The name Colne is of Celtic origin and a settlement was founded around 4BC by the Brigantes. Despite a Roman road passing through nearby Barnoldswick there is no conclusive evidence of Romans having settled there.
By the 15th century, Colne had become a major centre for the textile industry, particularly woollen goods. With the Industrial Revolution, cotton manufacturing became the primary industry, trade being aided by the completion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
As with many mill towns, the population declined during the 20th century. In 1911 the census reported 26,000 people, and in 1971 it reported 19,000 people. In the 1970s it was made part of the District of Pendle.
The local MP is Gordon Prentice (Labour).
Every August Bank Holiday, the Great British Rhythm and Blues festival is held in Colne which brings artists from all over the world and a huge influx of music lovers.
As well as the modern Blues Festival, Colne has a musical past. In the town square is the Wallace Hartley memorial, in memory of the bandmaster of the RMS Titanic who used to live in Colne. Wallace Hartley and his band are famed for carrying on playing as the doomed ship sank.