With the advent of the railway and the progress of the Industrial Revolution, sites were offered free of cost for the erection of cotton mills, and the area became populated. Before this there was only the parish of St Francis, Feniscliffe which extended from the bridge in Pleasington Fields on one side to Hollin Bank on the other and embraced the districts of Cherry Tree, Mill Hill and Waterfall.There were two schools, both inadequate, one at Cherry Tree and the other at Bower House Fold. The school at Cherry Tree was the base for operations by the Rev J. Blackburn Brown M.A. The residents of Mill Hill and Waterfall found it practically impossible to attend evening services or meetings, particularly in winter months, as they had to travel a roundabout way across fields to reach the school.
The building of the Iron School at Bower House Fold and the erection of a beautiful church at Feniscliffe did not completely solve the problem, and a Mission Room was opened at Stakes Hall in January 1894.
Stakes Hall Mission Church, Mill Hill was consecrated on May 31st 1894. It was a substantial building of dressed stone and cost £500. Attached to the church was a clergy vestry, classroom and an institute for men. The church had accommodation for 350 persons.A report in the Blackburn Times of September 14th, 1895 states “This quickly filled, showing at once the need of a branch of the church there. So successful has this mission been that although the place for service is an old fashioned low-roofed, disused farm kitchen, it has often been crowded to excess". Two upstairs rooms were used for Sunday school classes.
The Blackburn Weekly Standard of the same date stated “The Farm House, which was rented had been previously by a poulterer for dressing fowl and had to be fumigated. Rooms adjoining the building were used by a tripe dresser and the yard behind was used by a cow-keeper". No wonder that the Blackburn Times reported “The surroundings of this Mission are not attractive and agreeable, but so resolute has the Vicar been, that not even the most disagreeable smells, the poverty of his parishioners ,the need of funds nor the miserable place for worship,combined,have deterred him from carrying out his great purpose".Part of that purpose was the building of a church and school at Mill Hill. On August 31st 1895, St Aidan's Day, John Rutherford M.P. laid the foundation stone of St Francis Mission Church Mill Hill. When the building was completed, services were held in the school, a chancel having been built at the east end of the school. The school was later known as Mill Hill C.E. School, then Norfolk Street School, and eventually took the name of St Aidan's C.E. School.
As well as the Rev Canon Blackburn Brown, other Ministers over this period were Captain Attwood of the Church Army, the Rev W. Woodall (1910) and the Rev James Sumner. In 1916, the Rev H. Moss was appointed Curate of Livesey with the care of the work at Mill Hill; this is the connection between the churches of St Andrew's and St Aidan's. In 1920, St Aidan's became a conventional district with Mr Moss as Curate-in-Charge, and, in 1926, the Parish of St Aidan's was formed with Mr Moss as the first Vicar.The Rev. Harry Moss was a character in his own right and the people rallied round him and his wife to such an extent that the foundation stone of the present church was laid on the 11th July 1931, by the first Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Rev P.M. Herbert, D.D. Fourteen months later the building was completed and consecrated on the 24th September 1932 by Bishop Herbert. St Aidan's can claim the distinction of the first church to be consecrated in the Diocese of Blackburn. In 1938 a new altar was dedicated. This is now in the Memorial Chapel (Lady Chapel).Following the death of the Rev Harry Moss, L.Th, the Rev J.H.O'Brien became the second vicar of St Aidan's on the 31st May,1947. During his vicariate, the interior of the church was considerably enhanced. In 1950, the Mothers Union banner was dedicated. In 1953, twenty one years after the dedication, many changes were made. A new High Altar with frontals and Riddell Posts, a Processional Cross, an Altar Cross and Standard and Altar candlesticks were consecrated.
