Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Memories - help!

In days gone by Darwen had a phenomenal amount of entertainment venues, from dance halls - both afternoon and evenings , to umpteen cinemas, clubs and posh tea shops, were dotted around.

The craze to learn new dances, from The Black Bottom to The Quick Step, should jolt many happy memories.  For instance, the ICI club in Bridge Street had two separate floors for dancing, open during the day as well as evening.  Although small, there was a strict code of conduct enforced by the MC everywhere.  The 'ladies excuse me'  where young ladies who had set their eyes on a handsome young man would be given the chance to make the first approach - do you remember?

 Darwen baths where the 'large plunge' would give way to a dance floor headed by a fabulous group of musicians who entertained with  'big band' sound.  The Quick Step then progressed to The Jitterbug!   At the same time the now-demolished Coop in School Street - again boasting two ballrooms - competed with the Baths and then there was the ballroom situated over the old Woolworths building...help me out now, what was it called?

As if this wasn't enough, Darreners could choose to dance the night away at the ballroom above The Weavers Institute and I'm sure some of our senior citizens could add many more to the list mentioned.

If dancing didn't attract, then  a variety of cinemas beckoned.  From The Ritz where, from time to time, the resident cat would brush against your legs!  The Palladium (where The Bridgewater is now).  A demolished cinema was situated near Belgrave Carpets....it began with an 'O'....now what was it called?   The Savoy, at the Blackburn end of our town and again, I'm sure there were many more...help me out here!  Do you remember Saturday afternoon for the children?  The fabulous on-going (and exciting) thrillers, from  Flash Gordon to cowboys and indians, which always ended on a knife-edge and aggravatingly announced 'coming up next week'.   The foot stamping when the film broke.....so many memories.

Hungry dancers and cinema-goers often frequented Peacocks Pasties (just by Lidl,  where a row of cottages lined the main road years ago).  Civilized lines of folk (sometimes)  would form at all hours of the day and night.  Then there were the delicate tea shops - from the Coop where black-and-white uniformed waitresses would deliver mouth-watering cakes on three-tier stands to The Criterion - now where was that again?  There was also one across from the once-stolen Boer War lion...and I can't remember it for the life of me - but you will!


Page two:
Can't  let Christmas go by without mentioning the longed-for appearance of Father Christmas at The Co-op.  He was so busy, especially as he had to visit the working men's clubs where special Children's Christmas party throughout December were organized and woe betide any member who forgot to send their little ones to see him!

All kinds of entertainment was also on hand in every corner of  our town....again, there must be many memories of these out there.  True it was that, half way through a ballad, the club steward would often interrupt the singer and announce 'Pies 'ave cum!'.   And who remembers the Cranberry?   Frankie Vaughan, Shirley Bassey....yes we had it all.

Weren't they lucky all those years ago?  Let's hope there's going to be lots more entertainment to look forward to.  The ever-popular Bridgewater has already proved that if there's good nights to be had, then Darreners are up for it!  The soon-to-be opened Wetherspoons will shortly be showing a healthy profit.  Club owners eager for a return on their investment take note!

Let's hope this jogs your memories....come on you lot and  tell the youngsters what happened on those Saturday dance nights and the back rows of all those cinemas before they're lost in time....(on second thoughts, better be careful with your reminiscences!)..............Merry Christmas to you all!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Flood Watch surgery in Darwen

The borough’s Flood Watch project is holding another drop in surgery on Monday, November 11 in Darwen for residents to get information and advice on how best to prepare for possible future floods.
Running from 4 – 6pm at Reachout on Ash Grove, it is the latest community event in the flood awareness project which has been speaking to residents living in flood risk areas of Darwen since the beginning of October.
The surgery will offer residents access to information about flood risks in their area, help in developing a personal flood plan and the chance to join a community flood action group.
Flood Watch aims to prepare residents and businesses for possible future floods to help them mitigate against any potential damage to their properties.
The personal flood plan can help them minimise damage and make sure they know what to do and who to contact in the event of an emergency. It looks at essential issues such as vulnerable neighbours, keeping essential medicines dry in a flood and the safety of pets.
There will be other opportunities for residents to attend future drop-ins in November at Darwen Valley Community Centre and Darwen Children’s Centre. 
The borough is most at risk of flooding when there is excess rainfall causing the rivers and drainage systems to be overwhelmed. Flooding can happen at any time of year, very quickly and with little or no warning.
And climate change can increase flood risk as it makes rainfall more common, especially in the North West.
Councillor Maureen Bateson, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “The Flood Watch team are keen to hear from residents with concerns about flooding so they can advise on steps they can take to prepare. 
“These surgeries give residents the ideal opportunity to get helpful information and advice on how best to prepare to minimise the impact that potential floods can have”.
If anyone sees a blocked drain, flooded gully or flash flooding, report it immediately by calling (01254) 585921, or for more information about Flood Watch call one of our Flood Officers on: (01254) 222128.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Darwen Churches

