The Historical Development of Ewood and Fernhurst Areas of Blackburn
These two small areas, being hamlets, were originally situated outside Blackburn Borough within an area called Nether Darwen and were also connected, or held, by the nearby Livesey area for long periods. Today, these former hamlets are now merged within Blackburn with Darwen Borough, forming its suburbs. The area’s boundaries stretch from Craven Brow below the Golden Cup Inn on Bolton Road to the Aqueduct Inn and Hollin Bank area, also, alongside Bolton Road nearer Blackburn and across to the lower section of Livesey Branch Road up to the Fox and Hounds Inn. Other parts of the area reach the Ewood Aqueduct which carries the Leeds Liverpool Canal over the River Darwen forming another boundary with the nearby Mill Hill area and also stretches part way down Branch Road which runs off Bolton Road to Lower Darwen. These areas next to the townships of Blackburn and Darwen have shared their manufacturing industries over more than two hundred years.
Both areas of Ewood and Fernhurst have historical links with Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods via their associated place names:
(1) EWOOD – this means a wood by a river (Norman).
(2) FERNHURST – is a Saxon word meaning a fern wood as originally ferns grew extensively alongside the banks of the River Darwen.
(3) RIVER DARWEN – the word Darwen is derived from a Celtic word namely Derwent which means an oak river.
(4) LIVESEY – this word is derived from the term “Leofs Island” which means an area of drier ground above a wetter river valley floor.
In the period 800-1000 A.D. areas west of the Pennines had valleys which contained large areas of wetlands alongside rivers and streams with higher moorlands, wooden sloped hill sides and extensive cleared land from early cultivation, By the end of the 11th. Century places such as Blackburn, Livesey and Darwen had emerged as distinctive communities which included Ewood and Fernhurst.
FAMILIES WHO CONTROLLED EWOOD AND FERNHURST AREAS EARLY DEVELOPMENT
(a) The original Saxon land owners acquired the areas of Nether/Lower Darwen by a Royal Grant and chose a settlement site not in the centre of the area but on the northern side of Fernhurst as it was at the foot of a hill that provided shelter. It was also close to the clear waters of the River Darwen which contained good fish stocks. The Lord of the Manor developed a Corn Mill within the area powered by a ”goyt” (a channel of water e.g. a mill- race) that operated a water wheel. This was situated in the Ewood area close to where Ewood Mill was later sited at the bottom of Livesey Branch Road. Originally the lord’s tenancy farmers owed him (suit and sake) which meant he ground their corn at his mill and then took a percentage of any profit they made from selling it. The Lord who owned the mill was now living in a manor house in nearby Fernhurst.
(b) In Norman times Nether Darwen was held together with Walton-le- Dale by ROBERT BANASTRE who was the Lord of Newton, for the service of one knight’s fee. After Robert Banastre’s family the area was divided between three other families who controlled it for almost 400 years, namely the ARDANS, the BRADSHAWS and the TALBOTS.
(c) SIR THOMAS TALBOT of Bashall who died in 1499 was Lord of the Manor of Nether Darwen on payment of a two shilling and six pence rent. His eldest son EDMUND succeeded him and his sixth son GILBERT lived in the original manor house at Fernhurst where he died in 1547. Gilbert was apparently simple-minded so his father placed him in the manor house along with the tenants who rented the house. The tenants from 1523 were JAMES and THOMAS LIVESEY from a branch of the LIVESEY family of the nearby Livesey area and the Livesey Hall. RICHARD LYVESAYE probably the son of JAMES was taxed for lands at Nether Darwen in 1570 and appears as a freeholder up to 1600.
(d) By 1598, Thomas Talbot had sold his manor including Fernhurst and Ewood areas to THOMAS WALMSLEY (Judge Walmsley) therefore the tenants of Fernhurst Manor House (the Livesey family) had to leave having lived there through the reigns of Henry V111, Mary, Elizabeth and James 1st. By the end of the 17th. Century, Fernhurst Manor House an ancient timbered structure was becoming decayed with age and though it escaped any real damage during the Civil Wars was now beyond repair. As a result, the house was re-built more solidly of stone with an extension created on its east side many years later. A stone panel on the front wall above the entrance porch had the inscription B 1700 W; the initials being those of BARTHOLMEW WALMSLEY , the squire of Dunkenhalgh, who, at that time owned the manor estate but died the following year 1701/2.
This picture shows Fernhurst Manor House/Hall/Farm displaying the central porch with the panel above.
(e) Prior to the re-building of the manor house, ADAM SANDERSON had become the tenant of the house and lands as a yeoman farmer of some means, having moved here so he could combine farming and trading in local domestic textiles which outsiders learnt were becoming profitable. By 1750, Blackburn and Darwen were already noted for their textile industry via the Domestic Textile System with merchants (Chapmen) buying raw cotton, wool and flax which they stored in warehouses and was then taken out to local cottage workers who spun it into thread. The thread was passed on to hand loom weavers, also working in their homes, to weave into cloth which the Chapman bought (paid by piece) then arranged for it to be bleached before selling it on. Inventions during the 18th. Century speeded up the textile process initially with spinning and then later with the weaving process which resulted in the industry moving into large factories. Adam Sanderson was also described as a Chapman during his stay at Fernhurst, and, when he died in 1706, he was buried in Blackburn Parish Churchyard.
(f) Adam’s son, RICHARD SANDERSON, followed him as a tenant at Fernhurst and he was also described as a Chapman and Yeoman Farmer. During the time Richard and his sons WILLIAM and ADAM SANDERSON were at Fernhurst Manor House it was a favourite calling and lodging place for Non-Conformist Ministers, and also, a meeting place for their ruling Elders and Decons. The Sandersons’ were amongst a group of important laymen who supported local Non-Conformists from local churches and dispensed homely hospitality to their pastors in Lower Darwen and Tockholes as they were situated centrally from them. Richard Sanderson died in 1729 and passed on the tenancy to his eldest son WILLIAM.
(g) WILLIAM SANDERSON was the last Sanderson tenant at Fernhurst, and, with the other sons of Richard Sanderson, he started a bleaching and calico business at Ewood owning bleach and print works there which preceded the cotton spinning mill built later on the same site. An ADAM SANDERSON who died in 1757, aged 50 years, had a son, also called ADAM, who in 1778, was described as a Chapman alongside a RICHARD and GEORGE SANDERSON. The Bleach and Print Works at Ewood were advertised to be let by private contract in the Blackburn Mail of the 12th. February, 1812 along with the manor house, the Corn mill, several Print, Dry and Bleach Houses, Sheds, Barns and Stable with 54 acres of meadow/pasture land including reservoirs, sluices and rights of water adjoining the manor house now in occupation by a SAMUEL SHAW. Also put up for sale were printing blocks, utensils, tables and wash wheels used in the business together with farming utensils. The business was sited in an ideal position alongside the Turnpike Road from Blackburn to Darwen/Bolton and also located close to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and local coal pits.
(h) In 1828, MESSRS. WILLIAM AND ROBERT TURNER purchased the Fernhurst Estate from the PETRES of Dunkenhalgh, namely GEORGE PETRE of Bell House, Essex by deed. They already had extensive Calico Printing Works in nearby Mill Hill at their Stakes Hall Estate and continued in business for another 30 years. They had extended the man-made mill race from Ewood to operate their Mill Hill works at an earlier date (see my MILL HILL ARTICLE). They developed calico printing at Ewood in extended works helped by a good water supply via the mill race with a 40 foot drop in the water run from Lower Darwen Bridge to operate a water wheel and then to create steam power later using local coal. Coal mined from local seams on the northern edge of the Lancashire Coalfield is recognised in parish registers via “Coliers or Colegithers” working round the edge of Blackburn especially at Coal Pit Moor to the east of Ewood. Mining in these early days was via shafts cut down into the upper coal seams and then by tunnels inside the seams, all hand cut and the coal removed in baskets raised to the surface by ropes up the shafts. The estate the Turners purchased also included 186 acres of farmland around Fernhurst Manor Farm and several other farms including one at Bog Height whose tenants gave three days labour twice a year at shearing and harvest times in return for meat and drink at the manor farm.
(i) During 1846, the estate was sold from the will of William Turner to ECCLES SHORROCK a large textile industry magnate of Lower Darwen and the estate now consisting of 238 acres was divided into three farms namely Fernhurst, Bank Hey and Craven.
