​ Joyce Walsh | Maureen Walsh | Eileen Whiston | Eric WhistonAnnie WildKathleen Williamson 
Eric Wilson | Mark WilsonMaureen Woodward 



Joyce Walsh

I was born on January 27th 1926. Named Joyce Cave Houghton, I had one brother Arnold Edward Houghton. We came to live in Cherry Tree when I was 3 years old where I attended Feniscowles Primary School.
 I have the old photograph of a Harvest Festival in the School Hall, with the Head Master, Mrs Hart, Miss R. Haythornthwaite, and one whose name I cannot remember. The Teacher of what they called the babies class in those days was Miss G. Haythornthwaite.   I am stood on the right, with blonde hair, white socks and ankle strap shoes.   They were happy days and I left there when I passed my 11 plus and went to The C of E Central School for Girls, commonly known as The Parish. It was situated in the Cathedral Grounds; the buildings still stand at the moment. I was not impressed by the building when I went at first having gone from a newer school at Feniscowles, but I soon got used to it.   There was a door between to the boys’ school where never the twain shall meet!!!!!!
I enjoyed my school days, we had good devoted teachers.We had to go to another building for needlework and P.E.  The cookery and woodwork (for boys)   was lower down in the Cathedral Grounds.   I was there when they started to extend the Cathedral and it was like a building site (with bones too).   My great joy was when the new School, St. Hilda’s Senior School was built, having beensaving money for bricks for donkey’s years.  It was a beautiful new school on King Street which is now St. Wilfrids School. I hope the pupils appreciate their new school as much as I enjoyed mine.   There was a Gym with ropes to climb and horses to jump over.   Not all the girls liked it I must say. We had an Assembly Hall and a yard to play netball etc. It was September 1939 when we went into the School, so from then on there were a lot of restrictions of course.  It did not bother me too much as I had good parents, who brought us up well and fed my brother as well as possible I think, often doing without themselves, which I would not realize at the time.
 I forgot to add that my daughter came to St. Hilda’s and was there when it went Co-Educational with St. Peter’s.   My three Grandsons went to St.Wilfrids. The youngest one still attends (now 17 years old). I have my School record beside me; I was not the most perfect pupil but did O.K. Now I am 81 and I came to Livesey Library and learned to use a computer on some of the courses. I now come to send E Mails to Canada U.S.A. and Australia 2 or 3 times a week

Maureen W​alsh

St Mary’s Primary School

The school was on Dean St. Blackburn just around the corner from the Catholic Church of St. Mary on Islington. It was a double storey building with the infants department on the ground floor and juniors upstairs. The head teachers were Notre Dame Nuns Sister Julie in charge of the infants and Sister Margaret of the juniors. I remember in the infants having a sleep in the afternoon on little wooden beds.
This photo is of the junior class in 1960. The teacher's name is Mrs. Barratt. I am 2nd from the right on the 2nd row from the top.

This is a photo of me aged 10 years.
Every year Catholic schools held a May procession when the statue of the Virgin Mary was crowned with a wreath of flowers by a girl chosen from the junior school. I was one of the maids of honour 2nd in on the 2nd row from the top. The statue was carried by the organisation of the Children of Mary. I remember going for school dinners up to All Saints on Bolton Rd. because our school had no catering facilities. Our playtime was in the street because that was our only playground.
By Maureen Walsh    
​Livesey Library 14/10/08

Eileen Whiston

I remember on September 1st 1946 the trams in Blackburn went on strike, I was 14 at the time and had gone down to the Boulevard to catch the tram to Ewood, as I was to be a bridesmaid at St. Bartholomew's Church.
As the buses had gone on strike also there was only one way to get to the wedding and that was to run part of the way and walk the rest. A taxi in those days was a luxury, something that never entered my head.
I arrived at the bride's home in time for the wedding and remember getting a right old telling off from the bride's mother. I remember thinking how unfair it was to be scolded through no fault of my own. However it didn’t stop me from enjoying the day. A day I shall always remember September 1st 1946 the day the buses and trams went on strike in Blackburn. My brother’s wedding day.

