The Corporation Park was officially opened on Thursday 22nd of October 1857. All work ceased in the town at noon, mills and factories shut down, shops closed for business, it was to be a public half day holiday. Excursion trains drew into Blackburn station from Darwen, Bolton, Preston, Accrington and Burnley, to enjoy with the people of Blackburn this auspicious day. It was estimated that there was upward of 50,000 people who had come to take part in the celebrations, 14,000 of these coming by rail.
The celebrations were to start at the Town Hall at 2pm with a procession which would parade to the park, many people made their way there to watch and follow it. Many more lined the route or made their own way to the park. It was just after 2o’clock that the procession left the Town Hall. It was led by the band of George Ellis, next came a contingent of police led by Mr. Leverty, then two Halberd Bearers and a Staff man these were followed by the Mayor, William Pilkington, together with Aldermen Dugdale and Hoole. The rest of the Aldermen and Councillors with special invited guest followed. Next were the Clergy of all denominations, Magistrates and general inhabitants. Seventy scholars from the Grammar school, led by their headmaster Thomas Ainsworth, and about 200 people belonging to the independent order of Rechabites, headed by the Darwen Temperance band, 100 Catholic Brethren led by Mr. Finney’s United Brass Band, finally another contingent of police led by Inspector Holden. The procession made its way to the park through streets lined with flag waving and cheering people. As they neared the park the “Sebastopol canons” fired a volley. On entering the park the procession passed a plaque with the following inscription;
was publicly opened
On the 23rd day of October,
During the mayoralty of
WILLIAM PILKINGTON, ESQUIRE,
By whose munificence
Were presented to the borough.
The procession made its way up the main drive, past the ornamental lakes and onto the Broad Walk where a stage had been erected. The Mayor and other dignitaries mounted it. “The only draw back to the proceeding,” reported the Standard, “seemed to be the constant booming of the cannons.”
Let’s leave the celebrations for now and take a look at how it all began.
Blackburn Town’s Moor
In a decree dated July 11th 1618, it was stated that “Ten acres adjoining to Blackburn’s Town’s End, should for ever lye, be and continue open, and not enclosed, and that the same shall be employed and used forever…for the mustering and training of soldiers in these parts, when occasion shall require, and, to and for the recreation of the said Town; and the profits, pasture or herbage of the said ten acres should from henceforth forever be received, used, taken and enjoyed, to and for the good and profit of the Town, and Poor thereof.” This was certainly no park but it could be looked on as Blackburn’s first recreation ground, where people could go and do what people did in those days. This land was under the control of the Overseers of the town, and it was here that Blackburn’s first Workhouse was erected in about 1764.
On the 21 August 1840, W. H. Hornby and William Kenworthy opened a recreation ground at Brookhouse. Facilities for football, quoiting and skittles were provided for the workforce of their Mills. These, then were the places were the people of Blackburn could go and have some sort of exercise if they could manage or wanted to after a long days labour. There was no way for them to get out into the country side and enjoy its sights and sounds as most of the land was private property at this time, so they remained stuck in the confines of the town with its belching chimneys and polluted air.
When Sir Robert Peel died in 1850, the whole country started to look at ways to commemorate his life, Blackburn was no exception. Some towns talked about erecting statues in his honour, many towns, Blackburn included, thought that perhaps a park would be a more appropriate memorial to this great man. At a council meeting held in August 1850 Mr Hutchinson proposed the resolution that; “That a memorial shall consist of some monument to the memory of Sir Robert Peel, such as a public park, baths, or some other useful institution, as may hereafter be decided upon at a general meeting of the subscribers, to be called by public advertisement.” The idea for a Peel memorial park did not for some reason take off it was brought up at one or two later meetings but eventually faded.
