THE hidden history of gay and lesbian communities in Burnley is the starting point for a pioneering heritage walk.

Walk leaders will recall the Thorn Hotel, off St James Street, a favourite gay hang-out in the 1950s and 1960s.

And the fate of Mary Winter, sacked from her job as a Burnley bus driver for wearing a Lesbian Liberation badge, is also included in Lancashire’s first-ever lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history trail.

Burnley was also at the forefront of gay politics in 1971 when a stormy public meeting was held over plans to open a gay club at the former Co-op cafe in Hammerton Street.

Gay rights lobbyist and former Nelson Coun Allan Horsfall organised a rally on behalf of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, after a Christian alliance had opposed the gay club.

In more recent times the Garden Bar and Guys As Dolls showbar have also made contributions to the town’s cosmopolitan nightlife. Last year the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group was given £50,000 by the National Lottery to work with Mid Pennine Arts to develop the heritage walk concept.

And on Saturday, February 23, the fruits of their labour, an hour-long trek, will be launched at 1pm, outside Burnley Central Library.

County Coun Mike Calvert, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “Each year LGBT History Month give us a privileged glimpse into the past of the LGBT community, seen through their own eyes and using authentic accounts that convey a real sense of the barriers that they faced.

“Understanding such barriers helps us to break down those that remain and to educate and bring our diverse communities together.”

The library will also host an LGBT display during February.