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Blackburn: A History

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Carnegie have produced an extremely high quality casebound book with almost 350 mono and coloured maps and photographs… This is a beautifully produced and illustrated history, one of a series of town histories from Carnegie and worthy of a place on the shelves of any library or book collection.
Alan Brewin, Local History Magazine (May/June 2008)

Description

In many northern towns such as Blackburn the industrial revolution changed everything. It is impossible to trace with certainty the precise date when the changes really began, but contemporaries started to take serious note of what was going on during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Canals, cotton mills, foundries, engineering works and mines all excited great interest, while the novel, cramped and inadequate living conditions during this early ‘heroic age’ of urban development provoked an equal measure of social and political concern.

Places such as Blackburn, which had slumbered through the centuries, or at most been just local markets towns or centres of local government or religion, suddenly and dramatically grew and changed during this industrial and urban revolution. The results were unplanned expansion of the built environment, and mass migration from country to town, rural to urban, agricultural to industrial. Just six or seven generations separates the town shown in a map of 1759 with that depicted by the Ordnance Survey in 1893, but they are, quite literally, a world apart. Superficially Blackburn’s experience was similar to that of many other places, yet many of the characteristics which came to be identified with the town were quite distinctive and different to those of towns not far away. An understanding of what really happened lies with the small ruling elite thrown up by the industrial revolution, an elite which shaped virtually every aspect of Blackburn – economic, political, social, cultural and religious. And the key to appreciating exactly why Blackburn has evolved into the town we know today lies in that crucial period of urbanisation between around 1750 and, say, 1914. During this period Blackburn became a cotton town, and was confident of its purpose in the world. In many northern towns such as Blackburn the industrial revolution changed everything. It is impossible to trace with certainty the precise date when the changes really began, but contemporaries started to take serious note of what was going on during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Canals, cotton mills, foundries, engineering works and mines all excited great interest, while the novel, cramped and inadequate living conditions during this early ‘heroic age’ of urban development provoked an equal measure of social and political concern.

When decline set in – absolute in the case of cotton, relative in the case of the town itself – it became harder to identify what Blackburn’s post-industrial role might be: as late as 1992 the author wrote, ‘Blackburn is finding it difficult to find a new raison d’être. It is still looking.’ Much has happened even since then, and regeneration has begun to transform, once more, the physical appearance and the economic and social nature of Blackburn. Now is a highly appropriate time to assess the true nature of Blackburn’s historical legacy.

  • Author: Derek Beattie
  • Binding: Hardback
  • ISBN: 978-1-85936-113-9
  • Pages: 368
  • Illustrations: nearly 350, mostly in full colour
  • Date of Publication: April 2007
  • Dimensions: 243 × 169 mm

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