A new Baptism Font was made by sculptress Josephine de Vasconcellos, F.R.B.S., originally intended for Blackburn Cathedral, was also dedicated, as were a new Prayer Desk, furnishings in the memorial Chapel and a Silver Wafer Box in memory or the Rev Harry Moss.In 1954, the Duckworth Memorial Window was installed, while in 1956, a porch at the south west corner of the church was built on what was to have been the site of a tower in the original plans. Dr W. Baddeley, Bishop of Blackburn, in the presence of Mrs Moss and her daughter dedicated this porch to the memory of the Rev H Moss. The lighting system of the church was completely re-planned in 1966 prior to the decoration of the interior. The old pulpit was replaced by an oaken one the gift of Mrs J Ormerod and the late Mrs Gillibrand. New chairs were placed in the Memorial Chapel and, in the same year, the organ was moved into the nave of the church. In 1967, Mrs Topping gave a stained glass window of "Christ the Carpenter" in memory of her parents. During the vicariate of the Rev. J. Maxwell Lucas, 1968-1972, the heating system of the church was converted to oil firing, the Memorial Plaque in memory of men who died during the two world wars was placed in position and the lighting of the Altar improved. In 1964, when the Rural Deanery of Darwen was created, St Aidan's Parish was transferred from Blackburn Deanery to the Darwen Deanery. The Rev J.H. O'Brien who was vicar of St Aidan's at the time became the first Rural Dean of Darwen.
St Aidan's Girls Friendly Society was formed in 1950 and is still going strong today.
St Aidan's Mothers Union was formed in 1948 and is still going strong today.
The church's first Rose Queen was crowned in 1933 and paraded round the parish, this tradition still continues.In 1998, the church was returned to the Blackburn Deanery from Darwen. In 2000, thanks to the generosity of a church member, a Charity Shop was opened on Mincing Lane in Blackburn which is still going strong. In 2001, a Garden of Remembrance was consecrated by the Bishop of Burnley, the Right Reverend John Goddard, and the first ashes to be interred where those of St Aidan's former Vicar, Canon James H O'Brien. In 2004, the Diocese amalgamated St Aidan's with St Francis to become “The Benefice of Blackburn St Francis with St Aidan".In 2009, Organist and Choirmaster, Mr Ernest Halliwell died; he was a benefactor to the church and, thanks to his generosity, church renovations were completed in 2011 which involved facilities for the disabled, removal of four sets of pews from the front and back of church in order to provide more space for charity events.
The congregation also erected a memorial glass panel in memory of Organist, Ernie Helliwell, between the Memorial Chapel and the Choir pews. In the midst of all the renovation work the illuminated Cross which had been a beacon for people in the Infirmary since the mid-60s was blown down in a gale and damaged the roof. When the renovation was finished, a new illuminated Cross was placed above the porch door.In 2012, St Aidan's embraced the Internet and obtained Twitter, Facebook an Email address and a listing on a "Church Near You". During 2014, the Church split with St Francis and the Diocese twinned us with St Luke's St Marks and St Phillips Benefice.VICARS OF ST AIDANSReverend Harry Moss, 1926-1947
Reverend James Henry O'Brien, 1947-1967
Reverend John Maxwell Lucas, 1968-1972
Reverend Harold Holt, 1972-1985
Reverend James Stewart McDonald, 1985-1996
Reverend Alan Fishwick, 1996-2002
Reverend David George Kennedy, 2003-2006
Reverend Philip Chew, 2008-2010
Reverend Catherine Brooks, 2013 -
Article compiled by Jeffrey Booth (Library Volunteer)Taken from St Aidan's History Book by Kath and Wynn Shepherd.
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Holy Trinity Church was consecrated in 1846 and closed in 1979. Due to structural problems, the eight bells had not been rung for several years. To obviate the risk of sale of the bells, cast in 1888, to America, the Blackburn branch of the Lancashire Association of Bell Ringers approached the Vicar of St Silas' with a view to the transfer of the Holy Trinity bells to St Silas' Church. This film records the removal of the bells in 1982, and subsequent shipment to John Taylor & Co, who cast the original bells, for restoration and retuning. The film then records the delivery and installation of the bells to their new home in January 1983. The Service of Dedication was held on 12th February 1983. DW 2018
This film appears on Cotton Town by kind permission of Norman Bretherton.
This production is protected by copyright, and may be used for private viewing only. It may neither be broadcast in any way, including the internet, nor be copied or reproduced either by film or electronic means, without written permission from the copyright holders.
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The original St Jude's Church on Accrington Road was opened in 1914. The Parish of Saint Thomas was subdivided to create the new Parish. By the 1980s, the old church had serious structural problems, and so a decision was made to demolish the old building and to build a new one within the original curtilage, while keeping the tower.
