LOCAL historians want to take on responsibility for blue plaques commemorating in famous Blackburn people after several have been stolen, including one marking Jack Walker’s birthplace.

Responsibility for the commemorative signs used to rest with Blackburn Civic Society until it folded a few years ago.

Now Blackburn Local History Society has agreed with English Heritage, which oversees the national scheme, to keep the list of 24 plaques.

As scrap metal thieves target the distinctive badges, they have asked Blackburn with Darwen Council for permission to maintain, replace and add to the commemorative plates dotted around the town.

They mark places related to historically important people and events, including 96 Randal Street, Audley which is the birthplace of ‘Uncle’ Jack Walker who was the benefactor behind Blackburn Rover’s winning the Premiership title in 1995.

Last year owner Sajid Munshi converted the premises into a shop and took the plaque down planning to resite it.

His agent Khalid Khan said: “It was ready to go back up but was stolen just before he could do so.

“Sajid is hoping to replace it but needs an organisation so he can follow the proper procedures. He was very sad when it was stolen.”

Local history society chairman Ray Smith said: “We have applied to the Blackburn with Darwen council to take over the process.

“We now keep the list but need approval from the corporation to take over full responsibility.

“We need a small grant to pay for the plaques and permission to use the borough coat of arms.

“We want to start soon as thieves are targetting them for the scrap value.

“Several have already been stolen including the ones on Jack Walker’s birthplace and Darwen Street Bridge.

“The existing ones cost around £380 but we would use metal with no scrap value, costing £180.”

Borough planning chairman Dave Smith said: “I will sort this out.

“They are approved by English Heritage and we want someone to take charge before any more are stolen.”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw, who unveiled the plaque on Mr Walker’s birthplace in 2001, said: “It’s appalling that thieves steal these plaques. It seems a good idea for the society to take over responsibility.”