Skyline of Blackburn Town Centre
Blackburn shown within Lancashire
Population 105,085  - Density 11,114 /sq mi (4,291 /km2) OS grid reference - London 184 mi (296 km) SSE Unitary authority Blackburn with Darwen Ceremonial county Lancashire Region North West Country England Sovereign state United Kingdom Post town BLACKBURN Postcode district BB1 – BB2 Dialling code 01254 Police Lancashire Fire Lancashire Ambulance North West EU Parliament North West England UK Parliament Blackburn List of places: UK • England • Lancashire
Blackburn ( pronounced /ˈblækbɜrn/) (help·info)) is a large town in Lancashire, England. It lies to the north of the West Pennine Moors on the southern edge of the Ribble Valley, 9 miles (14 km) east of the city of Preston, 27 miles (43 km) north-northwest of the city of Manchester. and is 13 miles (21 km) north of the border with Greater Manchester. Blackburn is bounded to the south by Darwen, with which it forms the unitary authority area of Blackburn with Darwen, Blackburn being the administrative centre. At the time of the UK Government's 2001 census, Blackburn had a population of 105,085, whilst the wider borough of Blackburn with Darwen had a population of 140,700.
A former mill town, textiles have been produced in Blackburn since the middle of the 13th century, when wool was woven in people's houses in the domestic system. Flemish weavers who settled in the area during the 14th century helped to develop the woollen cottage industry in the region. James Hargreaves, inventor of the spinning jenny, was a weaver in Blackburn. The most rapid period of growth and development in Blackburn's history coincided with the industrialisation and expansion of textile manufacturing. Blackburn was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and amongst the first industrialised towns in the world.
Blackburn's textile sector fell into a terminal decline from the mid-20th century. Blackburn has subsequently faced similar challenges to other post-industrial northern towns, including deindustrialisation, economic deprivation and housing issues. Since the 1950s the town has experienced significant levels of migration, particularly from India and Pakistan, and consequently has the third highest proportion of Muslims (c.25%) in England and Wales and the highest in the United Kingdom outside London. Blackburn has had significant investment and redevelopment in the past 60 years through government funding and the European Regional Development Fund.
- 1 History
- 2 Governance
- 3 Politics
- 4 Geography
- 5 Demography
- 6 Economy
- 7 Transport
- 8 Landmarks
- 9 Education
- 10 Sports
- 11 Cultural references
- 12 Notable people
- 13 Twin towns
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The name of the town first appears as Blacheborne, in the Domesday Book compiled from a survey completed in 1086. The origins of the name are uncertain. It has been suggested that it may be a combination of an Old English word for bleach, together with a form of the word "burn", meaning stream, and may be associated with a bleaching process. Alternatively, the name of the town may simply mean "black burn", or "black stream".
There is little evidence of prehistoric settlement in the Blakewater valley, in which Blackburn later developed. It is generally thought that most human activity in East Lancashire during this period occurred on hilltops. Evidence of such activity during the Bronze Age has been discovered in the form of urn burials, two examples of which have been found in the hills around Blackburn. In 1879, a cinerary urn was discovered beneath a tumulus at Revidge, north of the town. Another was excavated at Pleasington Cemetery, west of the present town, by gravedigger Grant Higson in 1996. The presence of a possible sacred spring—perhaps in use during the Iron Age—provides evidence of prehistoric man's activity in the area now occupied by the town centre, at All Hallows Spring on Railway Road.
Blackburn stands at the site where a Roman military road crossed the river Blakewater. The road linked Bremetennacum Veteranorum (the modern-day village of Ribchester) and Mamucium (a Roman fort which was located in what is now the Castlefield area of the City of Manchester). The route of the Roman road passed to the east of the site of Blackburn's modern-day cathedral and probably crossed the river at Salford (just east of the modern-day town centre). However, it is not clear whether the Roman road or the settlement came first.
George C. Miller in his Blackburn – the Evolution of a Cotton Town says:
The ancient military way from Mamucium (Manchester) to (Bremetennacum) (Ribchester), passing over Blacksnape, plunges on its unswerving course through Blackamoor, over the scarp at Whinney Heights, to pass across the Blakewater in the vicinity of Salford. This fact alone presents a reasonable argument for the existence of a British oppidum or walled village on the site, it being customary for such primitive communities to cluster in the vicinity of a ford or bridge.
All Hallows Spring was purportedly excavated in 1654 and was found to contain an inscribed stone, allegedly commemorating the dedication of a temple of Serapis by Claudius Hieronymus, legate of Legio VI Victrix.
Christianity is believed to have come to Blackburn at the end of the 6th century, perhaps in 596 (there is a record of a "church of Blagbourne" in that year) or 598 AD. The town was certainly important during the Anglo-Saxon era. It was during this period that Blackburnshire Hundred came into existence, probably as a territorial division of the kingdom of Northumbria.
