​ Blackburn in T​he 1850s: A Case Study | Urban Growth in Lancashire from 1770 | The Situation in Blackburn 
The Non-conformist view of Nineteenth Century Blackburn | Examining The Evidence
Conclusion | Bibliography

 

 Blackburn in the 1850s: A Case Stud​y

 
Contemporary perspectives of the effects of Urbanisation and Industrialisation:
A Case Study of Blackburn during the early 1850s
 
  
 
Abstract.
The aim of this work is to attempt to produce a picture of the Lancashire town of Blackburn during the mid-nineteenth century to see what this place was actually like as it grew in size as a consequence of the industrialisation and related urbanisation processes as they swept through the county.
 
In order to achieve this aim, a number of primary sources are considered including maps, population figures, newspapers, photographs, census returns, trade directories and the 1853 Health Report.  From the evidence provided by these sources a piece is developed to show what conditions were like in Blackburn in these years and whether it conformed to the popular image of life in an industrial town or whether it was different.
 
Introduction.
Throughout the history of Great Britain, there has never been a period which has witnessed as big a change in the population of the country, as in the period between 1770 and 1900.  This was the era of industrialisation and with the urbanisation process which ensued, thousands of people left the country to descend on the larger towns in the hope of making their fortunes.  As a consequence towns were inundated with hundreds of people and in order to cope with these huge influxes of folk, houses were speedily constructed with little consideration to planning whilst larger town houses were converted in order to house these people as for many the industrialisation did not bring their poverty to an end.  The general idea at the time was to squeeze as many people into as little space as possible.  The Irish potato famine also caused Irish immigrants to flee their homeland for Great Britain in a desperate bid for survival.  The Irish also headed for these industrialising towns further exacerbating the problem of where to house these people, many families having to share single rooms in order to have a roof over their heads as a consequence of their dire poverty and having to endure the very worst in conditions imaginable.  Into such conditions came the dreaded scourges namely disease; typhoid, typhus and cholera the conditions being perfect for the spreading of these diseases, wiping out many in their wake.  This is the accepted picture of this age but does that make it completely true?  Did this blanket of despair cover the whole towns and cities, enabling no one who lived within these growing metropoli to escape the undesirable effects of urbanisation and industrialisation?
 
The underlying theme of this dissertation is to investigate those sources which are available from the 1850s and attempt to present an accurate image of what one of these expanding population centres, the town of Blackburn in Lancashire was actually like in the 1850s and whether it was as bad as implied or whether there was something good about this industrialisation which affected this place so profoundly.
 
Chapter 1, begins the dissertation with a historiographical review of urban growth in the late eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries and the effect that this had upon society.  It starts with a brief consideration of the growth in the population of Great Britain as a whole, showing that it was not a phenomenon restricted to specific areas, that all over Britain there was a surge in population growth from the 1770s.  It then moves on to concentrate on population growth in Lancashire's towns and cities and the impact that this had on these centres and what the consequences of the sudden surge in population had on these places.
 
Chapter 2, then discusses the situation in Blackburn at that time utilising maps, population figures and the Report of the town's sanitary conditions compiled by John Withers in an attempt to see if conditions in Blackburn mirrored those conditions experienced in other places in Lancashire and whether Blackburn as an industrial town conformed to this overall picture or whether it was different.  The chapter also tests theories to see if these could be applied to Blackburn and also whether the same results could be obtained.
 
Moving onto the third chapter, this tackles the situation from another angle and here the attempt is made to present a alternative image of the town in the face of industrialisation and whether there was a favourable side to this place.  Utilising available Trade Directories from 1818 through to 1855, these are examined to see if there was any profound changes in the way that they presented the town as it expanded in the grip of industrialisation, as the population multiplied and living conditions traditionally being portrayed as hell on earth increased.
 
Chapter 4, questions the reliability of the information that both sources are presenting.  By examining the evidence and scrutinising both the trade directories and the health report an attempt is made to see just how accurate and dependable they actually were by undertaking this independent investigation.  Such primary sources as the large scale 5 feet to the mile Ordnance Survey maps published in 1848 and the 1851 census of Blackburn are utilised in order to see just how widespread severe overcrowding was at that time.
 
Finally, the fifth chapter pulls all the evidence together in order to present an image of what Blackburn was actually like in the 1850s.  The motives of those sources which were presenting either a positive image of the town or a negative image of the town are also considered here and what both were trying to achieve.  Did Blackburn conform to any of the points of view presented by the Health Report and the Trade Directories or did it in the 1850s occupy the middle ground between good and bad; the attempt here is to provide as truthful and honest an account as possible in the light of the evidence offered by the two points of view of exactly what conditions were like in Blackburn in 1850.
 
by Andrew Taylor
 
 
 

Urban Growth in Lancashire from 1770

 

jb03642.jpg
 
It is so easy when thinking back to how life might have been 150 years ago when the Industrial Revolution had taken a grip on the nation to imagine an horrific scene, by utilising a thought process prejudiced by literature and the media intent on pushing home a view of life at that time that is almost unbearable to think about.  When setting up a mental picture of life during the early to mid-nineteenth century the mind conjures up a mental picture consisting of overcrowded houses all crammed into a relatively small area existing cheek-by-jowl with factories, of smoke filled skies constantly blotting out the sun, the smog and grime from exhalations from chimneys attaching itself to everything: to buildings, to clothes, to animals and the exposed skin of everybody.  In imagining this view of life back then, the mind even pictures this scene in monochrome, a black and not so much white but varying shades of grey world of dampness and cold and of rivers whose surfaces are crusted with all kinds of pollutants from houses and factories.  In this imaginary scene, crumbling houses are pictured with walls, scarred with the white marks of water constantly leaking down, mixed with the dark grey-green of moss and those who existed within are pictured laying on bare floors, suffering and dying from both respiratory and bacterial diseases, caused by the poor conditions outdoors with streets covered in raw, untreated sewage and coupled with the squalor which existed indoors.  One feature about thinking of the industrial towns is that the mind envisages a scene completely lacking in any form of vegetation, not even a weed growing out of a grime laden street gutter.  But where did this image of nineteenth century Britain come from and where conditions as bad as a sub-conscious poisoned by accounts of how bad everything was back then depicts.
 
It is the writings of such distinguished writers as Charles Dickens who in his book "Hard Times", provides us with a snap shot of life in 1854 Coketown, a fictitious place but which was modelled on the Lancashire town, Preston.  Of this place, Dickens' wrote: "You saw nothing in Coketown but what was severely workful...It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood it was a town of un-natural red and black like the painted face of a savage.  It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled.  It had a black canal in it and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye...Seen from a distance ...Coketown lay shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun's rays.  You only knew the town was there, because you knew there could have been no such sulky blot upon the prospect without a town." (1)  Powerful talk indeed and for someone as eminent as Dickens to write of such a scene then the reader of the novel can only assume that the picture presented by Dickens must be true.  Also the fact that it was no secret that Coketown was Preston, it can only be assumed that this is exactly what 1854 Preston was actually like and if this is what Preston was like the implications are that other manufacturing towns in Britain were also like this, brought about by the mass industrialisation of the era.  However it also such writings that have the power to indoctrinate the most open of minds in the twenty-first century into believing that this must be so without question.
 
Between 1741 and 1801, the population of England and Wales increased from 6.0 million to 8.9 million, representing a 48.8% growth rate in sixty years. (2)  By 1851, the population had more than doubled and sixty years later the figure had more than doubled again.  By 1801, the areas where there were high population densities tended to be isolated communities, small by modern standards, which tended to be provincial capitals and commercial centres.
 
By the census of 1851, the population of England and Wales had experienced an almost three fold increase in just over a hundred years.  Looking at the distribution of population centres, throughout the whole of Great Britain, those places with the highest densities of population tend to dominate in those areas near to coalfields and other of the country's natural resources and commercial ports not unexpected giving rise to those resource based industries.  These areas of high population emerged around London in the South East, Birmingham in the Midlands, Bristol in the South West, Liverpool and Manchester in the North West, Kingston Upon Hull and Newcastle in the North East and Glasgow over the border in Scotland, indicating that population growth followed a similar pattern throughout the whole of Great Britain.  Between 1801 and 1851, London's population increased from 960,000 to around the two million mark, more than doubling in 50 years (3).  It would be easy to suggest that as birth rates were increasing that this was the reason why the country's population was growing, however in some areas mortality rates were in excess of birth rates indicating that the increases in population were primarily as a result of people migrating from the rural places into the growing towns and cities.  That being said, the increased birth rate must have had some impact in population growth since the census of 1851, reported that 36% of the total population of the country was under the age of fifteen years (4), therefore the role played by the increased birth rate cannot be discounted completely.
 
As already noted, Lancashire's towns and cities where also involved in this process of industrialisation and the mass urbanisation that it brought experiencing a growth in population between 1770 and 1850 unparalleled to any period in history which had gone before.  As a consequence of the revolution sweeping the industrial world during this period, people were experiencing a decline in living standards as long established domestic trades were being threatened in the face of technological advances, which were beginning to accelerate.  In response, thousands began to leave their small hamlets behind and head for the towns in search of work and greater prosperity.  Even without this immigration process the towns themselves were growing naturally over this same period, yet their growth would not have experienced the profound increases in population that industrialisation brought.  In Lancashire before 1770, there were few towns in the county that were of any size, most being little more than large villages, the exception being Manchester.  Oldham to the east, Preston to the West and Bolton to the centre all experienced a similar eight-fold increase in their populations between 1770 and 1850 all individual towns, yet all demonstrating a similar trait with respect to both growth in population and the reasons for it.  In 1770 the town of Bolton was described as "a district almost rural, an idyll made up of bleaching crofts, orchards and garden cottages" - a very quaint sounding place yet even before the end of the eighteenth century water powered textile mills and engineering works had drastically altered the Bolton landscape in less than thirty years (5).  This influx into the urban centres coupled with the increases in population brought one immense problem - how were of these people to be accommodated?  The quick and easy solution to this ever-growing problem was to come in two forms.  Firstly hurried house-building schemes were put into operation and secondly rapid conversions of existing properties at the centre of these expanding towns were also undertaken in reaction to the growing crisis which was occurring as a result of the accelerated growth rates in both industry and towns alike.
 
Starting with Liverpool, records show that the population was increasing at an alarmingly fast rate in the early industrial revolution period.  The population of 5,000 recorded in 1700 had increased to around the 22,000 mark in only fifty years and was still accelerating (6).  To cope with these increases, housing was urgently required and speedily constructed to meet the needs of the working classes, drawn towards the supposed opportunities the city was generating.  Hundreds of families were crowded into the town houses of Liverpool, once the preserve of the well-to-do who had abandoned them to move well away from the centre of the city and the newly developed industrial zones to enable them to distance themselves away from the lower classes.  These houses were divided up and rented out to several migrant families and the former gardens were transformed into courts in a bid to deal with the population explosions.  The cellars at these houses were put to good use also as landlords realised their potential for accommodating many families in such a small space.  These were detached from the house above and outside steps led down to the cellars home for those on the lowest rung of the social ladder, the poorly paid, with as many as possible being accommodated in a small as space as possible.  By 1790, it was estimated that in Liverpool one eighth of the city's population lived in cellars (7).  A count in 1839 found there to be between 35,000 and 40,000 living in these below ground dwellings rising to a peak of around 80,000 by 1848 (8).  Apart from the overcrowding, there was also a tendency for these cellars to flood after heavy downfalls of rain and at time effluence from the streets above would inundate these dwellings creating a seed-plot for the spread of highly infectious diseases made particularly contagious as a consequence of the massive numbers of overcrowded-dwellings.
 
Not surprisingly, cellar dwellings were also a feature of Manchester where conditions were every bit as bad as they had been in Liverpool.  Even as early as 1801, the Manchester Board of Health found cellar dwellings so dark that candles were required in these incredibly ill-ventilated dwellings during the day (9).  Five years later the same board found extensive numbers of these damp and ill-ventilated dwellings within the city.  Floors were often unpaved, with beds fixed on damp earth and as more families flocked to Manchester these scenes multiplied enormously (10), due to the fact that there was a shortage of places to live.  In response more houses were built but the consequence was that although these were high in quantity, the quality in many cases left a lot to be desired.  From about the 1790s Irish immigrants were flooding into the city as a result of the potato famine in Ireland.  As a consequence the Irish immigrants became the typical cellar dweller, becoming recognised as the most destitute of the working classes, with a tendency for them to crowd into the same dwellings because of their poverty.
 