OTHER FAMILIES WITH CONNECTIONS TO EWOOD AND FERNHURST
1. An early family of Nether Darwen was that of the WADDINGTONS; RAUF WADDINGTON was taxed to a king’s subsidy in 1523 and a ROBERT WADDINGTON also paid the subsidy in 1570. Rauf Waddington died in 1597 with one messuage, 6 acres of land, 6 acres of meadow and 10 acres of pasture held of the Queen (Elizabeth 1st.) in capite. The Waddington family then moved to Upper Darwen and out of this area.
2. Another family of the area were the HAWORTHS of Hawarth who settled there in the 1500’s and appear on the Subsidy Roll in 1523 when three Haworth’s are shown as head of families in the Lower Darwen area, namely, EDMOND, PETER and RICHARD who were all assessed by the subsidy. In 1583, LAWRENCE HAWORTH of Nether Darwen provided 20 shillings to the Parish Subscription specifically to be an endowment for Blackburn Grammar School as the family had relatives in Blackburn, one of which was an original school governor (RICHARD in 1567), and, at later dates, LAWRENCE and NICHOLAS HAWORTH were also the school’s governors.
3. The HOLDEN family of Ewood had a freehold there for several generations. THOMAS HOLDEN DE EWOOD, who lived during the reign of Henry V111, had a son and heir called WILLIAM who had lands in the area in 1523 taxed to a subsidy of the time, and, in 1524, also held the lands of a GEORGE ASTLEY. THOMAS HOLDEN who was classed as a Ewood gentleman was assessed for tax in the 1570 subsidy. WILLIAM HOLDEN (the son of Thomas), also a gentleman, was a free tenant of land in the area in 1585 when he held land in tenancy from JAMES LIVESEY by a messuage called Ewode in Lyvesey which contained 20 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow and 20 acres of pasture which he had inherited together with 2 acres of moss and 6 acres of waste in Livesey. William died in 1593, and, in 1607, RANDOLF HOLDEN of Eywood was involved in a ward-ship case at the Chancery Court of Lancashire. RALF HOLDEN of Ewood, the brother of William, was shown as a freeholder in 1600 and there was also a RANDAL HOLDEN shown in the tax subsidy of 1611 who died in 1623. Ralf Holden an Eawood gentleman was involved in conveying a messuage and tenement called Eawood lying in Livesey to LAWRENCE AINSWORTH, a Tockholes gentleman, and, CHRISTOPHER MARSDEN, a yeoman farmer from Okenhurste for the benefit of WILLIAM MARSDEN and his wife MARIA. This was made up of a large dairy, a buttery, a milk-house with a kitchen and bedrooms above the north end of the house, a “Turffe” House, a Shippon, a large barn, half a dove-house, half the gardens, a stockyard and an orchard. Also included were lands from Eawood Foulde to More Yate and Little Hey with moorland nearest the house with freedom to wash and fetch water at the stream and broad water (river). WILLIAM HOLDEN died in 1630, in Charles 1st reign, when he paid a year’s rent of 12d for the messuage called Ewode with 10 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow, 3 acres of pasture together with a 3rd. part of 4 messuages and 6 acres of land in Livesey. There was also a THOMAS HOLDEN of Eawood who was a yeoman farmer who died in 1662, but, after this date, all the Holdens moved into Livesey from Ewood mostly as yeomen farmers but also as Chapmen at a later date when textiles became more important.EARLY FEATURES OF EWOOD AND FERNHURST AREAS
TRANSPORT – Early roads through the area from Livesey, Blackburn and Darwen areas were merely tracks which were often difficult to traverse especially in winter.
This is an early 1720 map by Whittaker of the area showing the main track routes from Blackburn
including the route later developed into a Turnpike (Bolton Road) through Ewood and Hernhirst (Fernhurst) to Darwen and Bolton
The course of Sandy Lane to Lower or Nether Darwen and up to Tockholes can also be traced. In 1797, plans were made for a new improved Turnpike Road from Blackburn, through Darwen to Bolton. This was mainly to attract potential buyers of cotton mills, calico printing shops and coal mines close to the route, as a more solid road would be a considerable advantage in the movement of heavy goods especially coal, lime and raw cotton. The trustees approved the first section of the road from Turton to Little Bolton which covered about four and a half miles. Another short section of the route was developed later from the Golden Cup Inn in Nether Darwen down Craven Brow to Ewood with the rest of the journey still to be covered on the old highway/tracks. A section through Darwen and over Bull Hill was completed in 1799 after objections held up the work. Other problems revolved from the need for side gates at junctions to stop people avoiding tolls at main toll points/gates. By the summer of 1800, the whole route was completed with the trustees in debt to the sum of £6000. In 1810, the Turnpike Act was renewed to increase revenue by increasing toll prices as its debts had risen to £10,894. However, over time the debt continued to rise up to £31,000. By 1830, tolls had to be increased again especially as overweight loads were escaping the full charges, so, new weighing machines were introduced and Toll Keepers told to be more vigilant/less lenient with the charges. Samuel Jessop the Keeper at Ewood Toll House had several problems referred to the law due to complaints regarding his toll charges. The Toll Bar at Ewood was sited near the Albion Hotel. Sometime between 1866 and the 1880’s this Toll Bar was abolished as the area became incorporated into the Borough of Blackburn with new steam tram-cars introduced between Blackburn and Darwen along a new system of tram tracks. The old saddle-back bridge over the River Darwen at Ewood was also replaced by a new wider bridge more level with Bolton Road to better accommodate the tram lines and pedestrians.
The first railway line from Blackburn to Preston was opened in 1846 which became the East Lancashire Railway Company, and later, in 1848, the Blackburn/Darwen/Bolton line passing through the Ewood/Fernhurst area was opened, and, by the 1850’s, the network became the Lancashire – Yorkshire Railway Company. These developments resulted in a reduced use of the Leeds Liverpool Canal over time.
OTHER EARLY HISTORICAL FEATURES OF THE EWOOD AND FERNHURST AREAS.
(A) The Ewood area of the past appears to have been included in the Livesey Township, and, the Fox and Hounds Inn is supposed to have originally been the private home of the people who owned and farmed the Ewood estate land which ran down to the River Darwen. Old lanes and tracks through the area have long disappeared and prior to the original hump-back Ewood bridge being constructed, early travellers had to ford the river close to where the Aqueduct Inn was built. A lane from the ford and later bridge led up from the River Darwen to the Ash Pad area which ran from lower Livesey in front of the Fox and Hounds creating a boundary line between Livesey and Lower Darwen Townships. This winding and dangerous track led up to what became Livesey Branch Road and was later replaced with a straighter road (Albion Road) connecting Bolton and Livesey Branch Roads. The early tracks were used by pack-horses carrying goods in paniers across the area, especially lime and coal. Another old lane ran alongside what later became Bolton road and then turned into Fernhurst Farm and places close to it.
(B) In the past, amateur gardeners from Ewood became renowned for winning prizes at horticultural shows both locally and, at more distant places in West Lancashire. Visitors to their plots in Ewood included Lords and Country Gentlemen who admired their cultivation techniques and wondered how they achieved such good results with fruit, vegetables and flowers via intensive cultivation. Ewood's natural situation was sheltered from cold winds, being sited on the valley floor, and this helped the gardeners greatly. As the area had originally been swampy with occasional floods from the River Darwen dropping sand, gravel and loose vegetation onto the land near the river banks there developed a rich loamy and fertile soil which was also helped by the rough herbage growing along the river banks rotting down over the years. The Leeds Liverpool Canal Embankment built across the River Darwen valley floor acted as a wind screen on the west side and the artificial man made mill- race built off the River Darwen to bring water to the Cotton Mill at Ewood and beyond in Mill Hill also created water vapour which fell on the land providing moisture during dry periods. Another factor was that in early days before the major industrial developments in the area, the air was cleaner and sunshine more direct which all aided plant growth. The garden plots were developed in sheltered nooks along the valley floor in the area close to the mill-race. Terraced houses built alongside Bolton Road opposite St. Bartholomew’s Church and School are sited on part of the ground formerly used as garden plots. At this time, there were trees lining both sides of Bolton Road from Ewood Mill to Cravens Brow.