The new building was consecrated in 1993. This video, made by John Howard, shows the part-built church with the builders still on site. Scenes of the interior of the tower are captured, along with a demonstration of the 'keyboard' used to ring the peal of eight bells. The bells, later refurbished, are also shown in situ in the bell chamber. John then climbs a ladder to the top of the tower and, somewhat precariously, balances on another ladder and films a view of the Parish in all directions, albeit on a somewhat typically misty Blackburn day. Viewers will recognise several buildings that have vanished in the past twenty or so years. 26 minutes.
This film appears on Cotton Town by kind permission of the late Jim Halsall (a former choirboy) and of Saint Jude's Church.
This production is protected by copyright, and may be used for private viewing only. It may neither be broadcast in any way, including the internet, nor be copied or reproduced either by film or electronic means, without written permission from the copyright holders.
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St. Thomas's Church, Lambeth Street
The Parish of St. Thomas was part of the Parish of St Mary until March 1866 and was thus a portion of what was possibly the oldest Parish in England. It apparently came about when the Vicar of Blackburn, the Reverend D. Whittaker in 1822 was riding out of Blackburn along the Accrington turnpike when a gang of youths hurled abuse and obscenities and hit him on the face with a clod of earth. The local cottagers had already recognised the churchman and came to his assistance. They were angry at such an affront to a churchman but he would not punish the youths and simply said "I will do something better than that -- I will build them a church."
St Thomas's Church in 1979
Of course to build a church would take both time and money but in 1826 Whittaker succeeded in building a school in Copy Nook. At first it was called St. Clement's and was used for Sunday and Day School purposes and also licenced for Divine Service. The name was afterwards changed to St. Thomas. In 1860 the foundation stone for the church of St. Thomas was laid and the building work started. Unfortunately the civil war in America caused the cotton famine and particularly in a town like Blackburn so dependent on imported cotton there was great distress which greatly hindered work on the new church. However, in 1865 St. Thomas's was consecrated and the Reverend H. Wescoe appointed Vicar - he had been a major driving force to raise the funds to get the building completed. Also, in 1865, a new school in Skiddaw Street was opened. In 1883, a bazaar was held to raise funds for a vicarage, and, by October, the vicarage was completed. In 1901, Canon Wescoe resigned, having achieved the monumental task of building six schools, two churches and two vicarages. The Reverend F. G. Chevassut was appointed Vicar. Mr. Maddock, the Head Master of the boys school retired in 1907 after forty two years’ service and some ten thousand scholars had passed through the school. Finally, after the scheme had been decided in 1903, a Parochial Hall was opened by Lord R. Cecil in 1909.
The first Roll of Honour was unveiled and dedicated on August the 5th. 1917, and, on August the 1st. 1920, the second Roll of Honor was unveiled in the Chancel. A War Memorial was unveiled in the churchyard on the 15th of August that same year. When the church was demolished the memorial was moved to the Cathedral grounds. In 2003 it was again moved to St Jude's Church, Accrington-road, which had amalgamated with St. Thomas's parish. In 1926, there were various celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee.
A house for the Curate was sought and funds raised for that and the Hall. Two tennis courts were made and a sport's field leased. St. Thomas's became well known for the football matches played for St. Thomas's Medals. The field was also the destination on the walking day when the procession arrived and people enjoyed themselves with different races and games and refreshments of rock buns and raspberry buns with large mugs of tea served by the Mother's Union members. There are some cine pictures on Cotton Town of the walking days taken by Harry Aspin.
Looking along the nave of St. Thomas's towards the alter
A Youth Club had been in existence for some time but in old premises - eventually in the early sixties a government scheme was launched to enable youth organisations to have their own premises. St Thomas's was able to take advantage of this scheme and the government provided 75% of the cost for a building next to the church hall. It was one of the most modern clubs in Lancashire with a gymnasium, coffee bar, games room and television lounge.
Unfortunately, as time went on, the population of the parish of St. Thomas changed and the numbers of Church of England worshippers decreased so that, in 1977, the church closed and was demolished.
St Thomas' Guides The Photograph the retiring rose queen, Joan Payne age 14, Janet Burke
crowning the new queen Barbara Henry aged 13 in 1957.
Much of the above is from the Centenary Handbook compiled by Keith Kenyon and some personal memories.