By 1853 things were becoming more urgent The Blackburn Standard of 27th of April printed an article on the subject, it said; “…it has been suggested that some public steps should be taken to secure to the town a public park, or other recreation grounds before the land is taken up for building purposes…One locality has been repeatedly indicated as the best adapted for such purposes—the neighbourhood of Pemberton Clough—which is precisely one of the localities which is most likely to be taken up for building purposes. There is, therefore, little time to lose in order to bring any scheme for public recreation grounds to maturity…” It also said in the same article that a Botanic Garden and a Museum of Natural History would be “Admirable appendages to a public park.”
It was decided that not less than 50 acres of land at Pemberton Clough should be bought for the purpose of the park. George Dewhurst, although agreeing with that, wanted to go further than most of the council. As well as purchasing Pemberton Clough, his idea was to purchase other land in different parts of the town and build smaller recreation grounds on them.
Pemberton Clough was owned by Joseph and John Feilden. At the beginning of the 19th centuary it was held on an annual tenancy by the Pemberton family, who gave it their name. J. G. Shaw, in his book “Bits of Old Blackburn” say’s it is “a beautiful hillside stretch of meadow, pasture, and woodland.”
Pemberton Clough had two reservoirs; these were later to become the lakes which now stand in the park. The higher lake, and the smallest, had always been there, it was known to the people of Blackburn as “The Can” this name was given because it was where Blackburn people would come with cans to get their water. The larger lake was, according to Shaw, built about 1839. It took the name of the “Big Can”.
Blackburn Water Works Company, which was formed in 1844, acquired Pemberton Clough and in 1848 it began to supply water to the town from the two reservoirs. The water was transported by large bored out tree trunks joined together. The over flow from the reservoir ran into Snig Brook. A map of Pemberton Clough drawn in 1854 shows two other lodges near to where the main entrance now stands; one of these was for filtering and the other for storing water. Before the formation of the Blackburn Water Works Company these two small reservoirs had been leased by William Townley.
By January 1855 the Corporation had come to an agreement with Joseph Feilden to buy just over 50 acres of land at Pemberton Clough. He agreed to sell the it on condition that the Corporation built two public roads at each side of the park (these became East and West Park Road.) The cost agreed on was £65 per acre, the total being £3257 6s 3d.
When the railway came to Blackburn in 1846 they wanted land. They had decided to build a station at Islington which was part of the Town’s Moor. This piece of land held part of the public recreation ground which, when the waste lands were enclosed in 1618, was set apart for the people and the militia of Blackburn. It was sold in 1845 to the East Lancashire and Blackburn Railway Company for £3021 13s 4d. By 1855-56 this, with interest, amounted to £4,701 19s 7d. After paying for the land at Pemberton Clough some £1,680 6s 3d remained, which was not nearly enough to build the park, and so money had to be borrowed on security of the rates.
Planning and Building Begins
The Mayor told the council at a meeting held in October, that he had been in touch with Joseph Paxton, the famous gardener and architect, asking for his opinions on possible designs for the park, without charge. He had been told that Paxton was too busy, the Mayor commented that any way he might produce a design to expensive too implement. A design done by William Henderson, a landscape Gardener from Birkenhead was finally decided upon. He agreed to draw up plans and superintend the work for £75, for his time and travelling. The Mayor said about the design; “The arrangements…presented every advantage and convenience for physical exercise and recreation.” The Borough Surveyor, Hugh Wilson, wrote to the Town Council saying; “The erection of the public baths within the park also occupied our attention, and upon examination, we concluded that if the Council should decide upon them being erected within the park the most suitable and appropriate place would be, the south west corner of the park adjoining the Preston New-road, and the new West Park-road, having the entrance to the first class baths from Preston New-road, and to the second class from the new West Park-road. Should it be the desire of the General Purposes Committee to have designs prepared, I shall be glad to serve the Corporation in this or in other matters.”
By 1855 construction had begun on the park. Tenders were put out for various works to be carried out. The two roads, east and west of the park were started. Designs for the main entrance and gatekeeper’s house were submitted, the cost for this was estimated at £830. By July 1856 The Blackburn Standard could report that; “The ponds had been altered with an island being built in the large one. The entrance is fast arriving towards completion and will no doubt, soon be followed by a library, baths, etc. The Library, as we understand, is to be placed at the right, and the baths at the left of the entrance.” When the porter’s lodge was completed, the superintendent of the Borough Police selected a constable to live there, rent free in order to assist his duties in looking after the security of the park.