(C) In the early 1790’s on the site of the original corn mill, JAMES HITCHEN built a small Textile Carding Mill worked by a small water wheel supplied by water from a stream running down from Bog Height. This was later taken over by ADAM SANDERSON who developed a Spinning and Carding factory there. In 1794, this was operated by E.J. and J. HAWORTH when it contained Spinning Mule Machines driven by hand. Subsequently, a Calico manufacturing and Bleach works were built at Ewood on the same site using water brought by the mill-race for power. This in turn was purchased by ROBERT and WILLIAM TURNER who for the next thirty years operated a large textile business here and in Mill Hill. In the 1830’s, the Turners enlarged Ewood textile Mill and installed Power Looms in new weaving sheds together with the Spinning Mules all powered by a water wheel. In 1843, the former printing shops were closed and used for spinning and weaving processes. At this time they also developed a mill lodge which was fed by the mill-race and provided back-up for the cotton mill during dry periods. The lodge also supplied piped water to their 59 cottages housing textile workers. By 1857, the Turners had cash-flow problems and sold Ewood Mill to Messrs. RATCLIFFE and STONES who went on to enlarge it to contain 450 looms and 23,600 spindles and continued to use the water wheel power source but also installed an additional boiler and an early Steam Engine.
(D) Ewood Aqueduct was a large stone built bridge which took the Leeds Liverpool Canal over the River Darwen being completed in 1816 as one of the last construction phases of the canal linking it to Blackburn centre. It was part of a huge earth embankment taking the canal across the River Darwen valley at the same level. In the early days a track ran under the aqueduct alongside the river from Mill Hill which later became Aqueduct Road which eventually ran over the top of the river which was covered in. The canal was an important early transport system for the first cotton mills which were usually built on or near its banks as it provided barge transport for heavy loads of coal and raw cotton and water for the mills steam power and finished goods could be dispatched along it to distant markets.
A sketch drawing of Ewood Aqueduct
(E) The use of the word “EWOOD” by its original natives varies from “Ee-wood” to
“Eawood” to “Th’eawood” and even “Yeawood”. Research shows most Blackburn people called it “Ee-wood and old natives “Th’owd”. Originally the hamlet of Ewood was called “Ewode” and then by various spellings indicated above. In 1573, it was described as “Heywood in Livesey”, and, in 1614, within a deed as “all those lands from the Eawoode Foulde”.
1848 Ordnance Survey map of Ewood and Fernhurst areas
This map clearly shows the two areas are predominantly rural at this time, being situated outside Blackburn and Darwen townships. The area consisted mostly of grassland much of which would be pasture of a variable quality, with wetter areas near the river together with the remnants of woodland, as the majority of earlier woodland had been removed for farming. The grassland on the higher slopes would be used for rearing sheep and the lower slopes and valley floor would be used by cattle. At this time, all the small settlement was located on the sheltered River Darwen valley floor or the lower slopes of the valley sides. Ewood had grown from isolated buildings to the earliest rows of terraced cottages built by the owners of Ewood Cotton Mill for their operatives. The owners of the mill, Robert and William Turner, operated various textile processes here, and, in Mill Hill, but, by 1848, had sold the Ewood Mill which was now using steam powered machines. Water from the man-made mill-race developed by the Turners and brought from the River Darwen helped create the steam power to drive the first mule spinning machines, and later, power looms for weaving. Also visible on the map, in nearby Lower Darwen, is the equally large THOMAS ECCLES Cotton Spinning Mill which was erected in 1774 and operated by water power first using Arkwright’s early spinning machines, and, by 1848, had developed its own mill lodge by the River Darwen and subsequently had machines running on steam power.
A sketch by Charles Haworth showing Lower Darwen bridge with Thomas Eccles Cotton Spinning Mill
behind with the river Darwen flowing below and Ewood/Blackburn areas in the distance.
In 1848, coal to create the steam power together with raw cotton would be brought into the area by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and via the newly built Blackburn to Bolton railway lines; goods were taken to suitable drop-off points and transported to the mills by horse and cart. Cotton spun in the mills would pass to merchants (Putters Out/Chapmen) who would then supply local hand loom weavers in outlying weavers cottages, including farm cottages as farm workers supplemented their earnings especially in winter by hand loom weaving with the “Putter Out” collecting the finished cloth and selling it on.
At this time, larger outlying buildings visible on the map including Fernhurst Hall, Top of the Croft, Lower Hill House, Longshaw, Hollin Bank, Lower Moor Gate Fold and Cravens would all be engaged in farming the land, mostly by pastoral farming to provide produce for the local population and, for the most part, were also involved in the early textile industry. The River Darwen can be seen to receive copious water supplies via streams running down both sides of its valley, and therefore, could supply the local inhabitants water needs; piped water supplies to most homes at this time were non-existent. During the winter period, heavier rainfall could cause areas near the river to become marshy/water-logged; the evidence of flood-gates on the Mill Race indicate that flooding could be a problem. Farm animals also required water supplies hence the visible small ponds, water troughs, springs and wells on farmland to provide for their needs. The existence of a small sand pit near the Aqueduct Inn indicates that increased building at this time required building materials helped by local supplies of stone, wood and clay together with an early brick-field business in nearby Mill Hill.
Local footpaths shown on the map indicate that movement by locals was mostly by foot, or, by horse, with a ford to cross the river Darwen close to Fernhurst Hall. The main Turn-Pike road from Blackburn centre to Darwen passed through the area with a new branch road to Lower Darwen and Livesey Branch Road proving links to Preston. All of these would have carried horse-drawn traffic with Toll-Houses, sited at strategic points, to collect fees (the Ewood Toll Point) shown on the map with the letters T.P. can be seen by the side of Bolton Road before you entered Ewood Settlement. Early Inns of this period included the Aqueduct Inn, Fox and Hounds Inn and the Golden Cup Inn, at the summit of Cravens Brow, usually having some stabling facilities to cater for passing trade. As mentioned earlier in the article, gardens were created in sheltered sites on the valley floor at Ewood and Fernhurst, run by local inhabitants between the river Darwen and the mill race, where vegetables, fruit, flowers and shrubs provided food for the local people. The Ewood Aqueduct (named Darwen Aqueduct in 1848) was completed in 1816 and carried the Leeds Liverpool Canal across the valley into Blackburn. By 1848, Fernhurst Hall, sited close to the mill race and the Turnpike Road was a large detached building with two wings some of which were used to house farm animals and for storing hay. The two buildings sited close by would probably be farm cottages for its workers.
The original textile mill terraced cottages were not built to a good standard, having been built quickly to house mill operatives at Ewood, and, by the time of the Blackburn Improvement Bill of 1879, they were used as evidence to to support the bill as an example of poor housing conditions. Waste accumulated in narrow ginnels between the houses was often several feet deep (mostly consisting of ash from coal fires together with oyster shells, as oysters were a cheap staple diet for the working classes). Many of these early properties shared privies (toilets) sited in outside back areas if they existed at all. Outside toilet tubs were emptied by night-soil men into their carts, if the properties were on their system, with others left to their own ways, leading to health hazards.
This 1879 view of a narrow ginnel between Ewood Cottages with visible waste
was typical and Ewood Mill can be seen close by in the background.
Another 1879 view of the rear area known as the “Ash Pan” behind terraced properties
on Bolton Road and Livesey Branch Road with Ewood Mill clearly visible in the background.
This land later became a car park for vehicles visiting Blackburn Rovers home games.
By 1900, most privies had been removed with improved sanitation systems installed and many older stone cottages at the bottom of Livesey Branch Road close to Ewood Mill demolished and replaced by brick-built terraced properties.
1891 Ordnance Survey Map of Ewood and Fernhurst areas
In the forty-three years since 1848 this area, sited in the River Darwen valley, shows great changes to its landscape as it entered the Victorian period, by which time, it had been incorporated into Blackburn Borough which had grown outwards, enlarging its suburbs. One major change was the large increase of the textile industry, powered by the Industrial revolution as steam powered spinning machines and power weaving looms were now widely used in large textile mills and domestic textiles had largely disappeared. As a result, Ewood Mill had greatly increased in size especially in the 1860’s when it was operated by Ratcliffe and Stones with weaving sheds added to the original spinning mill to use both processes on site.
This modern picture shows the large brick built frontage of Ewood Mill alongside Bolton Road.
Another older image of Ewood Mill which shows the extensive low weaving sheds with the higher buildings (three storeys) being the older spinning mill. The tall mill chimney was common at this time being evidence of the coal fired boilers used to create steam to drive the machinery.
During the same period a huge three storey new spinning mill was built at Hollin Bank alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal which provided easy access for heavy materials such as coal and raw cotton brought by barges and unloaded into the mills canal side loading bay. Other supplies came via Bolton road as the mill was on a site by it and also close to Bolton Road Railway Sidings. By 1891, it had also added some weaving sheds. Another large cotton spinning mill with some weaving sheds was also constructed in the Ewood area alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal with its own large canal loading bay. This mill was called Albion Mill with its distinctive clock face on the side of the large spinning mill overlooking the lower Ewood ‘Ash- Pan’ area through which the mill-race ran to Mill Hill and had its own mill pond close by. Also in view on the map is a new and later built weaving mill built close to the mill-race in Mill Hill called Albert Mill (named after Queen Victoria’s husband). Another industrial development located close to Lower Darwen, on the edge of Fernhurst, was the Scotshaw Brook Paper Mill sited alongside the River Darwen from which it could obtain the water supplies. It could also receive the coal supplies it needed for steam power to run its machinery from the nearby railway sidings. By this time, there had been a large increase in demand from Victorian’s for paper products e.g. newspapers, post cards, writing paper and paper for business administration.
