Castle Lit Up in Green to Mark Council’s 50th Anniversary

Published: 2nd April 2024

Clitheroe castle museum complex redevelopment
The Clitheroe Castle Museum was redeveloped into a multi-purpose site featuring a café, atrium, creative activity space and classroom suite

Clitheroe Castle was lit up in green over the Easter weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of Ribble Valley Borough Council.

The iconic castle was lit in the council’s corporate colour of forest green to celebrate its golden jubilee.

Ribble Valley Borough came into being following the massive re-organisation of local government in 1974, the same year that the BBC launched Ceefax and Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo.

The reorganisation saw the country divided into ‘districts’, one of which, Ribble Valley, at 225 square miles, was the largest geographically in Lancashire, but with the smallest population, at the time less than 50,000 residents.

Since then, Ribble Valley has become one of the most successful boroughs in the country, with high customer satisfaction rates and an outstanding record in financial management.

It has one of the lowest district council taxes in the UK and is the only authority in Lancashire to collect refuse weekly, and not charge for green waste.

And this year the council launched an ambitious £13million five-year capital programme featuring improvements to play areas, public toilets and car parks, along with £1million for projects marking its 50th anniversary and £500,000 for improvements to Clitheroe Castle and grounds.

The council has already marked the anniversary by planting 10 carbon-busting giant redwoods in Clitheroe and Longridge, with a further 40 of the super-trees to be planted at parishes throughout the borough over the coming weeks.

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Stephen Atkinson said: “We may be a small district authority, but we have been punching above our weight for years.

“We have no debt, significant reserves, the lowest district council tax in Lancashire and one of the lowest in the UK.

“At the same time, we have launched an ambitious capital programme and are still the only authority in Lancashire to collect refuse weekly and not charge for green waste.

“But it’s not just our financial record that is outstanding – we are also the fifth healthiest borough in the UK and the safest in the North West, according to recent ONS figures.

“And over the years we have delivered a raft of groundbreaking and award-winning schemes from multi-million-pound redevelopment projects to the resurgence in regional hospitality.

“These are significant achievements built on many years of careful financial management, as well as the skill and dedication of staff across the authority, who know their jobs inside out and deliver first-class services.

“Ribble Valley has a bright future and we will continue to deliver the services our residents appreciate and value as we look forward to the next fifty golden years.”


Cattle being driven to market through the centre of Clitheroe was a regular sight when Ribble Valley Borough Council opened for business in 1974.

As well as building new offices in Church Walk, Clitheroe, one of the most important tasks facing the new council was the relocation of the town centre cattle mart and redevelopment of the vacant site into the town’s popular market.

At the same time, the authority decommissioned the former Clitheroe Gasworks in a groundbreaking project led by council engineers and funded by the Department of the Environment.

The gasholder was so toxic that it rotted the removal equipment and the topsoil so contaminated that a cutting-edge microbiological process was used to reclaim the site.

The so-called superbugs broke down the contamination in 12 months, instead of 1,000 years, and the project became nationally acclaimed.

The council also redeveloped the semi-derelict Clitheroe Rail Station into a travel and arts hub, called the Clitheroe Interchange and Platform Gallery, which received a Royal opening by the Prince of Wales, now King Charles, following the reinstatement of the Clitheroe to Manchester passenger line.

Following the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, which decimated much of the UK’s agriculture and tourism, the council anticipated the resurgence in regional food and drink, with its multi-award-winning Ribble Valley Food Trail and Clitheroe Food Festival, which paved the way for the popular visitor, hospitality and wedding destination that the borough is today.

The council also spearheaded the £3.5million refurbishment of the Clitheroe Castle Museum Complex in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and several public and private sector partners that also received a Royal opening by the Duke of Gloucester and went on to win a raft of heritage and tourism awards.

More recently, it worked with the producers of the hit film, Greatest Days, based on the Take That songbook, which was filmed at locations in and around Clitheroe over a two-week period in 2022 and showcased the borough to an international audience.


“It is my pleasure to welcome you into the new Ribble Valley family and express the hope that the years ahead will establish us as a flourishing, prosperous and important corner of the new Lancashire.”

Fred Singleton, the first Ribble Valley Mayor, April 4, 1974

“A positive attitude from council employees is vital. When residents contact the telephone department, they must not be shunted from pillar to post, but put in touch with the right person the first time.”

Michael Jackson, chief executive, Ribble Valley Council April 4, 1974

“The council’s name ought to embrace the whole area. Ribble Valley has been used ever since this committee was formed, so why change it now?”

Ronald Williamson, Ribble Valley Reorganisation Committee, February 1, 1973 (during a debate on whether to call the new council

Ribble Valley or Ribblesdale Borough Council)

“It would be very unfair to expect reporters, who have to sit through hours of boredom, not to have a smoke.”

Margaret Mayes, chairman, public works and health committee, January 5, 1978

(during a debate on whether to ban smoking at committee meetings –

the smoking ban was eventually introduced)