Picture Gallery for Blackburn Aircraft

Blackburn Buccaneer

NA.39 XK486 being built Blackburn Aircraft Ltd.

July 1953 saw the issuing of Naval Staff Requirement NA.39 (later M.148T), calling for a carrier-borne strike aircraft with a large range capable of carrying a nuclear weapon under enemy radar cover and striking enemy shipping or ports. Blackburn Aircraft won the tender to produce their design (known within Blackburns as the B.103). The NA.39 was an advanced aircraft for its time and the secrecy surrounding the new construction and design techniques being used meant that the project remained top-secret until February 1957. Until then, the great secrecy surrounding the project led to the aircraft being called merely 'BNA' or 'BANA' (for Blackburn Naval Aircraft or Blackburn Advanced Naval Aircraft) in many documents. Inevitably this led to the design being called the 'Banana Jet' by some workers, a name that would persist throughout the jet's service career.

NA.39 XK486 taking off for her first flight Blackburn Aircraft Ltd.

While some of Blackburn's initial designs had the aircraft with a bulbous nose (with side-by-side seating for the two crew), high wing and engines by the wing roots, the design soon settled on the familiar area-ruled Buccaneer shape seen here (America's Grumman would later settle on a design very similar to Blackburn's early B.103 design for their A-6 Intruder, an aircraft designed to much the same specification as the Buccaneer). Area ruling was an idea to improve stability and to reduce drag at higher speeds by changing the fuselage shape to counteract area increases elsewhere - i.e. make the fuselage thinner at the wing roots but bulged out elsewhere. Some have said the reason for 'Banana Jet' was that the area ruling and the high tailplane made the aircraft look vaguely banana-shaped! Initial design was complete in July 1954 and the development contract was awarded a year later. As with the Lightning project, 20 pre-production aircraft were ordered to speed development on every aspect of the aircraft.

Some of the advanced features included the area-ruling, extra-strong wings and spars (milled from large steel forgings) and boundary layer control. This was the redirection of part of the engine bleed air through slits at the front edges of the wings, leading to the wings producing much more lift for their size than would be normal. This in turn enabled lower approach speeds, higher weapon loads and of course kept the aircraft's size within carrier limits (in combination with folding wings and nose and the split rear fuselage airbrake). Another Buccaneer innovation was the miniature detonating cord (MDC) in the canopy which would fragment the canopy in the event ejection was necessary, making ejection through the canopy much safer (since used on the Harrier, Hawk, Tornado, etc). Initially designed to help underwater ejection it was soon realised how useful it could be out of the water as well! The first prototype, XK486, flew on the 30th of April 1958 and performed at Farnborough in August of that year.

Externally the obvious differences between this early prototype and later Buccaneers were the long nose probe (but short nose) and aerodynamically simple tailplane junction, along with the small intakes. Production of the development batch continued with each aircraft looking subtly different - introducing different airbrake, tailplane and nose designs until an acceptable standard was reached. Unfortunately development was marred by a number of incidents, most serious of which were the loss of three aircraft - starting with XK490, the 5th NA.39, which crashed in October 1959 when a US test pilot attempted to fly the aircraft in a configuration as yet untested and for which he had not been cleared - it stalled at 10,000 ft and with not enough height to recover, both crew were killed when they ejected while inverted shortly before the aircraft impacted the ground. The first prototype was lost in October 1960 when the pilot sensed that the aircraft was rolling without his input and initiated ejection. In fact the artificial horizon had failed and, flying in cloud, the pilot was unable to see the real horizon. Both crew ejected successfully. Next loss was of XK529 - the 13th production aircraft, or aircraft "12A" (superstition plays its part in aircraft manufacture!) - crashed in Lyme Bay during carrier trials on 31st August 1961, killing the crew. It had over-rotated during a catapult launch, stalled and fallen into the sea.