As a consequence of the increased industrial activity, especially via the increased development of the textile industry, there was a large increase in workers required to operate machinery and keep them constantly running, often, in poor conditions. This involved a large increase in female operatives alongside children, who, by this time, were often part-timers as they also had to attend school for set periods. All this led to an increased population in the area with movement significantly from outlying rural areas where increased mechanisation on farmland reduced the number of workers required. As a result, there had been a tremendous growth of brick built terraced housing within the area which can be clearly seen on the 1891 map. This growth was mostly in linear developments along new streets and existing roads especially those with main transport links such as Bolton Road, and, using the flatter sites on the valley floor. By this time, different levels of the working class had evolved and terraced houses built on the River Darwen side of Bolton road were better built, larger and with more facilities e.g. bay front windows and small front gardens. A good example of these houses is in the Fernhurst area, alongside Bolton Road stretching to Cravens Brow.
This 1890 Victorian image of Bolton Road
With its original narrow entrance into Livesey Branch Road and the sign of T. Wilson Plumber displayed on the side of a property is typical of the time. Here along the left side of Bolton Road from the junction, mentioned above, is a long row of older terraced workers cottages stretching towards Ewood Bridge. On the right side of Bolton Road can be seen newer improved terraced houses with front gardens but no front bay windows. Many of the terraced properties were rented from the textile mill owners of the area. Three young Victorian children are in view in the foreground with a young boy pushing a child in a hand-cart in typical dress of the day. Also in view, is a cyclist (now a popular mode of transport for the masses) with a horse and cart moving in the background. The mill chimneys in view are those of Mill Hill (left) and Hollin Bank Mill (right). Also visible are tramlines, as steam trams operated from Blackburn to Darwen along Bolton Road and were heavily used by the locals as a cheap mode of transport. Other items visible are ornate gas lamp standards along with tram line standard posts and the tram lines themselves in the cobbled road.
Another Victorian view along Bolton Road
Where the road enters the Ewood area with a cabin alongside the road displaying adverts of the day before, a Victorian glass fronted shop and a long row of garden fronted brick built terraced houses. On the right side of the road fenced off is part of the ‘Ash-Pan’ area (today a car park and travellers site) and the newly built Albion Hotel alongside the new access link road (Albion Road) running up to Livesey Branch Road. The tall iron standard posts on either side of the road other than street lights have been erected to take the new electric tram lines which would soon be operated. The new hotel was evidence of the need for local hostelries with the increased population in the area.
This further Victorian image along Bolton Road
Shows Ewood leading towards the Fernhurst area beyond Ewood Mill. In view on the right is a long row of glass fronted shops which provided services for the daily needs of this area’s growing population, especially foodstuffs. On the left, is a long row of newly created brick built mill terraced close to Ewood Park Football Ground. The cobbled road surface and wide pavements show improvements for both road users and pedestrians. On the left of the picture, in the distance, is the newly built St. Bartholomew’s Church and the deposits on the cobbled road surface indicate that horse drawn traffic is still important.
This Victorian image at the side of Bolton Road
Where it enters Ewood shows Derbyshire’s Cash Drapery store erected in 1886 as a large retail outlet. The building was demolished in 1923 when Bolton Road was widened along with the Aqueduct (Ewood) Bridge over the River Darwen.
The 1891 map displays large clusters of newly created terraced houses around the large Hollin Bank textile mill and alongside Livesey Branch Road, close to the enlarged Ewood textile mill and the newly built Albion textile mill. Another large cluster of newly built terraced houses has appeared opposite Ewood textile mill, on the other side of Bolton Road, on land that previously had been wooded or pasture land.
By 1891, Fernhurst Hall Farm had been enlarged due to increased buildings mainly due to newly invented steam powered farm machinery being in use which required housing. This meant that fewer farm workers were required as farm tasks could now be completed at a faster rate using machinery. This is also demonstrated by the further development of Craven’s Farm close to the original Craven’s Cottage now with its outbuildings.
During this period, the road surfaces had been improved (many now cobbled with sets) and widened especially Bolton Road. The main form of public transport was now by steam powered trams with tramlines now clearly visible along the whole Blackburn to Darwen route.
A Victorian view of a Blackburn Corporation tram being pulled by a steam powered engine at
Whitehall on the Darwen to Blackburn Tram route. Both of the tram vehicles are covered in adverts
relevant of the time with the driver and conductor standing alongside on the cobbled Bolton Road surface
Another Edwardian picture from 1902
Showing a Darwen Corporation Electric Tram bedecked with bunting for the coronation of the new King Edward V11, complete with driver and conductor, as these were now being introduced to take over from the steam trams.
It was shortly after 1891 when the new electrified trams came into use, using overhead power lines supported by ornate iron standard posts, and, other than these, horse-drawn traffic and cyclists were the norm. Due to significant terraced house building many more streets had been created, and, with houses alongside them, pavements were also created or demanded. At the same time, the Blackburn to Bolton Railway line had been expanded with an extensive goods yard to cater for the needs of nearby industrial concerns together with an engine house.
On the industrial front, the 1891 map also shows a huge growth in sand and clay pit developments due mainly to the large demand for local building materials. These are visible to the east of the River Darwen and close to the railway line and new railway sidings. Pits are also shown in nearby Mill Hill. Extensive woodland areas have been removed alongside the River Darwen and Ewood Mill/Bolton Road areas to make way for workers terraced houses. As to be expected, there were now fewer footpaths due to the efficient and cheap public transport now on offer and the growth of cycling by the masses.
Sporting development in the area came about first with a large sports ground being established at Ewood in 1882 around a grass area with athletics and other sporting events staged there due to the large increase in the local population. At this time, it had no stands but a running track which was surrounded by a wooden fence with no external walls and sited on the flat floor of the River Darwen valley, close to the newly built terraced houses. In 1875, Association Football/Soccer was introduced to northern industrial area,s coming from various forms of football used by public schools and played by amateurs. As a consequence, Blackburn Rovers Football Club was formed in November 1875 when seventeen men met at the St. Leger Hotel in Blackburn. The men all came, mostly, from professional backgrounds with influence and financial backing; the club emerged from many other local football clubs to become the dominant one of the town. Its members decided to model the club colours on those of Old Malvenians (public school) who sported a quartered shirt but changed the green colour for that of a Cambridge Blue. Their first game was played at Church and reported in The Blackburn Times on the 18th. December 1875 with just four lines! At this time, the Rovers were little more than a sporting club for young gentlemen and had no ground to call their own, so, played away at other clubs who could host them. In the 1876/7 season, they bought a piece of farmland at Oozehead close to Preston New road near to St Silas Church with the backing of the towns influential business men to allow them to play games that season. However they had to use planks and turf to cover a cow-pit in the playing area. They also played games at Pleasington close to the Butlers Arms. This venue was then switched for Alexandra Meadows Cricket Ground which could hold larger numbers of spectators as the game's popularity with the masses grew. John Lewis of the Blackburn Rovers attended a meeting at the Volunteer Inn, Bromley Cross in September 1878 when the Lancashire Football Association was formed with twenty-three member clubs. In the same year, Blackburn Olympic Football Club was formed from the amalgamation of existing clubs called Black Star and James Street with the backing of Sidney Yates who had a local Iron Foundry. This meant the Rovers had a serious rival, and, in their first encounter lost. Blackburn Rovers began serious competitive football in the 1879/80 season and played in the newly formed Lancashire Cup and made their debut in the Football Association Cup. From 1879, the Rovers management began searching for better players from Scotland and increased the process by using ingenious methods to pay them illegally. This led to debates on introducing professional football into the existing amateur game. By 1880, crowds for key games were growing significantly and a game at Darwen, a fierce local rival, attracted 10,000 spectators as the working classes could now afford to pay small charges to watch games. In the 1881/2 season, the Rovers were claiming to be a premier team in England with progress and success in local cup competitions, and, at the same time, moving to a new ground at Leamington Street, which, like its previous grounds was rented for set periods. During this successful season, they won the Lancashire Cup defeating Blackburn Olympic in the final. They also reached the F.A. Cup final, facing the Old Etonians at the Kennington Oval, being the first provincial club to reach the final but lost by a narrow margin. This defeat was made worse, as the following season, Blackburn Olympic beat the Old Etonians in the final and brought the F.A. Cup back to Blackburn. However, in 1884, it was the Rovers turn to win the cup when they beat the Scottish club, Queens Park, who they went on to beat again, in the final of 1885. They won the cup again, in 1886, after a replay at Derby, beating West Bromwich Albion thus winning the cup three years in a row. In 1888, the Football League was formed, embracing professionalism, with twelve elite clubs, including the Rovers. Most of the clubs that formed this first league were from the North and Midlands and this new league introduced the demise of friendly games. The Rovers first match in the league was at the Leamington ground and was an exciting 5-5 draw against Accrington. In 1890, the Rovers won the F.A. Cup again, but, during the same year, the landlord of the Leamington Football Ground put up the rent, so, the Club decided to look for a new home. One was found in Ewood and a sum of £1000 was spent to update the Ewood Sports Ground. This ground was created in 1882 by four local tradesmen who spent the huge sum of £10,000 providing an arena for football, athletics, dog racing and trotting matches. The opening match played there was on 13th. September, 1890; the Rovers drew 0-0 with Accrington Stanley. Apparently, the Rovers had played four friendly matches previously on a site near Ewood Bridge. During the 1890/1 and 1891/2 seasons the Rovers had mixed fortunes, attaining respectable league positions with exciting cup runs to the semi-finals. Over the early years at Ewood Park there were no stands, with spectators held back behind wooden fences round the pitch. The teams changed in two wooden huts sited together with the Rovers door having their name printed on it with a lucky horse-shoe hung above the name.
