The Bacup Natural History Society and Museum, has had several homes over the course of it’s history. Records show
the first home was at number 17 South Street Bacup, the second home was situated in the home of a man named
Nicholson at Hempsteads in Burnley Road. Followin a move to the tea rooms of the Co-op store on Rochdale Road, in
1879 the society was offerd free use of a cottage known as Willow Cottage, owned by Dr J H Worrall, who lived two
doors away. The cottage was demolished in order to build the Maden baths. It was at this time that the society
recieved the name we know today, previous to this it had been known as The Bacup and Rossendale Field Naturalists
Club. Members being encouraged to bring in natural history or fossil specimens collected during thier Sunday rambles
a popular Victorian pasttime.
During the 1880s the club was open from 7 pm till 10 pm on weekdays, and from 2 pm till 11pm on Saturdays. A
visitor to the town in 1903 asked a resident where he would find the Nat museum. After some questioning the
resident replied “Oh! It’s the Muck-Flea Club yo want”,whilst others called it the “ bug club”. From 1889 until 1936 the
Nat was based at 6 St James Square, moving from that location in 1937 to the Sunday School rooms of Zion Baptist
Chapel. In 1947 the committee decided to rent the former Hare and Hounds public house at 24 Yorkshire Street,
buying the property for £370.00 in 1951.
Over the years the focus of the museum and the society in general has switched from natural history to local history.
The museum began with items brought in from the local hills or mines sometimes b society members, sometimes by
well disposed members of the public. This is why our collection is so ecletic; not one persons vision but the intrests of
a whole town. Not everything however was local, many of the wealthier inhabitants of Bacup who travelled to others
parts of the world would bring back items such as the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy, Stone Age implements from
Yorkshire and Norfolk, or recieved donations such as Blodwen a Bronze Age Skelton, found on the Little Orme in
Another aspect of the Bacup Nat was that many of the members were part of what would become known as the Bacup
Camera Club. Members had for many years shared thier intrests in photography but it wasn’t until March 1920 that
the members actually deicded to make the Camera Club a formality. On the 2nd March a meeting was held in the
society rooms where about 100 lantern slides were shown. The Camera Club was officially opened on May 18th 1920
by Councillor Baron, and was known as Bacup Naturalist Camera Club.