S.1 XN971 of 800 NAS launching from HMS Eagle, 1964

Carrier trials had begun back in January 1960, with the first landing (on HMS Victorious) being on the 19th. In August of that year the Navy officially named the new aircraft the Buccaneer S.Mk.1. Interest in the new aircraft was strong in Germany but a combination of the usual British government incompetence and the Germans wishing to standardise on a single aircraft type for most roles (the F-104 as it turned out) meant that the Buccaneer lost its chance to serve in the Marineflieger. Meanwhile, 700Z squadron was formed on the 7th of March 1961 at RNAS Lossiemouth (thus beginning the station's 33 year association with the Bucc), and was a trials squadron using the now standard Navy technique of having an initial squadron dedicated to getting new aircraft into service as smoothly and quickly as possible. The retractable refuelling probe proved problematic so instead a fixed probe was introduced, thus marring the Buccaneer's otherwise clean lines (as would RWR bullets on the wing leading edges and tailplane junction). By November 1961 700Z's Buccaneers were being painted overall anti-flash white, a sign that they were now getting to grips with the nuclear strike role. One of the Buccaneer's many unique features was a revolving bomb bay - so weapons could be carried internally thus causing no drag penalty yet quickly dropped when required, without opening up huge doors into the airstream. Designed this way more for a smooth and economical flight to the target than for stealth, it was no doubt an unexpected bonus that this method of opening up a bay did not lead to a large increase in the aircraft's radar signature.

The first operational Buccaneer squadron was to be 801 NAS. Receiving their first S.1s in July 1962, they were first embarked for a short cruise in February 1963. 700Z, its work done, had been disbanded in January and its aircraft assigned to 809 NAS, the 'headquarters' (basically aircrew training) squadron. 801 re-embarked on HMS Victorious for a Far East cruise in August and during the carrier's return home in January 1964, the situation in various East African countries called for the carrier to prolong its patrol in this area, with 801 on standby to provide backup for ground forces. In the event no action was seen. The second operational squadron was 800 NAS, sailing on HMS Eagle in December 1964. While the Buccaneer had now practically replaced the Scimitar in the strike role, 801's experience in the hot climate of the Far East had shown that the Mk.1 Buccaneer's Gyron Junior engines were insufficiently powerful to get a fully-loaded Buccaneer off the deck safely, so Scimitars went along on HMS Eagle to provide a refuelling service. Now the Buccaneer S.1s could take-off with a lighter fuel load leaving more capacity for weapons carriage, and could be refuelled immediately after take-off by the Scimitars.

First flight of the first S.2 conversion, XK526 on 17th May 1963 Blackburn Aircraft Ltd.

Lack of power wasn't the Mk.1's only problem - the inlet guide vanes for the engines were problematic, and sudden banging noises and power loss - or engine failures - when they malfunctioned were an all too common occurrence. To sort out the problem of the underpowered Mk.1 in a more permanent manner, development had been going on to re-engine the Buccaneer with a more powerful and fuel-efficient powerplant. One problem was that the main spar actually included ringed sections that went around the jetpipes so to avoid a very expensive redesign, an engine of identical or smaller jetpipe diameter was required. Eventually Rolls Royce's Spey was chosen, which with careful positioning would fit into the spar rings, though a major redesign of the center fuselage and intakes was still required. While discussions on the Mk.2 Buccaneer had begun in late 1959, conversion work did not start until January 1962, being completed in May 1963. The delay was put to good use many components of the Mk.1 were replaced by more modern and more reliable versions and a new electrical generating system was also included, along with stronger undercarriage (in anticipation of the higher loads the Mk.2s would be carrying). Later an improved radar and attack system would be fitted.

The improved Mk.2 Buccaneer was offered to the South Africans as an ideal aircraft for protecting the sea lanes around the Cape and soon 16 Buccaneers were ordered. These were S.50s - similar to the S.2 but with the wing-folding mechanism no longer powered and with the addition of two rocket engines in the rear fuselage to assist take-off at hot and high airfields. One of the first batch of 8 was lost on the delivery flight leaving only 15 to enter service with 24 squadron. The British government soon did an about-face and would not allow any more to be procured, however. Meanwhile service in the RN was going well - HMS Eagle relieved HMS Ark Royal just in time for the Rhodesian declaration of independence in March 1966, so aircraft from 800 NAS on HMS Eagle took part in the Beira Patrol, the oil blockade of Rhodesia, returning to Lossiemouth in September. While the new S.2 had first flown in May 1963, carrier trials only began in April 1965 (including cross-deck trials on the USS Lexington later in the year). At the conclusion of trials in American waters, one Buccaneer made the record books by flying from Goose Bay, Canada straight to its base at Lossiemouth in Scotland unrefuelled. Taking four hours and 16 minutes to cover the 1,950 mile trip, it was the first Fleet Air Arm aircraft to make the Atlantic crossing in one hop. Introduction of the S.2 into service went relatively smoothly compared with the S.1, and the higher-powered aircraft rapidly became very popular.