Before 1850, there was little by way of building or sanitary regulations.  The principle with regard to housing the working classes in Liverpool was to pack as many houses in as small a space as possible (11), the reason being two fold.  Firstly, land was high in value and secondly to receive as much by way of rents as possible.  Back to back houses conformed to this principle very well as they were cheap to build, easy to construct and took up very little space enabling many to be constructed in a relatively small area.  In both Manchester and Liverpool, most of these back to backs were three storeys high with an average of six feet between blocks of houses and with cellar beneath to accommodate even more people.  Most of the small streets where these houses were located were of a cul-de-sac style, with no through draughts and as a result many of these streets faced serious sanitary conditions due to failures in the authorities to implement any form of physical constraints.  It appeared that anyone who owned a plot of land could build on it what he liked being subjected neither to stringent inspection or planning constraints (12).  Consequently, green fields and rolling hills were disappearing beneath a blanket of mass urbanisation throughout Lancashire and those in control of the situation had little regard for anything apart from making greater profits on their capital.  In Manchester as the city rapidly expanded, green pastures were banished to the past, being replaced with blocks of poor quality houses at a stroke.  The distinguished doctor, JP Shuttleworth described the centre of Manchester as being "a mass of buildings ...intersected by loathsome streets and close courts defiled with refuse" (13). In the Irk Town region of Manchester as many as ten people were being accommodated in one up one down dwellings and in Back Ashley Street, again in the Irk Town district there was just 4'4" between houses in that street (14).  But it had not been in the interest of landowners and landlords to insist on the provision of proper planning.  Before 1850 the general principle had been to build as many dwellings in a small a space as possible which meant that landowners could double their revenue from rents from a relatively small area (15).  Assistant poor law commissioner Charles Mott found in 1841 that some of these houses lacked foundations and the structures were so flimsy that one contractor visited some house after a storm to find that they had been levelled to the ground -such houses becoming known as"pickpocket rows" because of the insecurity and nature of the structure (16).
 
Things appeared to be little better away from the regional centres of Manchester and Liverpool and throughout Lancashire a similar picture emerged.  Jenny Fields wrote of cellars in Bolton as being "the fever nests of the town", where people, donkeys and even pigs all were housed (17).  Yet the Sanitary Survey of Bolton compiled by James Entwistle in 1848 claimed that by far the worst and most infamous dwellings of Bolton were the overcrowded lodging houses, with their filthy courts and alleys which were situated behind the town's main thoroughfare, Deansgate (18).  At St Helens the Edinburgh Journal wrote that houses "...appeared to have been built in a hurry" (19).  In Bury, it was discovered that that less than half of the town's dwellings were described as "comfortable" by a report there which also found that there were sixty three families where five members of the same family slept in one bed (20).  Further up the valley of the River Irwell, in the Rossendale region, rows of back to back houses were built clinging to the steep valley sides, their existence being justified by property owners as being the only type of dwelling which could be accommodated in such a small and restricted amount of space.  As a consequence many were blind backed, had little light pouring into them, they were damp and possessed virtually no ventilation.  In one of that region's towns, Bacup, tenants paid a shilling a week to rent a small back to back dwelling, overlooking a communal yard where diseased live-stock roamed.  The walk to a single privy shared by several households was for some tenants a 170-yard walk and there was a half-mile trek to the nearest well.  Those in Bacup who lived in lodging houses were no better off and one family was found where a whole family and their dogs shared one bed in a single room (21).
 
Documentary evidence available at the time suggests that although the population was expanding at a profound rate within Lancashire's settlements, the area of the towns were not growing in proportion to this highlighting the seriousness of the overcrowding of dwellings at the time.  In Preston documents show that although the town's population grew by almost 40,000 between 1801 and 1845, maps show that Preston had expanded outwards by only a very small margin.  The explanation for this is interpreted by Nigel Morgan as being proof that Preston was experiencing inward expansion (22).  Where town house gardens had once stood, these had been in filled by a number of smaller dwellings to accommodate the deluge of people flooding into Preston at that time indicative of the small area of living space allocated to each person, which diminished still further as population figures increased in the town. Josaphine Roberts also has found evidence of this infilling process in Manchester's Irk Town, where garden walls still stood, with blind backed house built up against these (23).  Because of the numbers of people who surged into these settlements was at a rate higher than the rate for building new houses, it was not uncommon for families of eight and nine members to be living together and if each of these families inhabited just one room then it could mean that in just one single one up one down dwelling a total of twenty people could be living there (24).  Roberts found that in Irk Town families had to double up in two roomed houses, which could explain why in physical terms, physical expansion in Lancashire's towns and cities appears to have been minimal.
 
Any suggestions which were made to improve Lancashire's housing conditions were frowned upon and objections were raised to money being spent on social improvements, that is until 1832 when cholera appeared on British shores (25).  The distinctive feature of cholera was the fact that it began to affect all people not just the most wretched of Lancashire's population.  Augmenting the already well established typhus and typhoid, cholera effectively demonstrated that class held no bar to such infection since these diseases were just as likely to kill the affluent as much as the poor.  Suddenly it became the interest of property owners and industrialists alike to take immediate action.  As a consequence, measures were introduced including the establishment of local Boards of Health in an attempt to improve the appalling housing conditions and to erase the spread of those highly infectious diseases amongst the population of the county. Early measures introduced to prevent the spreading of these highly infectious diseases included the outlawing of the building of an further back to back dwellings, introducing regulation governing the construction of privies and also regulation in connection with the recommended amount of space there should be between dwellings (26).
 
So from the evidence obtained from secondary sources about condition throughout Lancashire in the Industrial Revolution period, it would appear that a blanket of unacceptable living conditions and disease brought about by mass urbanisation covered the whole of the county from the county's two cities Manchester and Liverpool northwards into the West Pennine valleys taking in Bury, Rossendale, Bacup, eastwards to Oldham further north to Bolton and on to the coastal plains taking in Preston and further south St Helens.  Nowhere seemed to escape the squalor, the filth and poor levels of town planning which descended on Lancashire during the early nineteenth century and that within these towns it would appear that there was nowhere realistically fit for human habitation and as the influence of the industrial revolution gained even more momentum, any greenery which existed was being turned over in an attempt to cope with this mass industrialisation and the related migration process which was sweeping not just through this one region, but throughout Great Britain as a whole at that time.
 
by Andrew Taylor
 
REFERENCES

Chapter 1.

(1) Dickens p18-19
(2) Lawton p10
(3) Lawton p12
(4) Lawton p 16
(5) Field p44
(6) Chapman p167
(7) Chapman p168
(8) Bagley p112
(9) Aspin p130
(10) Chapman p176
(11) Chapman p 176
(12) Aspin p128
(13) Bagley p112
(14) Roberts p25
(15) Aspin p128-129
(16) Aspin p 130
(17) Field p44
(18) Field p44
(19) Aspin p128
(20) Aspin pp135-136
(21) Aspin p 137
(22) Morgan p21 (23) Roberts p23
(24) Roberts p25
(25) Bagley p112
(26) Bagley p1 13
 
Bibliography
 
1. Primary Sources:
 
Published Sources.
 
Baines, E - History, Directory and Gazetteer of Lancashire Vol I (1824)
Mannex -Directory of Mid Lancashire (1854)
Rogerson, T - Lancashire General Directory (1818)
Slater - Lancashire Directory (1851)
Slater -Lancashire Directory (1848)
Withers, J - Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Borough of Blackburn, with observations on the Drainage and other subjects, calculated to improve the health of the inhabitants (1853).
 
Newspapers.
 
Blackburn Standard 12 May 1841
Blackburn Standard 10 August 1842
 
Maps and Plans
 
Yates's Map of Lancashire (1780)
Untitled Map of Blackburn (c1795)
1824 Map of Blackburn
1795 Map of Blackburn
Ordnance Survey 6" to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)
Ordnance Survey 5' to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)
 
Other Primary Sources
 
Census Return, 1851
 
Secondary Sources:
 
Books.
 
Aspin, C - The First Industrial Society - Lancashire 1750-1850 (1995 - revised edition) Bagley, JJ - A History of Lancashire (1982)
Beattie, D - Blackburn - The Development of a Lancashire Cotton Town (1982).
Chapman, SD -The History of Working Class Housing, Chapter 5 - Liverpool
Working Class Housing 1805-51 - James H Treble (1971)
Dickens, C - Hard Times (1969 re-print of the 1854 edition)
Langton, J and Morris RJ - Atlas of industrialising Britain 1780-1914, Chapter 2 Population - Richard Lawton. Chapter 22, Urbanisation, RJ Morris.
Miller, G - Blackburn - The Evolution of a Cotton Town (1951)
Morgan, N - Vanished Dwellings, (1990)
Roberts, Dr J - Working class houses in Nineteenth Century Manchester - The Example of John Street, Irk Town, 1826-1936 (1983)
Whittle, P - Blackburn As It is (1852)
Victoria History of the Counties of England - Lancashire Vol 2 (1966 re-print of the 1908 edition)
 
By Andrew Taylor

​​

 

 
 
As discussed, in the years between 1770 and 1901, Lancashire's towns experienced a growth in population the like of which had never been experienced before as industrialisation gained a foothold in this area.  In a region noted for the production of textiles, the Lancashire town of Blackburn had at the close of the nineteenth century emerged in its own right as the weaving capital of the world, yet only a hundred and twenty or so years before was a small rural settlement which had lain virtually untouched in folds of the western-most vestiges of the West Pennine Moors, with roads little more than cattle tracks connecting this place with the outside world.  An estimate of 1770, gave Blackburn of having a population of 5,000 the same as it was at Bolton at the same time (1).  Not surprisingly Blackburn at that time was little more than a village, its primary role acting as a market centre serving the communities which surrounded the town.  Unlike the towns of Bolton, Preston and Oldham, the topography meant that it was virtually isolated from most of the developing Lancashire.  By 1801 Blackburn's population had increased to 11,980 having more than doubled in 30 years (2).  Despite the fact that Blackburn's population was almost identical to Bolton's in 1770, by 1801, the two were world's apart in population terms, Bolton's numbers having galloped away in the interim years.  Preston and Oldham had also increased at a greater rate leaving Blackburn somewhat trailing behind and in the shadow that it historically become accustomed.  By considering the idea that prior to 1750 the town had been effectively isolated from most of Lancashire and that its population growth rate was proportionately less than those others, does this then indicate that the changes which occurred in Blackburn between 1770 and 1861 were not as dramatic as those in Preston, Bolton and Oldham and as such where those conditions which were apparent in them also evident in Blackburn?  Looking at Bolton, it seems that in the thirty year period from 1770, that the landscape had "dramatically altered" (3), but since Blackburn's population growth was not at the same rate, does this mean that this alteration in landscape was not true of Blackburn and such changes did not take place in Blackburn?  In order to determine whether conditions in Blackburn were indeed different that the long accepted view of Lancashire's cotton town as depicted by such writers as Dickens, it is necessary to focus on the town and investigate further.  To enable this it is necessary to pick up on one or two of the points detailed in Chapter 1 and test those theories to see whether they provide details which show whether the information provides a view of a very different place setting it apart from Bolton, Oldham or Preston or whether the picture obtained illustrates that Blackburn conformed to the general belief of Lancashire town's in the era of industrialisation.
 
 
Population Figures
1801
1811
1821
1831
1841
1851
1861
1871
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blackburn
11980
15083
21940
27091
36629
46536
63126
76339
Oldham
12024
16690
21662
32381
42595
52820
72333
82269
Bolton
17416
24149
31295
41195
46793
60391
69326
82011
Preston
11887
17065
24575
33112
50131
68537
81101
83515
 
 
The first source considered in order to determine, whether Blackburn's experiences either conformed to the established theories or were in fact different are the population figures collated for this period.  By using the above named Lancashire towns, the above table show population figures for these places from 1801 to 1861 (4).  From the table, it would appear that by 1801, Blackburn's population was very similar to that of Preston and Oldham albeit less, although Bolton had surged well ahead of all of the other three in population numbers by almost 6,000 over its nearest rival.  By the following census of 1811, Blackburn although increasing in size in population terms was beginning to slip behind all the other three towns, by almost 12% in terms of the rate of growth.  In real terms its population was not far behind either Preston or Oldham although Bolton still lead the way by almost 8,000.  In 1821, a similar picture could be obtained, Bolton was still way ahead this time by nearly 7,000, with just 2,000 people separating Preston, Oldham and Blackburn although the censussurvey of 1831, illustrated that both Preston and Oldham experienced a surge in population.  In Blackburn however, although the population was still increasing, it had fallen behind a little, by 5,000 on its closest rival.  The following census saw the gap open up still further between Blackburn and Preston and Oldham those latter two leading by almost 7,000 over Blackburn and a similar picture emerged in 1851 with the gap still being 7,000 though having fallen by a thousand by 1861.  As a consequence of the population surges in both Preston and Oldham, Bolton's lead was been overtaken by both of these towns.
 
It can be clearly seen that all four of the sampled towns grew at a similar rate between 1801 and 1861 and should a curve be drawn on the graph it would be seen that all of the towns were increasing proportionately though by differing amount of people.  It can also be observed from the above graph that the percentage-wise there was just 4.28 between the town with the fastest growth rate in this period and that with the lowest, which is very small further indicating, that all four of the Lancashire towns sampled were increasing at a very similar rate.
 
