Yesterday I went to talk to a wonderfully friendly man named Keith at Mellor & Co - the Ironmongers next door to the abandoned shop I am designing the mural for and he helped fill me in on what history he knew about Lord Street West.
He told me that Mellor & Co have been in this shop since 1900, and kindly showed me a picture of how the shop looked back then (pictured above) It's fascinating to compare how little change the shop has changed since it opened, it really is a gem of old Blackburn, and should be celebrated for it's length of service to it's people.
I've also discovered that the shop I am working on was originally a wholesale greengrocers, explaining the loading bays and disused crane next to the shop (above) and has also been a razor shop and a reclaimed slate shop.
Keith also showed me out in the back of the Ironmongers, where you can see see features of the old coach houses, stables and original cobbled pavements. It could quite possibly be the backyard in the image I found at the library below, which is taken round the corner in Northgate.
I also talked to Janet, the lady who runs vintage fashion treasure cave "Decades" - the best kept secret of the North, who told me she'd been in her premises for over 20 years. She knew that her end of the street had previously been a Dry Salters, a Jewellers and a Dance Hall (which you could see in the arched ceiling above the racks and rails full of vintage delights)
Image taken from Lancashire Life article about Decades
Interestingly I've also discovered that turn of the century pioneer film makers, Mitchell & Kenyon had their premises just around the corner on Northgate and King Street. Astonishingly 15 years ago two workmen discovered 3 metal drums in the basement of the property, brimming with hundreds of early non-fiction silent films, many of local Lancashire people and places.
An early clip of Blackburn Rovers V Aston Villa at Ewood Park, 9th April 1904 (nearly exactly 79 years before I was born!)
School children from Audley Range Primary School during their Physical Education class, 1904.
You can see more you tube clips from the 2005 BBC Documentary on YouTube HERE
I have a massively long (and still growing) list of things I want to draw in the mural, as well as messages I think are important to highlight. I'm finding it such a treasure to discover the origins of the place I grew up in and I really want to convey and perseverance the enduring spirit of the remaining local businesses in the area.