St. Mark's Church, Witton
In early October 1836 the foundation stone for this church was laid by Joseph Feilden of Witton House, who had given the site for this building and a subscription of £200. It was reported that there were several thousand people present and afterwards Mr. Feilden entertained the clergy and gentry with their families at Witton House. Witton was a small rural village without a church but in 1825 had a small school also founded by Mr. Feilden, the local squire and Member of Parliament. At that time there was only one other school in Blackburn and Witton School had been used continuously for public elementary education and was the oldest in the borough. The population was about six thousand in those early days but growing with the building of cotton mills in the area. In fact the first cotton mill in Blackburn was built at Wensley Fold in 1779.
An early image of St Mark's Church. Witton School is seen on the left.
The design of St. Mark's Church was unique with a nave and octagonal tower with spire placed at the east end of the building and not the west end as was usual. The architect had travelled in Europe incorporating various aspects of the churches visited in his plans which would cost £700. Later there were additions made to the building including the south transept in 1870, known as the Feilden Transept, underneath which was the burial place for the Feilden family and the north transept in1886. In 1889 the old fashioned pews and benches were replaced by pitch pine seating at the expense of General Feilden. Gas lighting was installed in 1893. In 1907 there was much discussion regarding the reconstruction of the church which would have cost an estimated £8,000. Captain Feilden, who had recently opened out Witton Park near the church, made the road wider and extended it to make a good open road from Preston New Road to Witton, was keen on the scheme and offered a generous sum towards the costs. Finally in 1915 a restoration scheme was carried out - the church was decorated, reroofed, electricity installed and the organ rebuilt. After World War 1, in 1920, a Memorial Rood Screen was erected across the chancel entrance and a War Memorial, with photographs of those who had died, placed on the wall. The Imperial War Museum has shown interest in this unique memorial.
St. Mark's Church from Buncer Lane.
In 2005 St. Mark's was combined with the parish of St. Luke and St Philip to form the parish of Christ the King. The church building was put up for sale in 2018 with a price tag of £125,000. It is recorded as a Grade II listed building and Nikolaus Pevsner, the late art historian and architectural historian, described the church as one of the most interesting in Blackburn.
Much of this information is from A History written by Christine Walmsley, several articles in the Blackburn Times and Wikipedia.
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St. Philip's Church, Griffin
Adam Dugdale of Griffin Lodge and local mill owner gave the land and other generous assistance when fund raising began for the £9,000 required to build the church. The Church of England school at Griffin had opened in 1871 under the wing of St. Mark's Church and services were conducted by licence in the school. The Reverend Doctor Pinck was the curate and it was mainly due to him that the parish of St. Philip's was formed. In 1880 the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester the Reverend James Fraser and the Reverend J. O. Pinck became the first vicar. The following year the organ was opened and Mr. F. Wrigley, appointed as organist. In 1890-91 Adam Dugdale had the vicarage built. Electric lighting was installed in December 1898.
St. Philips Church Witton. Opened in 1871
In 1901 the parish gained its majority and four years later Reverend Pink had served a parish, which had become over four thousand people, for twenty five years. The church had seating for six hundred with half of the seats given free. In 1912 work started on building the Parochial Hall at the approximate cost of £3000 and again Adam Dugdale was a generous benefactor. After thirty five years the Reverend Pinck retired on the 1st of May 1916 and the Reverend W. E. Cunliffe became the new incumbent on June the 9th. Adam Dugdale died in January 1917 and oak choir stalls, the vestry door and a west window were dedicated to his memory in 1919. In 1920 a memorial tablet for the twenty former members of the Boys Brigade who had died during the Great War was unveiled and after the death of Reverend Pinck in 1921 his son, also a vicar, dedicated a memorial to his father in 1923. The fiftieth anniversary of Griffin Day and Sunday Schools came in 1924 and later that year, the Reverend W. E. Cunliffe became the first Blackburn clergyman to have his sermon broadcast from the Manchester radio station. For the fiftieth anniversary of the church the Rural Dean, Canon John Sinker and the Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Reverend Percy Mark Herbert gave Jubilee Sermons.
Interior of St. Philip's Church, looking along the nave to the altar
In 1950 oak panelling was installed in memory of the members of the congregation who had died in World War Two, also a cross in memory of a previous vicar, Reverend Broadbelt, and a stained glass window in memory of a Mrs. Read, a former member of the congregation. 1960 brought about the eightieth anniversary of the church and the patronage of St. Philip's was transferred to the See of Blackburn. In 1969 dry rot was found in the organ chamber which was treated but the following year it re-emerged on the south side of the church. It would prove to be impractical to have the church repaired and so the church joined up with St. Luke's and the body of St. Philip's church was demolished leaving the spire which Blackburn Corporation took over responsibility for its maintenance. Treasured items were saved and rehoused all over the country and even as far away as the United States of America. Another tragedy was a fire in the church hall which had only just recovered from a previous fire three years earlier - vandals were suspected.