 
Percentage Increases of Population per town 1801-1871.
1801
1811
1821
1831
1841
1851
1861
1871
Blackburn
0
25.90
45.56
23.48
35.21
27.05
35.65
20.93
Oldham
0
38.81
29.79
49.48
31.54
24.01
36.94
14.23
Bolton
0
38.66
29.59
31.63
20.80
21.36
14.80
18.30
Preston
0
43.56
44.01
34.74
51.40
36.72
18.33
2.98
Total      
0
36.73
37.21
34.83
34.74
27.28
26.43
14.11
 
 
 
Taking Blackburn in isolation, by taking a mean average of percentage rates of growth in the selected period, it would appear that on the whole Blackburn's rate of growth fell below the average on all but two occasions between 1801 and 1861.  However on closer scrutiny, in only two of those years, 1811 and 1831 was there any significant difference between the rates of growth, the others being marginally less than the average figure obtained again indicating that on the whole Blackburn's growth was more or less average in relation to other Lancashire town between 1801 and 1861.
 
Useful as the population statistics are to illustrate the rate of growth of population in a town, they are somewhat limited as they are unable to show what conditions were actually like in those towns at that time and whether those appalling conditions which were experienced in those other towns including those which have been used alongside Blackburn for sampling purposes were also experienced in Blackburn.  All the figures actually tell us is that Blackburn's population like Bolton, Oldham Preston as well as Lancashire's two cities, though not included in the above figures, Manchester and Liverpool did considerably increase in this period.  However, in order to see whether or not those same horrendous conditions did exist in Blackburn, it is necessary to test some of the other theories discussed in chapter one in respect of other expanding Lancashire towns in this period and apply these same theories to Blackburn to see whether the same patterns emerged or whether different ones were apparent.
 
An interesting theory is that put forward by Nigel Morgan with regard to Preston.  As previously stated, Morgan observed by the use of maps that in proportion to the increases in population in Preston between 1770 and 1851, the actual physical growth of the town, altered very little in this period, yet within this same timescale the population of Preston increased by an immense number, by about 62,650 people in eighty years - a twelve-fold increase (5).  The conclusion that Morgan reaches from this data is that if there is no physical expansion of the town then this gives rise to the fact that there has got to be a great deal of overcrowding in Preston as population increases continued which in turn would give rise to the appalling conditions experienced in Preston during this time (6).
 
To test to see if the same is true of Blackburn, it is necessary to consider the maps which are available within this period.  Starting with Yates' map of the whole of the county of Lancashire published in 1780 it can be observed that Blackburn was a small rural community.  Since it is known that Blackburn was a more isolated community than Preston, Bolton and Oldham this could have meant that as the population increased then so too did the area of the town, since there appears from the map to be both scope and space for outward expansion in order to cope with the surge in the town's population.
 
The dwellings which can be seen from the Yates' map appear to be built along the sides of the main routes to Blackburn, which converge at one single point at the centre of the town at Salford Bridge and radiate from here in a star-like pattern, the population of Blackburn around this time being about 8,000. The only draw back of utilising Yates's map is the fact that it is only a small scale map.  More detail as to the number of dwellings in Blackburn can be obtained for the map published around 1795 as shown below.
 
On close scrutiny, this does confirm the idea obtained from Yates's map that apart from at the very centre of Blackburn, almost all of the town's dwellings radiated from the centre of the town and that non of the major routes into Blackburn were linked other that where they converged at the centre of town. By the Map of 1824 published to coincide with the publication of Baines' Trade Directory of that same year, it can be seen that the outline of housing in the town still follows the same pattern being constructed primarily along the town's main radial routes and again there is very little evidence of building work in between these main routes.
From these maps it would appear that despite the fact that the population in the period has increased by 16,000 the town does not appear to have expanded in proportion to these increases in folk living in the town.  Additionally there is little evidence of streets being built running off these main routes.  What however can be seen though is the fact that on both maps there is evidence of gaps and spaces between rows of housing and so that these could be in filled by other buildings as the population of the town increased.  Nearly twenty years on and after a further increase in population of over 14,500, there is still little evidence of any actual physical growth by the time that the first Ordnance Survey Map was published in the 1840s with houses still tending to be located along the main routes as shown above.  Indeed if the Baines's map of 1824 was overlaid by the 1840 Ordnance Survey map it could be clearly seen that the extent of the boundaries of the town have changed little in this time despite the surge in population by over 20,000.

One feature that is obvious both in Preston as detailed by Morgan and found to be the same in Blackburn is that fact that between 1821 and 1841 the population of the town has increased by almost double in and yet physical terms the town's outward expansion was almost insignificant.  With regard to his observation in Preston between 1770 and 1861, Morgan suggests that the lack of physical expansion was as a result of inward expansion.  This has come about as a result of larger town houses once the home of the gentry having been divided into smaller housing units to enable the accommodation of more families under one roof, including the use of cellars as dwellings.  Additionally he claims that further dwellings were provided within the former gardens of these houses, therefore squeezing many more people into a small space.  Thirdly the data indicates at this stage that possibly more and more people are being squeezed into the existing dwellings which would account for the fact that town did not appear to be expanding.  Therefore from the evidence of just maps and population returns, it would appear that in Blackburn like Preston was experiencing severe overcrowding between the years 1770 and 1860.

Like the population figures maps also have their limitations and despite the fact that when used in conjunction they can only point in the direction of their being the existence of the same appalling conditions which were apparent in other towns the evidence is only circumstantial and not based any hard fact in relation to Blackburn.  Neither population figures nor maps are able to accurately state what the actual conditions in the town were like and at this stage any conclusions drawn to this matter would be based purely upon a process of conjecture comparing Blackburn with others places where it is known that such unsavoury conditions did exist.  A very useful source which both scrutinises the conditions in Blackburn is the "Report on the Sanitary Conditions of Blackburn", compiled by John Withers and published in 1853.  This source is very useful since it not only concentrates on Blackburn, but is also able fill in some of the gaps information to enable a more accurate picture to be presented of what life was actually like in 1850s Blackburn.  If ever there was a source required to fill the gaps left by the inadequacies of the population statistics, maps and census returns with regard to conditions in Blackburn during the 1850s then the Health report leaves very little doubt about conditions in Blackburn at this time.  In his report, Withers looks at certain criteria one at a time and discusses the appalling conditions that existed in Blackburn in this period and just when it is safe to start believing that things could not be any worse, another element appears, far worse than anything which has been written about before, shattering completely any notion that Blackburn was somehow different because of its relative isolation from those other Lancashire cotton towns discussed.  The effects of the smoky atmosphere coupled with dampness and fogs associated with Blackburn and its cotton industry seem almost to be negligible in relation to some of the other hazards evident in Blackburn at that time.  From the evidence provided by Withers, it appears that all of the conditions are in existence for the promotion of typhus, scarletina and other highly infectious diseases which were apparent in Blackburn at the time of the publication of the Health Report.

It is the conditions within the dwellings of Blackburn which seem to generate a negative attitude which has the ability to shape peoples minds into believing that all must have been bad at that time.  The fact that historically Blackburn had been a more isolated community than Preston, Oldham and Bolton, did not excuse it from the very worst in housing conditions that there could be, according to the findings of Withers.  Any notion that the cellar dwellings were a feature of the county's two cities is also shattered by Withers, whose descriptions of these underground black holes, match almost identically those descriptions that had been written about those which existed in the cities.  Not only that, but from the report, it would seem that cellar dwellings are abundant in various parts of the town providing shelter primarily to Irish immigrants (7) and others who are considered to be on the lowest rung of the social ladder as was found in both Liverpool and Manchester.  At the very best, the most positive element of these dwellings, is that as a consequence of their underground situation meant that they lacked both light and proper ventilation.  Here Withers draws a parallel between these and the fact that occupiers consequently allowed filth and dirt to accumulate within them which "engenders disease" generated further by the high densities of occupiers in these dwellings (8).  It seems that it was not uncommon to find one roomed cellars to be occupied by many devoid of the most basic of privations since the report recommends that every dwelling should have running water (9).  In many parts a further deficiency appears to have been the lack of privies and the ones which are in existence are in a filthy state as no one considers them to be their responsibility again promoting disease especially the spreading of such ailments as typhoid and cholera which were not uncommon at the time.  Inside the houses the report states that where people lived in single rooms that it was used for cooking and eating, for sleeping and for both male and female and the sick and healthy to co-exist side by side.  The reports claims that the fact that so many people were crammed into such a small space was "prejudicial to both health and morality" (10) and correlates the former with the town's higher than average mortality rate.  Another of the notorious dwellings of this age that were apparent in Blackburn were the common lodging houses, frequently the report suggests that these like cellar dwellings were severely overcrowded and occupied by the lower migratory classes who were low in morals and cleanliness a criticism frequently levelled at Irish immigrants (11).  In order to combat these problems, Withers' recommends that all new houses should be built with a minimum amount of space, for the act which prohibits the construction of any further cellars to be used as dwellings to be strictly adhered to, lamenting that if this act had been adopted earlier then few if any would have been occupied at this time, for them to be subjected to height restrictions and for restrictions to imposed on the amount of living space individuals were entitled to, all of which suggests that most of the houses which existed in Blackburn were small, overcrowded and crammed into a small area and since Withers' suggests that space, air and light are essential for a healthy life and should be provided in abundance, indicates that lack all three of these are lacking in Blackburn at this time (12).

Despite the fact that it was conditions within houses which commands the greatest attention, it was the streets outside which not only acted as the primary breeding ground for the spread of infectious diseases, but also had the power to influence the opinions of outsiders coming into the town.  As Withers' suggests that there should be better planning in regard to the streets, recommending that street widths should be fixed, that they should be straight and form a single line of curve, without bends and the fact some properties project out of the line of rows of buildings indicate that there was no proper planning involved as buildings were speedily erected to cope with the fast growing population.  This also implies that infilling existed in Blackburn as it did elsewhere since it appears that it was not uncommon for streets in the town to be blocked off at one end as they ran directly into the wall of buildings in other streets which inhibited the flow of air allowing the air containing such noxious aromas that were present in the atmosphere to linger.  He claimed that if there was greater planning then streets could be continuous routes joined at two ends to other streets allowing a better flow of air (13).  Additionally, any street which was less than twelve feet wide would not be designated a highway and from the report it appears that only the town's highways possessed drainage and were paved (14).  The fact that few appear to have been paved indicates that the majority of the streets in Blackburn were not highways and were twelve feet or less wide demonstrating the problems associated with overcrowded conditions.

According to Withers' there was twenty-two miles of streets in Blackburn two thirds of which are either unpaved or poorly paved mainly unpaved.  "I have simply to observe that in the majority of streets enumerated that there is no surface drainage and that where it does exist is imperfect and inadequate for the purpose" (15).  As a consequence streets which were unpaved had no provision for the drainage of surface water enabling stagnant pools to accumulate on streets which he claims were very rarely cleansed (16).  The report further claims that the streets were filled with an accumulation of debris and filth including decaying vegetables and other matter which are "detrimental to the promotion of good health".  Withers' says of these streets, "They are generally unscavenged, accumulations of filth and decaying vegetable matter is found about the fronts thereof and thus every facility is given for engendering of noxious vapours, thereby tainting the atmosphere" (17).  These conditions in turn had the adverse effect of blocking up of sewers where they existed, caused by householders and shopkeepers alike who swept rubbish out into the streets which not included the usual dirt and filth from premises but also such refuse as oyster shells and fish remains causing noxious vapours to taint the atmosphere of the town (18).  Not that this was the only problem since the presence in an abundance of such matter also had the effect of blocking the drains interfering with the course of water in rain showers which caused flooding to occur enabling waste to be swept along by the flood waters to other parts of the town and also into the dwellings themselves.  Withers' calls these streets "The neglected part of town, parts without sewers or conveniences, unpaved, rarely scavenged ...overcrowded dwellings, generally indicate the localities of Typhus, &c" (19).

Another feature on the streets of Blackburn was the not too unusual sight of animal blood flowing from slaughter houses flowing in them (20).  It is apparent from the report that Withers' believes that these were located in inappropriate localities as it was not uncommon to observe the blood from slaughtered animals flowing down channels in Darwen and Penny Street, two of the main highways both at the very centre of town and both lacking any form of sewer (21).  It seems also that they tended to be located in the most populous and overcrowded areas of Blackburn which brings into question their hygiene.  This lack of proper drainage on many of Blackburn's streets also appears to have been a major cause of the spread of infectious diseases at this time.  Statistics indicate that there was a higher incidence of deaths caused by Typhus on those streets which were unpaved, had insufficient drainage were very rarely cleaned with overcrowded dwellings lining the sides of these streets where there was little air flow.  According to the report, where drains did exist, they were both imperfect and inadequate for its function and aided the spread of those highly infectious diseases.

