Corn milling was the earliest mechanised industry in Blackburn and water-powered mills are known to have existed during the medieval period. These were manorial or soke mills which drew tithes and rents for their use. At least three sites survived into the nineteenth century, although the actual buildings were restored at various times.
Steam driven mills, and one windmill, were erected in the first half of the nineteenth century, mostly along the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Oat crushing was a major function of these mills, although flour production became increasingly important. The smaller mills, in particular, were also concerned with processing animal feedstuffs. A significant change occurred in the 1880s with the introduction of roller milling. A direct consequence of this was the closure of the smaller operations using grinding stones. The two large flour mills of Blackburn at Daisyfield and Audley continued working until the middle of the twentieth century when transport and economic factors led to the end of large scale milling in the town.