10 interesting facts about Blackburn
THINK you know all there is to know about Blackburn? Here is a list of interesting facts about the town...
1) Hidden at the back of Railway Road between the Adelphi pub and the Lancashire Telegraph lies the ancient ‘ All Hallows Spring’ which is believed to have been the site of a Roman Temple and was then a place of medieval ‘pilgrimage and healing’.
It led to a nearby Anglo-Saxon Church nearby recorded in 598AD which became the Parish Church and then the Cathedral.
2) Blackburn Rovers Football Club’s distinctive Blue and White quartered shirts are not a result of the town’s famous cotton checks but a result of the club was formed by a group of public schoolboys in 1875.
The two who called the inaugural meeting were Shrewsbury old boys; others attending were from QEGS in Blackburn and Malvern College whose quartered shirts were adopted by the new club – though with Cambridge Blue in place of Malvern Green.
3) Opera singer Kathleen Ferrier , brought up on Lynwood Road in Blackburn after her father William was appointed head teacher of St James Primary School, was described at the time of her death, from cancer aged 41 as “the second most famous woman in the world after the Queen”.
4) Darwen Street is oldest place of settlement in town. Made a Conservation area in 1994 conservation it's Blackburn’s earliest historic centre and includes the course of a Roman road that historically ran north-wards between Manchester and Ribchester.
5) The King's Head was oldest pub in Blackburn. On the corner of King Street and Freckleton Street, the historic grade two-listed building, built in 1765, was ravaged by fire in 2003 and is now offices.
The deeds to the King's Head show it was bought by alekeeper John Ainsworth in 1777, and then by Thwaites brewery in 1853. The firm finally sold it in 1996. Bit of brewing heritage as well?
6) The Queen Victoria statue on the Boulevard erected in 1905 was originally planned for Corporation Park. James Hargreaves, founder of a prominent Blackburn wholesale tobacconists and confectioners, raised the cash for the statue commemorating Britain’s longest reigning monarch by public subscription after her death in 1901.
Proposals to move the white Sicilian Marble sculpture by Australian Sir Bertram McKennal fort the Cathedral Quarter development were dropped last year’.
7) Blackburn became the first town to undertake the mass finger-printing of people following the murder of June Anne Devaney in May 1948. She was a three-year-old patient at Queens Park Hospital when she was abducted from her cot and murdered in its grounds, now part of the Royal Blackburn Hospital site, on 15 May 1948.
Fingerprints on a bottle underneath her cot led the police to fingerprint every male over the age of 16 who was present in Blackburn on 14 and 15 May 1948. After taking over 46,500 sets of fingerprints, a match was made with Peter Griffiths, a 22-year-old ex-serviceman. Griffiths admitted his guilt and his trial ascertained if he was sane or not.
After deliberating for 23 minutes, the jury found him sane and he was hanged at Liverpool Prison on Friday 19 November 1948. After his conviction, the police destroyed all fingerprints they had taken.
8) In 1826, Blackburn was at the centre of anti-powerloom ‘Luddite’ riots when a mob arrived in the town after attacking powerlooms in Accrington. Proceeding to Bannister Eccles' Jubilee Factory on Jubilee Street, 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 seeking more machinery to attack.
Troops were called to quell the rioting. Textile manufacturing in Blackburn dates from the mid-13th century, when wool produced by locally farmers was woven in their homes. Flemish weavers who settled in the area in the 14th century developed the industry.
9) On 16 March 1869, the result of the 1868 general election in borough of Blackburn was declared null and void after allegations of intimidation of voters and bribing them with ale.
There was no secret ballot until 1872, so voting was conducted in public at the hustings, at Blakey Moor which were attended by a large number of police armed with cutlasses. A show of hands was taken and pronounced to be in favour of Fielden and Hornby, but a vote was demanded on behalf of the Liberal candidates.
After the result was declared 7pm, stones were thrown at Conservative supporters in Penny Street. Policeman was shot in the arm, other shots were fired from windows, and there was serious fighting for a few minutes until 60 policemen came to guard the approaches to the street.
Since 1945, Parliamentary elections have been a bit quieter with (uniquely) just two MPs for the town, Barbara Castle and Jack Straw.
10) Witton Country Park at 480 acres is one of the largest urban open spaces in the country. The land was purchased by the municipal authorities in 1946 and was the ancestral home of the Feilden family. It is larger than all the town's other parks and playing fields put together.
With a full-size athletic track, currently being redeveloped, it is home to the Blackburn Harriers which produced three finalists London 2012 Olympic – hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon, pole-vaulter Holy Bleasdale, and modern pentathlon silver medallist Sam Murray.