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Blackburn ( ) is a large town in Lancashiremarker, Englandmarker. It lies to the north of the West Pennine Moorsmarker on the southern edge of the Ribble Valley, east of the city of Prestonmarker, and north-northwest of the city of Manchestermarker. Blackburn is bounded to the south by Darwenmarker, 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 137,470.

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 Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker, and consequently has the third highest proportion of Muslims 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 by monies from government and the European Regional Development Fund.



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 Blakewatermarker 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.

Roman era

Blackburn stands at the site where a Roman military road crossed the river Blakewater. The road linked Bremetennacum Veteranorummarker (the modern-day village of Ribchestermarker) and Mamuciummarker (a roman fort which was located in what is now the Castlefieldmarker area of the City of Manchestermarker). The route of the Roman road passed to the east of the site of Blackburn's modern-day cathedralmarker 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 Mamuciummarker (Manchester) to (Bremetennacummarker) (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.

Middle Ages

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 Hundredmarker came into existence, probably as a territorial division of the kingdom of Northumbriamarker.

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 Abbeymarker. This moiety was later granted to the monks of Whalley Abbeymarker. However, during the 12th century, the town's conjectured importance declined as Clitheroemarker 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 in people's houses. Flemish weavers 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 to become "the weaving capital of the world", with its 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, [14 km] E. of Prestonmarker and [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 Oswaldtwistlemarker by James Hargreaves, who died in 1770.
There are several fine churches and public buildings.
A Corporation Parkmarker (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.
B. returns 2 members to Parliament.

The manufacture of cotton cloth expanded rapidly in Blackburn from around 1750. Initially, before the advent of spinning mills, cottagers were supplied with cotton by the town's cotton merchants. The cottagers, who were paid by the piece, would spin the cotton into thread and weave it into cloth. The merchants would then have the cloth bleached and dyed. After 1775, spinning mills began to appear in the town. The earliest mills were converted warehouses, then in 1797 the first purpose-built spinning mill was constructed, and by 1824 there were 24 such mills. By 1870 there were 2.5 million spindles in Blackburn, with 24 spinning mills having been constructed since 1850. Spinning declined in the town between 1870–1900, as this sector of the cotton industry moved to South Lancashire.

Weaving, in 18th century Blackburn, was carried out mainly 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 decline 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 made 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 the 1840s. The railway brought opportunities for expansion of the cotton trade and subsequent decades saw many new mills constructed. For example: 68 weaving-only and 4 combined weaving and spinning mills were built between 1850-1870, and 9 weaving mills were built per decade between 1870–1890.
Duke Street Mill being destroyed

Improvements in the efficiency of powerlooms meant that the process which had been the primary source of wealth and income for handloom weavers began to relocate 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 Rishtonmarker, Lower Darwenmarker and Oswaldtwistlemarker were unemployed. In response to these high levels of unemloyment, the Lancashire weavers' riots took place. At 3:00 pm on 24 April 1826 a mob arrived in Blackburn after travelling from nearby Accringtonmarker, where they had already attacked powerlooms. Proceeding to Bannister Eccles' Jubilee Factory on Jubilee St in Blackburn town centre, the mob destroyed 212 powerlooms in the space of 35 minutes. The rioters then went to the nearby John Houghton and Sons' Park Place factory and destroyed another 25 looms, before moving 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.
Albion Mill photographed in 2008.
The mill ceased production in 1975.

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 1948-50, 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 1955–58 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.


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 Darwenmarker to the south. The town sends one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commonsmarker.

Local government

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, the next such period being 2009. 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.

Parliamentary representation

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 arms displays 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 Districtmarker and the parishes of Yate and Pickup Bankmarker, Eccleshillmarker, Liveseymarker, Pleasingtonmarker and Tockholesmarker 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 current 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.

Far right

In the 1970's Blackburn experienced its first significant wave of Asian immigration, and became a focus for far-right politics. British National Party (BNP) town councillors were briefly elected, including 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 Burnleymarker. 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 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 Hamletsmarker 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."


At (53.7449°, -2.4769°), and north-northwest of London, Blackburn stands above sea level, east of Prestonmarker and north-northeast of Manchestermarker. The Ribble Valley and West Pennine Moorsmarker 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.

Although the city of Preston, the administrative centre for Lancashire, is located about 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 Wilpshiremarker, is 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 Langhomarker, approximately further to the north-east, and Mellormarker to the north west of Blackburn. The small towns of Rishtonmarker, to the east, and Great Harwoodmarker, to the north east, are both in the local government district of Hyndburnmarker, but are sometimes considered extended suburbs of Blackburn. further to the east lies the town of Burnleymarker.

Geology and terrain

View north over Lammack and Pleckgate from one of the highest points in Blackburn at the site of the old water tank at Revidge (click to enlarge)
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 above sea level. To the west, the wooded Billinge Hill in Witton Country Parkmarker is high, while Royal Blackburn Hospital is situated to the east of the town at a vantage point of . These figures can be considered in the context of other hills and mountains in Lancashire, including Great Hillmarker at , Winter Hillmarker at , Pendle Hillmarker at and Green Hillmarker .

The River Blakewatermarker, which gives its names to the town, flows down from the moors above Guidemarker and then through the areas of Whitebirkmarker, 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 Cathedralmarker 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 Darwenmarker outside Witton Country Park and continuing on to join the River Ribblemarker at Walton-le-Dalemarker.

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 lie on a bed of 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 Ulverstonmarker 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 . 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 Pakistanimarker (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 Blackburnmarker (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 Arenamarker) 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, is also threatened with closure 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. There is also Walsh's Sarsaparilla stall. The markets are expected to move into the Mall shopping centre in 2010, and to open six days a week.

