THE arcade frontage at Mercers Toys and Sprout Cafe in Jubilee Street, Blackburn, has been put back into use for the first time in 60 years.

The century-old iron gates had become rusted closed, the oak door was nailed shut and the marble flooring covered by linoleum.

But now, the Jubilee Street entrance, which first greeted customers in 1860, has been restored.

On seeing the frontage unveiled, artist David Coggins was so moved by childhood memories of the road and neighbouring Darwen Street in the 1950s, he wrote a poem about it.

A painter by trade, Mr Coggins has had exhibitions at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, but he had to put pen to paper for ‘Darwen Street Dreaming’.

He said: “I’ve lived in Blackburn all my life and this road always had a certain magic about it when I was a kid.

“Seeing a piece of the old town reinstated just triggered my memory.

“It was quite emotional for me. I’ve done quite a lot of paintings of Blackburn but this particular stretch has so many features from my childhood. The bridge there was such a cavernous and mysterious structure and there were many tobacconist’s, tripe sellers and corset makers, and now obviously that has all been wiped away.

“I got talking to Andrea Holden who owns Sprout Cafe about it all and she suggested I write a poem.”

Ms Holden said: “David got a little bit teary eyed when he was reminiscing about the place and I thought it would be a great thing for him to put it down on paper.

“I was really happy to see the entrance reopened.”

The proprietor of Mercers Toys, Rose Fowler, said: “We chat to David most days, he’s a fascinating person and has had a really interesting life.

“I don’t know of anybody doing anything like it before, writing a poem about the place. He’s very talented that way and always does quite a lot of research about his subject. I think it’s incredibly sweet and special to have something like that done about Darwen Street.”