Monday, 6 September 2010

New backing for our Blackburn campaign

Our efforts to preserve the threatened former police house in King Street, Blackburn continue to receive backing and we are hopeful that a positive result will be achieved. A decision has yet to be reached by Blackburn and Darwen Council but councillors cannot have failed to be impressed by the comments left on this blog by local residents and others in favour of keeping the building. Support for the conservation campaign has now come from another Blackburn resident, Professor David Smalley, who says:

"I am writing to give my support for the retention of the Old Police Station in King Street, Blackburn. As one who was born in Blackburn I have seen a gradual dismantling of much that could and should have been saved in the town. The removal of the fine pipe organ in the public hall after a very minor fire was a public disgrace, as it was in part a memorial to the dead of World War 1, paid for largely by public donations.

Three Georgian so-called ‘pavilions’ of no particular merit alongside the Cathedral escaped demolition and have been ‘restored’ at the cost of several million pounds. They are and were very plain cuboids - no priceless plaster ceilings or wall paintings or unusual features here - and yet vast amounts of public money have been lavished upon them. They actually interfere with the view of the cathedral from the north side, and as was predicted, the Council has had real trouble in letting them. Even now, after years of intensive marketing, they are still not fully leased. One is used for Council funded short exhibitions.

By contrast the Georgian Police Station is a building of real interest. As one of the few remaining Georgian buildings in Blackburn it is at least as worthy of retention as the three Georgian ‘boxes’ by the Cathedral. As a non-Blackburnian telling Blackburnians what they should and shouldn’t have, Mr. Straw needs to walk a few yards to the west of the building and he will see large areas of cleared land ripe for road building. This includes the former site of the old St. Peter’s School, latterly an annexe of St. Wilfrid’s C.of E. High School. Adjoining are some old neglected Victorian buildings that need to come down in any case. The bottom end of Montague Street on the west side consists largely of grassed areas and an abandoned residential home in ‘Sixties’ style (now boarded up).

Blackburn Council was ruled by one Party for almost half a century and knew exactly what it was doing when it planned the route to plough through this Georgian building in the first place. One cannot escape the opinion that from the beginning the plan has been a carefully calculated step by step affair leading to a position in which those who are against the demolition can be portrayed as objectors whereas the objectionable behaviour is that of those who hatched the plan. Has the neglect of the site in recent years been a deliberate attempt to make it look like a condemned building? As in many of these cases the aims and objectives of having an orbital route round the town are perhaps laudable in principle, but some of the ways in which it is achieved are questionable or even objectionable. Sensible cities like York, Lancaster, Edinburgh, Dublin, Bath, Cheltenham, etc. have kept their Georgian buildings and ‘redundant’ churches. Blackburn is now vigorously demolishing the ‘new’ model Blackburn of the 1960’s. I need say no more".

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