Eric Whiston

Memory Lane 1950
National Service for all young men aged eighteen was law unless they were serving an apprenticeship to a trade. Two years was the minimum length of service with the option of signing on for  three or more years extra. This made young boys into men by the time their service was completed and many got to see service overseas.
In my two years National Service I spent time in Germany, Japan and Korea, during the war with North and South Korea.
When I came home after the completion of my two years National Service I found  Blackburn town centre was just about to start  the long awaited regeneration building programme  and I was able to witness many changes being made .
Now in the year 2010 I am witnessing the scene all changing again with the building of the Blackburn new town centre, but this time on a much larger scale.

Annie Wi​ld

Annie Wild.  Nee:  Dewhurst,  3rd Feb 2007
One of my family has lived in the Revidge area for over 100 years.  My grandmother was left a widow in the flu epidemic in the early l900s losing husband and daughter, and had to take in washing to sustain her four other children.  My father was buried next to the youngest child.   Tom the eldest boy was killed in the l9l4/18 war and is buried at Popperinge in Belgium.  My aunts became dressmakers and my father George went to Manchester to train as a tailor and designer. He married in l930 and we lived in Swinton until 1940 when Manchester took the brunt of the blitz, so back to grandmas we all came.  My father was too old for the war and he was seconded to work on munitions.  He actually enjoyed the challenge being used to strict measurements.   I was transferred to St, Silas School but was very behind in my lessons having spent much time in the shelters at Swinton.  I was not able to take my scholarship and got a place at Blakey Moor girls’ school.   War had brought changes to schools.  St .Silas had been taken over as an emergency hospital and we were housed in Leamington Road Baptist church. Blakey moor school was also annexed and the girls were sent to the house on Preston New Road called Troy.
This had once been the home of a mill owner and taken over by the Education Department.  It stood in 36 acres of land and after experiencing the blitz seemed wonderful to me, and it was thanks to the Headmistress and staff that in the following years I was able  to progress. Troy was a beautiful old house though not fitted for 300 lively girls bouncing up the down the elegant staircase.  The gym was situated in the billiard room so our PT, was somewhat restricted to exercises and the vaulting horse, but with those lovely grounds who cared.
My grandmother used to tell me many tales of Blackburn in the early l900s. She lived in Dinckley Square, and Revidge was a quiet road with no houses from Preston New Road to Dukes Brow; she used to hang her washing out across what is now Revidge. She was born in Shropshire but came to Blackburn, sent by her father to keep her married sister company.  She went into service and became a lady’s maid to a mill owner family.  They had a summer residence at Samlesbury and grandma used  to walk to Blackburn on her day off to see her sister.  On certain days her boss used to take the horses and trap early into Blackburn to check the punctuality of the workers and grandma used to drive with him.  He parked the trap at Blakey moor and she had the job of taking it back to Samlesbury.  This was early morning but for it she had the day off and so once again walked to Blackburn to spend the day with her sister.  Walking back to Blackburn in the evening she would sometimes meet  men walking from Preston to Blackburn having been released that morning from Preston Prison.  She discovered that all they wanted was a match to light a “fag”.  Never once was she harmed.
She eventually married a local man who was the groomsman. Holidays were mainly local and photographs I have show “the boys” camping on Yellow Hills.  They could however dress quite smartly when the occasion arose.
Annie Rhodes Dewhurst.jpg

Annie Wild has a large collection of family photographs. This is just a small selection.
Above is Annie Rhodes Dewhurst. Below are shots of camping in the Yellow Hills, George Dewhurst, Grandma Dewhurst and a Sunday outing from St. Silas Church.
Camping Yellowhills.jpg    Camping Yellowhills2.jpg

