Peel Tower stands on the edge of the plateau above Holcombe Village. It commemorates the famous Conservative politician Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), who was born in Bury. As Home Secretary he founded the Police force, and in 1846 in his second term as Prime Minister he joined with the Whigs and the Radicals to repeal the Corn Laws. These were designed to protect British agriculture and the ostensible reason for their abolition (and the reason for Peel’s popularity) was to lower grain prices and relieve the famine in Ireland. This action was profoundly unpopular with many Conservatives and led to Peel’s resignation and the end of his political career. He died in 1850 after falling from his horse.
The money for the tower and the statue of Peel in Bury was raised by public subscription after his death. It was opened in September 1852, the day after the statue. The cost of the tower was just under £1000.
The tower is 128 feet (39 metres) high, and beside it is an enormous pit from which the stone was dug. It was closed in 1947 and did not reopen until 1985. When it is open, a flag is flown from the flagpole, and visitors can climb the stairs to the balcony at the first level and to the observation platform at the top. Needless to say, the views on a good day are magnificent. The tower is floodlit during the evenings.
Peel Tower is one of the “Three Towers” on the West Pennine Moors. The others are Darwen Tower and Rivington Pike. A popular (but long) walking route links them.