Earlier in the year some notices began to appear around the town stating that “Games, Races, and other Amusements would take place in the Corporation Park on Whit Monday” The Corporation said these Game and Amusements were of an absurd and demoralizing character. They added that no such game would take place, and that while the Town Council were willing to allow any sports which are not “unbecoming and improper”, they would prohibit all games as were not “innocent and simple recreative.”
The Name Corporation Park.
While the park had been in the planning stage and when the building of it began it was always known as the “Public Park.” It was at a Town Council meeting of 6th July 1855 that the Mayor, William Hoole, proposed that the Park should be known as “The Corporation Park”. Not all were in agreement with this, one councillor thought that the name being “Four syllables” would take to long to pronounce by the people of Blackburn, and “To save expenditure of breath he would move that it be called the Public Park, which was more euphonious.” The motion for calling it Corporation Park was carried. That however was not the end of it, right up to the opening some people objected to the name given, one argument was that as it was purchased with public funds and was for the use of the public it would be logical to call it the Public Park. About a fortnight before the opening a letter was sent to the Corporation, and using the same argument wanted them to “Rescind the resolution of 1855 and cause to be erased from the entrance of the park the word Corporation and the words Public Park affixed thereon.” This was rejected.
The main Entrance to the park is “of solid masonry and a copy of a prevalent type of Roman triumphal arch”. The large fountain that is on the right of the main entrance was paid for by William Pilkington, who at the time of the opening of the park was Mayor. The basin is 40ft in diameter with powerful jets reaching some 70ft in height, he also paid for the three smaller fountains scattered around the park.
The Blackburn Standard points out other points of interest in the park, they said; “The grounds have been very skilfully laid out. The plants include an immense variety of hardy and herbaceous and flowering shrubs, exotic and indigenous… It has been suggested that a few more forest trees might be introduced. They would add to the picturesquness of the scene and afford a greater breadth of shade. We see no reason why flower beds should not be extensively cultivated. Our cottage florists would take great pleasure in laying down specimens from their own Gardens.” In April 1857 William Henderson gave the estimated cost of the plants, this was £70 together with £40 for subsidiary floral and other accessories.
Next were the walks, about these the Standard said; “The carriage drives and numerous promenades in the Park afford accommodations for many thousands of visitors… The park committee deserve credit for the many seats which are so conveniently arranged on the margin of the walks.”
On recreation; “On the elevated terraces above the lakes there will be ample space for bowling, archery, and quoiting… We regret to perceive that no portion of the Park has been properly laid out for cricketing. With some slight levelling this might have been done on either of the plots abutting upon the terraces.” And on the views; “The elevated portion of the Park, near to Mount Pleasant commands a very extensive prospect. The whole valley through which the river Darwen and its tributaries flow lies at the foot of the spectator. There may be no beauty in the town itself, which occupies the greater portion of the valley, with its numerous tall chimneys and long stretched-out streets; but still there is a degree of interest connected with the view of this busy hive of industry. Immediately in front we see the sloping elevations around Belthorn and Hoddlesden. To the right we distinguish Darwen Moors, Snedhill Hill, the cultivated ranges in and adjoining Livesey, Tockholes… Under favourable circumstances the Welsh Mountains can be seen. To the left we may descry the Hambleton hills, Padiham Heights, Pendle Hill and the Yorkshire mountains…We venture to say that there is no other Park in the Kingdom which presents so widely spread a prospect.”
The Sebastopol Cannons
In May 1857 Blackburn Corporation, like many other Corporations throughout the country, had applied to the War Office asking for two canons as a memorial of the Crimean war which had ended in February 1856. They received the following reply:
War Office Pall Mall, S.W., 20th May, 1857.
