I have lived in Blackburn for almost all my life and have spent much of the last few years dreaming of escape! Maybe that's because I've been here too long and am destined for something new, or maybe that's because of the town itself.
Starting with the positives:
It has practically everything you need in terms of schools (with everything from Westholme Girls and QEGS Boys schools to the various state secondary schools which all seem to be called humanities and technical colleges these days), housing (all kinds are covered in Blackburn, from council houses to stately manors) and doctors and dentists.
In terms of shopping, it has all the big supermarkets (Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Iceland, Lidl and Netto) with relatively easy access. The town centre has plenty of choice and is in fact working on more, with a massive extension of the Mall, which will bring Primark among others. There is also the 3 or 4 out-of-town shopping parks that have sprouted up which offer huge versions of Matalan, JJB, Boots, Mothercare, Next, TK MAXX, Argos and all the usual suspects in terms of furniture and technology.
As for activities, there is the fairly newly built Cinema complex which incorporates bowling, games arcades, bars and so on. There is the Ice Arena which has been there at least 10 years now. There's also a selection of restaurants - mainly indian, chinese and pub food.
So, I hear you say, so far so good, what's the problem?
Well, I think my dreams of escape are from a town that seems really dated and is unable to keep up with it's neighbours - Preston, Bolton and Blackpool for example. The choice just isn't as good and the town is just a little too run down.
True, a lot of work is being done to improve the town, but it just seems too little too late. It feels like they are trying to expand and squash things in anywhere they'll fit rather than look at improving what is already there.
The people, whilst they are nice enough, seem to cling onto memories of bygone times. Times when Blackburn was an industrial giant, rather than a skeleton of its former self. Or times when the football team (Blackburn Rovers) were premiership kings (back in 1995), rather than the team who are clinging on to the premiership dream by the skin of their teeth.
Maybe my dismal view stems from the rain that all the other reviewers have mentioned - but surely I can't blame the town for that? Well it does seem like there is a little grey cloud hovering over the place - both physically and metaphorically.
I'm sure there are people here who still think it's a great place to be and I'd love to be corrected, but in the meantime . . . I'll keep dreaming my bigger, brighter and better dreams!
I moved to Blackburn from a small town in Lincolnshire about seven years ago. At first I was really impressed (bear in mind please that it was a very small town that I moved from) I thought Blackburn had everything I could possibly want. The shopping centre is great with most of the major stores all under one roof. Two markets both covered. Ice Skating Rink,McDonalds,Cinema,Pizza Hut,Big Swimming pool with slides and everything,Theatre,Kentucky Fried Chicken,Loads of pubs,Four or five night clubs,several parks,museums,easily accessible train station and even....buses on a Sunday. After living here all this time I now realise that it always rains in Blackburn. (no wonder the markets and shops are covered) Yes it is great that there are all these places to go but none of them are any good if you haven't got any money. Poverty is high in Blackburn and jobs are very few and far between. To do things that cost no money like taking the kids to the park or for a walk down the side of the Leeds Liverpool canal are great...if you can actually pick a day that it doesn't rain. Picnics in the rain are not much fun. Even when we have got money, with five kids it costs us £60.00 for us all to go Ice Skating for two hours, thats before buying chips and drinks etc. Everywhere in Blackburn is dirty and run down. The local council does try hard but they are fighting a losing battle. Drug abuse is high and used needles can regularly be seen in blocked drains. The town centre is no longer a fun place for a night out as the night always seems to be ruined by people fighting. Blackburn is an ok place to be if you have the money to enjoy it.
Blackburn isn't a bad place, in fact - get rid of the wind and rain and it's quite a good place! I've lived in Blackburn all of my life (except when I went to boarding school for 2 years in Manchester) and have always had a laugh. The funny thing about Blackburn is that the pubs don't seem to close...odd that. Every pub in the town centre has a licence to stay open until 1am, where-as in manchester you're lucky if they're still open at 11pm - so if you like to drink a lot, i'd say Blackburn is the place for you - although there ain't much else (apart from Blackburn Rovers who are much better than Burnley). Lock-ins: One pub in Blackburn that I know of only stays open until 11:30, and therefore it has regular lock-ins until about 4am, unfortunately I can't disclose the identity of this pub incase you're a copper - I can't risk having one of my favourite drinkeries shut down. All in all Blackburn isn't a bad place, if you visit - Bring an umbrella.