This early view of a Primary school final played at Ewood Park in the 1905/6 season
Between Emmanuel and Audley Range schools shows the Emmanuel team posing with officials in front of the changing rooms. The left hand door of the first changing room has Rovers printed on it with strictly private printed above and the lucky horse shoe hanging above the door. The changing rooms also had split glass windows looking out onto the pitch.
By 1890, the Ewood and Fernhurst area required improved educational facilities as they had grown out of existing provisions which resulted in the building of Ewood Board School by the local authority. This large Victorian building, later named St. Bartholomew’s Primary Schoo,l was built on a site adjoining where St. Bartholomew’s Church was built later alongside Bolton road just beyond Ewood Park. The school had its own play areas with a reception class and older boys and girls sections. It had links to St. Bartholomew’s earlier Christian Mission and was used for a well- attended Sunday school, and also, held mission services in its hall. The mission was overseen by the vicars of Christ Church, All Saints Church and St. Cuthbert’s Church in Darwen.
This Victorian image shows a group of primary school children
In dress of the day outside the newly built Board School in 1890 on Bolton Road.
The inns shown on the earlier map, namely the Fox and Hounds and the Golden Cup had developed to cope with the rising population. The Fox and Hounds sited at the lower end of Livesey Branch Road alongside the new link road to Bolton Road called Albion Road was adjacent to Ewood Mill and was a low two storey building.
This modern image shows the inn
Which is attached to a short row of terraced houses, named Ewood, and was the original settlement of the Ewood area. The three properties attached to it are interesting with the first a three storey property with an upper bedroom being an oddity of the row, with the end three properties clearly built at a different period/time.
This image shows the row of properties attached to the Fox and Hounds
with the street sign of Ewood displayed on the wall which shows
where the true and original centre of Ewood is situated
The other original hostelry of 1848 namely the Aqueduct Inn sited by the River Darwen is missing from the 1891 map as it was demolished during the work to widen Ewood Bridge. It was re-built later with a distinctive dome on its frontage opposite the Ewood cinema that was also built later.
A more modern view of the newly built (Edwardian) Aqueduct Inn on Bolton Road
close to Ewood centre with its ornate upper frontage
In 1884, the Ewood and Hollin Bank Conservative Club was established’ first called just Hollin Bank Conservative Club sited alongside Bolton Road above the Empire Cinema site. This illustrates how important politics had become by this date with voting freedoms for males and with the growing population of the area due to the rise of the Textile industry here. It provided a valuable outlet similar to churches for social activities for local workers affiliated to the party such as snooker, billiards, darts, running a football team and offering bar facilities.
This modern image shows the clubs site on Bolton Road
Below the shops sporting a large upper bay window offering views down on the Ewood area.
During this period as you moved through the Fernhurst area along Bolton Road rising up Craven’s Brow there were trees in view on both sides of the road.
This Edwardian image shows the tree lined Cravens Brow
Held behind stone walls with the distinctive tram lines in the centre and some newly built terraced houses alongside Bolton Road between Branch Road and Sandy Lane junctions.
The 1913 O.S. Map of The Ewood and Fernhurst areas
The map shows some significant changes that have occurred during the last twenty-two years through the Edwardian and early Georgian Periods to a time just before the Great War of 1914-1918. On the industrial front, there has been three more textile mills built in the area on former green-field sites. One of these, in Lower Darwen, just outside the Fernhurst area, was called Unity Mill with the others being Salisbury and Fernhurst Mills; all brick built weaving mills with large weaving shed facilities. This was a time when the textile trade had reached its zenith before being hit badly by the impending Great War. Fernhurst mill was a red-brick weaving shed with a two storey warehouse built on the banks of the River Darwen for a good water supply to provide steam power and sited on Nuttall Street. It was built by Lawrence Cotton in 1906/7 with 891 looms operating when at full capacity. The mill was designed to operate the Northrop Automatic Steam Powered Looms which required roof pillars being widely spaced to create broader alleys by comparison to those mills operating Lancashire looms. However, the looms did not prove effective so they were sold back to the Northrop Loom Company in Blackburn during the war when the Northrop factory was being used for war production and used for exports. Lawrence Cotton learned his trade with Robert Hopwood and Sons and started up with his brother in 1893 when they took over the Armenia Mill, subsequently going on to run the Lower Hollin Bank and Appleby Street Mills, all in Blackburn. However Lawrence ran Fernhurst Mill on his own and became Mayor of Blackburn in 1917/18, and again, in 1920/21. He also inherited textile mills in Swansea, Chorley and Whittle-le-Woods from his uncle, James Nuttall Boothman. By the start of the 1st. World War, he controlled 600 looms and 70,000 spindles, and, at the end of the war, was prominent in finding work for disabled ex-service men and he also visited many Blackburn mills in order to persuade their owners to take their quota of the men. Of the existing textile mills, Albion and Hollin Bank had both developed extensions to increase their weaving capacity with steam power still reigning supreme. The paper mill built on the Fernhurst/Lower Darwen boundary alongside Branch Road now specialised in coloured paper with new filter beds created near to the River Darwen. At the same time, the clay pits for brick making in Mill Hill had also expanded but the sand pits in the area were reduced as supplies became exhausted.
As industrial sites had expanded, so too, had terraced housing sites built around them, especially in the Hollin Bank area, and, by infilling empty sites along or near to Bolton Road especially close to Salisbury and Fernhurst Textile Mills and along Branch Road. Many of the terraced houses on Bolton Road were better built and had small front gardens and front bay windows. Other buildings of importance in the area included three new churches; the Church of the Saviour sited on the north-east border with Longshaw and two along Bolton Road. The first at the Bolton Road end of Kidder Street near the Rovers football ground was a chapel and the second in the Fernhurst area was the new St. Bartholomew’s Church, built adjacent to the junior school which had previously been home for the original manse from 1876. These new churches were required to meet the spiritual needs of the growing population at a time when church worship was deemed important and attracted large congregations. The building of St. Bartholomew’s Church commenced on St. Bartholomew’s Day in August 1909 as the school rooms could no longer cope with the rising number of worshipers. The first sod was cut by the Reverend C.C. Browitt on the ground where the chancel was erected. He informed the assembled people it would become an important but cheapest built church in the whole diocese as they intended to build it within their means. At the same time, he urged parish members to work hard for a bazaar to be held in November 1910 to raise finance to fit out the church appropriately. The estimated cost of the church building was £4000 and almost half of this had already been subscribed or promised with the church built to accommodate a congregation of 500. This Gothic styled church was designed by Preston architects who used local stone with an open timbered roof, furniture made of oak and it was expected to open in September 1910.
This is a sketch by the architects of the Gothic design for St. Bartholomew’s Church in 1909
By March 1912, the church had a memorial tower added to it due to a generous gift made by Miss. Mary Ann Lund and cost approximately £3000. The tower was built with four dialled clocks on each of its faces with two mechanical bells.