There's no record of any chapel having been found earlier than 1577 when a writer describes 'Darwent Chappell' and later a drawing of 1598 illustrates 'Darcom Chap.' near the River Darwen.
Then a 1616 survey mentions  'Darwen Chappell' which also appears in a later in 1650.  The area is 'Chapels' as we know it today.  During that time there was a constant dispute between the Nonconformists of our town and the Vicar of Blackburn (sounds familiar doesn't it!).
In 1722 it was pulled down and the present Church of St. James was built there, standing on the site of the old Elizabethan chapel.  The rebuilding work was made possible by the congregation pulling together and donations were made over several years.
Pole Lane Chapel, opened in May 1793 was later demolished and a Methodist Society was formed in Over Darwen in that century following a visit from John Wesley to Darwen.  There were four Primitive Methodist Chapels used as temporary meeting places during 1825 and 1832.
Holy Trinity Church, built between 1827 and 1829 overlooks the town centre and in 1832 the Baptist Chapel in Bolton Road opened its doors.   Later, in 1874, St. Cuthbert's was founded.
Roman Catholics built a mission room on Radford Street in 1856 for both worshippers and learning which was succeeded by St. Joseph's opening its doors on Bolton Road in 1885.
As churches come and go a curious development can be seen at  the Railway Road Wesleyan Methodist church, founded in 1864 and closed in 1968 re-opening as a mini-supermarket.  Its present owners, a national pubs chain, is busy peeling back the building to its infancy.  Thankfully they're restoring the long-lost and beautiful stained glass windows in an attempt to remind drinkers of the future of its past.
Finally, history has highlighted the tenacity and sheer determination of Darreners - of all shapes, sizes and beliefs - to establish various places of worship in every corner of the town.
Carol Tapp

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Flood Watch survey Part 2

Blackburn with Darwen’s Flood Watch project is asking Darwen residents to complete a flooding survey to be in with the chance of winning a £10 Darwen Market voucher. 
The Flood Watch team are out and about in flood risk areas of Darwen this month where they will be speaking to residents about their experiences with flooding and steps they have taken to prepare.
Residents are being asked to complete a short survey which will establish how prepared residents and communities are for floods with a view to improve services and emergency response. 
Those who complete and return the survey will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win a Darwen Market voucher.
Flood risk areas of Blackburn will be surveyed in early 2014. 
The Flood Watch scheme was born after Blackburn with Darwen Council and Groundwork Pennine Lancashire bid for a share of a £5m pot funded by DEFRA to help communities combat the effects of flooding.
As part of the two year project, residents are being offered help in developing a flood plan so they can minimise damage and make sure they know what to do and who to contact in the event of an emergency. It looks at essential issues such as vulnerable neighbours, keeping essential medicines dry and the safety of pets.
It will also help them form support groups who will work within their community to help reduce the impact of possible future floods. 
The borough is most at risk of flooding when there is excess rainfall causing the rivers and drainage systems to be overwhelmed.  
Flooding can happen at any time of year, very quickly and with little or no warning.
Councillor Maureen Bateson, Executive Member for Regeneration said: “This survey is one of the first steps in the Flood Watch project that aims to establish how prepared our residents are for floods.
“Hopefully the findings from the survey will give the Flood Watch team an idea of the amount of residents in the borough who they can educate about ways they can be more resilient to flooding”.
The survey can be found on the Flood Watch page of the Council website: www.blackburn.gov.uk/floodwatch 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Darwen Short Stories: Where We've Been And where We're Going!

WHERE WE'VE BEEN AND WHERE WE'RE GOING!
(Carol Tapp)


Our town owes its existence to the structure of the Darwen Valley and takes us back thousands of years although officially it was given its name by an Act of Parliament in 1887.

The scenery, soil and climate together with a never-ending water supply proved an ideal setting for the cotton industry as well as paper-making. Local coal and clay provided work for hundreds of our ancestors who worked long hours in the quarries and brick and tile works, not to mention the mills. Darren proved a magnet for the money men who also saw to it that chimneys painted an industrial skyline, bringing country folk to our town.