George Dewhurst l900s.jpg    Grandma Dewhurst.jpg

Sunday outing St Silas.jpg 

Kathleen Williamson​​

Kathleen Williamson was born in Blackburn, but now lives in Caithness in Scotland. Here she shares some of her childhood memories.
I was born in Blackburn on June 19th, 1953.I lived in Hannah Street, which was knocked down to build Larkhill flats. We moved to Primrose Bank, not far away. I watched workmen build the Larkhill flats. I used to fill the workmen's billy cans with hot water for their cup of tea.
There were no mod cons then. I remember playing in Birley Street and Trinity Street and the ice cream man coming round on his horse and cart. His name was Bogganio. I also remember going to the pie shop in Trinity Street, for pies, peas and gravy for my brothers and sisters, my mam and dad and neighbours.
I went to Holy Trinity Church and Holy Trinity School. I use to cross the main road at Larkhill and on the corner of Regent Street and Larkhill was a tobacconist and sweet shop called Ramskills. That is where I got my father's Woodbines and other people's errands. Also my great grandmother's snuff. I watched old women with clogs and black shawls scrubbing their doorsteps and cleaning their windows.
I used to go up past St. Alban's Church, cross the road, past all the shops, past the Craven Heifer towards East Lancashire Coachbuilders, past that and down Hornby Street to my great grandmother's. A two up two down house with a big black fire range, gas mantles and no electricity .Concrete on the floors, the old mangle for the washing and the outside toilet, square in shape. Then coming back to return home, I crossed Whalley New Road and through what people called the cinder pad and on to Birley Street the other way.
I remember marching with a white dress, white shoes and socks in the church parades round the streets which are no longer there.
I also remember the rag and bone man collecting rags. In exchange he would give balloons. His name was Valdere. Later on in life I found out that he came from Darwen. I remember playing with a skipping rope and hula hoop. They were the only toys we had, not like today where they have computers, DVDs, videos etc. But we were happy I remember, and I am proud to be a Blackburnian. Most of all I remember the cobbles where we used to hop, skip and jump.
These are my Blackburn memories.

Eric W​ilson

Erica Johnson, Research Officer, Libraries, Information and Archives, Dumfries, has supplied this article about her father's War memories.
My father, Eric Wilson, was too old to be called up to serve in the Second World War, but he did war work at home. As well as his full time job, working in his father’s Scotch Drapers Business, he joined the Police War Reserves. Many Policemen volunteered to join up in the early days of the war, leaving police forces across the country undermanned. The Police War Reserves were given various police responsibilities for the duration of the war to make up the lack of manpower.
As a child, my father told me of some of his experiences in Blackburn at this time. The story I remember best is of the nights he spent stationed up on Billinge Hill on the edge of Blackburn. At the very top of the hill was a small hut, where he had a telephone, local maps and, presumably, binoculars. It was his job to watch over the town and alert the Air Raid Wardens if any lights were showing in the blackout. Using his knowledge of the town and his maps he would try to pinpoint the source of the light and direct the wardens to the right place, so that they could make sure it was extinguished. Also if any bombs fell on the town he would direct the Fire Brigade and the Warden to the site to fight the blaze.
Not that many bombs fell on Blackburn, so he said, but it was a target as there was a Munitions Factory in Blackburn. Dad said it was not the first target for the German Bombers; they would go to Liverpool Docks, Manchester and Preston Docks first, only attacking Blackburn if they hit all the targets they wanted there first. I do not know how true this was.
He did say the nights up there on Billinge Hill were long, cold and lonely, and after a full day’s work, knowing he was working again the next day, very tiring. He had vivid memories of seeing the glow in the sky from the fires caused by the bombs that had been dropped on Liverpool, Manchester and Preston, and the thought that people were dying there, in those fires, upset him.