A photograph of the Lund Memorial Tower with two of its four clock faces visible
with religious statues built into alcoves on the corners of the tower and the church main entrance at its base
In 1919, after the First World War had ended, it had memorial gates fitted to its entrance in memory of church members whose lives were lost in the war.
A photograph taken from Bolton Road showing church members attending the opening ceremony
of the opening of the memorial gates which also shows the side
of St Bartholomew’s School and terraced houses beyond.
An Edwardian/Georgian view of Bolton Road with St. Bartholomew’s Church and School
To the right and terraced houses and shops leading from Fernhurst to Ewood in the background, many with attendant small front gardens.
Other significant new buildings erected by 1913 included the large Victorian/Edwardian Fernhurst Hotel which offered accommodation and function rooms. It was situated on the mill-race side of Bolton Road on a large site.
A modern view of the frontage of the brick built Fernhurst Hotel
with its ornate gables, tall chimneys and covering three floors
Another new public house erected by 1913 was the Albion Hotel, built at the junction of Albion Road and Bolton Road. Albion Road was created by linking Livesey Branch Road to Bolton Road close to Ewood Bridge at a time when road traffic had increased. These new public houses now meant the area’s population was served by four establishments together with the Conservative Club. Another significant addition to the areas sky-line was the erection of the Empire Electric Theatre which became one of the earliest cinemas in the Blackburn area. The theatre cost £1400 to build on land owned by Elma Yerburgh, daughter of Daniel Thwaites the second, who inherited the brewery in1888. Founding members of the Theatre were Ferdinand Caton of Catterall Street, Livesey Branch Road and Christopher Hope of Downham Street, Wensley Fold who signed the lease for the 970 square yard section of land with a rent of £12-2s-6d. Within a year, three more directors from similar humble backgrounds joined the founders, namely Henry Duckworth, Benjamin Meadowcroft- Hall and Henry Ainsworth. It opened in the 1910’s as a cinema, adjacent to Bolton Road and Aqueduct Road that led from Mill Hill at the side of the River Darwen which, at a later date, created a court case when it damaged the river bank wall behind the cinema with the Corporation made to pay for repairs. The Empire Cinema was one of a dozen cinemas opened in the Blackburn area as films developed. These early cinemas were very popular as they were affordable for most people and regarded as wholesome entertainment. At the time of its opening, films were silent but audiences would often react to the scenes and a pianist would be used to add to their drama. As watching films for long periods was thought to damage the eyes, variety acts were booked for added attractions, for example, Tom Florence who was a clog dancer even though he had only one leg!, Peter Rhodes was a singing miner and Leonard Clarke who, as young boy, entertained as a club and sword swinger! The first advert for the Electric Theatre appeared in September 1912 boasting of a new film called “Mysteries in Paris”. Most silent films of the period lasted for about one hour and a quarter.
An Edwardian view of the Empire Theatre with Ewood Aqueduct in the background
together with a textile mill chimney and Ewood Bridge and Conservative Club alongside
it on Bolton Road. The cinema is displaying an advert for the latest film called “Desert Gold”
This later 1920’s view of the cinema shows it now has an added veranda around
the entrances to protect film goers, with a Blackburn Electric tram passing down
Bolton Road and an early car exiting from Aqueduct Road at the side of the cinema
Another significant change had now occurred at Ewood Park, the home of Blackburn Rovers; their success on the field led to increased crowds, and therefore, ground developments had to accommodate both standing and seated supporters within three new stands built on three sides of the ground. During the 1890’s, however, the standard of football declined, and, at the end of the 1897/8 season the team were in a relegation place of the 1st Division. Fate helped the club from an unlikely source, namely their rivals, Burnley F.C., who proposed that the 1st division be enlarged which resulted in the Rovers staying in the division. The arrival of the great footballer, Bob Crompton, to the Rovers defence along with new footballers, led to an improvement in their form but, in the early 1900’s, the team again flirted with relegation. On the 28th. March 1905, Lawrence Cotton, a local textile magnate was elevated to club chairman, and, using his business acumen, set about a programme of upgrading Ewood Park facilities (similar to a modern day Jack Walker). In 1905, the Darwen End with a capacity for 12,000 standing spectators was covered at a cost of £1650, and, in 1906, the Nuttall Street Stand was completed, opening on New Year’s Day 1907. His programme continued raising the ground’s capacity to 40,000 and he also signed a number of key players, including forwards Wattie Aitkenhead and Eddie Latheron, together with a defender, Billy Davies, to work with Bob Crompton. This led to the team attaining top finishes in the league and a cup semi-final in 1910. During the 1910/11 season the Rovers broke the British transfer record with a fee of £1800 paid for Jock Simpson an outside right and subsequently became 1st Division Champions in the 1911/12 season. This success due to Lawrence Cotton’s financial backing led to increased gate receipts rising from £7185 the previous season to £9432 in the Championship season. The Rovers chased the Championship again in 1913 but suffered from injuries but again broke the transfer record paying £2000 for Danny Shea from West Ham United and eventually retained the Championship in the 1913/14 season and stood at the pinnacle of English League Football. During this season a new double-decker stand estimated to cost £7000 was constructed on the Riverside accommodating 7000 seated and 9000 standing spectators and by the time all ground improvements were completed its total capacity rose to 70,866. Rover’s progress was then brought to a halt by the 1914-18 Great War as players were called up and lost to the team.
The new Nuttall Street Stand
A sepia picture showing the Rovers team in the 1909/10 season with the Nuttall Street Stand in the background
Back Row – Walter Woods (Groundsman), Ellis Crompton, Jimmy Ashcroft, Billy Garbutt, Jimmy Heywood.
Third Row – Robert Middleton (Secretary), Ben Proctor, Hugh Stevenson, Bob Crompton, Tom Griffiths, Albert Walmsley, Billy Bradshaw, Bob Holmes (Trainer), T.D. Leaver (Director).
Second Row – Richard (Dick) Wombell, Tommy Suttie, Wattie Aitkenhead, Johnny Orr, William Cameron.
Front Row – Ernest Bracegirdle, Billy Davies, Eddie Latheron.
A picture showing the Rovers team in the 1910/11 season with the newly built
Riverside Stand to the right and the Blackburn End open stepped terraces rising in the background.
The Riverside stand had a double tier added in 1913.
Back Row – Robert Middleton (Secretary), Percy Smith, Albert Walmsley, Billy Garbutt, Jimmy Ashcroft, Hugh Stevenson, Bob Crompton, Wattie Aitkenhead, Bob Holmes (Trainer)
Middle Row – Tommie Suttie, William Cameron, Arthur Cowell, Billy Bradshaw, James Ferguson
Front Row – Ellis Crompton, Eddie Latheron, Johnny Orr, Billy Davies, Walter Anthony
A scene from a local hotel after the 1913/14 season Championship
This picture from the 1913/14 season shows Bob Crompton leading the Rovers players out onto the pitch
It is noticeable in the forward Nuttall Street Stand area there was not one female in view, and, virtually all the male supporters were wearing flat caps typical of the working classes of the day. Sadly, many of these men would be dead within four years and buried in France as a consequence of the Great War.
By 1913, a number of new streets had been created to house the new terraced property in the area and Albion Road had been straightened. Road transport at this time had increased with both steam powered and petrol driven vehicles and less horse drawn traffic. At the end of this period, the earliest petrol driven cars had been introduced for the well-off members of society and some trucks.
This action picture shows a Royal Mail Truck that had been travelling down
Bolton Road but unfortunately had lost a wheel causing it to crash into an electric tram standard in 1916
Railways in the area were unchanged but travel by tram had been upgraded fully to using electricity using overhead power lines held up by electric standard posts. This led to more trams and significantly increased passenger numbers.
This picture shows a Blackburn single decker electric tram leaving Darwen on its way to
Blackburn centre with local dignitaries on board and spectators viewing its maiden journey
On Rovers match days many special electric trams were laid on to take supporters from Blackburn and Darwen areas to Ewood Park. Eventually, Kidder Street behind the grounds Blackburn End became a tram terminus with a link line off Bolton Road.
This image shows a tram entering Kidder Street on match day using the link line
with an automated electric point controller in view along with a police officer
controlling events as spectators hurry past on their way to the match
A 1920’s view of the Kidder Street Tram Terminus with tram specials parked
up during the match with the corner of the Blackburn End in the picture
On the rural scene at this time little had changed to the farming areas apart from the loss of valley pasture land for new terraced housing areas. By now, there was more farm mechanisation but horse power was still widely used.
