A project to make Blackburn Old Cemetery safer and more attractive has been launched.

The scheme is appealing for volunteers to help spruce up the historic burial ground.

More than £20,000 will be spent on resetting stone steps, new benches, topping up graves and information and notice boards.

Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery worked with the Greenspace Development Team at Blackburn with Darwen Council to secure money to carry out the improvements.

The cash was raised in ‘Section 106’ payments towards environmental enhancements s permission in the borough.

Cherry Tree memorial mason Brent Stevenson is supporting the project, including the design and construction of the central memorial garden, a granite bench, and safety checks on all upright grave stones.

The 40-acre cemetery, which dates from 1858, has 3,000 graves and is still open for burials.

Robin Duxbury, chairman of Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery, said: “Since the formation of the friends group 18 months ago, we have forged a successful working partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Council, at both a management and local level.”

Council environment boss Jim Smith said: “It is fantastic to see the work Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery do, in making sure that such an important, historic location is maintained.

“You can really see the difference that has been made over the last 18 months and we look forward to continuing working with the friends group going forward.”

If you are interested in getting involved with Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery, visit facebook.com/groups/496715363690379/?fref=ts, or ring the Green Spaces Team at the council on 01254 692203 In October Mr Stevenson, the friends and the council carried out free safety inspections on headstones at the cemetery.