Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Darwen Tower in Danger


DARWEN Tower needs urgent repair work, local historian Harold Heys has revealed.
He and a small group of Tower enthusiasts have been monitoring the state of the Grade II-Listed Tower in the past few weeks and they commissioned a professional survey to check it thoroughly.  
A second survey by engineering professionals was conducted a few days ago.
Major work will be necessary on the access to the top viewing platform.
The concrete landing and iron supports below the metal steps are in very poor condition and parts of it are in danger of breaking off and falling down the spiral stone steps.
Doors and windows are missing, some of the sandstone is cracked and little of the original cement pointing remains. It all needs repointing and the foundations need looking at.
Rainwater has been swilling down the inside stairs and there are cracks between the heavy steps around the base. Blackburn with Darwen Council have been kept fully in the picture and there has been some work recently on clearing the drains.
The tower was built in 1897-98 to mark the Freeing of the Moors and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
There have been two major renovations – in 1947 and some 25 years later after an appeal led by Cllr. Dr Bill Lees. Renovation work now is expected to take two years and is likely to cost a lot of money.
The WEC Group spent about £30,000 replacing the dome after it blew off a few years ago. The track to the Tower from Bold Venture is also in a poor state.
• The photos, taken by the investigation team, show (1) the ornate lintel above the entrance to the first viewing platform cracked and much of the pointing missing and (2) some of the gaps between the heavy steps around the base. Who knows what lies in the darkness below?

Monday, 27 November 2017

A great gift for Christmas

CHRISTMAS presents are always a nightmare – no, not receiving them, of course, but buying them – especially for Mum or Gran or Auntie Ethel out in Australia. Worry no further; Darwen Library have just the answer at their coffee morning on Saturday (Dec 2) from 10am.

Their solution? A pair of limited edition tea towels featuring Darwen Tower in scarlet and with a rectangular frame. They are being sold in elegant white bags with a Tower sticker on the front and come complete with red tissue paper for wrapping and a FREE Tower fridge magnet in the same design. The cost? Just a tenner.

Kath Farnworth, chairman of the Friends of Darwen Library, says: "We usually have some sort of attraction at our pre-Christmas coffee morning. Usually it's a local history book but this time we have gone for memorabilia. There's so little of it about and the tea-towels will make excellent presents."

They will be particularly cherished by Darwen folk who now live abroad. The bags are very light and postage won't be expensive. There will be about 70 bags for sale – until 12 noon – and if a few are left they will be available next week at the Library on Monday mornings (10 to 12) and at Darwen Heritage Centre at Holker House on Wednesdays from 10-12.30 and on Fridays from 10 to 3.30.

Says Kath: "Once they're gone - they're gone! They really are a one-off."

Saturday, 7 October 2017

No more Towers in time for Christmas, folks …

SORRY folks. No more models of Darwen Tower in time for your Christmas shopping!

The Friends of Darwen Tower had written a placatory, chatty letter to Darwen Town Council leader Roy Davies who had complained about some of the rough old models which they had abandoned being cleaned up and sold to eager Darweners. The FoDT had also forked out over £1,000 to get some more to sell.

All the models were sold within three hours and a wish-list of would-be purchasers quickly built up. The FoDT had hoped to knock out another 30 or 40 in time for the festive season. The whole town was looking forward to the chance of buying one.

So, to avoid prolonging the row with DTC – or at least with the new Coalition of LibDems and Tories led by Roy Davies and Kevin Connor – the Friends wrote suggesting that they spend their modest profit on sales of around £1,000 (less extensive work on cleaning, sanding, filling and painting) towards getting some more models made.

They also looked ahead to the Tower being cleaned and repointed – it needs it – and perhaps floodlit with an LED system.

The matter was discussed in the parish council's secretive "Part 2" meeting a few days ago and the Coalition pushed through a decision which has effectively knocked the Friends' idea of more models on the head.
The [edited] minute reads: Following reports of Towers being sold, the Friends of Darwen Tower had asked if the money from these towers could be used towards casting a further quantity to sell at Christmas, also to use funds to … repoint and maintain and light the tower.
The Coalition, who have their eyes on the modest profit, "agreed that no other casts can be made without the permission of the town council." And they are also flexing their muscles and asking for a financial action plan for the other "requests" (repointing and lighting).
The FoDT appear to be keeping a low profile after offering something of an olive branch. I'm told they will certainly not be going cap in hand to the parish council seeking permission to use the mould which the Friends discovered in a dark corner of a small foundry over Accy way. It had been there for over five years and would probably have been thrown out in a matter of weeks. And what plans the voluntary group have for the Tower will be discussed with the borough council and officers, not the parish council.
So, sorry, everyone. A small group of Friends and supporters had worked hard on the batch of models and everyone who was lucky enough to get one was thrilled. Will there be any more? Not now, I'm afraid. 
HARRY NUTTALL