The name of the town first appears in the Domesday Book as Blachebourne, a royal manor during the days of Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror. Archaeological evidence gleaned during the demolition of the medieval parish church on the site of the present cathedral in 1820 suggests that a church was built during the late 11th or early 12th century. A market cross was also erected nearby in 1101. The manor came into the possession of Henry de Blackburn, who divided it between his two sons. Later, one half was granted to the monks of Stanlow Abbey. This moiety was later granted to the monks of Whalley Abbey. However, during the 12th century, the town's conjectured importance declined as Clitheroe became the regional centre. In addition to the settlement in the town centre area, there were several other medieval domiciles nearby.
Industrial Revolution and textiles
Textile manufacturing in Blackburn dates from the middle of the 13th century, when wool produced by local farmers was woven by local people in their homes. Flemish weavers who settled in the area in the 14th century and helped to develop the industry. By 1650 the town was known for the manufacture of "Blackburn checks", blue and white in colour, with "Blackburn greys" becoming famous not long afterwards. By the first half of the 18th century textile manufacture had become Blackburn's main industry. From the mid-18th to the early 20th century Blackburn evolved from a small market town into "the weaving capital of the world", with the population increasing from less than 5,000 to over 130,000.
John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles provides a profile of Blackburn in 1887:
Blackburn. parl. and mun. bor., par. and township, NE. Lancashire, 9 miles (14 km) [14 km] E. of Preston and 210 miles (340 km) [340 km] NW. of London by rail – par., 48,281 ac., pop. 161,617; township, 3681 ac., pop. 91,958; bor., 6974 ac., pop. 104,014; 4 Banks, 2 newspapers. Market-days, Wednesday and Saturday. It is one of the chief seats of cotton manufacture, besides producing calico, muslin, &c., there being over 140 mills at work. There are also factories for making cotton machinery and steam-engines. B. has been associated with many improvements in the mfr. of cotton, among which was the invention (1767) of the "spinning jenny" which was invented in nearby Oswaldtwistle by James Hargreaves, who died in 1770. There are several fine churches and public buildings. A Corporation Park (50 ac. in area) is on the outskirts of the town. Several lines of railway converge here, and pass through one principal station belonging to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Ry. Co. B. returns 2 members to Parliament.
From around 1750, cotton textile manufacturing expanded rapidly in Blackburn. Supplied with cotton by the town's cotton merchants, and paid by the piece, cottagers had spun the cotton into thread and woven it into cloth. The merchants had then arranged for the cloth to be bleached and dyed. After 1775 however, spinning mills began to appear in the town. Though early examples were warehouse conversions, the first purpose-built spinning mill was constructed in 1797, and By 1824 there were 24 . The number of spindles in Blackburn reached 2.5 million by 1870, with spinning mills still being constructed up to that time – 24 since 1850. Spinning declined in the town between 1870 and 1900 as the sector transferred to South Lancashire.
In 18th century Blackburn, weaving was primarily undertaken by handloom weavers working from their own cottages. However, as powerlooms began to be introduced into local mills from 1825, the percentage of the workforce employed as handloom weavers began to decline. This occurred more rapidly in areas closer to the centre of Blackburn, with handloom weavers continuing to make up a sizeable portion of the workforce in outlying rural areas. Nevertheless, the last handloom shop in Blackburn closed in 1894. Improvements to the powerloom in the early 1840s, together with the construction of the first railway line into Blackburn in 1846, led to much greater investment in powerlooms in the town in the second half of that decade. The railway brought opportunities for expansion of the cotton trade, with subsequent decades seeing many new mills constructed: 68 weaving-only and 4 combined weaving and spinning mills were built between 1850 and 1870, and 9 weaving mills were built per decade between 1870 and 1890.
Improvements in powerloom efficiency meant that weaving, which had been the primary source of wealth and income for handloom weavers, began to transfer from the cottage to the factory. This led to high rates of unemployment: according to figures published in March 1826, some 60% of all handloom weavers in Blackburn and nearby Rishton, Lower Darwen and Oswaldtwistle were unemployed. High unemployment in turn led to the Lancashire weavers' riots. At 3:00 pm on 24 April 1826 a mob arrived in Blackburn after attacking powerlooms in nearby Accrington. Proceeding to Bannister Eccles' Jubilee Factory on Jubilee St in the town centre, the mob destroyed 212 powerlooms in the space of 35 minutes. They then turned their attention to John Houghton and Sons' Park Place factory, located nearby, and destroyed another 25 looms, before continuing on in search of more machinery to attack. The crowd began to disperse at around 6:00 pm, troops having arrived as early as 3:30 pm to try to quell the rioting.
Decline of the cotton industry
In 1890, Blackburn's Chamber of Commerce recognised that the town was over-dependent on the cotton industry, warning of the dangers of "only having one string to their bow in Blackburn". The warning proved to be prophetic when, in 1904, a serious slump hit the cotton industry, and other industries dependent on it such as engineering, brewing and building. A few years later, in 1908, another slump saw 43 mills stop production and a quarter of the town's looms idle.