Major employers in Blackburn include: BAE Systemsmarker (Samlesbury Aerodromemarker site, located at Balderstonemarker, northwest of Blackburn); Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council; and the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (based at the Royal Blackburn Hospital).


The M65 motorway passes to the south of Blackburn. It runs from Colnemarker, about north-east of Blackburn, to a point close to the village of Lostock Hallmarker near Prestonmarker, about 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 Guidemarker and the Lower Darwenmarker area respectively; and junction three is located at the south-western edge of the town, close to the Feniscowlesmarker 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 Langhomarker, approximately to the north-west of Blackburn. It passes through the town centre and continues south through the towns of Darwenmarker and Boltonmarker then south-west to the town of Pendleburymarker, near Manchestermarker, where the road joins the A6. The A677 runs from the east part of Blackburn, about 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 Brookmarker before continuing west again towards the city of Prestonmarker. It joins the A59 about west of Blackburn, approximately halfway between Blackburn and Preston.

Blackburn's newly redeveloped train stationmarker is in the town centre, and is served by Northern Rail. The nearest train station on the West Coast Main Linemarker is in Prestonmarker. Blackburn's Boulevard bus stationmarker is situated outside the rail station. Blackpool International Airportmarker, about to the west, is Blackburn's nearest airport. Manchester Airportmarker, the busiest airport in the UK outside London, is about to the southeast of the town.



Blackburn Cathedralmarker 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 Blackburnmarker was created and the church gained cathedral status. Blackburn was selected above other locations for the 'new wave' of Archbishop temples cathedrals because of its then excellent public transport infrastructure - the cathedral stands next to the bus and railway station, both now sadly 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 Lancashiremarker on Darwen Street, opposite the cathedral.

Ewood Park

Ewood Park stadium has been the home of Blackburn Roversmarker 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 currently comprises four sections: the Darwenmarker End, Riverside Stand (named as such because it stands practically on the banks of the River Darwenmarker), 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.

Blackburn's Statue of Queen Victoria with the cathedral in the background

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 high and weighs , while the plinth is high and weighs .

Town hall

The italianate 19th-century town hall and its 1960s counterpart—the reclad new town hall
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 high and the top was above sea-level when built, although it has since been re-clad and these figures may have altered slightly.

Blackburn's 19th-century Technical School

Technical school

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 Collegemarker.

Other landmarks

King George's Hall, Blackburn
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 Arenamarker, which houses an ice rink and is home to the Blackburn Hawks ice hockey team, opened in 1991.

Blackburn Railway Stationmarker features a mural by Ormskirkmarker-based contemporary artist Stephen Charnock. It depicts eight famous faces associated with the town, including Mohandas Gandhi, who visited nearby Darwenmarker in 1931. The station was renovated in 2000. BBC Radio Lancashiremarker has its studios on Darwen Street in the town centre. Thwaites Brewerymarker, 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 Canalmarker runs through the town.

Community facilities

Blackburn has an excellent, free town-centre museum and art gallery. Its collections include the largest publicly-owned cllection of Japanese woodcut prints in England, medieval manuscripts, icons, several Turners, 'Mother and Child' by Leighton, and outstanding numismatic colection as well as items of local historic importance. It also hosts temporary art exhibitions. Visitors are advised to phone ahead for a summary of current displays.


Corporation Park's conservatory, which dates from 1900
Corporation Parkmarker, to the northwest of the town centre, was built on of land purchased from Joseph Feilden, lord of the manor, for £50 per 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 , a children's paddling pool, a bandstand, and a refreshment room. Two additional bowling greens and a pavilion were added in 1932.
The main lake in Queen's Park

Witton Country Parkmarker is a 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 site with five tennis courts and three bowling greens. The borough council's website describes the park as a "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". Blackburn also has smaller libraries serving the Mill Hill, Livesey and Roman Road parts of the town, as well as a mobile library service.


See List of schools in Blackburn

Secondary education in Blackburn is provided by eight state schools. Private schools in the town include Westholme Schoolmarker, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar Schoolmarker and a few Islamic schools. The town also has a few special schools. The two further education colleges in the school are Blackburn Collegemarker and the sixth-form St. Mary's Collegemarker. The town does not have a university, however some higher education courses are provided by the East Lancashire Institute of Higher Educationmarker, part of Blackburn College.

Over £25 million is currently being invested in education initiatives including new schools, city learning centres, children's centres and an Academy in Darwen in partnership with the Rodney Aldridge Trust. 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 Schoolmarker. East Lancashire Institute of Higher Educationmarker (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

Ewood Park's Jack Walker Stand
Premier League Football side Blackburn Roversmarker is based at the Ewood Parkmarker stadium. The club has done much to raise the profile of the town, winning the Premier League in 1995 and the League Cup in 2002. 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 Parkmarker. 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 F.A. 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.

Ice hockey

Blackburn has an Olympic-sized ice rink housed at the 3,200-seat Blackburn Arenamarker. 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.

Cultural references

Blackburn is mentioned in the 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 Hallmarker." The title of the unofficial fanzine of the town's football club, Blackburn Roversmarker, is 4,000 Holes. The 2005 British film Love + Hate, directed by Dominic Savage, was shot in Blackburn.

Notable people

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 Lancashiremarker; 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; Traveller and Author Richard Marshall in 1977; television presenter and documentary director Michael Gibson in 1980, and Sports Journalist and Film Director Paul Salmon, also in 1980.

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.

In the political arena, 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 Stationmarker.



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