The 1956 Ordnance Survey Map of Ewood and Fernhurst areas
The above map shows that in the 43 years since 1913 there had been significant changes in the areas over the period covering the two World Wars. Evidence of this is the significant increase in new housing areas on the outside edges of the area with the lower parts of the Local Authority post 2nd World War housing estate at the Shadsworth side and in the Mill Hill areas. This new type of housing was mostly semi-detached Council houses built to house people displaced from condemned older terraced properties in the Borough sited in better quality more rural areas complete with gardens. Within the Ewood and Fernhurst areas new semi-detached private houses had been built off Livesey Branch Road above Ewood Mill on a former green-field site with a few detached properties also built off Cravens Brow including a vicarage.
There was little change on the industrial front apart from small extensions at Albion and Fernhurst Mills together with a new unit built alongside Albion Road which produced healds and reeds for the textile trade. By now the textile industry was feeling the threat from overseas competition and therefore having to adapt into producing more varied textile products which required more skill including industrial textiles and clothing products. Mill machinery was now operated by electricity and had received many improvements to meet the changing needs of the day.
This 1923 advert for Fernhurst Mill shows that it is now producing cotton brocades,
fancies, sateens and silks as it had diversified production to be competitive
This late 1950’s view of the Fernhurst Mill entrance was taken from Nuttall Street
and shows the cobbled court-yard and more modern vehicles
By now the Fernhurst Mill had been taken over by the Birtwistle Textile group which was a feature of the period when many mills were taken over by larger manufacturers in order to survive. However, by 1951, Birtwistles had disposed of the mill which was unoccupied for a few years before being taken over in 1956 by Redmayne and Isherwood who were cotton waste processors. The Mill later became part of the Carrington Viyella Yarn Company.
A typical view in the weaving shed at Ewood Mill in 1957 when looms were solely driven by
electricity and as in the past mostly operated by females.
A 1948 view of an operative working a taping machine at Ewood Mill
Since 1913, the map shows there had been no increase in new roads but increased streets for new housing areas. By now, motorised traffic especially cars and lorries had greatly increased from the 1920’s as post war prosperity especially due to increased wages after the 2nd World War allowed greater private car ownership aided by much improved mechanisation in the production of vehicles. All commercial traffic was now by roads with the canal rarely used and railways mostly moving only very bulky items and relying more on passenger transport. Railway ownership in the area had changed with the track now operated by the London Midland Company. Trams which had been so important up to the 2nd World War were still in use but lost out to motorised buses creating very congested main roads.
A great mixture of traffic on Bolton Road as trams, buses vans and cars all fight for space in the early 1950’s
An open topped tram car on Bolton Road followed by a van as it neared Ewood
This coloured image shows a more modern tram looking more like a bus
alongside an older tram at the terminus at the top of Craven’s Brow.
Tram accidents like those of motor vehicles were quite common and often reported in the local news.
On the 20th. September 1941 a tram accident occurred where the driver lost his life.
The tram had been travelling to Darwen along Bolton Road but at the junction with Kidder Street jumped the points causing it to turn into Kidder Street and topple over. The 24 passengers and conductor managed to crawl out via the stairway and upper windows to safety. The picture shows the police attending with a recovery vehicle alongside.
Increased traffic problems in the Ewood area along Bolton Road during Rovers home matches led to the widening of Ewood Bridge in 1925.
This image shows the widening of Ewood Iron Bridge during construction
With the Aqueduct Inn, now missing, as the road width was increased from 45 to 65 feet along with a footpath of 25 feet to provide more safety to pedestrians on their way to the Rovers. These bridge changes caused the moving of the Aqueduct Inn to a new site further up from its original one.
This late 1950’s early 1960’s view shows the completed bridge and footpath together with the new
Aqueduct Inn on the right side of the road beyond the bridge
Another bottleneck remaining at this time was this narrow original junction where
Livesey Branch Road met Bolton Road at the side of Ewood Mill
also visible in the image are old original terraced cottages soon to be demolished. By now, the new Albion Road link from Livesey Branch Road to Bolton Road had helped to take pressure off this junction.
Since 1913, Blackburn Rovers ended the final season of peacetime football after the 1st World War in third place within the First Division. By the summer of 1915, the Football League replaced the normal league structure with two regional sections but Rovers directors, aware of local problems, suspended their football activities for the 1915/16 season. As conscription for the 1st World War was introduced, the directors arranged a couple of friendly matches. They then joined the regional competition but, by then, many players had gone to war and were in short demand therefore standards generally dropped. During the war, one of Rovers star players, Eddie Latheron was killed and several other survivors could no longer play such as Wattie Aitkenhead and Jock Simpson; others such as Bob Crompton had to retire by 1920 due to their age. In 1919, Lawrence Cotton stepped down as chairman of the club and the 1919/20 season saw a period of re-construction as the club brought in new players. In 1922, the club directors decided to employ a full time manager for the first time and chose the experienced Jack Carr. Despite showing indifferent form over the season, the Rovers reached the semi-final when they beat local club Blackpool at Ewood with a Sid Puddefoot goal in front of a 60,011 crowd! By the end of 1926, Bob Crompton the former club captain took over as manager, and, by the 1927/28 season, the Rovers had reached Wembley again to face the much fancied Huddersfield Town who were also chasing the 1st division title. To the surprise of many, the Rovers had a shock 3-1 triumph to capture the trophy.
A view of the Rovers 1928 F. A. Cup winning side with their manager and dignitaries.
Back row left to right – Mr. J.W. Walsh (chairman), Mr. R. Crompton (director and manager), T. Mitchell, A. Campbell, Mr. J. Eddleston (director), W. Rankin, j. Crawford, Counsellor J.H.Chadburn (director), J.Hutton, R. Roxburgh, H. Jones, M. Atherton (trainer), P. Holland, Mr. A. Barrit (secretary).
Front Row – G. Thornwell, S. Puddefoot, J. Roscamp, H. Healless, T. McLean, A. Rigby.
The financial rewards of this cup run together with money gained from transfers allowed the club to erect a concrete safety wall round the pitch and replace the Riverside Stand roof. Huge crowds attending matches of the day included 62,522 when the Rovers played Bolton Wanderers in the 1928/9 season F.A.Cup. These massive crowds with increased motorised traffic caused great congestion round the ground.
This 1920’s view shows the Corporation car-park off Albion Road behind Bolton Road’s
terraced houses in the days of early coaches, motor cars and bicycles.
The car-park is still used today on match days for buses and coaches
The early 1930’s were difficult for the club as trade depression left little money for football and the team suffered through a lack of new players and reduced gate receipts. As the club continued to fail the club supporters became depressed and the club were finally relegated to Division 2 in the 1935/6 season and little improvement followed. Bob Crompton who had been sacked was eventually persuaded to return and soon rejuvenated the team to win the 2nd Division Championship in the 1938/9 season.
Blackburn Rovers Championship winning team 1939
During the 2nd. World War period from 1939-45 a variety of guest professional players stationed near Blackburn turned out for the club. In the 1939/40 season, a team of mostly Rovers players managed to reach the war cup final but lost to West Ham United. During the war years, Bob Crompton collapsed and died watching a Rovers game with Reg Taylor taking over as manager before Eddie Hopwood took over in 1946. By 1948, Jack Bruton, a former Rovers player was installed as club manager after the club had again been relegated from Division 1. Later, as club managers and players came and went with little improvement the team just avoided another relegation to Division 3. By 1953, the Rovers had made Johnny Carey club manager who had been a Manchester United stalwart in his playing days. He developed a more attacking style of football that attracted larger crowds with many more goals being scored and promotion back to the 1st Division a reality.
Blackburn Rovers 1954/5 football team
The 1956 O.S. Map shows that Ewood Park ground was now completely covered with stand roofs including the all-standing Blackburn End Terrace.
Since 1913, St. Bartholomew’s Church had developed its own parish and its Junior School was flourishing.
A view of the very well stocked Reception Classroom with its teacher and children in 1935
There is a giant rocking horse, two see-saws, dolls, building blocks, numerous toys, doll prams and a super slide. Although there are many toys the three year olds were actually being taught mathematical fractions at such an early age using paper houses that could be folded in half, quarters and eighths!!
At the Empire Theatre in Ewood patriotic films were being shown during the 1st World War, and, by the 1930’s, the first “Talkie” films had been introduced. In 1946, the cinema was sold to the Northern Theatre Company for £13,000 and, by 1957, had become an Essoldo cinema.