Suspension of trade with India during the First World War resulted in the expansion of India's cotton industry at the expense of Britain's, and the imposition of an 11% import tariff by the Indian Government led to a dramatic slump in 1921; a situation which worsened in 1922 after the Indian Government raised the tariff to 14%, which led the number of stopped mills to increase to 47, with 43,000 looms idle. Two years into the slump, the Foundry and Limbrick mills became the first in the town to close permanently. Not long afterwards, in 1926, the General Strike saw production suspended at half of the town's mills and 12,000 unemployed. There was another slump in 1928, and then another strike in 1929 after employers requested a 12% wage cut; 40,000 cotton workers went on strike for a week and eight more mills closed, making it 28 closures in six years. By the start of 1930, 50 mills had shut down and 21,000 people were unemployed. A sharp financial crisis late in 1931 led to 24,000 unemployed, with 1,000 houses and 166 shops lying empty in the town. A total of 26 mills closed down between 1930 and 1934.
The industry experienced a short post-war boom between 1948 and 50, during which sales increased, industry training methods improved, and new automatic looms were introduced; allowing a single weaver to control 20 to 25 looms. Loom sheds were often rebuilt using new building techniques to make them more open-plan so that they could house the new, larger looms. Despite the post-war boom, the cotton industry continued to decline, and only 25% of the town's population were employed in textiles by 1951: it had been 60% up to the beginning of the Great Depression, in 1929. Furthermore, in 1952 the number of weavers in the town fell from 10,890 to 9,020. By 1955 more cloth was being imported from India than was being exported there, and between 1955 and 1958 another 16 mills closed. In 1959, due partly to the re-organisation of the textile industry resulting from that year's Textiles Act, another 17 mills closed. By 1960 there were 30 mills left operating in Blackburn.
Closures continued in the 1960s with, for example, the Parkside, Fountains, Malvern and Pioneer Mills shutting in 1964. In 1967 the Eclipse Mill at Feniscowles closed, unable to compete with imported cloth sold at nine pence cheaper per yard than the mill could produce it. By the end of that year there were 26 mills left operating in Blackburn. The 1970s saw further closures, and the number of textile workers in Blackburn reduced to 6,000 by January 1975, the year in which the Albion and Alston mills also stopped production with the loss of a further 400 jobs. The following statistic gives some idea of the rate of decline of Blackburn's cotton industry: in 1976 there were 2,100 looms still operating, from a peak of 79,405 in 1907.
Since the first influx of Commonwealth immigrants to Britain in 1948, Blackburn has seen a significant number of immigrants settle in the town. Whalley Range in the north of the town was a popular destination for Asian immigrants, who now make up the majority of the district's population, in particular. Perhaps surprisingly, the town did not fall victim to any of the race riots which blighted parts of northern England, including nearby Oldham and Burnley, over the summer of 2001.
Blackburn since 1930
Blackburn suffered badly in the Great Depression of the early 1930s, with unemployment reaching record levels as many of the town's mills were shut down. However, public amenities improved and thousands of new council houses had been built by the outbreak of World War II in 1939, to replace town centre slums.
Unlike many other industrialised towns and cities in England, Blackburn avoided serious bomb damage in World War II. However, the continuing decline of the town's old industries saw the town's population fall to a low of just over 100,000 by 1971. However, the town then was revived by a regeneration of the town centre and an expansion of the local engineering industry.
The town enjoyed a return to international media and public spotlight in the 1990s with the success of the town's football team Blackburn Rovers, beginning with the takeover of the club by local steel baron Jack Walker in 1991. The club's Ewood Park stadium was completely rebuilt between 1987 and 1995, but radical changes also took place on the pitch as Walker's extensive financial backing attracted some of the nation's finest players to the club, helping them win promotion to the new FA Premier League in 1992, ending 26 years outside the top flight of English football. The pinnacle of the football club's revival came in 1995 when the league title was won for the first time since 1914, ending a major trophy drought which had begun with their 1928 FA Cup triumph. However, the club has failed to sustain that level of success, their only major honour since then being a Football League Cup triumph in 2002.
- This section describes the organisation of government in the area. For information on party politics and local issues see the section on politics below
Blackburn is administered by Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority, which encompasses Blackburn and the small town of Darwen to the south. The town sends one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons.
The council has been elected "by thirds" since 1996, with one councillor from each of the three-member wards being elected every year; those representing 2-member wards are elected in alternative years. Every four years there is a year with no elections, In its 2007 Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), the Audit Commission described the council as "improving well" and gave it the highest "four star" overall performance rating.
Although children’s services, adult social care and GCSE results were praised, the commission did highlight "significant health problems" and increased "levels of repeat victims of domestic violence" as causes for concern. Despite generally good performance, overall user satisfaction levels with the council are below average and not improving. The borough was awarded Beacon Council status and shares its best practice in education policy with other councils as part of the scheme.
The historic constituency of Blackburn was created for the 1832 general election and sent two MPs to Westminster. It was abolished in 1950 and replaced for one parliamentary term by two new single-member constituencies, Blackburn East and Blackburn West. At the 1955 general election, Blackburn East and Blackburn West were merged into the modern-day constituency, returning a single MP.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms of the former Blackburn Borough Council has many distinctive emblems. The blazon of the arms is: Argent a Fesse wavy Sable between three Bees volant proper on a Chief Vert a Bugle stringed Argent between two Fusils Or. On the crest, a Wreath of the Colours a Shuttle Or thereon a Dove wings elevated Argent and holding in the beak the Thread of the Shuttle reflexed over the back and an Olive Branch proper. The Latin motto of the town is Arte et Labore, correctly translated as "by art and by labour" but often translated as "by skill and hardwork".
