Laying the Foundation Stone

Vladimir Sherwood
Most importantly, the laying of the foundation stone was captured on canvas by the artist Vladimir Sherwood, whose enormous picture includes many of the well-known faces of the time. Councillors, Mayors (past, present and future), Members of Parliament and significant manufacturers are all featured, as are detachments of the Local Rifle Volunteers and the Local Volunteer Artillery. The Volunteers fire a volley, hats are thrown aloft and cheers are raised from the gathered crowds – Sherwood has perfectly captured a moment in Blackburn’s proud history. But the painting is also interesting for its omissions. James Cunningham, the brewer and former Mayor, was the Chairman of the Exchange Company, but is strangely missing from the scene, as is the architect William Brackspear. The name of each man in the picture has been faithfully recorded, but the same cannot be said of the women – they all remain anonymous.