​​​​​​​​​​​Doris Lofthouse | ​Ruby Leaver | Jos​ie Marsden | Elsie Matura | June McCann | Jean Murdey​​


Doris Lofthouse

3rd February 2007
My name is Doris Lofthouse nee Carver. I am 50 years old My earliest memory is of an accident I had when I was about 6 or 7 years old in 1962. I was playing with my friends near to where I lived. I lived in Fowler Street Darwen Lancs.We were playing near a tripe works. We were on the roof and I did not look where I was going and I fell through a sky light window. I fell about 30 or 40 feet to the floor. I landed between a tripe cutting machine and some ton weights. My friends went and told my mum and she got the emergency services out. The factory gates were locked with a padlock. They tried to get the owner to come and open the gates, but they could not get him at his house. The police and fire brigade had to squeeze through to get me out. They took me to my house, but when they were crossing the road a ball of flesh came out of my left knee. I was then taken the hospital,  unconscious at the time. The next thing I remember is riding a three wheeler bike around the ward. The story of my accident was the Lancashire Evening Telegraph. There is a photo of me in it, but I can not find it.
Darwen opening.jpg 
Darwen Library celebrated its Centenary on 27.5.08.Back in 1908 it was officially opened by Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist and philanthropist, who had given money for its construction. He declared it "a never to be forgotten day".
Darwen's oldest borrower shares some memories-
Early Memories of Darwen Library by Ruby Leaver   Born: 25/08/1912
In 1945 what is now the library theatre was then part of the original library, and the rooms there were hired out to community groups such as the Blood Donors.  Later in the 1960’s  the Darwen branch of the Towns Women’s Guild was set up there by Mrs Van Dyke and Mrs Nutter, to which I became a member, and are times which hold a lot of happy  memories  for me.
What is now the exhibition room upstairs was then the reading/quiet room where no-one was allowed to talk. I think you were only allowed to borrow two books at a time back then, but I didn’t really use the library until I was in my early twenties.
Below is a photograph of the Albert restaurant on Croft Street which my mother and her mother ran as joint owners and which we and my elder brother lived behind. This photograph was taken when I was only a few months old, and the restaurant was sadly demolished after the war.
Ruby also climbed up to Darwen Tower in 1997, to celebrate its Centenary.
JOSIE MARSDEN, 25/01/2007
Peg rugs
My dad used to cut old coats up to make these rugs. The coat was cut in strips about 6 inches long, 1 inch wide and he had a tool that looked like a potato peeler .He clipped one of these strips to it then he would start pegging the rug into a large piece of sacking .l can remember him doing this from when l was a little girl 1945 onwards but l think he had been doing this most of his life because that is what people did to get rid of their old clothes.
St Anne’s R/C School
My childhood was spent here.  Across the road was  St Paul’s in-between was a piece of spare land where all the children used to meet after school and  we used to shout  St  Anne’s pots and pans two for tuppence ha’ penny,  St Paul’s rubber balls two for tuppence ha’penny. This is just one of the games we used to play.  I had a lot of friends that went to this school.
West End Catholic Youth Club.
My teen years were spent here in an old building on Northgate where we used to go to rock and roll.
Glenside Pipe Band
l was a dancer with this band, we used to give displays of Scottish dancing at some of the big dances in Blackburn,  also we went on some of the Whit walks in other towns i.e. Rochdale being one of the biggest .
These were day trips to Blackpool. My mother made the sandwiches and she bought jugs of tea  from the stalls that where on the sea- front, we could sit outside these stalls  to eat our sandwiches or go on the beach and have a picnic.
Elsie Matura came into Blackburn Library earlier this year with video footage taken over 30 years ago. The video had been copied from cine film and contains many typical family scenes. Elsie wanted to know if we were interested in the film, and after viewing it, we picked out two pieces.
The first is footage of Elsie working at Imperial Mill with her colleagues:
The second is taken at Blackburn Railway Station and  Blackburn Boulevard. Notice the original Telegraph building (where Morrisons supermarket now stands):
Files can be played on Macintosh, Solaris and many handheld computers as well as Windows. If you do not already have it, you can download Windows Media Player for free. Please note that all current versions of Windows Media Player will play Windows Media 8 video files.
Many thanks to Elsie for allowing us to use this film and to Paul Hargreaves paul_h_79@hotmail.com for the video transfer.