The motto, granted on 14 February 1852 to the former Borough of Blackburn, is poignant as Blackburn, once a small town, had risen to importance through the energy and enterprise of her spinners and manufacturers, combined with the skill and labour of her operatives. The Borough of Blackburn was formed by the amalgamation of the County Borough of Blackburn, the Borough of Darwen, part of the Turton Urban District and the parishes of Yate and Pickup Bank, Eccleshill, Livesey, Pleasington and Tockholes from the Blackburn Rural District.
Blackburn council and its successor have been predominantly controlled by the Labour Party since 1945 and continuously for 19 years until May 2007 when it fell into no overall control. UKPollingReport characterises the constituency of Blackburn as "a mix of deprived inner-city wards dominated by Muslim voters, white working class areas and Conservative voting suburbs". The sitting MP is former Secretary of State for Justice and former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. Previous MPs for Blackburn include former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle, who represented the town in Westminster from 1945 to 1979.
In the 1970s Blackburn experienced its first significant wave of Asian immigration, and became a focus for far-right politics. National front (NF) town councillors were briefly elected, including John Kingsley Reid, who later gave information on his former party's extremist activities to the British security forces. The next resurgence of support for the far right came after 2000. Around 20% of Blackburn's population come from ethnic minorities and in recent years the town has witnessed a resurgence in the fortunes of far-right political parties in local elections.
The council until recently had two members for the England First party, Mark Cotterill for Meadowhead ward and Michael Johnson for Fernhurst. Mark Cotterill has since stood down and Michael Johnson joined the For Darwen party. Members of the BNP have previously won a council seat in the town in November 2002 following elections in May which saw three of their colleagues elected in nearby Burnley. The BNP's Robin Evans secured a 16-vote majority in Mill Hill ward with two recounts following a campaign using pub meetings and leafleting.
The incumbent Liberal Democrats were pushed into third place behind Labour. Although the plans had been blocked by the time of the poll, proposals to convert a nursing home in the ward into a centre for asylum seekers were seen as a key election issue. Developments in Burnley and Blackburn were regarded as something of a renaissance for the far right in British politics; no such councillors had been elected in the UK since victories in Tower Hamlets nearly ten years before.
Commenting on the elections, Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: "It is very sad. We had the far right in Blackburn 26 years ago when they won two seats in Shadsworth. But there the whole community decided they wouldn't have it. You can never say they won't put candidates in Blackburn but we will work hard on community relations." Blackburn had two council members from the National Party in the 1970s. Although some towns in the North of England suffered race riots in the summer of 2001, the streets of Blackburn remained quiet.
Other political events
In October 2006, comments made by Jack Straw angered some in the Muslim community. Writing in the Lancashire Telegraph, the MP said that Muslim women who wear full veils make "better, positive relations" between communities more difficult and that failing to show the mouth and nose was "a visible statement of separation and of difference." Jack Straw apologised for these comments regarding the veil on Sunday, 26 April 2010 at a private hustings organised by Engage in the build up to the 2010 Elections.
Blackburn Climate chart (explanation) J F M A M J J A S O N D70615071609350124601577018107020128020127017108014880948072 Average max. and min. temperatures in °C Precipitation totals in mm Source: "Records and averages". Yahoo! Weather. 2007. http://weather.yahoo.com/climo/UKXX1036.html. Imperial conversion J F M A M J J A S O N D2.84334245342.44837254392.459452.864502.868543.168542.863503.157463.148393.14536 Average max. and min. temperatures in °F Precipitation totals in inches
At sea level, 8.9 miles (14.3 km) east of Preston and 21 miles (34 km) north-northeast of Manchester. The Ribble Valley and West Pennine Moors lie to the north and south respectively. Blackburn experiences a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Isles, with relatively cool summers and mild winters. There is regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year.(53.7449°, −2.4769°), and 184 miles (296 km) north-northwest of London, Blackburn stands 401 feet (122 m) above
Although the city of Preston, the administrative centre for Lancashire, is located about 9.2 miles (14.8 km) to the west, Blackburn is the largest municipality in what is known as East Lancashire. The town is bounded on other sides by smaller towns, including Accrington to the east and Darwen to the south.
Blackburn and Darwen together make up Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority. The village of Wilpshire, is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) north of Blackburn, and forms part of the Blackburn urban area, although it is in the Ribble Valley local government district. Other nearby villages are Langho, approximately 1.2 miles (1.9 km) further to the north-east, and Mellor to the north west of Blackburn.
The small towns of Rishton, to the east, and Great Harwood, to the north east, are both in the local government district of Hyndburn. 11 miles (18 km) further to the east[clarification needed] lies the town of Burnley.
Geology and terrain
Located in the midst of the East Lancashire Hills, some areas of the town are characterised by steep slopes. The town centre is located in a depression surrounded by a number of hills. The area of Revidge to the north can be reached via a steep climb up Montague Street and Dukes Brow to reach a peak of 715 feet (218 m) above sea level.