A additional element at the centre of Blackburn which contributed to the tainted atmosphere of the town was the River Blakewater which flowed thorough the town.  At Salford at the heart of Blackburn, a bridge crossed the river where all major routes to and from Blackburn from other parts of the county converged.  The report mentions that there were dams constructed at intervals on the river which affected the flow of the river and allowed the formation of stagnant pools (22).  As a consequence of these the river was described as being putrid and a nuisance to all who resided on its banks in dry weather the stench being further exacerbated by any hot spells of weather (23).  These pools which formed as a result of the dams on the also allowed pollutants both to accumulate and linger both in the water and in the air (24).  Withers calls these stagnant pools as "...a series of elongated cess pools receiving all that is vile and putrid, throwing off poisonous exhalations, spreading the seeds of disease and death and even contaminating the very food of the living".  He claims that this description is no "overdrawn picture" claiming that the inhabitants of Blackburn must be well aware of these aromas, not only those who live adjoining the banks of the river, but also those passing over the river at bridges at Salford, Whalley Banks and in Darwen Street (25).  The smells emitted from the river at the town centre could only have lingered in the air, adding to the already polluted atmosphere of the town.  If therefore the people who lived in Blackburn were aware of these aromas, then people who passed through the town must have been overcome by them and have wanted to hastily leave this Godforsaken place behind as quickly as it was possible.  Another problem with the construction of dams on the river are that they altered the flow of the river and which deprived it of its natural scouring powers, having the adverse effect of increasing deposits on the bed of the river which in turn has caused the level of the river to rise.  As a consequence Withers' claims "...many cellars are now about the same level of the river. Thus they are rendered liable to be flooded upon any rise of the water in the river taking place (26).

The higher than average death rate amongst the poorest in the town that succumbed to the effects of the heavy pollution in Blackburn itself was an additional cause of the environmental problems which existed in the mid-nineteenth century.  Since people were dying at a constant rate and these tended to be amongst the poorer members of society, the question of dealing with the volume of corpses effectively became an issue.  The report indicates that there existed huge open pits existed for the dead of the poor so that bodies could be disposed of quickly and easily and at a minimal cost without the need to constantly dig graves for these folk (27).  Because of their proximity to the centre of town these mass open graves, also produced offensive exhalations adding a further disgusting stench to the already appallingly polluted and noxious air of the town.  The fact that the report suggests that there should be a minimum of 2'6" between the top of the coffin underground and the surface (28) would imply that there was a danger that in those graves which had been filled in for the limbs of the dead to actually protruded from the ground.  This feature illustrating that even in mortality there was no escape from the problems of severe overcrowding.  In an attempt to combat these problems the report strongly recommends the laying of a burial ground on an elevated piece of land away from the main population of the town (29).

But what about the people themselves who lived in Blackburn and had to endure such appalling living conditions?  With reference to the report it would seem that the people of Blackburn in the early 1850s were themselves unkempt and cared little about such matters as personal hygiene, wearing filthy clothes for weeks on end and slept between filthy bedclothes (30).  Not that there was any real opportunity for those folk to have regular washing as according to the report, there were no facilities, such as the provision of a public bath house for the cleansing of the population of Blackburn.  Withers' claims that for the majority of the population, the only chance they got to cleanse their bodies was as a result of a cheap trip to the seaside - probably once a year for the labouring classes at the time of the town's wakes week in August (31).  The way that they both prepared and handled food was also questioned by Withers who suspected that this aided and abetted the spread of those aforementioned highly contagious diseases.
Despite his recommendations, Withers' realises that the greatest problem is actually enforcing these to ensure conditions will change calls for some form of policing of the act since it seems apparent from the report that Withers' has found there to be a connection that disease and neglect are closely related, not only affecting the dwellers of these cellars but also others in the town as a consequence (32).  The fact also that the report makes the recommendation that each and very house in Blackburn should be supplied with water is indicative that most of the dwellings within the town are without (33).  It calls the supply of water, "essential to promoting the good health of the inhabitants. The lack of water is also indicated by the fact that the report mentions that if water be provided in an abundance it would help to prevent the sewers from blocking up and a constant flow of waste water would help clear the sewerage away (34).  The report mentions also that privies should be replaced by water closets (35).  This overall negative picture of the town is further augmented by the observations of eminent medical practitioners whose tested theories have produced conclusions which indicate that sewer mouths, outlets to drains, polluted cess pools are all "hot beds" of disease and that humidity and fogs have a tendency to promote disease to which Blackburn because of it low situation is liable.

From the evidence which has been obtained from the Health Report it is suggested that effectively the report paints a very grim picture of Blackburn by the mid nineteenth century, which conforms almost perfectly not only to those conditions in other Lancashire towns and cities, but towns and cities throughout the country.  It would appear from the Health Report that the effects of stagnant water, overflowing privies and cess pools, accumulations of stable, cow house and pig sty filth, deficient drainage, overcrowded burial grounds, slaughter houses, garbage, decaying vegetable matter, discarded fish shells, overcrowded dwellings, the River Blakewater giving off a noxious smell even at the very centre of town and folk wearing filthy and soiled clothing whose idea of a regular wash was a dip in the sea on their annual outing to the seaside, coupled with exhalations from the town's industry all added to the poor air quality of the town with its damp air and susceptibility to fogs (36).  In fact Withers goes so far as to state that the air in Blackburn is so full of pollution that it not only affects people as they breathe it in causing a whole host of respiratory ailments, but also has the effect of contaminating any decent food the people in the town might have.  In short, Blackburn in 1853 appears to have been a place that any sensible person should avoid at all cost.  Those conditions which existed on Blackburn's streets could not be ignored nor missed by any casual visitor passing through the town.  It is assumed that as a consequence that no commercial business would want to set up in a town like Blackburn other than the textile industry which had been so influential both in shaping Blackburn causing the huge migrations the town, which ultimately had caused the appalling conditions that existed there.

Having tested the theories discussed in Chapter 1, it would appear that there existed infilling, overcrowding borne out by the Health Report and that Blackburn conformed to the generally accepted picture that the appalling conditions that had been described elsewhere in Lancashire were apparent in Blackburn with conditions being every bit as bad if not worse.  In short there was filth in the dwellings, in the streets, in the river, in the air filled with the smoke of industry and on the clothes of unwashed people just about everywhere.  There seemed little chance of being able to ignore such conditions, causing an unbearable stench that even the most insensitive of olfactory organs could not avoid.  Just by standing in Blackburn it would appear was enough to taint and have a derogatory effect upon, the pollutants seemingly having the ability by a process of osmosis to affect even the internal organs of the bodies of the most healthy of visitors.  The recommendations which he makes include four elements which he states are vital-and should be provide in abundance, light, air, space and cleanliness and that diseases included what he terms "the dreaded scourge of cholera bow to the effects of cleanliness, ventilation, and purity of air, whereas crowded, filthy, badly ventilated habitations court disease and are handmaids of Cholera and Typhus &c".  But it would appear that nothing short of a miracle could ever improve those atrocious conditions which Withers' graphically describes and would appear to affect a very large proportion of the population of Blackburn.
 
By Andrew Taylor

 
REFERENCES
 
1. Primary Sources:
 
Published Sources.
 
Baines, E - History, Directory and Gazetteer of Lancashire Vol I (1824)
Mannex -Directory of Mid Lancashire (1854)
Rogerson, T - Lancashire General Directory (1818)
Slater - Lancashire Directory (1851)
Slater -Lancashire Directory (1848)
Withers, J - Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Borough of Blackburn, with observations on the Drainage and other subjects, calculated to improve the health of the inhabitants (1853).

Newspapers.

Blackburn Standard 12 May 1841
Blackburn Standard 10 August 1842
Maps and Plans
 
Yates's Map of Lancashire (1780)
Untitled Map of Blackburn (c1795)
1824 Map of Blackburn
1795 Map of Blackburn
Ordnance Survey 6" to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)
Ordnance Survey 5' to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)

Other Primary Sources

Census Return, 1851

Secondary Sources:
Books.
Aspin, C - The First Industrial Society - Lancashire 1750-1850 (1995 - revised edition) Bagley, JJ - A History of Lancashire (1982)
Beattie, D - Blackburn - The Development of a Lancashire Cotton Town (1982).
Chapman, SD -The History of Working Class Housing, Chapter 5 - Liverpool
Working Class Housing 1805-51 - James H Treble (1971)
Dickens, C - Hard Times (1969 re-print of the 1854 edition)
Langton, J and Morris RJ - Atlas of industrialising Britain 1780-1914, Chapter 2 Population - Richard Lawton. Chapter 22, Urbanisation, RJ Morris.
Miller, G - Blackburn - The Evolution of a Cotton Town (1951)
Morgan, N - Vanished Dwellings, (1990)
Roberts, Dr J - Working class houses in Nineteenth Century Manchester - The Example of John Street, Irk Town, 1826-1936 (1983)
Whittle, P - Blackburn As It is (1852)
Victoria History of the Counties of England - Lancashire Vol 2 (1966 re-print of the 1908 edition)
 
By Andrew Taylor
 

 

The Non-Conformist View of Nineteenth-Century Blackburn


One could be forgiven for thinking that in the light of the Withers' Health Report of 1853, that Blackburn in the mid-nineteenth century was hell on earth when considering all those appalling conditions which existed in the town.  However, should this have been a true record throughout the town, then how ever could have the town survived?  As already stated, although the increased birth-rate goes some of the way to explain the population expansion the town experienced at the time, migration into Blackburn also played a major roll.  Surely if the conditions were as bad as Withers' claims, then no one would have wanted to come to such an inhospitable place where the air must have been heavy with the stench of pollutants and decaying matter which existed in the streets.  Yet as population figures show, Blackburn's population continued to increase as the graph below illustrates.  In the census of 1861, the first after the publication of the Health Report, the town's population increased by 35.65% and continued to increase by around 20% for the remainder of this century, the second highest rate of those town's previously considered, and continued with similar rates of growth into the twentieth century by which time in population terms Blackburn had soared passed Bolton and Preston, reaching a population peak by 1914 of almost 140,000.  It could be claimed that the town's survival hinged on the fact that the measures recommended by the Health Report were applied, but again if conditions were as bad as stated then it surely would have taken many years or even decades to overcome such horrendous conditions as the report implies, yet the general impression from this source is that those conditions were widespread which no one could ignore.

 

Beginning with the Lancashire General Directory by T. Rogerson and published in 1818, it is claimed that Blackburn "... is a commercial and improving town" (1) .  His synopsis writes of this town in glowing terms, mentioning the fact that not only is there piped water and several springs of what he terms "most excellent water", but it seems from his account of Blackburn in 1818, that the townsfolk have the luxury of a cold bath.  Additionally this directory mentions that the town has is own theatre (the Theatre Royal), Assembly rooms, Billiard Tables and several public news rooms.  It also highlights the fact that considerable improvements are being made in Blackburn at that time and from Billinge Hill to the north west of the town it speaks of the view that it commands "truly grand that no pen can do justice to" (2).  Baines' renowned Gazetteer published just eight years after Rogerson's employs the same style in writing of the town.  Baines claims that in the early stages of the cotton business, the inhabitants in general were "indigent and scantily provided, but the decisive proof of wealth now appears of every hand; handsome new erections are constantly rising up, public institutions for the improvement of the mind and the extension of human happiness are rapidly increasing and this place at one time proverbial for its rudeness and want of civilisation may now fairly rank in point of opulence and intelligence with many of the principle towns of the kingdom" adding the Independent Academy for the instruction of the classics, the Linean Society promoting the study of natural history and the Charity School for Girls in addition to the aforementioned Grammar School and theatre. Baines' also writes of the Blackburn General Dispensary which receives donations from the "parochial funds of the township" dispensing to the poor of the town "without... any other consideration but their sickness and poverty" (3).
 

However, both of these Trade Directories were published well outside the period covered by the Withers' Health Report, and if the conditions outlined by the Withers' Health Report are to believed without question, then the town must have taken a severe downward turn in the decades which followed as population numbers increased.  In order to present a more objective picture of what Blackburn was like in the 1850s it is necessary therefore to view those directories compiled at the time that details for Withers' report were being collected and see just how descriptions of the town in these directories changed over the thirty years as conditions if the Health Report is to believed took a downward turn in those interim years and to observe whether this was apparent from those Trade Directories from the late 1840s early 1850s.