June McCann

The Darwen Girls Choir.
I joined the choir in 1947 at 10 years old. Mrs Gertrude Kay was the Choir mistress, she was truly beautiful, just like a film star but very good at her job, strict but kind.
We practised three times a week, Thursday and Friday nights 7-9 pm. Also Sunday afternoons , after Sunday school of course.
We entered all the local competitions , Blackpool being the favourite one. There was quite some rivalry between our choir and them.  However I am glad to say we nearly always won.  I will never forget the choir winning the National Eisteddfod at Llangollen in Wales. Choirs from all over the country took part, it was very exciting.
We were treated like super stars . Our uniform was very pretty then, white dresses with red sashes although we graduated when older to black taffeta skirts and white blouses, very smart indeed.
June Mc Cann.

Jean Murdey

Jean Murdey, February 17 2007
1929 - I was born in Quaker Lane in a two up two down house with an outside toilet in the backyard, no hot water and no electricity.
We had gas lights. Some suspended from the ceiling, the gas controlled by a chain and lit with tapers. And some brackets on the wall provided extra light.
There was no gas upstairs so we took a candle when we went to bed.
In our living room /kitchen there was a large fire range with an oven and boiler to heat the water. All the family gathered in the kitchen to eat cook wash and even bath on a Friday night in a large tin bath.
There were very few cars on the road in those days.
Milk, coal, fish and vegetables were delivered by horse and cart and we children would collect the manure left by the horses to be used for my father’s plot “ allotment” and there was always fierce competition amongst local children for this.
1935 - I went to Lower Chapel School and Church. The minister was the Rev. Wilton Gardener and the headmistress was Miss Shorrock.
This was the Year that George the V had his Silver Jubilee . There were great celebrations with a party for the children in the new baths, followed by a trip to the Ritz Cinema. Each child was given a crepe Dorothy bag containing sweets .We also were given a mug with  the King and Queen wearing their crowns.
This year my sister and I had scarlet fever and were taken in a special ambulance to Bull Hill Hospital which was an isolation hospital in those days. We were given lots of barley water to drink and not allowed visitors.
When the time came to go home we were bathed and dressed in clothes which had been brought in by our father(we had to leave everything else behind) and taken home in a taxi - a first for us.
1936 - The year of the Coronation and again bunting was put at the bedroom window and pictures of the new King prominently displayed.
Coronation mugs were distributed and there was another party at the new baths.
One thing I remember from this time was the sound of clogs on the cobbled street and flags as the weavers made their way to and from work carrying their baskets and wearing shawls.
There were several mills in the area, Cotton Hall, Whips, two in Stanhope St. whose names I forget but I well remember seeing and hearing the workers.
My mother never worked in a mill having been brought up in Millom Cumberland where cotton mills were unknown. Girls from that area went into service, spending a year at a time away from home from a very early age.
My father's family travelled from Dawley in Shropshire to live and work in Barrow in Furness before moving to Darwen in the late 19th century. When I was a child father worked at Know Mill a calico printing woks in Entwistle.
Mother used to make dinners for some of the women mill workers to collect on their way home from work. She also baked all her own bread and cakes, jam, marmalade, Christmas cakes and puddings, mincemeat for the mince pies. In fact nothing was bought readymade apart from occasionally for a treat, a two-penny mixture of chips and peas from Gertie's chip shop on Cotton Hall St.
Children played in the street, games like hopscotch, top and whip and marbles.
Skipping ropes stretched across the road from lamppost to lamppost with all the children joining in and no fear of traffic because there wasn’t any.
In May we would make a maypole with a broom handle and two hoops from a butter barrel, courtesy of the Co-op, fastened together and secured on top then decorated with coloured paper and streamers.
What excitement going round the streets singing and dancing round the maypole and getting coppers for our efforts.
Every night in winter time as soon as it went dark, along came the lamplighter with a long pole which he used to pull the chain on the street lamps making a lovely light area where we children would gather till we were called in to bed. Happy days!!