It's sadly true, I'm afraid. Blackburn lives under a near-constant layer of drizzle. Not that I have anything against drizzle, the first rains after summer can often be quite invigorating, but it knaws away at you. Especially when it seems like entire months go by without a break in the rain. The town itself works on this Philosophy. It's quite nice in places, and when you've been away it's good to get back to, but you just feel like it'd be so much better if it got a break. Blackburn has this vague air of depression to it. All the Victorian buildings are either derelict and therefore depressing, or piles of dust where the council knocked them down. Blackburn Rovers lie in the First Division under a decade after winning the Premiership. Some of the new buildings (Wicks/Blockbuster estate in particular) are garish. The station has been in pieces for well over a year now. On paper, the town should be much better. An excellent central bus station, a train station with millions poured into it, a five screen cinema, a national quality Ice Arena, a modern shopping centre and town hall, late licenses for (or police ignorance of) the gross majority of pubs and excellent sports facilities (including Waves water fun centre and the legendarily expensive Ewood Park). It also hangs onto some semblance of the country, not just in the outskirts, but in it's two large parks, Witton and Corporation. The council is always working to make things better, perhaps because we are a unitary authority, perhaps because Jack Straw is our local MP, and perhaps because they are bidding for City status?Again! There are many good points to Blackburn, and it's not right to moan too much about it. But there is a definite air of depression to the town, perhaps because of its Industrial past and the remnants of that still here - a proliferation of rough estates, the derelict buildings, a glue factory that stinks on summer days, and wa
y too many teenage yobs. I should know, I'm a teenager myself!
Think of Blackburn for a second. What comes to mind? I'd bet the football team is somewhere near the top of your list, and the more political-minded of you might recall that Jack Straw is the town's MP. Beyond that, the cliches start to come into play. Mills, flat caps and whippets, a chip shop on every street corner and enormous numbers of terraced houses, home to bitter, craggy-faced housewives with fifteen children under the age of five. I'd like to say those cliches are entirely untrue, but unfortunately there is still at least a small element of truth in some of them. It is still hard to find an area of the town without a Victorian mill visible on the skyline. The only difference now is that instead of churning out half of the country's cotton, they are derelict, vandalized shells which only serve to remind the town of what it once used to be. Likewise, should those dee-licious Weight Watchers 'shakes ever get you down, there's sure to be a chippy just round the corner to serve up a nice, healthy bag of chips and a greasy dab on the side. Blackburn, then, could perhaps have been the place A Tale Of Two Cities was referring to (only more pies, and less Parisian). On the one hand, the legacy of its long and quite successful history looms over the town, while on the other it is a town trying desperately to pull itself into the twenty-first Century. Both sides are clearly visible to the visitor and resident - from the uber-chic new train station and boulevard, right down to the Anglican cathedral only a few footsteps away. The effect is a curious one - whereas many towns have an easily identifiable "style" that you remember them by, Blackburn is a mish-mash of inspired design and architectural disasters. There is much on offer for the prospective visitor. The town is well situated in the rail network, being only a half-hour journey from the central point of Preston and lying on the east-west Blackpool to
Scarborough line as well. The council, responding to decades of criticism, have in recent years undertaken a complete re-structuring of the area surrounding the train station and boulevard, creating an all-in-one, modern arrival point. The jury is still out on the success of these plans, however, with critics citing the lack of facilities in the area and high crime levels as examples of the scheme's failure. Many of the town's problems stem from over four decades ago, when a number of events conspired to signal a major downturn in the town's fortunes. The decline of the cotton industry in this country reached its peak and hit Blackburn - at one time the world's largest producer - especially hard. The result was mass unemployment and the beginning of the migration away from the town which has only leveled off in recent years. The councils of the Swinging Sixties were also carried away by the excitement of the time and the rush