Paper making was introduced to Blackburn during the last half of the nineteenth century, influenced by the success of similar ventures in neighbouring Darwen, and as a result of the efforts of local industrial cooperation. The larger paper mills were sited on the outskirts of Blackburn proper to take advantage of reasonably pure supplies of water, in addition to securing sufficient land for future growth. In the case of the two Feniscowles mills the proximity of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal provided an added attraction. Although there have been occasional changes of ownership the Blackburn paper mills have maintained steady production and remain an important employer in the town.
The basic design of the mills is linear with raw materials stored at one end and finished paper despatched at the other. The production method gave rise to a characteristic line of sheds, long machine houses and warehouses, often constructed along the floor of a river valley. This plan form can be seen in the three major mills of Blackburn, even though many of the buildings have been reconstructed since the nineteenth century.