To the west, the wooded Billinge Hill in Witton Country Park is 804 feet (245 m) high, while Royal Blackburn Hospital is situated to the east of the town at a vantage point of 663 feet (202 m). These figures can be considered in the context of other hills and mountains in Lancashire, including Great Hill at 1,496 feet (456 m), Winter Hill at 1,496 feet (456 m), Pendle Hill at 1,827 feet (557 m) and Green Hill 2,060 feet (628 m).
The River Blakewater, which gives its names to the town, flows down from the moors above Guide and then through the areas of Whitebirk, Little Harwood, Cob Wall and Brookhouse to the town centre. The river was culverted during the industrial revolution and runs underground in the town centre, under Ainsworth Street and between Blackburn Cathedral and Blackburn Bus Station. On the western side of the town centre the Blakewater continues under Whalley Banks and through the Redlam area before joining the River Darwen outside Witton Country Park and continuing on to join the River Ribble at Walton-le-Dale.
The geology of the Blackburn area yields numerous resources which underpinned its development as a centre of manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. Mineable coal seams have been used since the mid-late 16th century. The Coal Measures in the area overlie the Millstone Grit which has been quarried in the past for millstones and, along with local limestone deposits, used as a construction material for roads and buildings. In addition, there were deposits of iron ore in the Furness and Ulverston districts.
The Blackburn area was subjected to glaciation during the Pleistocene ice age, and the sandstone-and-shale bedrock is overlain in much of the area by glacial deposits called till (which is also called "boulder clay") of varying thickness up to several tens of feet. Glacial outwash (sand and gravel) also occur in small patches, including along Grimshaw Brook.
According to the UK Government's 2001 census, Blackburn, defined as an urban area, had a population of 105,085 and a population density of 11,114 /sq mi (4,291 /km2). According to further statistics from the same census, this time defining Blackburn as a Westminster parliamentary constituency, the town was 69.22% White British (national average for England 89.99%) with significant Indian (14.31%) and Pakistani (11.45%) ethnic minorities. 12.33% of the population was born outside the European Union. In terms of religion, 57.53% of residents were Christian (average for England 71.74%), 25.74% Muslim (average for England 3.1%) and 15.98% no religion or not stated.
With regard to the economic activity of those aged 16–74, the 2001 Census indicates that 33.93% were full-time employees (average for England 40.81%), 11.72% were part-time employees, 5.97% were self-employed (average for England 8.32%), and 4.5% were unemployed (average for England 3.35%).
The 2001 census also records the social grade of the constituency's 72,418 people aged 16 and over. Using the NRS social grades system, 10,748 were classed as AB (higher and intermediate managerial / administrative / professional), 17,514 as C1 (supervisory, clerical, junior managerial / administrative / professional), 11,691 as C2 (skilled manual workers), 19,212 as D (semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers), and 13,253 as E (on state benefit, unemployed, lowest grade workers).
The town centre is currently subject to a new multi-million pound investment, and Blackburn with Darwen Council have already made some refurbishments and renovations of key public places, notably the Church Street area with its Grade II listed art deco Waterloo Pavilions complemented by street furniture and sculptures. The Mall Blackburn (formerly known as Blackburn Shopping Centre) is the main shopping centre in Blackburn with over 130 shops and 400 further outlets close by. Blackburn Markets are situated opposite the mall on its Ainsworth Street side. First opened in 1964, they are a 3-day market (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) and the Market Hall (Monday-Saturday). The town centre was expanded by construction of the Grimshaw Park retail development (including Blackburn Arena) in the 1990s. The adjacent Townsmoor Retail Park and Peel Leisure and Retail Park are more recent developments.
One of the town's most well-known shops, the shoe store Tommy Ball's, closed in May 2008 after going into administration. The town's oldest store, Mercer & Sons, also closed after a decline in sales blamed on the credit crunch. It opened in 1840 and was originally an ironmonger but the public store converted to selling toys, household goods and hardware. However in January 2009 the directors of the company announced that the shop would close following a 30-day statutory consultation, unless they change their mind or a buyer is found. The company continue to operate their "trade only" outlet on Pump Street. The markets continue to offer a wide range of local produce—Lancashire cheeses, tripe, Bowland beef and lamb can all be found. Walsh's Sarsaparilla stall decided not to move into the new market development. The market moved into the Mall shopping centre in 2011, and now opens six days a week.
Major employers in Blackburn include: BAE Systems (Samlesbury Aerodrome site, located at Balderstone, northwest of Blackburn); Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council; and the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (based at the Royal Blackburn Hospital).
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs through Blackburn from Feniscowles in the SW to Whitebirk in the NE, skirting the town centre to the east of Blackburn railway station. This important early industrial artery arrived in the town in 1810 and became the chief focus for industrial growth in the 19th century, with raw cotton imported via Liverpool. While it suffered neglect in the wake of the area's industrial decline, the Blackburn stretch has benefited from a number of regeneration projects since the 1990s. British Waterways residential moorings are to be found at Finnington Lane Bridge on the western edge of the Borough.