to be seen as modern, and began the wholesale destruction of much of the town's Victorian architecture to be replaced by hideous brown-shiny-tiled monstrosities that have only been replaced themselves (thanks heaven for small mercies) in the last few years. The little classic architecture that remains, for example the superb town museum and surrounding area, is now the exception rather than the rule, which is a crying shame. Cities such as Chester have thrived on the basis of their heritage, something Blackburn will never be able to do (unless hideous 1960s architecture should come back into fashion in a hundred years). What in lacks in design, fortunately, Blackburn makes up for in content. There is much more to the town than most realise, something I imagine could be said of many places across the country. The afore-mentioned cathedral is a must-see, featuring some superb stained-glass windows and regular organ and choir recitals (including my good friend Phil, an excellent organist and jazz aficionado wh
o played at a wedding the day after the night of his eighteenth birthday - now that's dedication for you). Only a short walk from the cathedral sits the entrance to the shopping centre, at present owned and under development by Standard Life. All the major national chains are represented, and there are very few empty shops. The whole centre has undergone modernisation over the last few years, and for a change it must be said it has on the whole been successful. The entrance to Ainsworth Street in particular is very impressive. The most recent shoppers guide ranks Blackburn two places behind its neighbour Burnley, which I believe is unjust - although to put this into context, the two towns are ranked 149th and 151st respectively. If only by virtue of its huge indoor market, Blackburn deserves to be ahead. The market has also been modernised of late and is no longer the shabby mess some may remember it as. Entertainment-wise, Blackburn has much to offer, although it is a long way from competing with bigger towns and cities. The cinema in the town centre is newly refurbished and shows all the latest releases, while for visitors seeking a culture trip, the museum has regular displays and is well worth a look. The town also boasts an Olympic-size ice arena, and I must say it's a great way to spend an hour or two, even if you do regret it in the morning (ice cuts really, really hurt, I've found...). Of course, Blackburn Rovers could not go without a mention - although the team's fortunes have dipped of late, Ewood Park remains a superb venue and tickets are now more reasonably priced. The whole area surrounding the ground comes alive on matchdays, and the more unscrupulous visitor may wish to watch games for free, sat on the embankment behind the ground. A special mention must also go to the town's nightlife, which I would rank above almost every other town I have ever been to (York being the exception). Blackburn has an abov
e-average number of pubs per person, and this is reflected as you walk around the town centre - it being almost impossible to walk a distance without finding a pub in your way. At weekends, the entire town centre fills with people on a night out. Most pubs are within a very short distance of each other, particularly around the Northgate and Sudell Cross areas, which means at closing time the streets fill with people and the takeaway tills start ker-chinging. Late licenses are far more numerous than elsewhere, too, with several pubs opening until 2am and most nightclubs open until 3am. With a stable population of just over a hundred thousand, Blackburn cannot be such a bad place to live. Much of the town's housing is a remnant of its Victorian boom years, with long rows of terraced housing circling the town centre and beyond. In the past few decades, suburbs have really begun to develop in outlying areas, such as Lammack and Beardwood, where the most expensive housing is found. Unfortunately Blackburn is also home to its fair share of crime-ridden council estates, Shadsworth and Mill Hill being just two examples. Police have found it nigh on impossible to tackle what is really a social problem, and crime remains high in these areas. Yet, the town as a whole offers a wide range of attractive properties, and prices remain well below the national average. In the big picture, Blackburn appears to have numerous problems - from high crime in some areas, to a fairly sterile shopping environment, to social deprivation and unemployment. But as with all things, it also has a positive side which does shine through - the superb nightlife, respectable entertainment facilities, huge number of shops and markets, and a brilliant football team to boot. With enough to satisfy even the most ardent day tripper, Blackburn is well worth a look, even taking the tired old cliches into account.
