Fire at historic Blackburn stately home
3:00pm Monday 7th October 2013 in News
AN historic listed mansion has been wrecked in a suspected arson attack.
Around 35 firefighters from Blackburn, Darwen and Accrington were called to tackle the blaze at the derelict Griffin Lodge and Coach House, in Cavendish Place, Blackburn.
The largely concealed Grade Two-listed building, built in the early 19th Century, was affectionately known by locals as ‘red doors’.
It was left a burnt out shell following the fire, which was started at around 4.15am on Saturday.
A spokeman for the fire service said: “Fires don’t just start in buildings like this. It has suffered structural damage. None of the fire fighters can go in yet because it isn’t safe.”
Six pumps and aerial ladders were used to control the fire, while relief crews cordoned off the area and continued cooling the building throughout Saturday. A building inspector was called to examine the building’s structural integrity.
A buyer had been found for the mansion, which was previously used as a museum by the Lancashire Museum Service, but the sale had not gone through and was still owned by Blackburn with Darwen Council, finance chief Andy Kay said.
The building, which sits in two-and-a-half acres of grounds in the middle of Griffin Park, was a magnet for drug takers and drinkers, and had suffered several lead thefts.
Mill Hill councillor Carol Walsh said it was the third fire at the building in a week.
She said: “On Tuesday night they set the door on fire, and I got it boarded up. And then there was a fire on Wednesday night.
“When I see the building I will be heartbroken. I only said on Friday night it will be a matter of time before it all goes up.”
Coun Maureen Bateson, executive member for regeneration, said: “I’m really upset because we have tried to preserve the building for so long, and it was a historic building.
“It had been provisionally sold. I’m upset about the fact there’s been a fire there and it has taken away historic features.”
Griffin Lodge and coach house were built in 1824 by the Blackburn cotton magnate Thomas Dugdale who was instrumental in bringing the first railway to the town.
Dugdale was also mayor of Blackburn in 1854/5 in which time the surrounding 50 acres of land were purchased by the Blackburn Corporation to be used as a public park.
The house remained owned by the Dugdale family until the mid 1930s. It was bought by Blackburn Corporation in 1937.
The entrance and stone setts of roadway were Grade II listed in 1974 with the whole building being included under the listing in 1986.
The coach house has stood empty for more than 10 years and has been the subject of several attempted sales by the council since the mid 1990s.
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