The M65 motorway passes to the south of Blackburn. It runs from Colne, about 17 miles (27.4 km) north-east of Blackburn, to a point close to the village of Lostock Hall near Preston, about 12 miles (19.3 km) to the west. Junction six of the motorway is located at the eastern edge of Blackburn, near the Intack area; junctions five and four are located to the south, near the village of Guide and the Lower Darwen area respectively; and junction three is located at the south-western edge of the town, close to the Feniscowles area. The M65 links Blackburn to the national motorway network, connecting to junction nine of the M61 and junction 29 of the M6.
Other major roads in and around Blackburn include the A666 and the A677. The A666 runs from the A59 near the village of Langho, approximately 3.7 miles (6.0 km) to the north-west of Blackburn. It passes through the town centre and continues south through the towns of Darwen and Bolton then south-west to the town of Pendlebury, near Manchester, where the road joins the A6. The A677 runs from the east part of Blackburn, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the centre. It passes through the centre of the town and continues to the western outskirts. It then heads north-west to the village of Mellor Brook before continuing west again towards the city of Preston. It joins the A59 about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) west of Blackburn, approximately halfway between Blackburn and Preston.
Blackburn's newly redeveloped railway station is in the town centre, and is served by Northern Rail. The nearest railway station on the West Coast Main Line is in Preston. Blackburn's Boulevard bus station is situated outside the rail station. Blackpool International Airport, about 23 miles (37 km) to the west, is Blackburn's nearest airport. Manchester Airport, the busiest airport in the UK outside London, is about 28 miles (45 km) to the southeast of the town.
Blackburn Cathedral was formerly Saint Mary's Parish Church. St Mary's was consecrated in 1826, by which time it is believed there had already been a church on the site for several hundred years. In 1926 the Diocese of Blackburn was created and the church gained cathedral status. Blackburn was selected above other locations for the 'new wave' of Archbishop Temple's cathedrals because of its then excellent public transport infrastructure – the cathedral stands next to the bus and railway station, both now comparatively reduced. Between the 1930s and 1960s an enlarged cathedral was built using the existing building as the nave. Six of the cathedral's bells were cast in 1737 and are claimed to have been cast from even older bells. An image of the cathedral is used behind BBC interviews held in Blackburn, which are filmed at BBC Radio Lancashire on Darwen Street, opposite the cathedral.
Ewood Park stadium has been the home of Blackburn Rovers football club since they moved there from Leamington Road in 1890. The ground was officially opened on 13 September that year. Work on the current, redeveloped, all-seater stadium got underway in February 1993 when the old Darwen End stand was demolished. This stand, together with the old Blackburn End stand, was then redeveloped before the Nuttall Street stand was also demolished ready for redevelopment in January 1994. Almost two years later, on 18 November 1995, the newly redeveloped Ewood Park was officially opened. With a capacity of 31,367, the facility comprises four sections: the Darwen End, Riverside Stand (named as such because it stands practically on the banks of the River Darwen), Blackburn End, and Jack Walker Stand, which is named after Blackburn industrialist and club supporter, Jack Walker. The stadium also houses conference and banqueting facilities.
Queen Victoria's statue
Blackburn's statue of Queen Victoria is located next to the cathedral grounds overlooking the bus station. Victoria's fourth daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, unveiled the statue on 30 September 1905. It was sculpted by Australian sculptor Sir Bertram McKennal out of white Sicilian marble and stands on a grey granite plinth. The statue is 11 feet (3.4 m) high and weighs 9 long tons (9.1 t), while the plinth is 14 feet (4.3 m) high and weighs 30 long tons (30.5 t).
The construction of Blackburn's original, Italian renaissance style town hall was completed in 1856 at a cost of £35,000, equivalent to about £1.5 million as at 2008. The architect was James Paterson and the contractors were Richard Hacking and William Stones. It originally housed a police station with 18 cells, a large assembly room, and a council chamber. A tower block extension was constructed in 1969 at a cost of £650,000, equal to about £6.6 million as at 2008. The tower block is not strictly an extension to the earlier building: the two buildings are connected only by an elevated, enclosed footbridge. The tower block was 198 feet (60 m) high and the top was 545 feet (166 m) 9 inches (23 cm) above sea-level when built, although it has since been re-clad and these figures may have altered slightly.
The foundation stone of the Technical School building was laid on 9 May 1888 by the Prince and Princess of Wales; the building was completed towards the end of 1894. It is built in the northern rennaissance style and has a slate roof, an attic, a basement, and two intermediate storeys. Made mainly of red brick and yellow terracotta, it is profusely decorated and features ornate gables, a round arched entrance with angle turrets and balcony above, and a frieze below the top storey with panels depicting art and craft skills. The Technical School is a grade II listed building and is now part of Blackburn College.
The Wainwright bridge was opened in June 2008. The £12 million bowstring arch bridge crosses the East Lancashire and Ribble Valley railway lines west of the town centre and forms part of the A6078 Town Centre Orbital Route. The bridge is named after Alfred Wainwright following a vote by the townspeople. Blackburn Arena, which houses an ice rink and is home to the Blackburn Hawks ice hockey team, opened in 1991.