Much of the above information is from the Centenary Handbook of St. Philip's and various articles in the Blackburn Times.
The Cumpstey family’s Involvement with St. Philip’s
When on 16th August 1975 the main body of St. Philip’s Church Griffin was demolished it not only signaled the demise of its 95 years existence and witness to God and the Parish community but also the severing of a family link over those 95 years.
My family, including myself, had worshipped at St Philips over time and in those years, we had shared in celebrations of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriages and mourned at Funerals. In those days the Church was very much at the heart of its communities and St. Philips was no exception.
Both my father and mother were heavily involved in the work of the Church. Both were on the Parochial Church Council (P.C.C.), whilst my father was, for many years, one of the Churchwardens at St. Philips (Vicar’s Warden), the Superintendent of the Sunday School and Secretary and member of the St. Philip’s Parochial Hall Committee. My mother was a member of the Mothers Union and of the Ladies Class. The Cumpstey family had also been worshippers over the early years of the Church’s existence.
Leading up to its closure, St. Philips had developed dry rot, originally in the organ chamber and subsequently within the fabric of the building on the South side. Despite efforts and good intentions to effect a remedy the consultants were unable to abate the spread without excessive expenditure which Church funds alone were insufficient to treat the problem. The Diocese were either unable or unwilling to fund any identified treatment which left the unpalatable decision to close and demolish the building something of an inevitability. It was, therefore, during 1974 that the Benefice of St. Philips came to its end and with it the loss of Church leadership within this Parish and community.
Taking a step backwards to Wednesday 15th December 1880 and to the consecration of a new Church and Parish within Blackburn and more importantly the area of Griffin and Witton. The spiritual ceremony was conducted by the Bishop of Manchester and the Parish Church of St. Philip, Griffin was firmly established.
This new Parish was formed out of the ecclesiastical district of St. Marks which covered a vast area. The proponents of the new Church were principally Adam Dugdale, former Mayor of Blackburn and Major General Feilden MP of Witton Park. They considered that a new Church should be erected in the heart of the Griffin district which housed a large working-class population.
Over a period of some 30 years the whole landscape and fabric had visibly changed since the time that the whole of Witton was a small village. However, when Thomas Dugdale purchased the Griffin Estate and built his mills within it, the population had increased to something approaching 8,000 people.
Mr. Dugdale and his family became conscious of the need for spiritual guidance within the community and, as a natural consequence, he had the foresight to build Griffin school in its midst. The cost was £3000 (£445,000 at today’s levels). The Dugdale’s further recognized the need for a place of worship—a Church within this same community. This made both practical and spiritual sense since the school was being used regularly for divine services on Sundays.
This was no coincidence in thinking and was a natural progression since Thomas Dugdale Snr had, 10 years previous, secured a site for a Church and had appropriated this parcel of land in readiness for such an event.
Much thought had also been given to resourcing such a venture, and over time funds had been collected:
• £200 by staff and pupils at the school.
• £1700 the proceeds of a Bazaar held in the Town Hall in September 1877and opened by Major General Feilden.
• Mr. Dugdale contributed £200 for the site fees.
• Mrs. Rodgett, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Dugdale, contributed £1500.
• Mr. J.R. Dugdale £1500.
• Mr. and Mrs. Williams £400.
• Major General Feilden £250.
• Mr. Tattersall £50.
• Mr. Coddington £50.
• Mrs. Booth £25.
The plans for the Church were prepared by John Lowe F.I.B.A. of Manchester and this allowed the development of the building works to be advanced.
As was the vogue in those days the whole scheme required patronage from the great and the good and this was secured through the following Patrons:
Major General Feilden M.P.
Dr. Willams of Crosshill
Mr. Adam Dugdale
Mr. J.B. Dugdale
The builders and craftsmen appointed to build the new St. Philips were Messrs. Stones and Sons of Blackburn under the direct supervision of the Architect, Mr. Lowe.