Mark Wil​​son

Mark Wilson, student at Swansea University and former Library Assistant with Blackburn with Darwen Library and Information Service, recalls his Blackburn childhood.
Growing up in Blackburn, I used to think, wasn’t that great. I used to long to get away from it, from the area, which was one reason why I decided to go to Uni. in Wales. But having come to Wales, and last year living with a bunch of Southerners, I began to realise that Blackburn isn’t that bad.
I remember when I was younger, maybe early teens, and we, the whole street really, or rather all the young people on the street, in the warm summer months, would all play scatter somewhere on our street (a cul-de-sac). Sometimes it would be at a lamp post in the street, other times at a tree in our garden. We have 3 trees at the bottom of our garden, or rather we had at the time. Dad had put a rope across linking the three, but I could only ever climb one. On the other he put a rope ladder, and once, and only once, if memory serves me correctly, did I manage to get all the way across. When playing scatter once, in our garden, was the middle tree used, and whilst someone counted to 100 and everyone went to hide, no one thought of looking up the tree, on the ropes where someone was hiding (it was either Michael or Andrew our next door neighbour, I can’t remember which). Anyway, when the person counting had gone to look for us hiding, the person up the tree quietly waited until they everyone had been got, the touched the tree and shouted ‘Free All’ thus enabling us to all go free.
I think part of the reason I wasn’t keen on Blackburn was that there wasn’t an awful lot of stuff to do. Me and Dad used to help out on the paper caper on a Saturday, but this as not every week, and the most exciting thing that happened on that was when I got bitten by a dog and had to go to A & E to get it looked at, and to be honest, that wasn’t that exciting, and even if it was, I was in too much pain to notice.
When I was still at primary school, and this must’ve been in the early - mid nineties, it snowed, and pretty heavily too. It had snowed in the evening, and before going to bed I remember looking out at what seemed like blizzard conditions and looking at all the snow falling. The next morning I was up early to help Michael with his paper round, and opening the front door, I fell flat on my face, not realising there was a mound of snow outside the door up to my knee height. It was dark when we headed out, and I don’t remember much of the round itself, other than we went round Kentmere estate, I think. But school was shut that day, as the boiler was broken, something that only happened in total a couple of times, before they got a new one and it stopped breaking. We would listen to the radio, but I don’t think school was mentioned or if it was we didn’t hear it I don’t think. I remember Michael Dixon or his mum ringing up and asking/telling us about it. Anyway I think we went to school for some reason, but ended up at my aunty Mary’s (this may be another time the boiler was broken). But the canal was frozen, which was a novel experience, and we went to her house, she lived off Livesey Branch Road near the canal.
It’s only after moving away to go to university, that you actually realise that, no Blackburn is not perfect, far from it, but in all honesty, it’s not that bad. And I think I can appreciate it more now, especially since I’m a history student, and Blackburn is full of it.
There was a time my brother kicked me in the head (accidentally) as we were hiding in these concrete slab things on the playing field at the bottom of Feniscliffe Drive (it was my cousin’s confirmation/holy communion at the time). And another time when, at primary school I got stabbed in the head with a pen, and I had a little black dot in the centre of my forehead for months afterwards.
But also, there is Arts in the Park, first in Corporation park, and now in Witton Park, where bands and an orchestra (in my opinion the best night) play over the two days various tunes. The orchestra, always the last act on a Sunday night, play well known tunes like the Dambusters, they’ve played Star Trek theme tune before, Thunderbirds, last year they even played the Raiders march. They also play well known classical songs, and usually end with a rendition of Pomp and Circumstance, amongst others, before the fantastic firework display occurs. Usually, though not always, the weather is nice, and people lounge around listening to to the music in the afternoon, before being invigorated by the evening music. There are other events on during the days too, though I remember these less well.

Maureen Woo​​​dward

This  picture was taken in 1953 in the warehouse at  Ewood Mill. My first job on leaving Audley Modern Secondary School in 1948 was to train at Ewood as a Weaver. The tall man on the left in the picture was the Manager of the weaving shed . The 3rd man from left was Bill who managed the warehouse. The 4th,7th & 8th men were cloth overlookers. At the time the warehouse was decorated in red, white, & blue to celebrate our Queen's Coronation. At one end of the warehouse was a separate room known affectionately as " The Nursery" . This room housed about 12 looms & was run by a lovely lady with red curly hair known as Annie. She taught us young ones to weave & after a few weeks in there we were thrown out into the big wide weaving shed !  My "Tackler" ( the men who serviced our looms) was as I recall called Arthur Sumner, he scared the life out of me! Nevertheless his bark was worse than his bite & he was a softy really. I was hit on the top lip once by a "Flying Shuttle" & his response was " Hast tha swallowed any teeth lass?"  I went from the weaving shed to learn book-keeping in the warehouse with Bill who was a lovely man & I stayed for a short time prior to going into nursing. I hope that this picture & message might jog someone's memory although I doubt there are many of us old ones left now. I have many happy memories of my stint at the mill !  Maureen Woodward(nee Reucassel)
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