 

The Lancashire Directory compiled by Slater and published in 1851 states that "Blackburn stands on the bank of a brook" (4).  From this description, it would mean that this brook was a quaint water course running through the centre of Blackburn.  Additionally the word brook is generally connected to the term babbling, so from this the reader is presented with scene of a fast flowing river with clear water implying that the river was clean.  Furthermore, the directory states that the town is "...sheltered by a ridge of hills stretching from northeast to northwest"(5).  Again here hills coupled with the aforementioned brook implies an almost rural scene.  Additionally, the directory claims that "within these last few years [the town] has been much improved, is well lighted with gas and abundantly supplied with water".  Not only that but the Trade Directories state that "Considerable attention has also been directed to the paving of the streets, flagging the footpaths and repairing the highways" (6).  The earlier Slater Directory published in 1848 also states that the savings bank is "Flourishing"(7) which is indicative that Blackburn is a relatively prosperous town and that there are plenty of people in Blackburn with the means to save.  Similarly, the Mannex report of 1854, describes the town in glowing terms, claiming that there are twelve police in the town chosen under the provision of an act obtained as long ago as 1803, who provide for and monitor the lighting, paving and cleansing of the streets and it would appear that in no way are they failing in this duty (8).
 

The overall and general prosperity of the town is illustrated by the wealth of building which are evident at the time of these trade directories.  The Parish Church completed in 1826 was there at the time of Withers' Report and yet nowhere does this nor any of this other structures figure in the Health report.  Slater synopsis reports that the parish church "...presents one of the most pleasing specimens of modern gothic architecture" (9).  Mannex agrees with this description further stating that it is "...a stately edifice, a noble structure in style of florid gothic" (10).  Time can confirm this as in the twenty first century this building still emits these same features.  However, the Church was built in 1826, before the period that the Health Report concentrates on.  So what of those buildings which were built between 1840 and 1860 and were these hastily constructed buildings?

One of the most significant buildings erected during the mid-nineteenth century in Blackburn was the Market House built in 1848.  Claimed to be Blackburn's first public building (other that the town's churches), Slater and Mannex both give glowing accounts of the architecture of this building.  Slater states that "The market house now erected combines ornament with utility and exhibits a memorial to the talents of architecture and constructor" (11).  Mannex calls it "...a unique building of early Italian palazzo style with a grand entrance tower, the campanile crowned by a splendid border of fine wrought cornice" but this is not all that Mannex says of the structure.  "The beautifully covered market house bears ample testimony to the public spirit of the inhabitants of Blackburn"(12).  This is an interesting point since it would appear that from this that the townsfolk had a certain amount of pride in their town.  However the depiction of Blackburn by Withers indicates that such a structure might have looked out of place in this place where there was so much squalor.  The trade directories are also very informative about communications to and from the town and mention the speedy communications which the railways have affected between Blackburn and other towns, calling the East Lancashire Railway Station near the centre of Blackburn " a neat building"(13).  The Slater directory is also glowing of its description of the Bolton Station at the Nova Scotia district calling it a "noble, Grecian building of polished stone, with a fine portico supported by six double squared pillars and possessing every accommodation for the passenger" (14).  However these directories do not do real justice to some of those other buildings that were in existence at the time, which are not mentioned and yet are still standing and still possess an elegant and attractive air over 150 years which surely must illustrate that the town of Blackburn during this period did emit an image of affluence and style presenting a favourable impression one to the outsider coming into the town.

A useful source when attempting to ascertain what conditions were like in Blackburn in the mid-nineteenth century is the book entitled "Blackburn As it is" written by the Preston historian Peter Whittle and published in 1852, the year before the publication of Withers Health Report.  What makes this source so useful is it not only covers the period in question, but it is written by a historian who is not from Blackburn and so is more likely to present a more objective picture of Blackburn in the early 1850s.  It would seem that Whittle is attempting to produce a pseudo-documentary piece of the town at that time, rather than attempt to attract businesses into Blackburn or produce an account of the poor conditions which existed at that time in the town.  As such one is bound to start to question the motives of both the trade directories and the Health Report and whether they provide an accurate illustration of the town at that time.  Also, what both the Health Report and the Trade Directories are attempting to achieve.
 
The body of Whittles publication informing the reader that the population has grown immensely over the previous fifty years, the majority of which have enjoyed "an abundance of regular and tolerably paid employment: the scale of their comforts has gradually improved; and the number of their schools and places of worship may be taken as evidence that their intelligence, their religious moral and social standing have been steadily advanced"(15).  He also writes that "The entire district of Blackburn is regarded as particularly favourable to longevity and the enjoyment of health" (16).  The streets of Blackburn according to Whittle are irregularly built and the fact that "considerable attention has been paid to them and have been improved in all parts".  He further states "The streets are in good order and their are many excellent buildings. The highways leading from it are also in excellent condition, so it is approached with a degree of pleasure" (17).  Whittle also picks up on those points stated in the trade directories in regard to the town's churches and comments favourably on the town's churches claiming that although "those churches are not the most magnificent which do exist, they are elegant" (18).  St Peter's he calls "...elegant piece of transitional architecture with a splendid tower"(19), St Johns "a neat and spacious stone building surmounted by a dome and lantern of Grecian, Tuscan and ionic architecture (20).  He does however claim that there are few public buildings naming the Market Hall and the surrounding buildings fronting King William Street, Fleming's Square and the Theatre Royal (21).
 
At that time that Whittle was writing the Market Hall was virtually brand new only opening six years earlier in 1848.  Like the trade directories, Whittle enthuses about this structure several times over. "Blackburn now has boast of a covered market house erected in 1848; this elegant structure is very spacious ...It combines ornament with utility and exhibits a master piece of talent of the architect Mr Terrance Flanaghan; and the contractor Mr Robert Ibbotson deserves praise".  He goes on claiming [the market house] ...style of architecture is that of the early Italian palazzo; a style that is truly magnificent and at the same time elegant itself ..The campanile has a florid cantilever fillagree cornice surmounted by an ante of corbellated and Italian fretwork such as was the style of the most noble palazzios of Rome in its pristine glory ...unequalled by any market house in Lancashire and confers a brilliant era in the progress of the public spirit of the inhabitants of Blackburn" (22).  Praise indeed for a town presented as a hovel in the Health Report.  Not that the praise ends here for Whittle also commends those other new buildings in the same vicinity which take the names of New Market, Albert and Victoria Buildings lining King William Street.  Opened up in 1834 Whittle claims it is "the noblest street in the borough" and calls those buildings which line the street "very lofty and elegant" (23).  Though two more of that streets buildings are only in the planning stage in 1852 Whittle writes in eager anticipation of the construction of the town hall and the exchange declaring that these will "...add more ornaments to the borough" (24).
 
Not that Whittle's favourable comments are reserved for just this one area of Blackburn.  Fleming's Square he writes highly of, which he states has undergone a considerable change.  "The architecture and planning of this space by Mr Hopwood" he claims "does him infinite credit and at the same time adds to the beauty of the town" (25).  Theatre Royal in Ainsworth Street he feels is not in the best situation as its location does not show this building off to advantage (26) and states that the rebuilding of the Old Bull Hotel will "...present a very elegant appearance in that part of the borough" and that it will "add beauty to the town" (27).

 

But all this concerns the centre of Blackburn and the commercial buildings, what of the houses in the town.  Here Whittle is very informative about the quality and the quantity of houses which are being built in Blackburn between the late 1840s and early 1850s and also the number of houses which existed in the town from the 1821 census.  Between 1821 and 1831, there was a rise in the towns population of 23.58% however the increase in the number of dwellings was just less than half standing at 11.53% (28) which at this stage would indicate that as the population grew then so too did overcrowding to accommodate the increase in the towns population.  Between the years 1831 and 1841, the town's population increased by 35.21 %, whereas the increase in dwellings rose at a slightly higher rate, the growth rate being 35.58%.  Ten years on to 1851 and the population of Blackburn had increased by 27.05% whereas the number of dwellings had increased again at slightly higher rate, the figure being 27.23%.  Therefore apart from 1821, these figure indicate that as the population increased so too did the number of houses to cope with this influx.  From his statistics it can be seen that on average there were 5.74 persons per house in the period between 1821 and 1851, whereas for this same period, Preston's figures are marginally less at 5.47 persons per house (29).  Whittle also states that in Blackburn in 1851, of the 7,925 houses there are 6,332 which are supplied with water, showing that 79.89% of houses piped to them by that year (30).  All of which is indicative of that fact that the people of Blackburn were in the main adequately provided for in terms of housing in this period, coupled with the fact that there was an awareness of the problems of housing as the population increased.

 

According to Whittle these houses which were built in 1851, were being erected in the Brookhouse Fields district and are what he calls "very neat" (31).  It seems that in 1851, a total of one thousand houses were built in that one year alone, which Whittle claims is "...proof of the general prosperity of the town and the rapid increase in the number of inhabitants".  During 1852 a further 200 new houses were being built in Daisyfield, Brookhouse Fields, Shire Brow, Strawberry Bank and Bank Top; Whittle stating they "All of these parts are very healthy, many of them being built on elevated ground" (32).  So there it is, three sources and the emergence of two very different images of Blackburn during the mid nineteenth century, polarised to either side of the opinion spectrum. In their own ways both Health Report and Trade Directories provide a radical opinion with little if any overlaps and neither occupying the centre ground of this spectrum where there appears to be a vast void.  The Trade Directories leave the reader in very little doubt that Blackburn was an outstanding place portraying a place which is comparable to such noble cities as Florence and Rome; a place which is continuing to improve and yet has not lost its rural ambiance in the light of industrialisation.  Not unsurprisingly there is no mention of any of the features which are mentioned in the Health Report.  According to this, the town is hell on earth and where the latter presents an very unattractive view of Blackburn, the former provides a completely different picture. So which of these can be relied upon as presenting an accurate image?  The fact that there are more sources which apparently present a favourable image cannot be taken as truly reliant and it would be a very unwise person to believe in safety in numbers without investigating the sources fully.  It appears that Whittle is the most reliable, whose picture tends to lean more towards the impression provided by the trade directories and though he appears to be in awe of Blackburn he is not blind to the iniquities which are in existence at the very centre of town, claiming that there is still a need for greater improvements to be undertaken.  By taking this stand he is apparently occupying the centre ground enveloped between excessive good and excessive bad.  Even in relation to the more sordid elements he uses the same type of expression, picking up points which have apparently been overlooked by the Trade Directories.  However what is different between Withers and Whittles accounts is the fact that Whittle does not imply that the unsavoury conditions which he writes about exist throughout the town, which does bring into question the validity of Withers' report.

   

by Andrew Taylor


References
 

 

Chapter Three.
 
(1) Rogerson p3
(2) Rogerson p7
(3) Baines pp504-507
(4) Slater (1851) p28
(5) Slater (1851) p28
(6) Slater (1851) p28
(7) Slater (1848) p287
(8) Mannex pp267-8
(9) Slater (1851) p 28
(10) Mannex p259
(11) Slater (1851) p28
(12) Mannex p269
(13) Slater (1851) p28
(14) Slater (1851) p28
(15) Whittle p24
(16) Whittle p274
(17) Whittle p35
(18) Whittle p37
(19) Whittle p73
(20) Whittle p64
(21) Whittle p 103
(22) Whittle p120
(23) Whittle p115
(24) Whittle p121
(25) Whittle p107
(26) Whittle p103
(27) Whittle p272
(28) Whittle p289
(29) Morgan p27
(30) Whittle p105
(31) Whittle p269
(32) Whittle p270

 


 
 
From the information obtained from both the Trade Directories and the Health Report, two very different images of Blackburn in the mid nineteenth century begin to emerge.  This contrast between the two points of views is remarkable as both are polarised at either end of the spectrum with neither occupying the hazy middle ground.  From the view of the Health Report implying that Blackburn itself is little more than an open sewer comes an alternative opinion which makes Blackburn sound a very stylish place - two very clear-cut images: good or bad, black or white with no grey areas between.  Taking into account both of these two opinions, it is at this point assumed that both are to some extent over-exaggerated accounts of their own perception of conditions, done in order to instil their own opinions in an attempt to indoctrinate the minds of those who are happy to accept all that they read whether it be good or bad.  It is essential therefore to consider the motives of both the Health Report and Trade Directories.  Withers' observations were published in 1853 two years after Blackburn received the Charter of Incorporation creating the Borough of Blackburn.  There is little doubt that most of the conditions that were described in the Health Report must have existed in some shape or form in Blackburn, but only in certain parts of the town and not perhaps to the extent that Withers implies, otherwise the Trade Directories accounts could have been held up by observers as a complete fabrication of the facts which undoubtedly would have been so obvious to a potential trader as they entered the town, damaging the reputations of those highly respected journals.  As a consequence therefore further investigation it is vital to question those facts stated both in the Health Report and the Trade Directories in order to attempt to present an objective approach as possible as to what life was like in Blackburn during the 1850s and as a consequence fill the void which lies between these two points of view with this judgment.  But what is apparent at this stage is the fact that the Health Report tends to tackle conditions away from the centre of Blackburn, whereas the Trade Directories concentrate solely on the centre of town.  Both of these sources however need closer examination in order to see just how far their accounts were accurate.
 