Blackburn P.150 - a supersonic Buccaneer that could have fulfilled the TSR2 requirement Roy Boot

Around this time the TSR2 project to specification GOR.339 (an attack aircraft that could have been described as a 'Super-Buccaneer') was coming under attack from many sides, and the Admiralty played their part in its downfall by pushing for the Buccaneer as a near-ideal aircraft to satisfy the requirement, yet costing far less than the increasingly expensive TSR2. Strangely, Blackburn did not take full advantage of this. In any case, the RAF were extremely hostile to the idea of operating an aircraft designed for the Navy, and it found no favour with them at all. While Blackburn produced a brochure for the Ministry of Supply on the Buccaneer, they did not produce designs for a truly upgraded Buccaneer until after the TSR2 had already been cancelled. Among designs that included a fighter variant (the P.140) and a more versatile strike variant (the P.145), the P.150 stood out as the most advanced. This would have been a supersonic (mach 1.8) Buccaneer with extended fuselage and new wings for the long-range strike role (i.e. the TSR2's role, later to be fulfilled by the MRCA, or Tornado). However, this never left the drawing board.

S.2 XV155 makes a dirty pass by HMS Victorious in 1966 from Patrick J. Burke's collection

Back to 1966, though, and disaster for the navy - the new Labour government's defence review cancelled the navy's planned new carrier (CVA-01 desperately needed because the small size of the existing carriers led to difficulties in operating large and heavy aircraft such as the Buccaneer, Sea Vixen and Scimitar) and started the clock ticking on the drawdown of the existing carrier force. The RAF's TSR2 had also been cancelled, and after a ludicrous attempt to procure the US F-111, in 1968 it was finally realised that that aircraft too was going to be be too expensive and too late, and the only alternative was. the Buccaneer. No doubt the irony was not lost on the Navy that the RAF was finally getting the Buccaneer that they had recommended, yet the Navy was losing it's fixed wing capability entirely. A brief spot in the limelight was afforded to Buccaneers of 800 and 736 NAS when they were called upon to bomb the stricken oil tanker Torrey Canyon to break her up and ignite the spilling oil in order to burn it off and prevent coastal damage. 801 NAS, assigned to HMS Hermes, was disbanded in July 1970 after Hermes was converted into a commando carrier (helicopter operation only). When HMS Eagle was withdrawn from service in 1972, her Buccaneer squadron, 800 NAS, disbanded in February of that year, as did 736 NAS (the training squadron - training was now to be undertaken by the RAF).

The Sea Vixens that had been the Buccaneers fighter counterpart in RN service were now being retired too with only one carrier left to hold them and the US Phantom being ordered instead of the P.1154 (a supersonic VTOL aircraft not dissimilar to the eventual Harrier, but cancelled in 1966 too), the Phantom would replace the Sea Vixen and operate with the Buccaneers of 809 NAS from the RN's last carrier - HMS Ark Royal. RNAS Lossiemouth was transferred to the RAF in 1973, and Buccaneers began making their way into RAF service both from new production examples and as ex-navy ones. New-build examples were built with full Martel missile capability and known as S.2Bs ex-navy ones were given partial Martel modifications and known as S.2As. Early in the process of building Buccaneers for the RAF, Hawker Siddeley (which had absorbed Blackburn Aircraft by then) introduced the bulged bomb bay door, containing extra fuel storage. The original plan had been to use the oversize slipper tanks used by the South Africans but without the rocket motor in the rear fuselage this led to centre of gravity problems, and the bulged door proved an ideal solution.

S.2B XV350 carrying 4 Martels over Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, 1971

Buccaneers hung on in the navy longer than expected, being upgraded to S.2C standard (similar to the S.2A) and some to S.2D standard (similar to the S.2B). Use in the overland role with the RAF, particularly the RAF Germany squadrons, meant improvements in the Buccaneer's ECM fit were needed, and these trickled back to the navy examples too. Production of new Buccaneers for the RAF ceased in 1977, with 49 manufactured (a total of 90 being in use when the ex-RN examples were included). When HMS Ark Royal docked for the last time in 1978, her Buccaneers and Phantoms had been transferred to the RAF and 809 NAS disbanded. The government had retained some sense, thankfully, and a partial replacement for the carrier force was soon at hand in the shape of the new 'through-deck cruisers' (Harrier carriers).

