gives the town dwellers and visitors a new appreciation of the surrounding countryside……as well as its own personal backing track. ๐Ÿ™‚

So thats two East Lancashire  Panopticons bagged and two more to go, the others being  Colourfields in Blackburn  and  The Atom in Wycollar Country Park. My Panopticon Quest continues….. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you visited any ? 

Which is your favourite Panopticon? 

40 thoughts on “Searching for Panopticons in East Lancashire.”

  1. Hugo seems interested in the sound of the tree. Can see that Rawtenstall to the Ringing Tree would be a good walk. There is an old temperance pub nut that far from Sedbergh if I recall.

    1. As long as you don’t live in a panopticon. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the temperance bar tip. Hugo certainly found the Singing Ringing Tree interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Beautiful part of the North and very much redolent with the remnants of the Non-Conformism which I suspect led to that being there

  2. Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t hear of these before. I like the word and they’re an interesting idea, but not so fond of all the metal and concrete. Give me a clapper bridge or a stone circle any day!

    1. Ahh yes you are perfectly right. These metal structures do have their own charm though. The sounds the Singing Ringing Tree made were eerie but wonderful. X

  3. Great post! Looks like you had better weather than we did! Surprised how small the halo looks. Looking fwd to reading about your next trip (although someone told me colourfields is not worth bothering with).

    1. Thanks! The Shoe Trail is basically lots of clay shoes in different designs scattered round the area. The region was once big on shoe making.

  4. I’m going to be having words with my other half, he’s from Burnley and we’ve never been up to the singing ringing tree! I think I’ll be pushing for a visit next time we stop by at the in-laws’

  5. Thanks for a fascinating post, I love finding out about these quirky artworks that dot the landscape either permanently or temporarily. There is a fab sculpture garden in Surrey that has a mix of quirky installation art works that this reminded me of. Your pictures are great and the singing ringing tree in particular has piqued my curiosity!

    1. The Sculpture Garden in Surrey sounds fab. I love sculptures as well. Theres a park in Yorkshire called The Yorkshire Sculpture Park which I still need to visit. Has lots of quirky ones. I loved The Singing Ringing Tree!

      1. I’d love to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. My mum has taken kids there on school trips and says it’s fab. I’m going to have to plan a trip in the area. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. I discovered the panopticans a few years back after we went exploring on the way to Clitheroe one time, we passed one accidentally and I’ve wanted to visit them all properly ever since! This sounds like great day!

  7. I didn’t realise there were four of these; I only knew about the one in Burnley. It had been on my visiting list but a couple of people had told me that it’s only worth going in very windy conditions to get the full effect. Clearly, that’s not true as the weather looks lovely in your photographs. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. It was quite windy up on that hill actually but everywhere else wasn’t. I guess we got quite lucky. It was really just a lovely early spring day. ๐Ÿ™‚

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