Beginning with the subject of Withers and the severe overcrowding; it seems that the greatest problem of severe overcrowding is that of disease.  Starting with the incidences of death in Blackburn, the Health Report claims that the most prevalent diseases at that time were Scarletina and Typhus.  In the six month period between 5 May and 10 November 1852, Withers states that in Blackburn there were 74 deaths from Scarletina and 84 from Typhus (1).  Up to the 10 November 1852 an average of 12.3% and 14% deaths per month were due to typhus and scarletina respectively over this period, the year to that date having seen 1,438 deaths, therefore using the average figure per month, it would be assumed that during the full year 1852, there would have been 168 deaths from Typhus, 147 deaths from Scarletina with Wither's estimated mortality for that year to be 1,618 (2).
 
Before looking further in to these figures, it is worth looking at the two main causes of death in a little more detail.  Both typhus and scarletina are bacterial infections rather than viral ones.  The encyclopaedic definition of Scarletina is that it is an acute, infectious bacterial disease (3).  Typhus again is an acute infectious disease caused by a bacteria transmitted by lice, fleas, mites and ticks which is epidemic amongst people living in overcrowded conditions (4).  Therefore, the existence of both of these diseases is indicative of the presence of overcrowded conditions and a high incidence of overcrowding would in tend to indicated that there would be many cases as a result.  Looking at the overall mortality for 1852, the estimated figures for that year indicates that 9.09% of the deaths in Blackburn at that time were as a result of Scarletina and 10.38% of the deaths were from Typhus.  The figures themselves seem high yet in real terms there are considerably low.  By adding both together, this would account for just under a fifth of the causes of deaths in Blackburn during that one year.  Additionally by looking at the figures for the streets which Withers has detailed, these two diseases appear to be incredibly low with only five streets out of fifty eight having more than two deaths from typhus and only the work house recording six deaths which does somewhat lead to the question of just how widespread in Blackburn were overcrowded houses since this data would imply that it actually was minimal.  In the work house it would be expected that because of the high level of people crowded together, coupled with the poor conditions and the overall poor health of the inmates that such an institution would harbour, that there would be a higher than normal incidence, yet the Health Report does imply that it was not uncommon for there to be many people living within the same small house.  However one factor which should be acknowledged is the fact that the figures given only relate to the deaths that have been caused by these diseases and not to actual cases where sufferers actually got over the disease, but it can only be assumed that in those days before the advent of penicillin that survival rates for both of those these two very serious diseases would have been extremely low.  However that they appear to be relatively low in Blackburn would again tend to indicate that the problems which are caused by overcrowding do not appear to be as widespread as Withers' suggests.  Further, if these effects are not as widespread as would be expected after reading the Health Report then perhaps the overcrowding was neither as prevalent nor as appalling as the report implied.  As a consequence therefore, it is necessary to investigate further into these allegations of severe overcrowding to see just how widespread it was in Blackburn.
 
Beginning with data obtained from Peter Whittles' account of Blackburn in 1852, his figures, which in themselves are taken from possibly the most reliable source of them all, the census return, indicate that by 1851, the average number of occupants per house in Blackburn was 5.87 (5).  Even rounding this figure up to six does not indicate that there was the excessive overcrowding in Blackburn at this time that Withers implies.  However this is an average of all of the houses in Blackburn could distort the fact that in some areas the number of people living in one house could be far higher in than in others.  With this is mind therefore a good test is to look at the occupancy of houses in those streets that Withers lists and check the actual census schedules to see on average in how many people was there was per house and how far these numbers were away from the average.  To take this process one step further, those streets which Withers used as his basis the town have been allocated into eight districts to see if the proportion of people per house was higher in some parts of Blackburn than in others.  The town therefore has been divided into: Nova Scotia, Grimshaw Park, The Wrangling, Brookhouse, (incorporating the Daisyfield area), Lark Hill, Green Bank, Blakey Moor and Salford.  Each of these districts cover roughly the same sized area and are plotted on the map below.  The data which has been obtained from those named streets in those areas marked on the above map have been quantified producing the following table.
 
District
Cases of Scarletina
Cases of Scarletina
Average No. of People per house.
Blakey Moor
11
8
7.8
Brookhouse
7
2
5.24
Greenbank
12
6
6.08
Grimshaw Park
5
14
5.60
Lark Hill
13
6
5.79
Nova Scotia
6
9
6.66
Salford
6
2
5.12
The Wrangling
9
28
10.8
Total
74
84
6.63 (Average)
 
 
The above table shows those actual streets in their respective districts marked on the map, showing also the average occupancy per house and the number of cases of scarletina and typhus which occurred in the ten month period, as detailed in the Health Report.  As shown in the table above and illustrated in the graph below, there seems to be a greater concentration of people per house in The Wrangling district of Blackburn than in any other part, with the figure of occupancy per house being almost double the average in some streets. 
 
The reason for this may well be due to the fact that according to the 1848 Ordnance Survey 60 inch to one mile map, that the back to back houses which exist at Whalley Banks are depicted in the map above of having steps on the outside implying that within these houses there were cellars which acted as dwellings, therefore at Whalley Banks there are people living above and below one another, side by side and back to back.  Also, the above table shows that in this area there is the greatest number of deaths caused by typhus, prevalent in those places where overcrowding existed.  Additionally these houses are in close proximity of the River Blakewater, downstream from Salford Bridge, therefore it is possible that the accumulation of all the filth and debris and poisonous exhalations that both the Health Report and Whittle mention are concentrated in this highly overcrowded area, giving rise to the higher than average death rate caused by typhus.  Not only is there overcrowding in those houses in Whalley Banks, but also in houses in Livesey Little Street, Livesey Back Street, Richard Street, Back Richard Street and Back King Street.  In each of these streets there is an average of seven and more people living in the same house.  The houses in all of these streets are back to back type and in Livesey Little, there is again a sizeable number of deaths due to the occurrence of typhus.
 
By investigating the houses in this district of town using the census returns from 1851, it appears those people who live in such conditions are those employed in some of the lowliest of trades such as labourers.  Additionally, it appears that in many of these overcrowded dwellings Irish immigrants are housed and throughout Blackburn, wherever there is severe overcrowding, there is a tendency for the occupants of these houses to be Irish Labourers.  Over the town of Blackburn as a whole, the number of Irish per house averages out at 10.63, and it is not unusual to find as many as fifteen and sixteen people living in two roomed dwellings. In a house in the Cockcrofts, narrow streets near to Blakey Moor were there was a high density of Irish immigrants and of 45 houses there are thirteen with occupancy over sixteen people crowded into the same house and six of these with more than twenty occupants per house.  Returning to the Wrangling, another striking feature which the above table highlights is the actual number of deaths caused by typhus in the area.  The figure illustrates that within a ten month period, 33.3% of all cases of typhus occurred in the Wrangling district and so this clearly illustrates that the incidence of typhus went hand in hand with that of severe overcrowding.
 
In the midst of all this disease and overcrowding in the Wrangling, there is however an anomaly, namely Richard Street and Back Richard Street.  In the period that Withers' covers, there are no cases of either scarletina or typhus in either of these two streets.  In order to ascertain why this might be so, the table below was produced comparing some of the other streets in the Wrangling district with the two Richard Streets to see if any conclusions could be drawn from the fact that those two named diseases were not found in the two Richard Streets.
 
 
Street Name
Houses in Street
Highest Occupancy
Average People per House
Cases of Scarletina
Cases of Typhus
% Houses Occupied by Irish
Whalley Banks
16
14
11
1
4
58
 
Bk Whalley Banks
16
15
9
1
3
63
Livesey Front Street
16
13
9
0
3*
23
Livesey Back Street
27
13
7
0
*
12
Livesey Little Street
9
14
9
0
*
25
Back King Street
22
17
7
0
2
18
Richard Street
16
11
7
0
0
0
Bk Richard Street
26
12
6
0
0
4
 
*One figure provided for all Livesey Streets.
 
 
What is startlingly apparent from the above table is that where the incidences of Typhus and Scarletina are higher then there is a greater percentage of houses which are occupied by Irish immigrants.  However over the two Richard Streets, there is only one house occupied by Irish immigrants.  To take Whalley Banks in isolation, on average there are 12 people living in the same house in those houses occupied by the Irish giving rise to the notion that it was the Irish immigrants of the town who were exposed to the contagious diseases as a consequence of their poverty forcing many to have to live together under the same roof.
 
This would appear from the evidence obtained from the 60" to one mile map and the census returns that the Wrangling district displays those criteria which are evident in the classic slum since both of these sources show that there were in some cases many people crowded into many houses squeezed into a relatively small area of Blackburn together with evidence of cellar dwellings.  The higher than average levels of disease, in particular typhus appears to be due to the proximity of the River Blakewater.  The river flows directly through the middle of this area, which is shown on the above map between Whalley Bank's Mill and the Phoenix Foundry.  Not only does the river weave its way through the Wrangling, but it is also downstream from the centre of town and so would by this stage would contain high levels of pollutants giving off high levels of undesirable exhalations the effects of which could quite possibly been experienced in this poor area of town.  Also it is worth noting that the river in this area was prone to flooding as it was in the Salford area, therefore as the water level rose to overflow into the streets it would undoubtedly have inundated those cellars with the accumulation of impurities collected on its course through the Blackburn, a route taking in Brookhouse, touching on the Larkhill area, through Salford to the Wrangling and as such had a profound impact on those unfortunate folk living in those cellars at the time.  Further, as can be seen on the map and by the census returns, that overcrowded houses were built cheek-by-jowl with the cotton factories also throwing impurities into what would also have been a very contaminated air.
 
Something which is apparent on the zoned map of the town above is the fact that within the area marked in grey, there is no record of either typhus or scarletina occuring.  The area is made up of Montague Street and King Street and what is remarkable is the fact that this area of Blackburn is bounded by The Wrangling, Nova Scotia and Blakey Moor all areas where there are high incidences of these diseases.  To take this point further, consideration is given to both the type of housing in these streets, together with other streets off these including, France Street, Heaton Street, Paradise Lane and Freckleton Street and the people that lived within.  From the OS map, it would appear that the houses here were some of the largest in the town and 150 years after the collation of the census schedules where these building remain there still exists traces of these buildings' Georgian elegance that this area of Blackburn once possessed, also there is an area of parkland and a select school with a large playing area for the pupils. Another street where there is no incidence of either of the above two named diseases is Richmond Terrace a very airy open street who's property was a little more modern being constructed in the Regency Period and again has the ability to emanate the same elegance almost 200 years after the terraces here were built.
 
To digress a little here and look a little more closely at these houses, the maps show that not only where these houses larger than many few opened directly into the street, the map showing that the Georgian houses had steps leading from the street level to a grand single-front door whereas the Regency houses in Richmond Terrace had a small area in front and a path to their front doors.  The census returns of 1851, gave a great deal of insight as to what type of people lived in these houses as it appears that they most definitely were homes to the town's gentry and merchants and the most wealthy folk in the town, being employed as Doctors, Accountants, Solicitors, Surgeons, Manager of a joint stock bank, a chemist an assistant in a Manchester warehouse, a leech bleeder, a pawn broker and a "gentleman", all who employed at least one servant further illustrating their higher social standing.  In a house in Freckleton Street lived the vicar of Blackburn's Parish Church and around the corner in King Street was the town's "Royal Hotel" a very elegant hostelry dated from the times of stage coach travel, with its assembly room venue to those society functions attended by the town's gentry (6).  What is of importance here is the fact that nowhere does this area feature in the Health Report illustrating that Withers apparently must have employed selectivity in his reporting of Blackburn which does raise the question of just how much those other claims made by him are as severe as he insists or as over-magnified as the examination of the overcrowding has revealed.
 
On another subject which features prominently in the Health Report is the condition of the town's streets and this also is an topic where Withers is at odds with other sources written at a similar time.  It is categorically stated in the Health Report that two thirds of Blackburn's streets are at best poorly paved, but are mainly unpaved with no provision for surface drainage (7).  However this statement totally contradicts that made both by Whittles' writings in 1852 and by Slater in the Trade Directory of 1848 who just as persuasively claim that there has been "considerable attention" (8) directed at the streets which includes the flagging of footpaths and repairing the highways.  Whittle additionally states that all are in "good order".  For further evidence, it is interesting to see what the local newspaper has to say about the conditions of Blackburn's streets.  In 1841, the Blackburn Standard complained about the poor state of the sidewalks or footpaths, claiming that nowhere in England are they "so rugged, so uneven and so irregular" (9), yet a year later, the same newspaper was admitting that many new pavements had been laid down or had been flagged as a result of the interaction of the Improvement Commissioners (10), eleven years prior to the publication of Withers' Health Report.  It can only be assumed here that the local newspaper is a more reliable source on this subject since it is writing at the time and such fundamental subject as the paving of the streets which would affect everyone would not in reality provide such an inaccurate account, especially as it would be so obvious that this fact was untrue.  But what gives the newspaper added value is the fact that only a year before it had been commenting on the poor condition of Blackburn's streets.
 