Blackburn Railway Station features a 24 foot (7.3 m) mural by Ormskirk-based contemporary artist Stephen Charnock. It depicts eight famous faces associated with the town, including Mohandas Gandhi, who visited nearby Darwen in 1931. The station was renovated in 2000. BBC Radio Lancashire has its studios on Darwen Street in the town centre. Thwaites Brewery, which produces cask ale, has had a position in the centre of the town since 1870. There is also King George's Hall, which is an arts and entertainment centre, and Thwaites Empire Theatre. A section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs through the town.
Corporation Park, to the northwest of the town centre, was built on 50 acres (0.20 km2) of land purchased from Joseph Feilden, lord of the manor, for £50 per 1 acre (0.40 ha) in 1855. The park officially opened on 22 October 1857, with shops and mills closing for the day, church bells ringing, and flags flying from public buildings. Railway companies claimed 14,000 people travelled to the town for the opening. A conservatory was opened in the park on 16 May 1900.
The town's Queen's Park was opened in June 1887 having been laid out at a cost of £10,000 on land acquired by Blackburn Corporation from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1882. It originally had two bowling greens, two tennis courts, a lake of over 3 acres (1.2 ha), a children's paddling pool, a bandstand, and a refreshment room. Two additional bowling greens and a pavilion were added in 1932.
Witton Country Park is a 480 acres (1.9 km2) space to the west of the town. The land was purchased in 1946 and was the ancestral home of the Feilden family. It is the home of Blackburn Harriers and Athletic Club. It is larger than all the town's other parks and playing fields put together.
Roe Lee Park, in the north of the town, was opened on Wednesday 30 May 1923 and was intended to commemorate the visit of George V. It was originally a 16 acres (6.5 ha) site with five tennis courts and three bowling greens. The borough council's website describes the park as a 17 acres (6.9 ha) "urban fringe park with bowling greens, kick around area and children's playground". In 2007, all four parks described above were winners of Green Flag Awards.
Blackburn Central Library is located in the town centre, close to the town hall, and is described as "the seventh most visited library in England." The library has various sections and facilities, including: an information and reference section, a media section, a community history section, a children's library, and a creche. An ICT training suite at the library has been named the "Bill Gates Room". There is also a library at Darwen. Blackburn has smaller libraries serving the Mill Hill, Livesey and Roman Road parts of the town, as well as a mobile library service.
Secondary education in Blackburn is provided by eight state schools. Private schools in the town include Westholme School, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and a few Islamic schools. The town also has a few special schools. The two further education colleges in the town are Blackburn College and the sixth-form St. Mary's College. The town does not have a university, however some higher education courses are provided by the East Lancashire Institute of Higher Education, part of Blackburn College.
Over £25 million is currently being invested in education initiatives in Blackburn with Darwen, including new schools, city learning centres and children's centres. Over 11,000 adults are in some form of educational programme. Blackburn with Darwen council has twice had Beacon Status for education in the "Fostering School Improvement" and "Transforming the School Workforce" categories. 51.3% of pupils achieve grades A*-C in Blackburn with Darwen compared with 56.5% nationally. The average GCE/VCE A/AS and Equivalent Point Score per Student is 649.7 compared with 716.7 nationally.
In 2005, Tauheedul Islam Girls' High School became the first Muslim state school in the North West. It had previously been an independent school. The school has been a success in school league tables, with 82% of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grade C or above in 2007, compared to the national average of 46.7%. Although the town's ethnic minority population is below 25%, in some schools the vast majority of pupils are from the ethnic minority population, whilst other schools are almost entirely white. This segregation has been identified as a problem for racial integration within the town.
Independent school sector is represented in the town by Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School (QEGS) and Westholme School. East Lancashire Institute of Higher Education (ELIHE) is for degree students over the age of 18. St Thomas's and Sunnyhurst Pupil Referral Unit educates children who are unable to attend mainstream school for health reasons or other difficulties.
Blackburn Rovers and football
Premier League Football side Blackburn Rovers is based at the Ewood Park stadium. The club was established in 1875, and in 1888 became a founder member of The Football League. In 1890 Rovers moved to its permanent home at Ewood Park. Until the formation of the Premier League in 1992, the majority of Blackburn Rovers' success was pre-1930 when they won the league twice and FA Cup six times. Blackburn has had a particular strong history of football. Rovers were not the town's only side in the 19th century; rivals included Blackburn Olympic F.C. (1883 winners of the FA Cup) and Blackburn Park Road F.C., among others.
In January 1991 Jack Walker, a life-long supporter who had built a business from humble beginnings in Blackburn, eventually making millions in the steel industry, took control of the club. He lured former Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish as manager and a number of player purchases followed, helping the club to gain promotion back into the first division just before it became the FA Premier League at the end of the 1991–1992 season. Blackburn is one of only a handful of clubs to be founders of both the Football League and the Premier League. In the summer of 1992 the club set a new British transfer record with the purchase of Alan Shearer for £3.3 million.
After finishing runners-up to arch rivals Manchester United in 1993–1994, Rovers won the championship the following year. A slump followed in the late 1990s and Blackburn were relegated to League Division One. But in 2001 the team secured promotion back into the Premier League, and they won the League Cup in 2002. They have a rivalry with fellow Lancashire club Burnley, located just eleven miles (18 km) east, known as the East Lancashire derby or "Cotton Mills derby" because of the two communities' history as major centres of the cotton industry during the Industrial Revolution. Due to Burnley's absence in top flight over the last three decades, Blackburn has also formed rivalries with other regional Premier League clubs, especially Bolton Wanderers, Manchester United and Manchester City, all located in the nearby Greater Manchester area.
