2001 saw a successful bid by the Library and Information Service to secure NOF (New Opportunities Fund) funding for digitisation of local history resources.
Blackburn with Darwen worked in partnership with other library authorities who had major textile industries in their areas - Manchester, Calderdale and Leicester. The aim for all was to make a wide range of resources available digitally.
In 2002 work started on building the Cotton Town website which demonstrated how the social and economic development of two small Lancashire towns had been affected by a single industry.
The resource charted the rise and decline of the cotton industry and its impact on the community. It comprised of images, print resources, maps and broadsheets digitised from the historical archives held in the library and museum.
The project continued after the funding ceased, with the Library’s Community History staff and volunteers having responsibility for maintenance and development of the site. The site proved to be very popular and well used. However, after 10 years technology had outgrown it and the site could no longer continue and had to be closed down.
A new Cotton Town site was needed in order to enable new developments whilst retaining the old content. The new site was launched in October 2013 and staff and volunteers continue to work on the transfer of articles and images which were held on the original site. In May 2017, a software update was applied which changed the look and feel of the website but vastly improved the efficiency of downloads and response times.
Our vision for the future is to develop the site as the digital archive for the whole borough, involving local groups, historians and residents in collectively building, shaping and developing this unique community resource.
Submissions from personal collections, local groups and from users overseas are always welcomed.
Cotton Town is now faster, easier to use and offers new features which we hope you will find useful.
Look out for new articles in the coming months, as it continues to grow and please let us know what you think of the new look site.