Another ambiguity concerns the supply of water to households.  On this point, Withers insists that more houses need to be supplied with water which implies that few are adequately supplied (11).  Whittle on the other hand states that there are twenty three miles of water pipes in Blackburn - which is one mile more than there are streets (12).  Furthermore Whittle states that there are 6332 houses in the town which are provided with a water supply, out of the total housing stock of 7925 (13).  Therefore according to Whittle, 79.90% of houses in Blackburn in 1853 are supplied with piped water which is a considerably higher figure than would be expected from reading Withers' report.  The Mannex trade directory published in 1854 puts this figure at an even higher level claiming that there are 7,000 houses provided with water (14) although it does not give accurate figures in regard to the town's population at that time.  Slater's Directory of 1851 however states that there are only 15 miles of water pipes (15) reducing the figure presented by Whittle by a third, therefore there is a little discrepancy here as to just how many houses were actually supplied with water although non of their statistics appear as doom-laden as the Health Report.
 
Further evidence of Withers' over stating of the poor conditions in Blackburn is illustrated by his descriptions of the town's burial grounds.  Throughout most of his report, Withers' cites names and localities, however on closer scrutiny of his report into Blackburn's burial grounds there appears to be no named localities indeed here there is no specific reference to Blackburn in Withers description of them. He say that "... [Burial Grounds] ought not to be permitted in large towns ...This system of having large pits for the promiscuous burial of the poor, kept constantly open and many other evils arising from the increased mortality of an increased population demands a remedy" (16).  The conclusion from this is that the open graves that he mentions might not exist in Blackburn after all and the recommendation of the construction of a burial ground on an elevated situation on the outskirts of the town is in fact a precautionary measure based on observations and writings about those conditions that perhaps have been experienced in other towns and cities, but have not necessarily been experienced in Blackburn.  His comment is that burial grounds should not be permitted in large towns where there are high densities of population.  Evidence obtained from the OS maps indicate that in Blackburn as elsewhere in the country, burial grounds were mainly attached to churches which would be close to the centre of the town and yet Withers' makes no reference to St Mary's with its burial grounds at the very centre of Blackburn, St John's, St Peter's or St Paul's all of which having grave yards adjacent to those churches all in close proximity to the town's population.  The notion of open-mass graves in his report therefore is a little misleading since it is assumed that they were existence in Blackburn, when in fact the report does not implicitly state that they were.
 
On examining other sources, a further statement of the Health Report which throws its true accuracy into question is the reference to the recommendation that there should be the provision of a public bath house to enable the populace to wash and bathe.  On this matter Withers' clearly states that there is no such facility in Blackburn at the time claiming that "The establishment of a public bath house would be a great boon to the inhabitants and be conductive to their health and yet while the necessity of frequent ablutions is so generally recommended-there is no facility for the performance of them in Blackburn" (17).  However, Rogerson in 1818 says different.  In his Directory, one of the favourable aspects of Blackburn was that there was "several springs of most excellent water and there is a cold bath" (18) however there is no mention of this facility in the directories which followed which might have been dropped from subsequent directories since this detail may not have been of any relevance to the potential entrepreneur interested in setting up business in the town.  Here again it could have been that Withers selectivity comes to the fore and claiming that they did not exist could have had a greater impact than by otherwise acknowledging their presence or it may have been that the facilities which did exist were totally inadequate to provide for the population which had increased greatly by 1853.  Nevertheless, it is matters such as these and the burial grounds issue which are themselves questionable and in turn start the process of questioning the accuracy of Withers all the issues detailed in the report which stimulate the doubt that if these are inaccurate then what else is?
It is not only the fact that some of the findings of the Health Report are over exaggerated but what also begins to emerge is the possible notion that perhaps some of the conditions that Withers claim to be apparent have been dealt with and as such his claims are well out of date.  The aforementioned conditions of the town's pavements is one such area another and another is the recommendation made by Withers that there should be more space between buildings in order to enable a greater flow of air. Withers' writes: "Cleanliness and purity of air and space combined with ventilation, has a tendency to prevent disease in families" and that what he terms the `dreaded scourge', Cholera bow to these effects, whereas crowded, filthy, ill ventilated habitations, ..."court disease and are the handmaids to Cholera and Typhus" (19).  However there is evidence showing that that there was indeed better planning in the town from the late 1840s onwards as discussed in the previous chapter (20) which is indicative that Withers is skipping over this favourable element in order to emphasise the poor conditions of Blackburn, just as the Trade directories neatly skip over the undesirable elements.  Having considered both the Health Report and the trade directories, it appears that there were few buildings of architectural note in Blackburn in the early 1850s, prior to the Charter of Incorporation.  Picking up the fact that the Trade Directories mention that streets were irregular in Blackburn is indicative that they were constructed at a time when there was little constraint by way of planning (21).  However one feature that is in existence then not only is the Market Hall which all mention, but also some of the buildings in the adjacent area, namely the Victoria, the New Market, the Albert Buildings (22), giving the area a very clean and airy feel and evidence that some thought did go towards town planning since the latter buildings are still standing and still eye-catching 150 years later and were worthy of the most prosperous city, albeit on a smaller scale.  Perhaps these buildings were not flamboyant enough to suit the tastes of that earlier age. Photographic evidence here shows that in this area at least there was the provision of a greater amount of space and again on this subject that it was not a universal factor that all the streets in the town were irregular and yet this is the impression that the Health Report provides.  However by admitting that these did exist in the Health Report might have had the effect of lessening its impact although 150 years after the publication of the Health Report some of the more favourable structures are still standing whereas the more unfavourable ones are long-gone and as such the contemporary historian is unable to actually see what the worst dwellings actually were like.
 
Inconsistencies generate doubt and if there is discrepancy on this one element then there could be other areas in the Health Report which are either not as accurate as they should be or distorted to give a poor overall impression of Blackburn.  That having been said, it would be a very foolish individual to firstly dismiss the Health Report as a complete work of fiction and secondly be so naive as to believe without question those claims made by the Trade Directories.  If therefore there exist flaws in the Health Report then the doubt which has been generated as a result does not end there as there is a strong possibility that the Trade Directories are also flawed in the way that they depict Blackburn.  A criticism which can be levelled at the trade directories is the fact that their view is probably a very selective one which as discussed earlier, which dismisses all the undesirable elements of the town in much the same way as Withers apparently ignores all the more favourable aspects.  However, there is no need to look any further back than Blackburn in the 1950s, to realise that the Trade Directories accounts were overlooking a fundamental element that must have been apparent a hundred years before, that being the smoke.  It is well within the memories of many folk living today to remember the fact that there was constantly a blanket of smoke hovering over Blackburn at all times apart from the annual holidays when the mills closed and as the mills closed down then this blanket of smoke disappeared.  This same phenomenon must have been there a hundred years before, blackening everything, however by reading the Trade Directories, the reader would not have that impression.  Those descriptions of the town's buildings are missing one adjectives, the fact that they must have been filthy blackened by the smoke of the chimneys of the town's industries.  Peter Whittle on the other hand appears to be attempting to be more objective in his observations which makes his work all the more valuable for there cannot be a more objective commentary about Blackburn in the early 1850s as this.  It is after all an out of town person writing about Blackburn as the title suggest, as it was in 1853.
 
The most negative feature of the town according to all of the Trade Directories and something they all comment upon is the "little regularity in the form of streets".  Is this in fact some hidden element and a reference to the blind alleys and courts overflowing with filth which Withers describes? (23)  True, Whittle uses plenty of flowery expression to extol the virtues of 1850s Blackburn although he is also very explicit in his descriptions of some of the more unfavourable aspects.  He states that "Blackburn might be made one of the cleanest and neatest towns in England.  There are lanes, alleys and courts and whole streets of low houses, very irregularly built and the back yards are closing together, presenting filth and slime and impure wash water in great abundance.  Sickness such as scrofula, smallpox, measles and typhus fever have and do leave their ravages to an enormous extent: asthma and shortness of breath and debility are often generated from these cess pools and dirty purlieus.  With proper care and cleanliness all this might be avoided and thousands might escape from a premature death" (24).  Further he states that "We must oblige the owners of property haunted by death and contagion to yield to the demands of society to forbid these open sewers and other dirty nuisances to remain any longer in the neighbourhood" (25).  The most important thing about these statements are that they start to give weight to some of the claims made in the Health Report since Whittle does remark upon such components as the condition of the River Blakewater.  He states that "If the old mill dam, below Darwen Street bridge was removed so as to give a free course to the River Blakewater, the stagnant water would become more pure and the nuisance in a great degree would be removed, thereby rendering the vicinity of Water Street more healthy: the stench and the effluvia sometimes in that part being intolerable" (26).  Suddenly as a result of these two statements by Whittle, the Health Report appears to become more accurate.
That having being said however the Health Report must still be read with caution since it would appear that even in the light of Whittles negativity over some aspects of the town, those appalling conditions of the Health Report are not as widespread as Withers' would imply since in in closing statement.  Whittle says that "The entire district of Blackburn is regarded as particularly favourable to longevity and the enjoyment of health" (27) - a conclusion which the Withers' Health Report does not come to and would surely puzzle any reader of the Health Report as a consequence of the findings and conditions which Withers encountered in Blackburn at that same time.


References
 

Chapter 4

(1) Withers p7
(2) Withers pp5-8
(3) Encyclopaedia
(4) Encyclopaedia
(5) Whittle p289
(6) Miller p282
(7) Withers pp8; p l3
(8) Whittle p35; Slater (1848) p 287; Slater (1851) p28; Baines p504
(9) Blackburn Standard 12.5.1841
(10) Blackburn Standard 10.5.1842
(11) Withers p 18
(12) Whittle p105
(13) Whittle p105
(14) Mannex p267
(15) Slaters (1851) p28
(16) Withers pp26-27
(17) Withers p35
(18) Rogerson p4
(19) Withers p10
(20) See p
(21) Rogerson p4
(22) Whittle p115
(23) Whittle pp148-149
(24) Whittle p149
(25) Whittle p149
(26) Whittle p 149
(27) Whittle p274

 

Bibliography

 1. Primary Sources:

 

Published Sources.

Baines, E - History, Directory and Gazetteer of Lancashire Vol I (1824)

Mannex -Directory of Mid Lancashire (1854)

Rogerson, T - Lancashire General Directory (1818)

Slater - Lancashire Directory (1851)

Slater -Lancashire Directory (1848)

Withers, J - Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Borough of Blackburn, with observations on the Drainage and other subjects, calculated to improve the health of the inhabitants (1853).


Newspapers.

Blackburn Standard 12 May 1841

Blackburn Standard 10 August 1842

Maps and Plans

Yates's Map of Lancashire (1780)

Untitled Map of Blackburn (c1795)

1824 Map of Blackburn

1795 Map of Blackburn

Ordnance Survey 6" to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)

Ordnance Survey 5' to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)

Other Primary Sources

Census Return, 1851


Secondary Sources:

Books.

Aspin, C - The First Industrial Society - Lancashire 1750-1850 (1995 - revised edition) Bagley, JJ - A History of Lancashire (1982)

Beattie, D - Blackburn - The Development of a Lancashire Cotton Town (1982).

Chapman, SD -The History of Working Class Housing, Chapter 5 - Liverpool

Working Class Housing 1805-51 - James H Treble (1971)

Dickens, C - Hard Times (1969 re-print of the 1854 edition)

Langton, J and Morris RJ - Atlas of industrialising Britain 1780-1914, Chapter 2 Population - Richard Lawton. Chapter 22, Urbanisation, RJ Morris.

Miller, G - Blackburn - The Evolution of a Cotton Town (1951)

Morgan, N - Vanished Dwellings, (1990)

Roberts, Dr J - Working class houses in Nineteenth Century Manchester - The Example of John Street, Irk Town, 1826-1936 (1983)

Whittle, P - Blackburn As It is (1852)

Victoria History of the Counties of England - Lancashire Vol 2 (1966 re-print of the 1908 edition)

 By Andrew Taylor



 ​Conclusion


In conclusion what is beginning to emerge from this investigation of the written sources relating to Blackburn in the mid nineteenth century is the fact that in many ways it was very much like the modern day town of 2001 - that is there were good parts and poor districts in Blackburn. Obviously those poorer areas of 2001 bear no resemblance to the terrible conditions that some people had to endure in the 1850s, namely the severe overcrowding and the consequences of the diseases that occurred as a result but yet the theory remains that if someone was to pick up solely on the poorer parts of town and write a report on these places then this would be there impression of twenty-first century Blackburn that the people who read the report would get. Although the facts are not untrue, the selectivity has the ability to distort the overall picture somewhat resulting in an overall impression which is not necessarily a true account. Not only that but also in spite of the innovations, improvements and developments that have taken place in relation to social conditions in the last 150 years, there is still in some areas, room for improvement as in some districts still are behind awaiting their turns for renovations and improvements to take place.
  