Sir—In reply to your letter of the 11th inst., I am directed by lord Panmure to acquaint you that his lordship has much pleasure in presenting to the town of Blackburn two Russian iron guns, as trophies of the late war; for the correct mounting and careful preservation of which his lordship feels confident that he may rely upon the public sprit of the corporation and inhabitants. As there are not at his lordships disposal any carriages to accompany the guns, directions have been given for the presentation of a photograph of a suitable Russian gun carriage, for the guidance of the corporation in the construction of similar ones on which to mount the guns. The latter will be forwarded from Woolwich as soon as some arrangements can conveniently be made for their transmission.
I am your obedient servant,
John William Ramsden.
The two canons arrived at Blackburn station amid much pomp on a Wednesday night in late June. There were hundreds of cheering people waiting many waving Union Jacks. They formed a procession and led by the Greenbank Band with two large Union Jacks paraded to the park through the main streets of Blackburn. The cannons were taken to the top of the park with the band playing “Red Whit and Blue.”
Later they were placed on two specially made gun carriages on the concrete bastion.
On each carriage were two inscribed oval plates one saying “Russian Trophies, Presented by the Queen”, and the other “Captured at Sebastopol.
The cannons were both 24 pounders, measuring 7ft 10in and each weighing just over 4cwt. The two canons and other smaller cannon were fired throughout the opening of the park, much to the annoyance of the Corporation but to the delight of the people.
How Much It All Cost
When we left the celebrations on the opening day of the park, the dignitaries had just ascended the platform. The Mayor was the fist to speak. He finished by telling the people; “Allow me therefore, in conclusion, to wish you health, happiness, and prosperity, and that you may obtain and enjoy every possible amelioration in your social position, ever increase of beauty in your public buildings, and in this noble park, which I now declare open to the public of Blackburn for ever.” This was followed by a fanfare of trumpets and a discharge of the canons which lasted for about five minutes. When Alderman Dugdale came to speak one of the cannons was discharged and drowned him out. One of the crowd shouted; “They have shut your mouth at all events.”
After the speeches the procession returned to the Town Hall for a meal, which was put on by Mr. Bolton of the Bull’s Hotel.
At night, in front of thousands of people a fireworks display was put on in the park. This was done by Mr. Bywater of Sheffield. It was reported that it was a pyrotechnic display on a scale never previously witnessed in the town. There were three “lettered devices”, saying “Pilkington,” “The People’s Park,” and “The Town and Trade of Blackburn.” There was serious accident in the evening when a young woman was hit in the face by a rocket. She had some of her front teeth knocked out and her face burnt.
There was a dinner given at the Corporation Arms, Bank Top for the Masons and Labourers who had worked on the park, paid for by Alderman Cunningham. Another dinner was held at the Vine Inn Montague-street. This put on for “sixty gentlemen” from Preston, Great Harwood, Burnley and Rishton.
I will finish by giving a cost of the park up to the 22nd of October 1857, as given in the Blackburn Standard;
£ s d
Area of the park, full 50 acres, at £65 3257 6 3
Interest to the 5th of July 1856, 172 1 1
compensation to landowners @£77 5s 11d 249 6 0
Boundary walls 1583 7 6
Making roads 4480 17 1
Park entrance 831 15 6
Gardens, masons, flaggers, manual and team labour 2402 4 2
Inspectors 147 14 0
Surveying 80 8 9
Palisading 727 16 6
Railings and fencing for roads 28 6 3
Materials 143 13 7
Rent and taxes 48 7 3
Legal expenses and stamps 32 8 11
Tools and implements 28 8 1
Conveying water 53 12 9
Joiners’ work and plumbing 15 15 10
Manure 72 12 7
Seats, plants, shrubs, seeds, etc 327 18 2
Landscape gardening and superintendent 116 9 0
Casual expenses 33 16 7
Manual and team labour this week, say 39 14 10
TOTAL COST TO THE DAY OF OPENING,
22ND OCT. 1857 14701 19 7
Using the National Archives Currency converter in today’s money that comes to about £634,537 42p.