However, evidence of either Neolithic men or their Celtic successors can be found when a stone circle set upright on a hill was discovered just south of Entwistle reservoir. The bad news is that an ignorant farmer removed all the stones to build a wall! The only stamp left of the perfect circle is one large and two small stones left standing upright.

Almost always the rivers and mountains in Britain owe their names to the Cymric (known as ancient Britons') dialect of the Celtic language. Their presence here is proved by our name. 'DWR' is a Cymric word meaning 'water' and 'GWYN' means 'clear-bright-sparkling' or 'the clear stream'.

Cymric remains were found in October 1864 by William Shorrock Ashton as the foundations of 'Ashleigh' were started. On careful examination he found ten interments. One was a heap of burnt bones and others were enclosed in urns. Although no coins or flint was found a bronze dagger was unearthed.

The Romans never settled in our valley, merely passing it by in their marches between Manchester and Ribchester. All this and more, hopefully, will be displayed in our own museum - sooner rather than later if recent reports are to be believed!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

#Floodwatch with BwD Council

Residents are being encouraged to prepare for any future potential flooding as part of a new project launched by Blackburn with Darwen Council. Called Flood Watch, the scheme aims to prepare residents and businesses for possible future floods and to help them mitigate against any potential damage to their properties. This follows on from major flash flooding events that hit the borough during Summer last year. 

The Council in partnership with Groundwork Pennine Lancashire bid for a share of a £5m pot funded by DEFRA to help communities combat the effects of flooding. The borough is most at risk of flooding when there is excess rainfall causing the rivers and drainage systems to be overwhelmed. Flooding can happen at any time of year, very quickly and with little or no warning. 

As part of Flood Watch, residents are being offered a free flood plan so they can minimise damage and make sure they know what to do and who to contact in the event of an emergency. It looks at essential issues such as vulnerable neighbours, keeping essential medicines dry in a flood and the safety of pets. The scheme will also help them form support groups who will work within their community to help reduce the impact of possible future floods. 

The Flood Watch team are currently out and about speaking with residents about flooding and ways they can be prepared. Councillor Maureen Bateson, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “We understand the threat that flooding poses to many residents and businesses in the borough due to their location. “Though we can’t prevent flooding, we want residents to know ways which they can help themselves and those most vulnerable in their community should we ever see a repeat of last year”. 

If anyone sees a blocked drain, flooded gully or flash flooding, report it immediately by calling (01254) 58592, or for more information about Flood Watch call: (01254) 222128.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Calling all budding poets and writers!

At Darwen Days we're always keen to recognise local talent and there's many of you out there who aren't bad at all when it comes to producing some proper Darren prose!

If you'd like to submit your poetry, prose and short stories (max 1000 words, please ensure that they are Darwen themed), please email them to info@DarwenDays.co.uk. At the end of the year, we'll be showcasing the entries online, and as the authors, you'll be helping to illustrate Darwen to the many thousands of website visitors we get from foreign climes.

The copyright of any work will always remain your own, and we will always ask you before using anything for any purpose.

Cheers!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Darwen Days on Instagram

As well as our new blog, we're now on Instagram, encouraging the younger (and the technologically older!) members of Darren to pick up their posh smartphones and start snapping pictures of the town to share with the future generations of residents past and present.

Our username is DarwenDays if you'd like to follow us, and to submit your photo to the community, simply add the hashtag '#DarwenDays' for your photo to be published on this blog and on our Facebook Page too!

Click here to see our Instagram Profile.

Eh-up Cocker? Darwen Days now has a news blog!

If you just can't get enough of the Darwen Days website, this is the place where you can read about all the stuff the team has planned for the future of our beloved local history community.

As well as news of what we're getting up to, we'll be publishing some of the many poems, letters and emails that we receive not just from local people, but from all over the world- if you're written anything about the town or you know a friend or relative who has- send it in! As always, we'll publish it on the biggest local archive in town and your input will be a vital part of Darwen's history for the generations to come.

Also, the feedback we've been getting from local Darreners has been very positive and one concern was that not everybody had a Facebook account, so to provide a solution for those that don't you can add your comments on this blog with nothing more than a simple email address.

On your left, there's the option to subscribe to our email address, so whenever we post something here it goes straight to your email and you can search this blog too, like our original website.