On completion of the building the consensus was that the Church exhibited a fine piece of architecture, with its prominence, and there was little doubt that it added greatly to the street landscape and environment. Such was its prominence that it was certainly viewed easily within this area of the town and represented a very attractive addition to the skyline.
Lowe's design was indicative of early English, despite its loftiness, it was simple in structure whilst the overall effect was substantial but practical.
Dimensionally, the Nave was 89ft. 6 inches by 30ft. with the North and South aisles being 11ft. 8 inches wide. The Chancel was the same width as the Nave and incorporated on the South side a spacious organ chamber. Beneath the vestibules was the heating chamber comprising a hot water system. The walls were constructed of rubble masonry throughout, faced externally with Yorkshire par points, tooled stonework liberally introduced in windows, doorways and buttresses. The featured Tower was conspicuous with angled pinnacles standing at the West end of the South aisles and rising to a height of 112ft. The lower stage of the Tower formed a spacious porch with a boldly arched and recessed doorway giving access to the Church from Witton Parade. A gabled porch with similar doorway occupied the West end of the North aisle entered from St. Philips Street.
Internally the walls were plastered and coloured with a slight tint in appearance.
The arches supporting the Nave and Aisles were carried on columns with shafts of red Mansfield stone with molded capitals—there was no arch in the Chancel. The roof was of open timber, 49ft. above the Nave floor and was continued as one level over the Nave and Chancel. The Chancel portion was molded externally by a terminal creation of wrought iron. The roofs were covered in blue slate with purple bands and red Staffordshire ridge tiling. The windows were simple grouped lantern lights, with cusped heads, except those in the East and West gables and organ chamber, which had tracery of simple design and were glazed with simple glass in geometrical design. The Aisles were laid with stone landings and the Chancel with encaustic tiles in pleasant designs. The Choir seats, Prayer Desk and Communion Rail were oak, with wrought iron standings. The congregation Pews were made of pitch pine, stained and varnished. The Pulpit on the North side of the Chancel steps was made of Bath stone supported by a pillar of dark red marble and in the Chancel centre was a polished brass lectern in the form of an eagle. The Altar and reredos of oak was flanked by panels depicting the words of the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer which lifted your eyes to the magnificent east stained window depicting Christ crucified. Amidst the Nave at the West end of the Church was situated the Font—six sided in stone. The Church accommodated 600 people. (300 appropriated—300 free). The site itself covered 1,704 square yards.
The total building and other costs were £8,500 (£1.2m today). (Total subscriptions in support of the build were £7,000 leaving a debt on the building of £1,500).
A later addition to enhance features within the Church, was the five panelled reredos and oak panelling Great War memorial at the west wall. An inscription and regimental shields on oak panelling with gothic tracery design on the reredos and panelling.
The centre panel inscription read:
"To the glory of God and in memory of the men from this Church and Parish who died in the Great War 1914 – 1919
Their name liveth for evermore".
On the Memorial are inscribed 108 names of the Fallen.
The information provides Forename, Surname, Rank and Regiment. On the demolition of St. Philips, the panelling was relocated to the new Benefice of St. Luke with St. Philip in Blackburn.
The Vicars of St. Philips were:
Rev. J.O. Pinck.
Rev. W.E. Cunliffe.
Rev. H Broadbent.
Rev. W.A. Swift.
Rev. J. Collier.
Rev. L J. Hakes.
Despite the loss of the main body of the Church building, it is gratifying to know that the splendid Tower complete with gargoyles has been retained and still offers its respectful and magnificent visage overlooking the West of Blackburn—a reminder of, and perhaps as a memorial to all those Christian souls who attended and bore witness at St. Philips over those 98 years.
See also Griffin C of E School
Published December 2023.
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Prior to 1872 Services and a Sunday School were held at what was known as the Bolton Road Station. Land had been set aside for a church and school many years before but it was not until after the death of the Venerable Archdeacon Rushton, (first Archdeacon of Manchester and Vicar of Blackburn 1854 -68) that a church would be erected to his memory in the poor and populous district of Nova Scotia, Blackburn. On Saturday the 8th of October the foundation stone was laid by the wife of Robert Hopwood Hutchinson, J.P. an old friend of the late Archdeacon. The Church was consecrated on the 25th of April 1872 under the designation of All Saints, Nova Scotia, Blackburn with a population of about five thousand five hundred people. The cost was £4,500 and the Church accommodated eight hundred and sixty with half the sittings free.