Maybe today when we can drive out to the countryside in less than half an hour, when we've only to switch on the television to see images of wide open spaces, and when many of us have gardens, maybe we don't realise quite what parks meant to people whose lives were ruled by the factory system.
When your house was mean and functional, when the mill was a grim penitentiary, when the town was a maze of soot blackened streets, what was it like then to walk through the park gates and see everything green before you, to see trees, to see flowers, to hear bird song and to see swans gliding across the lake?
'Getting out of the house' must have been a much more urgent necessity then than it is now, when so many of us have comfortable and decorative homes. When the turnpike roads began to open in the 1820s people took advantage of them to get a breath of fresh air. Preston New Road in particular was popular on a Sunday night when crowds would congregate and take some exercise.
And it was on Preston New Road that Blackburn’s first park, Corporation Park, was opened. Cynics might wonder if the authorities had become alarmed at the number of people coming together on a public thoroughfare with nothing much to do and wanted to disperse them. Maybe this was part of the motive, maybe all the improvements in living conditions throughout the 19th century were prompted by fear of the mob. However it was an early mayor of the town Thomas Dugdale who in 1854 proposed establishing a public park.
Joseph Feilden owned the land bordered by Preston New Road, Revidge and Shear Brow. He sold 50 acres of it to the Council at £65 per acre. Work began in February 1855. The park was opened on Thursday 22nd October 1857, a bright, crisp, cold morning.
There was plenty of drama on the opening day. The cannon on the battery at the top of the park roared and thundered. Many of the crowd had their own guns and they fired them enthusiastically into the air. There were fireworks, rockets which launched cascades of coloured fire, and illuminated set pieces.
The park inspired the generosity of public benefactors; Mayor William Pilkington donated three fountains, Alderman Cunningham donated two black swans to adorn the lake which had already been stocked by gifts of duck and geese from local people. In 1958 Mr Walsh opened the aviary and donated thirty birds.
• 1845 A sum of £4701 19s 7d was raised towards the purchase and implementation of the park by the sale of land on the Town's Moor.
• 1855 Purchase of Corporation Park by the then Mayor, Mr. Thomas Dugdale, for the Corporation, from Mr. Joseph Feilden. Fifty acres at £65 per acre.
• 1855 Work commences on the Preston New Road entrance by Messrs Roberts and Walmsley, awarded the contract to build the arch and lodge at a cost of £789. The East and West lodges were constructed at this time.
• 1857 Three of the four fountains in the park built and paid for by Mayor William Pilkington, including the largest at the main entrance built by Varley's of Blackburn.
• 1857 Two Russian cannons captured from Sebastopol during the Crimean War presented to the town as a Trophy by Lord Panmure, the Secretary of War. Mounted on a stone-faced battery at the top of the park.
• 1857 The Grand Opening of Corporation Park performed by Mayor William Pilkington, with an estimated 60,000 people in attendance within the grounds.
• 1863-64 The Broad Walk, and the adjoining paths leading to the upper slopes, are constructed providing work for hundreds of cotton operatives during the Cotton Famine. The paths were paved with stones from the quarries on the upperslope.
• 1867 The land of the Red Rake Farm on Revidge Road was purchased by the Council with the aim of adding it to the enclosure of the park at some future date. The land cost £1,200, and was intended for sporting use including tennis courts and bowling greens.
• 1869 Two lime trees planted in front of the 1908 Preston New Road entrance.
• 1871 The statue of 'Flora', the Roman Goddess of flowers and spring were presented. The statue was the work of Thomas Allen of Liverpool.
• 1880 The first park bandstand is constructed west of the large lake.
• 1882 The Italian Gardens are laid out adjacent to the Broad Walk.
• 1900's The original bandstand is demolished and a larger one built on the same site at a cost of £2,000.
• 1900 The new conservatory is opened.
• 1905 Report in the Northern Daily Telegraph of a plan to fill the basin of the large fountain with flowers, and the basins of the other fountains with weeping plants. The large fountain at the main entrance was causing a nuisance to park users due to drift from the water jet and was probably turned off shortly afterwards.