Despite supporting Blackburn rovers, I have to say that the worst thing about Blackburn is the awful weather. Every time I've been up there to watch a game it has always been pouring with rain! However, this isn't Blackburn's fault, and the actual town/city is a very nice place to visit, and I'm sure it is nice to live there too. There's a great shopping centre which has everything you need, and the town has a really good character. The road systems have recently been changed and ultimately improved, so it is now easier to get there. So, despite the rain I would really like to live there, so I could get a season ticket for Blackburn!
Blackburn is my home town, and I have lived here all my life! Sadly, no-one has yet written an opinion on it, so I will start the ball rolling! I can't believe I can even write an opinion on my home town on Dooyoo! They think of everything! There are lots of attractions but also lots of things wrong in it. I will list the advantages and disadvantages below. Advantages Shopping Town Centre Good selection of shops, all the major chain stores such as WHSmith, Boots, Woolworths, TJ Hughes, BHS, Debenhams, HMV, Our Price, Andy's Records etc. in the town centre. Also lots of smaller independant shops such as Reidy's music. 90% of the town centre modernised 5 years ago, so very modern with large, airy atria. Out-Of-Town Retail Three large out-of town retail complexes:- Whitebirk, with around 15 huge stores such as PC World, Currys, B+Q, Focus/Do It All, Time, Carpet World, MFI Homeworks, Comet etc. 2 smaller retail parks located at Grimshaw Park, just on the edge of the town centre. One with Asda, Halfords, Mothercare World + JJB Sports, the other with Blockbuster, Wickes, What Everyone Wants, Brunswick Warehouse and Carphone Warehouse. All 3 with large car parks. Supermarkets 8 supermarkets, as follows:- Asda Tesco (Large) Tesco Metro (Small, in the town centre) Morrisons Kwik Save Aldi Iceland Farmfoods Local Shops Lots of areas with independant, local shops, such as Mill Hill, Brownhill, King Street etc. Restaurants/Cafes Blackburn has a very large number of eateries, from fast-food chains, to upmarket restaurants. Here follows a quick summary:- 3 x McDonald's (one in the town centre, one near Whitebirk retail complex, and one a few yards from Blackburn Rovers!) 3 x KFC (one in the town centre, one in Salmesbury, and one opposite Queen's Park Hospital) 1 x Burger King (near I
ce Arena, Asda and other stores) Blakeys (pub/restaurant, part of King George's Hall complex) The Piano Cafe (formery Russel's, a unique cafe which has a resident piano player!) Muffins (light meals + snacks, located opposite the library) Many smaller cafes, pubs and restaurants Attractions There are many tourist attractions in Blackburn, here follows a summary:- Ice Arena - A major attraction, as it's the only one within miles, in fact the nearest I can think of is at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which isn't a proper public one, and is an hour's drive away! Thousands of spectator seats, and home to the Blackburn Hawks. Waves - Large funpool with Alien flume, waves every 20 minutes, 20-seater jacuzzi, smaller slides, and large kids play area Cathedral - One of the few in Lancashire, nearest other is probably Manchester or Salford Blackburn Rovers - Currently in the first division, premiership winners in 1996 (I think). Large modern ground, only modernised around 6 years ago. Has large conference + function facilities, Roverstore, and the excellent Blues Bar where you can get a three-course meal for £5 from 4-7PM every weekday (and it's very good quality, too, trust me, I've tried it!) Cinema - There is a recently refurbished 5-screen cinema on King William St. in the town centre. This is the Apollo 5, and is rather small by today's standards, but it's the only cinema Blackburn has got, and is still a very good one. It also makes a nice change to go to a more personal, local cinema, than the huge out of town multiplexes. However, the foundations are currently being laid for a brand new 10-screen cinema on land behind the main railway station, which is due to open within the next year or so, so that should be good. There are also plans to build a ten-pin bowling centre, along with a fast-food restaurant and yet another retail complex next to it. All this will link dir