Blackburn has an Olympic-sized ice rink housed at the 3,200-seat Blackburn Arena. The arena is the home of the Blackburn Hawks and Lancashire Raptors ice hockey teams, both of which play in the English National Ice Hockey League.
Blackburn is mentioned in The Beatles song "A Day in the Life". An article in the Daily Mail about a plan to fill potholes in the town caught John Lennon's eye as he was writing the song, giving birth to the lyric "I read the news today, oh boy / 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire / And though the holes were rather small / They had to count them all / Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall." The title of the unofficial fanzine of the town's football club, Blackburn Rovers, is 4,000 Holes. The 2005 British film Love + Hate, directed by Dominic Savage, was shot in Blackburn.
People involved in the arts and born in the town include the actress Kathleen Harrison in 1892; Alfred Wainwright, author of the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, in 1907; broadcaster Russell Harty in 1934; the internationally renowned Contemporary artist Ross Eccles in 1937, many of his paintings feature Blackburn and Lancashire scenes and landmarks; the writer Josephine Cox in 1941 who set many of her novels in Lancashire; the actor Anthony Valentine in 1939; the actor Michael Billington, star of UFO in 1941; actor Ian McShane in 1942; rock musician Tony Ashton in 1946; actor Jon Walmsley in 1956; film maker Michael Winterbottom in 1961; actor Steve Pemberton in 1967; actress Wendi Peters in 1968; actor/comedian Lee Mack in 1968; television host Debbie Travis; author Tony O'Neill in 1978; television presenter and documentary director Michael Gibson in 1980; and singer and actress Diana Vickers in 1991.
Kathleen Ferrier, the internationally acclaimed contralto, was born near Blackburn in 1912. The family moved into the town, where she was educated and worked as a telephone operator until her marriage in 1935.
Notable sports personalities born in Blackburn include: rock climber John Sumner in 1936; and England rugby union players Will Greenwood in 1972 and Iain Balshaw in 1979. Additionally the motor racing engine designer Keith Duckworth was born here in 1933 and the most successful motorcycle World Superbike champion of all time, Carl Fogarty (Foggy) was born here in 1965.
Jack Walker, steel baron and one time owner of local steel company Walkersteel, was born in the town in 1929 and lived locally until he moved to the Channel Islands in 1974. A lifelong supporter of the town's football club Blackburn Rovers, he owned the club for nearly 10 years until his death in August 2000. His wealth saw the club return to the top flight of English football in 1992 after 26 years away, and after buying some of the most expensive and talented footballers in the English game at the time, he oversaw their FA Premier League title triumph in 1995 - the club's first top division title since 1914.
In the political arena, William Henry Hornby, a leading industrialist, the first mayor of Blackburn, and Chairman of the Conservative Party was born in the town in 1805. John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn, OM, PC, Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor was born in the town in 1838. The town is also closely linked to Barbara Castle who was an MP in Blackburn for 34 years (1945–1979) as well as holding the positions of Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Social Services during the Labour governments of the sixties and seventies.
Gandhi once paid a visit during his campaign to boycott British textiles, the main purpose of which was to talk to the British people most affected by it. The local workers famously showed him solidarity in his political struggles and he stayed overnight with a local poor cotton-weaving family living in neighbouring Darwen. His visit made a lasting impression and is celebrated in his inclusion with other famous 'Blackburn' faces depicted in a public artwork sited on the platform at Blackburn Railway Station.
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- Turner, William (1992). RIOT!: The Story of the East Lancashire Loom-Breakers. Lancashire County Books. ISBN 1-871236-17-7.
- Woodruff, William (1993). Billy Boy: The Story of a Lancashire Weaver's Son. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 1-85331-047-6.
- Woodruff, William (2002). The Road to Nab End: A Lancashire Childhood. This is a later and retitled edition of Woodruff (1993). Abacus. ISBN 0-349-11521-4.
- Blackburn with Darwen Council, The website of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.
- www.cottontown.org, A website documenting the history of Blackburn with Darwen as influenced by the development of the cotton trade.
- Lancashire Telegraph, The daily newspaper based in Blackburn.
Ceremonial county of Lancashire North West England Portal Unitary authorities Boroughs or districts Major settlementsAccrington • Adlington • Bacup • Barnoldswick • Blackburn • Blackpool • Brierfield • Burnley • Burscough • Carnforth • Chorley • Clayton-le-Moors • Cleveleys • Clitheroe • Colne • Darwen • Earby • Fleetwood • Garstang • Great Harwood • Haslingden • Kirkham • Lancaster • Leyland • Longridge • Lytham St Annes • Morecambe • Nelson • Ormskirk • Oswaldtwistle • Padiham • Penwortham • Poulton-le-Fylde • Preesall • Preston • Rawtenstall • Rishton • Skelmersdale • Wesham • Whitworth
See also: List of civil parishes in Lancashire
Rivers Canals Topics
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