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Home of Ewood Park, where Blackburn Rovers Football Club, one of the founding members of the Premier League, plays, Blackburn is a Lancashire town, located north of the West Pennine Moors, and in close proximity to Manchester and Preston. Benefitting from being a stone’s throw to both the city and the countryside, Blackburn has its roots in the textile industry. A former mill town, it experienced a real boom with the industrialisation and expansion of the manufacturing industries. In fact, the inventor of the spinning jenny, James Hargreaves, was a weaver in Oswaldtwistle on the outskirts of the town.
The construction of a railway line in 1846 brought opportunities for expansion, and in the subsequent decades, many new mills were constructed. However, the transfer from the cottage industry to power-looms in factories led to high rates of unemployment, the town being over-dependent on the cotton industry, which began to fall into decline from the mid-20th century. As a result, Blackburn faced some real challenges including economic deprivation and housing issues in the years that followed.
Since then, Blackburn has undergone many changing faces. It has become somewhat of a hub for brewing companies – Daniel Thwaites & Co was established here in 1807 and is still in business today in the town centre. Local produce is also at its heart, with Lancashire cheeses and home-reared meats available to purchase at Blackburn Market, which is open six days a week (Monday to Saturday). Aside from Thwaites Brewery, other major employers in Blackburn include Blackburn College, BAE Systems, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, and the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. There are also plenty of opportunities at The Mall Blackburn, with over 130 shops on site, and the numerous retail parks on the edge of the town.
The town centre is currently undergoing a revamp, with renovations of key public places, notably the Church Street area, with its Grade II listed Waterloo Pavilions, complemented by street furniture and sculptures. Other notable landmarks that are well-worth a look include Blackburn Cathedral, Queen Victoria’s statue, and the Italian renaissance-style town hall – a must for anyone with an interest in 19th century architecture!
Getting to and from Blackburn is easy thanks to the M65 motorway, which links the town to the national motorway network, connecting to junction nine of the M61 and junction 29 of the M6. Blackburn’s newly redeveloped railway station is served by Northern Services to Manchester Victoria Station, while there are also services travelling eastwards to Leeds, as well as westwards to Preston. Manchester Airport, the busiest airport in the UK outside London, is the neatest airport to Blackburn, being only 28 miles away.
Secondary education in Blackburn is provided by nine state-funded schools, along with a few special schools, independent schools and private Islamic schools. There are also two further education colleges, Blackburn College and St Mary’s College.
In terms of house prices, most property sales last year involved terraced properties, which sold for on average £90,148, while semi-detached properties fetched £139,676 and detached properties sold for £225,744. The overall average was around £138,587, which makes Blackburn an affordable place to live for many communities. The town has experienced high levels of immigration over the years, with people of ethnic backgrounds other than white British making up about a third of the population.