Farming by 1956 was now mostly operated by diesel engine tractors but, as in the past, was still dominated by pastoral farming. However, the map shows an area behind Ewood Mills which is divided into numerous smaller units which could indicate more specialised arable or allotment use. A similar area is shown east of Salisbury Mill on the opposite side of the River Darwen. Some farmland had been lost yet again for housing development in the area. There was also a large area of new allotment gardens developed near Fernhurst Mill as post- war terraced house occupants without gardens could now grow their own fruit and vegetables.
The 1956 map also shows the former sand pits in the area were no longer used and Mill Hill’s clay pits were greatly reduced.
Both Ewood and Fernhurst areas had benefitted from the early 1900’s from the development of Blackburn Royal Infirmary which was a large medical facility sited in the Hollin Bank area just beyond Ewood giving local inhabitants easy access to its facilities.
This is an early 1900’s view of Blackburn and East Lancashire Infirmary site taken from Bolton Road
A 2019 Adapted Street Map Of Ewood And Fernhurst With Street Sizes Exagerated To Show Developments In The Areas
During the 63 years since 1956 the areas had seen major changes with their transformation from being dominated by the textile industry to one being predominantly a suburban housing area especially in the 2000’s.
This air photograph of Ewood Park and the textile mills on either side of it is a vista that has since completely changed
The only industries remaining today are on a small scale providing services including shops such as hairdressers, newsagents and fast food on Bolton road to local garages and vehicle repair units. Additionally, a small retail park has been established on the site of the former Ewood Mill that now contains a McDonald’s outlet and two small supermarkets namely Aldi and Iceland with large car parking facilities. The new Ewood Park complex developed during the Jack Walker era includes a new ground roughly on the site of the old one and now offers conference, catering, store, fitness, gym, training facilities and extensive car parking. This huge complex covers the original football ground and two textile sites that were on either side of it originally.
Today, the only true public house remaining is the Fox and Hounds (although currently closed awaiting new tenants and due to re-open in September 2021). The Golden Cup just outside the areas boundary still operates. The former Aqueduct Inn is now a bicycle shop, the Albion Hotel has been developed into a business unit and the Fernhurst Hotel has been transformed into a travel lodge with catering facilities.
All the original textile mills have now been demolished including the ones already mentioned namely Ewood, Salesbury and Fernhurst mills, additionally Hollin Bank Mill site was initially used for a garage and supermarket (Kwick-Save) which has itself been demolished for a modern flat/apartment development with a modern Texaco Garage alongside Bolton Road. Albion Mill has also been demolished more recently; it survived for a time as a sports centre but has now had its site developed into £12.5 million extra-care facility for the elderly which will provide 109 beds including 50 extra care apartments, 31 en-suite rooms for intermediate care, 24 dementia apartments and 4 rehabilitation apartments . The facilities include a community hub to provide community activities for residents and the wider community. This new development will also take overspill patients from Blackburn Hospital and help free up beds from long stay patients.
The new Albion Mill Development which will open in August 2021
Albert Mill in nearby Mill Hill has also been demolished and the site redeveloped into a small housing estate.
The Ewood Park site was developed to meet Premiership Football needs although the club are presently in the Championship. Since 1956, the Riverside Stand was first demolished in the 1987/88 season due to fire safety regulations as it was mostly wooden and closed since 1985 leaving the terraces available below which still exist in the new ground.
A view of the original Riverside Stand in 1987
Jack Walker, then a club director, provided the steel work free of charge to develop a new stadium especially when he took complete control of the club in 1991. On the field, the club had achieved promotion back to the 1st Division in 1958 with their manager Johnny Carey and made the F.A. Cup semi-finals. The Rovers achieved promotion at Charlton Athletics ground in front of 56,435 spectators and the club also won the F.A. Youth Cup. In 1960, the club reached the F.A. Cup final after an exciting run in front of huge crowds but lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, during the 1965/6 season, the team were relegated back to the 2nd Division and between 1966 and 1974 had little success being again relegated to the 3rd Division. In 1975, under manager, Gordon Lee, they won promotion back to the 2nd Division. Things changed dramatically in 1991 when Jack Walker took control and invested heavily in the club, first using manager, Don Mackay, and then attracting Kenny Dalglesh who began to attract top footballers to the club, starting the Walker Revolution. By May 1992, the club had won the 2nd Division play-off final at Wembley, beating Leicester City 1-0 to join the new Premiership Division (old 1st division) as a founding member. This led to the club attracting more star players and chasing the Premiership League title, and, at the same time, the ground was transformed on three sides apart from the original Riverside terrace with modern all-seater facilities and executive boxes and varied club facilities to hold 30,263 spectators.
A view of the new Jack Walker Stadium completed in 1994
The club then went on to win the Premiership Title in 1995, the first and only town team to achieve this honour!
The title winning Rovers team for the Premiership Title in 1995
However, during the 2000’s the club were once again relegated to the Championship. The club were taken over by the Venky family from India after Jack Walkers death and continue to fund the club.
A view of the original entrance to Ewood Park on Nuttall Street
The largest change visible on the 2019 street map is the large modern housing estate built on former farmland on the valley sides west of Bolton Road namely the former Fernhurst Hall farmland. This now joins on to another new housing estate built off Cravens Brow further up Bolton Road and also extends to Livesey branch Road housing and surrounds Fernhurst Wood. These housing areas are all built off a labrynth of named closes, ways, drives and cul-de-sacs and consist of predominantly modern detached houses with a few semi-detached and access roads linked to Bolton Road, with the Fernhurst access passing the modernised remains of the original Fernhurst Farm building. A new Primary School has been built to cater for the increased population educational needs. The Shadsworth Council Estate, partly shown on the 1956 map, has had some new private housing developments added to it taking up former open spaces. However, the former sand pit areas on this side of the River Darwen have been protected by planning and offer designated footpath retreats from the built up areas. A large new housing development on Albion Street in the form of flats/apartments has been completed next to the original Albion Textile Mill site. The former open ground between Ewood Aqueduct and Albion Road below the former Albion Mill site has been developed by Blackburn Council into a purpose built Caravan Park for the Travelling Community with facilities and is always fully occupied. This is surrounded by large car parks used for Rovers home games and Ewood Theatre visitors. In the 1960’s/1970’s this area was the site used for the visiting Easter Fair attractions before they were moved to Witton Park.
A picture of the Easter Fair attractions held at Ewood
Many of the original terraced houses that still survive today have had a huge variety of alterations, upgrades and additions to modernise their appearance and create more room by their owners often with the help of Local Authority grants.
Major changes to the areas transport system since 1956 include the upgrade of all existing road surfaces to cope with the huge rise in modernised road traffic as most people now own/lease cars and the majority of goods are transported by goods vehicles. Albion Road has been widened to take all by-pass traffic from Bolton Road as the section leading to Ewood Park is closed and open only to residents. All major roads now have a variety of safety features added to them for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Aqueduct Road that runs into Hollin Bank Street and then Spring Lane now forms a major road link to Preston Old and New Roads. Bolton road now has a major road junction just beyond the Golden Cup Inn which provides access to the M65 motorway which links to Preston and Burnley and the M6/M61 motorways. The Blackburn Bolton railway is now mostly used by commuter passenger traffic.
By 2019/20, the only open green spaces in this large built-up area are Fernhurst Wood, the old sand pit area now grassed over and Green Park on the boundary with Mill Hill which contains bowling greens, footpaths and shrubbery adjacent to the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
The course of the River Darwen in modern times has been restricted especially from Ewood Bridge through Mill Hill to reduce the chance of flooding. Shops still exist amongst the older terraced property along Bolton Road although their retail function has long since changed from their original use as most provisions are now purchased from large supermarkets.
Thwaites Ewood Empire Theatre exists today; it was brought back to life due to the efforts of members who raised funds to help upgrade it and gave up time to complete some of the work over a period of years. Eventually, the theatre attracted funding from the Local Authority and Thwaites Brewery which led to it developing modern staging and upgraded accommodation. The theatre now attracts a variety of acts and also provides in-house productions. Attached to the theatre is a modern dance studio developed from former garage buildings with a small car park.
Despite the many modern changes to the area, it is today a popular urban area as it has easy access to other areas for commuting to work, contains a variety of property to suit all tastes and is within easy reach of more rural areas such as Tockholes, Witton Park and Darwen Moor all of which offer open areas for recreation.
Finally, Blackburn with Darwen has a local plan for future development for the period 2018-2037. This shows there are plans to allow more housing sites east of the River Darwen and Bolton Road areas to add to the existing ones below the Shadsworth Estate and further up the valley sides beyond the existing Fernhurst/Cravens Brow Estates, further urbanising the whole area.