Hope that £250K bid is ‘towering’ success for Darwen

Published Friday 8 November 2019 at 15:44

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has applied for £250,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to repair and restore Darwen Tower.

The council has worked in partnership with residents and local groups, including Darwen Rotary, to submit the ‘strong’ application and a decision is now due within weeks.

As part of the bid, a new educational video, created by Darwen-based Northern Heart Films, has also been released.

It documents the history of the tower – opened in 1898 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and also the freedom for Darrener’s to ‘roam’ the moors.

Councillor Dave Smith, who represents the Darwen West ward, said:

“Darwen Tower is the proud symbol of our town and no matter where you travel, as soon as you see it; you know you’re home.

“The Council has invested in putting together a really strong funding bid for the renovation work to the tower with the help of groups and individuals from right across Darwen.

“We all want the same thing, to see the tower protected and enjoyed for future generations to come.

“The new film is a brilliant way of celebrating its history and ensuring its legacy continues to run right through the DNA of our town’s youngsters – the tower’s future guardians.”

The video, funded by the WM & BW Lloyd Charity Trust, is set to be screened at a special event at Darwen Library Theatre on Tuesday, November 19.

The script was written by local theatre group ‘Beggars Belief’ – with support from local historian, Harold Heys – and all of the actors are from the town.

John Jacklin from Darwen Rotary said:

“We have now raised more than £68,000 which demonstrates the strong sense of feeling to save our tower.

“As part of the bid, we undertook a survey and a vast majority of the respondents said that the tower really does represent home.

“The funding would be used to repair the tower and also create a legacy – educating future generations and providing virtual tours.”

‘The Freeing of the Moors’ tells the tale of rich landowner, Rev. William Arthur Duckworth stopping walkers, looking to escape the smog of the mills in the town, from enjoying the moorland.

In protest, mill manager, William Thomas Ashton, drove his horse through the barricades and joiner, John Oldman, organised many mass trespasses.

When served with a writ to appear before court in London, Mr Oldman walked to Bolton, sold his pocket watch and travelled on the mail train to get there in time.

After pleading his case, the judge granted Darrener’s freedom of the moors.

Mr Jacklin added:

“The video is a ready-made history lesson and has already been sent out to 50 schools as part of a new educational pack.

“We’ve got a really strong bid, which will hopefully be boosted by the fantastic fundraising efforts, but its fate is now very much in the hands of the adjudicators.”

The bid has three priorities – to repair the tower to ensure it stays open to the public, improve the paths and physical access to the landmark and a new engagement programme including virtual tours.

Letters of support have been sent from the town’s MP, WEC, Herbert Parkinson and the Rotary.

The decision is due around the beginning of December.

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