Likewise, it is not the fact that those sources which have been observed from the 1850s are each only presenting one point of view but it is the fact that both opinions have the ability to produce a very powerful and somewhat influential opinion. Closer examination however indicates that both of the sources of detail have damaged their reliability somewhat as a consequence of their selectivity caused by their individual biases. Both the Trade Directories and the Health Report are guilty without doubt of this. Considering further these biases of both the health report and trade directories and questioning their validity in the light of selective reporting, then perhaps the most reliable source is Peter Whittles' book due to the fact that it is based solely upon his observation of the town, Whittle gaining little either by presenting biases towards either side of the argument and so it is assumed that his view is nearer to the ultimate aim of providing a true image of the town than the others are. Whittles' writings appear to be as close to an objective picture of the town as there can be and this source is very useful since it was written at the same time as the Health Report. Additionally the fact that Whittle is from Preston is also a significant factor since there might have been a little civic rivalry and a negative image of Blackburn might have led observers to think that any unfavourable conditions there were not as bad as they were in Blackburn. What is however interesting about Whittle's view is that his opinions match the other two sources, very closely in places and as such gives weight to both sides of the good and bad argument. Further, it is interesting to note that although in parts his opinions differ from those stated in the Health Report in other places he agrees wholeheartedly with some of the accusations that Withers' makes. The important feature however it that not only does Whittle provide an objective picture, but by doing so also adds validity not only to some of the claims made by the Health Report, but also to those made in the Trade Directories showing that they both have their uses for providing an accurate image of what Blackburn was actually like each in their own specific areas and by combining all three it should be possible to present an accurate picture of what Blackburn was like.

  

What is interesting is the conclusion which is reached on examining the motives of the sources. On inspection, both of these sources are very different in their approach to the town and yet, despite their differences it would appear from them, that ironically both were striving to achieve the same aims by utilising the same tactics, namely exaggeration. It appears that both Withers' Health Report and the Trade Directories were attempting in their own ways to improve the town. The trade directories were attempting to entice new trades and industry into Blackburn, which would increase the overall prosperity of the town; the Health Report was highlighting those areas where there were appalling living conditions and by doing so might provoke the authorities to do something to overcome them and improve the living conditions for these unfortunate folk whether or not these conditions only affected a small minority of people living in Blackburn in the 1850s. Taking the Health report, the fact that Withers was quite capable of over-exaggerating the poor conditions was it appears to have been done in order to get action to combat the poor situation in those places which for example were without an adequate supply of water. Surely the ideal and not so difficult situation was to ensure that all dwellings in the Borough were supplied with running water which could be a feather in the cap for the infant Borough of Blackburn in relation to some of the town's neighbours where possibly these levels were far lower. However here again such a shocking account as Withers' gives provided those in authority to react to such allegations. This subject as in others detailed by Withers in such an eminent source as a Health Report may have had the necessary influence to have brought about a reactionary 'knee jerk' action to tackle those unacceptable conditions whether they be widespread throughout 1850s Blackburn or not in order to banish the tail end of these shocking conditions out of the town for good. Continuing with the subject of water provision, if only 10% of houses in Blackburn in 1852 were without water, Withers' was ensuring that those 10% were not being overlooked by utilising such shock tactics as the ones he uses. It could also be levelled that Withers produced such shocking account of conditions so as to justify his investigations. That his investigations were necessary maybe in the light of those higher echelons of society who may have criticised his investigation since it did not affect them. Surely an inspector who finds little wrong could be challenged for not having undertaken their investigation thoroughly and was wasting money and it was not his objectives to present a report highlighting all the favourable aspects of the town and it is only reasonable to expect his accounts to emphasise only the worst aspects.

 
It is not only the Health Report that may have over exaggerate conditions. Caution must also be exercised when looking at the Trade Directories. The purpose of these were to promote the town in order to bring new trades into Blackburn. Obviously they were not going to present a negative picture and nowhere do they mention housing or social conditions but in truth that was not their purpose since these features were of no real interest to the potential businesses interested only in the more prestigious elements of the town. However, a negative view would undoubtedly have put the potential trader off and so by enticing new trade into Blackburn this would undoubtedly benefit the town and improve the fortunes of the inhabitants.

  

Therefore, suddenly both of these two different sources with their contrasting points of view are on the same side of the argument despite their different approaches. This is true also of some of the information that they provide. On closer scrutiny of both, it is apparent that the conditions that are being described are over exaggerated that they are being selective in what they are including, and to some extent even fabricating their opinions in some places in order to instil their points of view on the reader. Some might even say that they are tending to sway towards dishonesty both in what they are describing and also in what they are not writing about in order to present a misleading opinion. However though this might be the case, in both Health Report and trade directories their motives were honourable; each in their own way improve the town and its population by presenting their opposing views of Blackburn in the 1850s.

 

In fairness to Withers' Health Report it does appear to be an original piece of investigative work which cannot be levelled at either the Trade Directories and even Whittles' book on closer scrutiny. The alarming feature of these sources is the similarity that they all appear to describe Blackburn. From the Rogerson Dirctory of 1818, through to the Mannex version in 1854, including Baines's of 1824 and Slater's of 1851, the commentaries on Blackburn could well have been written by the same person. The danger is that the writers might have based their synopsis of Blackburn on earlier Trade Directories without actually visiting Blackburn themselves to observe what the town was actually like. However a little solace can be found with Whittles' book since it details other elements beyond the boundaries of the Trade Directories.
 

And so in the light of examining the available sources and considering the evidence which has been discovered, what was Blackburn actually like in the 1850s? There is little doubt that it was a smoky place. The fact that there was so many mills is without doubt testimony to this. But with industry being located to the east of the centre of Blackburn so that the prevailing west wind would blow the exhalations from the cotton mills away from the town centre, the air here and in those areas to the west of Blackburn. Photographic evidence coupled with the fact that it is possible still to observe that in some places the town centre almost had an air of elegance about it; the west side of King William Street, Richmond Terrace, the upper part of King Street and the Railway Station which all have stood the test of time albeit in a most discreet manner and all demonstrating evidence of at least some kind of town planning. However, by no means does this planning appear to be the norm throughout the borough. The fact that there was some planning with regard to building does not necessarily mean that this was true throughout Blackburn since in very close proximity to these places there existed some of the worst cases of housing and overcrowding. As stated earlier, even the trade directories write of the "little regularity of streets", informing the reader that in the areas were this was true is illustrative of this lack of planning, a fact which is proved by map evidence, which show those infamous blind court yards a feature of those years throughout Britain.

   

From the 1850s, it seems that there was a greater emphasis on planning and the fact that there was a lack of proper planning before this time may have been down to the fact that there was a lack of direction with regard to local government matters, that is until 1851, when Blackburn was issued with the Charter of Incorporation and the Borough of Blackburn came into being. This event seems to have brought about a catalyst however change would not have come about overnight. With the Incorporation came the notion of civic pride. The town thereon began to demonstrate an air of confidence as some of the new buildings of this period showed, such as the new town hall, the exchange hall and the White Bull hotel but here again this tends to concentrate on the town centre. That having been said, from the evidence which there is, it would seem that Blackburn was a thriving place. It had to be. The population was increasing by an average of 10,000 per decade as more and more new cotton mills were built and even here this confidence was showing since those earlier mills tended to be built of rough stone were being accompanied by some in the 1850s which rather than being dark and satanic, were indeed very stylish in their architecture, almost palatial as they paid their homage to "King Cotton". A good example of this is the Waterfall Mill which demonstrates evidence of attention in the way that it was constructed during 1851 with "its semi-circular pediment, elaborate keystone arch window and waterfall mills in glazed brick" (1). The Albion Mill is another good example of this constructed during 1856 and of this Mike Rothwell writes "its heavy stone parapet with brackets and string course beneath, brick pilasters, stone details to window..." (2). The mills chimney soared over 250 feet into the sky with a cap of stone surrounding the higher reaches that was said to be wide enough for a horse and carriage to walk around, such were the polite features that this textile mill possessed. In both these mills and the attention to detail on the buildings being constructed showed that Blackburn was affluent and not down trodden as the Health Report suggested.
 
By juxtaposing all the sources that is: the Trade Directories, the maps, the census returns, the population figures, photographic evidence, structures which are still standing and the Health Report show that the poor areas of Blackburn were not as predominant as Withers' would the reader believe. By carefully considering and questioning these sources in a constructive way it is possible to obtain an objective image of Blackburn in the 1850s. As the investigation of the areas covered in the health report has shown, there were pockets of poor conditions but these were by no means the same throughout the whole of the town. Those fine parts described in such a way also existed as both photographic evidence and the fact that some are in existence today show, but again this was not a situation throughout the town and the down side of the photographic evidence is that it shows that in many respects those "noble'' building that adorned King William Street in Blackburn lacked the splendour of some of the buildings in neighbouring towns whose affluence also came about in the way of the industrialisation of Britain.

  

As with many examinations and investigations, the ultimate goal is to provide the truth by questioning everything. All sources here have been inspected, questioned, scrutinised and tested in order to attempt to achieve this favourable end. The size of such a project as this is immense and undoubtedly here there will be some vital piece of information or snipped of evidence that has been overlooked which may have the ability to prove without doubt that the in the light of the evidence the findings here are accurate. There is still a lot of further research to be done here which time has applied its own constraints to in order to reach that ultimate goal - the truth. However this is as accurate a picture of Blackburn during the early 1850s as is allowed by time at this point, the final conclusion being that the town at Blackburn at that time possessed favourable features and possessed unfavourable elements, but as time has moved on although the emphasis on good and bad may have changed, they are still apparent in Blackburn 150 years on. On the back of the Health Report action must have been taken, for many of the dwellings that Withers' describes and also detailed on the large scale Ordnance Survey maps have been cleared to make way for the improved housing which appeared in the latter half of the nineteenth century, with running water, water closets and as time moved on more and more space, so from this point of view, Withers' Health Report had done its job. By the close of the nineteenth century the population of Blackburn had grown and with it trade and industry, therefore it could be said that the Trade Directories also had done their duty to bring trade into the town since Blackburn by the turn of the century had grown to become the recognised weaving capital of the world (3), with the textile industry dominating the scene but which also brought about the growth of ancillary industries such as engineering, building and the growth in the town's commercial sector as a consequence. In many ways there have been many favourable advances following in the wake of technology yet over 150 years on the situation has still to be reached where there are no poor conditions and only perfect ones exist in Blackburn.

  
By Andrew Taylor
 
 
References
Chapter 5.
(1) Rothwell p33
(2) Rothwell p38
(3) Beattie p15
 

Bibliography

 
1. Primary Sources:
 
Published Sources.
 
Baines, E - History, Directory and Gazetteer of Lancashire Vol I (1824)
Mannex -Directory of Mid Lancashire (1854)
Rogerson, T - Lancashire General Directory (1818)
Slater - Lancashire Directory (1851)
Slater -Lancashire Directory (1848)
Withers, J - Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Borough of Blackburn, with observations on the Drainage and other subjects, calculated to improve the health of the inhabitants (1853).
 
Newspapers.
 
Blackburn Standard 12 May 1841
Blackburn Standard 10 August 1842
 
Maps and Plans
 
Yates's Map of Lancashire (1780)
Untitled Map of Blackburn (c1795)
1824 Map of Blackburn
1795 Map of Blackburn
Ordnance Survey 6" to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)
Ordnance Survey 5' to 1 mile map of Blackburn (1848)
 
Other Primary Sources
Census Return, 1851
 
Secondary Sources:
Books.
 
Aspin, C - The First Industrial Society - Lancashire 1750-1850 (1995 - revised edition) Bagley, JJ - A History of Lancashire (1982)
Beattie, D - Blackburn - The Development of a Lancashire Cotton Town (1982).
Chapman, SD -The History of Working Class Housing, Chapter 5 - Liverpool
Working Class Housing 1805-51 - James H Treble (1971)
Dickens, C - Hard Times (1969 re-print of the 1854 edition)
Langton, J and Morris RJ - Atlas of industrialising Britain 1780-1914, Chapter 2 Population - Richard Lawton. Chapter 22, Urbanisation, RJ Morris.
Miller, G - Blackburn - The Evolution of a Cotton Town (1951)
Morgan, N - Vanished Dwellings, (1990)
Roberts, Dr J - Working class houses in Nineteenth Century Manchester - The Example of John Street, Irk Town, 1826-1936 (1983)
Whittle, P - Blackburn As It is (1852)
Victoria History of the Counties of England - Lancashire Vol 2 (1966 re-print of the 1908 edition)
 
By Andrew Taylor