• 1906 New bowling green to provide work for unemployed of Blackburn, to be constructed on the 'Red Rake' site, recently added to the park as a playground. Money to be provided by the Distress Committee, utilising £307 received from the Queen's Unemployed Fund.
• 1908 Gramophone concert held in the park with an attendance of 20,000.
• 1909 The second bandstand is officially opened by Counsellor J Higginson, Vice Chairman of the Parks Committee, with seating available for over two thousand people.
• 1921 It is reported that the park is to have more sports facilities, including tennis courts and bowling greens. Tennis courts to be two grass and two all weather to be constructed at the east end of the Broad Walk with the bowling greens on the lower level, with a new pavilion, The Bowls House, serving both.
• 1922 Four tennis courts laid below the eastern end of the Broad Walk.
• 1922 The War Memorial and Garden of Remembrance are laid out.
• 1923 First two bowling greens laid below the eastern end of the Broadwalk.
• 1924 The land near Revidge that the Corporation had purchased from the Red Rake Farm was converted into ten hard tennis courts and ornamental gardens. The work was carried out by the unemployed as part of a £17,000 scheme which included widening the Revidge Road.
• 1924 Clergy object to Sunday band concerts in the park.
• 1925 The third and final bowling green is 1957 laid below the eastern end of the Broad Walk.
• 1925 Opening of the first putting green in the park.
• 1936 Reported that the fountain at the main entrance is now used as a "flower vase" with planting in the main pool and in the fountain itself.
• 1937 New flag pole installed at the bottom of the putting green, 60 feet tall made of an entire Californian pine.
• 1937 It was recommended by the Parks Committee that the four German field guns installed in the park after World War I be sold for scrap. The Russian cannons were to be kept for the time being.
• 1938 Russian guns to be re-conditioned and have their oak carriages replaced by concrete.
• 1939 Plans approved for the construction of the public conveniences to the right of the main entrance arch at Preston New Road
• 1941 The bandstand, gates and railings are dismantled for salvage towards the war effort.
• 1950 A timber aviary is constructed close to the conservatory.
• 1953 Two oaks planted in the middle of the Italian gardens, one on each side of the central path leading up to the Broadwalk, to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
• 1957 A crowd of unknown teenagers "invaded" Corporation Park to dance to rock 'n' roll records played on a portable gramophone.
• 1957 New surfacing laid on the main drive from the Preston New Road entrance to past the West Park Road entrance to take three weeks to lay. Surfacing laid to be asphalt with red aggregate.
• 1958 Mr. Stanley Walsh opens the new aviary, replacing the existing timber one with a more permanent structure. Mr. Walsh, a well known ornithologist from Beardwood, provided the funds.
• Construction of children's play area including a paddling pool.
• 1974 Corporation Park and adjacent residential areas designated a conservation area.
• 1996 The second Corporation Park Conservation Area is designated, extending the original designation of 1974 to the south. Corporation Park given a grade II listing by English Heritage on the register of Parks and Gardens.
• 1999 Historical Restoration Management Plan submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Article transcribed from the
Blackburn Weekly Telegraph of February 21st 1914
Quite a sensation was caused in Blackburn on Sunday night, when, about seven o’clock, a loud explosion, which is said to have shaken many houses in all parts of the district, was heard. With the strike in mind (400 men working for the Corporation went on strike on Jan 1st 1914 and stayed out 7 weeks. The dispute was about wages) many people jumped to the conclusion that something untoward had happened at the Addison-street gasworks, and the works telephone was kept busy for hours answering a large number of inquiries . But there had been nothing out of the ordinary at the gasworks, and the large crowd which had gathered round the gates quickly dispersed. In the meantime the police were searching in the neighbourhood for some clue which would lead to a discovery of the mystery, for such did it soon become. Their efforts were fruitless. On Monday morning all kinds of rumours were abroad. The gasworks theory was not generally credited, and the one almost universally held was that a thunderbolt or some meteoric body had fallen from the heavens.