ectly to the train station, as a new entrance is being built to the station on the Audley side. This will hopefully draw many new visitors to Blackburn, and we could certainly do with a bowling alley as there is one in Burnley and 2 in Preston, but when we had one about 6 years ago it shut down after about 2 years! Parks There are four major parks, they are the 500-acre Witton Park, Corporation Park (near me!), Queen's Park and Roe Lee Park. All have the usual children's playgrounds, gardens etc., but Witton Park is by far the largest and has all sorts of visitior attractions such as a museum, cafes etc. It is also where events are held, such as the annual Easter Funfair and Circuses throughout the year. Corporation Park is home to the war memorial, war cannons, and a huge lake which is home to lots of ducks! Sports Facilities Swimming - Waves (see above), Daisyfield Pools (1 25m pool, and a smaller family pool which is nice and warm!), Shadsworth Leisure Centre pool. Shadsworth Leisure Centre - Lots of activities such as football on an all-weather pitch, badminton, squash, gym etc. Transport Large, modern (done up about 3 years ago) boulevard, with 20-odd bus stops. Lots of taxi firms, and officially-licensed black cabs available to hire from many taxi ranks such as one on the boulevard, one on Church St. etc. Six train stations:- Blackburn, Mill Hill, Cherry Tree, Pleasington, Ramsgreave + Wilpshire, and Langho. One of the MAJOR problems with Blackburn is the state of the main train station. It has been falling apart for decades, and is only now just being given its long-overdue refurbishment. It used to have a very high, old Victorian roof, which was full of holes and was terrible. It was unbelievably scruffy, with no proper waiting rooms or toilets, and gave a TERRIBLE first impression to anyone who came into Blackburn for the first time. This roof was demolished about a ye
ar ago, and I for one was sad but also pleased to see it go. I was sad because I had always known it to be a part of Blackburn station, but pleased that something was finally being done about the appalling state of the station. Currently, it is in a mess, as there are workmen everywhere, horrible grotty walkways to the platforms etc, but soon it will be a very modern, pleasant station, for the first time in about 100 years! The framework is now in place for a large glass dome to be placed over the entire station, whilch should be very aesthetically pleasing as well as practical, i.e.. The station will at last be weatherproof. There will be covered walkways, proper waiting rooms, proper toilet facilities, and the whole station will be given a major cleanup and tidy. This work is due to be completed at the end of November, this year, which is great as it will be done in time for the winter. By Spring next year, the refurbishment will be complete, as some extra touches will be added such as a lift from the ticket booths and cafe up to the platforms. Schools Best Secondary School - St. Wilfrid's Worst Secondary School - Witton Park High Best 6th Form - St. Wilfrid's Worst 6th Form - Blackburn College (though still OK) Too many primary schools to choose from! Libraries There are many libraries in Blackburn, the main one being the Central Library on Town Hall St. This has three floors, which include adult, children's, reference, and music/video libraries, plus a cafe. There are also toilet facilities. It is a very large library and is well stocked. Housing There is a very wide variety of housing in Blackburn, from 9 large high-rise blocks of council flats to upmarket detached houses in areas such as Lammack, Billinge, Salmesbury etc. Hospitals There are two major NHS hospitals, which are Blackburn Royal Infirmary (BRI to us locals!) and Queens Park Hospital (
QPH). We used to have three, the third being Park Lee Hospital, but sadly this was closed down last year due to cuts made by the NHS, and is currently derelict. There is also the East Lancashire Hospice, located next to the old Park Lee Hospital, which is where my mum works, but this is currently being refurbished, and so has been moved to a ward of nearby Rossendale General Hospital for a year while the work is carried out. The People The people of Blackburn are (mostly) friendly and approachable. The great Blackburn accent is still alive and well, and I for one am very proud of it. Overall, despite its faults, Blackburn is great place to live, and has just about everthing you could want. It is also a nice size, not huge, but not small either, and is close to many great local towns and cities, such as Preston, Blackpool, Manchester, the Lake District etc, as well as attractions such as Camelot theme park. Come and visit soon, and if there are any fellow Blackburnians reading this, make a comment, and/or write your own opinion of Blackburn!