All Saints Church in 1989 waiting Demolition in 1991
All Saints school was opened with one hundred and thirty two scholars in January 1874 and a small room was added to serve as an infant room with costs upwards of two thousand pounds. The school was enlarged in 1875 but with the rapid increase in population at the western end of the parish it was soon clear that day school accommodation was needed. It was decided to erect a building to serve the purpose of a Mission Church and a school - thus in 1881 the foundation stone was laid for Emmanuel School-Church and it opened the following year. The number of scholars increased so rapidly that the school was enlarged and an infant school was also built.
In 1894 funds were raised for a new heating system and to pay off a deficiency on building funds of All Saints and Emmanuel Schools and by 1898 further funds were raised due to the discovery of dry rot in the Chancel and for the repair of the organ. In 1908 there were extensive renovations to the church and a new screen placed at the west end of the church.
The inside of All Saints Church in 1989 befor demolition in 1991
Many years later in 1973 there was a proposal for the new Calder Valley Road which could have affected the future of All Saints Church. In the end there were moves to improve rail services and public transport rather than build a new road. Two years later in 1975 the Parish of St Peter's with All Saints was created with All Saints becoming the new parish church. St Peter's had been hit by dry rot and although this could probably have been repaired most of the population of the parish had already moved away. In 1982 the church of All Saints finally closed and planning applications were made for change of use. Church leaders tried for seven years to find an alternative use for the building which had been plagued by glue sniffers, rough sleepers and travellers using the land. Eventually, in 1991, there was no alternative but to demolish the building since the cost of refurbishment and planning had been untenable and the possible route of a new inner relief road was also likely in that area.
Much of the above information is from A Handbook for the Bazaar in 1900 and articles from the Lancashire Evening Telegraph and the Blackburn Times.
By 1835 when the population of Blackburn had more than doubled over three decades, it was clear to the clergy that a new church was needed. This was also a time when independent religious groups were in ascension so that the Anglican Church wanted to draw the population to themselves. Funds were raised and the architect Edmund Sharpe appointed. He had designed St. Mark's Church at Witton on Romanesque lines but for Holy Trinity he went for the revival and development of the Gothic style. The foundation stone was laid in 1837 and the estimated cost was five thousand pounds. Progress was slow and the Sunday School building was completed and temporarily licenced before the church which was finally consecrated in 1846. The Sunday School was then closed and with separate funding opened as a day school. There were tubular bells placed in the belfry but by 1888 these had been replaced by a ring of eight bells of which the tenor weighed eighteen hundredweight. On Holy Trinity being made redundant these bells were resited at the church of St. Silas. At the Diamond Jubilee the attendance at the day schools was noted to be on average five hundred and seventy, the Sunday School seven hundred and twenty nine and twelve hundred people attended the special service to mark the anniversary. The particular feature of the interior is the ceiling of painted heraldic panels of which there are eighty. There has been extensive research on the arms shown on the panels some of which belong to local families with a connection to the church. After the Great War a marble pulpit was erected in memory of those members of the parish who did not return.
The church is a grade 1 listed building - one of only two in the country. It closed in 1982 due to a dwindling congregations and maintenance costs but some thirty years later opened its doors for a Sunday service. This could not be deemed practical with a small congregation as many of the nearby houses had been demolished and also the school had been closed in 1962 - it had been the only one in the town with a rooftop playground. Services were now held in the former vicarage which had been converted into a Worship Centre. One of the later well-known vicars was Chad Varah who was instituted in 1942 and after leaving in 1949 founded the Samaritan organisation in 1953.
The War Memorial Pulpit in Holy Trinity Church, Blackburn
The church is in the care of the Redundant Churches Fund - a fund set up in 1969 to preserve churches no longer needed for worship but are of particular historic or architectural interest. Blackburn with Darwen Council and the Church Conservation Trust are hoping that the building can be used again by the community. In 2014 a Heritage Festival took place and Holy Trinity opened its doors for visitors and in 2015 a touring exhibition of acclaimed film and video artists was shown at the church.
Altar in Holy Trinity Church, Blackburn, 1979;
image taken by Adrian Lewis former Curator of Blackburn Museum.
Much of this information has been compiled by Raymond Smith and Jim Halsall, and from articles in the Evening Telegraph and a history by M. E. McClintoch.