The real solution, however, one never heard suggested, until an official intimation reached the office of this journal that one of the cannons in the Corporation Park had been fired. This news soon spread but many could hardly credit it, as most people were under the impression that it would be highly dangerous to fire the guns on account of their age. It also seemed to be a popular idea that the guns were “spiked.” Proof positive, though, was soon forthcoming, as a visit to the park showed that the one on the right-hand side when entering from the gate on Revidge had been fired. For years the guns had been rusty in places, and almost full of gravel and stones. The bore, however, was quite clean when examined on Monday. There has been some speculation as to how the gun was fired, whether by the touch hole or by fuse inserted at the muzzle. Mr A. Stratford, the park superintendent, who has had a large experience in the felling of trees by explosives, inclines to the latter theory. During the week the guns have been spiked and the muzzles plugged, to prevent similar alarms in the future. Much of the sand with which it was partially choked must have been left inside, and, by the force of the explosion, this had been thrown over the belt of trees some 50 yards away and on to the path below. There was nothing to indicate of what the charge was composed, but there was evidently no difficulty in using it. The gun has been moved a little on its base by the force of the recoil. Some distance away in the direct line of fire there was a considerable quantity of gravel, which had evidently been thrown out by the charge, which could not have been a heavy one. Experts said that there would have been no danger in discharging the gun provided that a small charge was used.
The guns which overlook the park are trophies of the Crimean war. In 1857 application was made by the Town Council to the Secretary for War asking for a trophy of that campaign, and Lord Panmure presented two Russian guns to the town. They are of iron, and were given a prominent position on a “battery” constructed on the knoll just within the wicket gate near the Corporation Hotel. This battery is a favourite playground for children, who delight in “storming” and “defending” the fortress in mimic of warfare.
It would have been possible to fire the gun either by means of a fuse or by direct ignition. The fact that one of them actually was discharged explains why the residents in the Revidge district are said to have felt this shock most, and also why the flash was seen by the large number of promenades who were walking along the heights which overlook the town at the time. Old inhabitants assured a “Weekly Telegraph” representative that the shock was something similar to that experienced 22 years ago when the Crown Hotel was blown up , excepting that on that occasion there was a rumbling caused by the sound of falling masonry (On Monday 30th Nov 1891 a large gas explosion in the cellar of the Crown Hotel left 5 people dead and many injured). The detonation was heard as far away as Accrington and Darwen, and quite a number of people from these towns were among the inquirers on Sunday night.
Further light on the affair was also shed on Monday by a discovery made just below where the cannons are situated by two Blackburn men, who were taking their customary morning’s walk. One of them, leaning over the parapet, saw a brown paper parcel, tied with string. He opened the parcel, and found inside an ordinary piece of calico, about a yard long by two feet wide, on which were the following words, written in pencil:
“Wake up Blackburn
The Labour Party, Who Claim To Stand For
Justice & Freedom Support A Goverment
That Torture Women Under The Infamous Cat and Mouse Act”
(The Cat and Mouse Act, officially the 'Prisoners' Temporary Discharge on Ill Health Act', was used to release women who were ill as a result of hunger strike. When they had recovered, they were re-arrested to complete their sentence.)
This inscription, with its own errors in spelling was printed in large capital letters, well and plainly formed. The calico was fastened at both ends with a hair-pin. In the parcel was also a copy of “the Suffragette,” and a book by Christabel Pankhurst pleading the cause of women.
These Facts are simply given for what they are worth, for it is impossible to say whether the firing was the work of militant suffragists or others who left the parcel there as a hoax. The police are inclined, after careful investigation, to the latter theory. It may be stated though that the suffragists, who are credited with being of the opinion that Blackburn has been in the past neglected from their point of view, have been fairly busy in the town of late selling their literature and calling upon some of our best-known public men. Mr Philip Snowden, M.P. has also had to stand considerable heckling from them on the last two or three occasions upon which he has addressed his constituents, and a number of women have been ejected from meetings at which he has spoken.