S.2B XT270 firing SNEB rocket pods MoD

By now the RAF had realised what a stroke of luck gaining the Buccaneer had been, after all their previous hostility towards the aircraft. The unrivalled low-level stability of the Buccaneer meant that RAF Buccaneer squadrons consistently outperformed other low-level strike aircraft and did particularly well at the annual 'Red Flag' exercises in Nevada in the US. The legend goes that the Buccaneer can actually ride on its own shock wave at low level, and naturally stays at the height where the pressure from the wave counteracts any tendency to drop lower! 12 squadron had been the first RAF Buccaneer squadron to form (in October 1969), followed by 237 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU - for training new crews). 15 and 16 squadrons formed in October 1970 and January 1971, being the RAF Germany squadrons. The aircraft of 15 and 16 squadrons often had the refuelling probe removed as in-flight refuelling was not practiced in Germany. 208 squadron formed in July 1974 and finally 216 squadron formed in February 1979 marking the final transfer of all Buccaneer operations to the RAF.

S.2B airborne from RAF Honington, 1983 Rick Kent's collection

The entire Buccaneer fleet was grounded in February 1980 after one Buccaneer broke up in mid-air during a Red Flag exercise killing the crew. Investigation found serious fatigue problems - a modification made in the S.2 variant had affected the ability of one of the spars to cope with stress and apart from 12 and 216 squadrons (anti-shipping squadrons which mostly flew over the sea and thus did much less of the overland hard manouevring) most Buccaneers were affected. No RAF Buccaneer would fly again until August, when only those Buccaneers not too badly affected were allowed to fly. The opportunity was taken to slim down the force slightly and 216 squadron was disbanded. New spar rings were gradually fitted to the fleet and operation with Laser Guided Bombs (LGBs) and the Pave Spike designation system began (LGBs finding favour after some use by RAF Harrier GR.3s in the successful Falklands campaign of 1982) but by 1983 Buccaneer operations were cut back - the Tornado had arrived. 15 squadron changed to Tornado operation in July, 16 squadron followed in February 1984. 208 squadron was re-tasked with the maritime role 216 had previously undertaken, and a programme to upgrade the maritime-tasked Buccaneers began - Martel was no longer an effective enough missile, and British Aerospace's Sea Eagle was the ideal replacement (having had a reprieve after the post-Falklands defence review decided that air-to-ship missiles were rather more effective than had been thought!).

By 1986 the remaining Buccaneers had been given self-defence measures some were upgraded to give Sidewinder missile capability and most could carry ALQ-101 ECM pods and had chaff and flare dispensers fitted. 208 squadron were now fully Sea Eagle capable though 12 squadron were not. 237 OCU gained a new tasking for wartime that of designating the targets for LGB attacks by Jaguar and Tornado aircraft. The various upgrades to the Buccaneer fleet were all with the aim of keeping the aircraft in service until 1993 or 1995 at the very latest. The stage looked set for the Buccaneer to retire without ever having seen action with the RN or RAF. The South Africans, however, had been using their Buccaneers in anger for some time - first they were used to sink two wrecked oil tankers off the Cape and then they were called upon to attack targets in Angola during South Africa's involvement in the Angolan border war. First missions being flown in early May 1978, the war dragged on for another ten years or so. South African Buccaneers were flown with stunning bravery and were soon accorded great respect by the Angolans, who never managed to down any of the tough old jets. Action for the RAF's Buccaneers would wait for a few more years - when Saddam Hussein woke up one morning in 1990 and decided that invading Kuwait would be more fun than gassing his own population, Buccaneers were not among the RAF aircraft initially deployed to the Gulf. However, they were suddenly called upon on January 23rd 1991 to provide laser designation for the Tornado squadrons. Within 3 days the teams at RAF Lossiemouth had prepared six aircraft (newly painted desert pink, fitted with new secure radios, old-style S.1 wingtips for a smoother ride over the flat desert floor and more up-to-date chaff and flare dispensers) and sent them to Saudi Arabia. Six others followed and the first mission was carried out on the 2nd of February. In 216 sorties, the elderly Buccaneers designated targets for 169 Tornado-delivered LGBs and the Buccaneers also dropped 48 LGBs themselves, with no losses whatsoever.

Known as "Grandma's Finest Hour", the Gulf War had both proved the Buccaneer's excellence in the attack role (even though it was not the low-level role it had always performed until then) but it had also proved the excellence of another piece of kit - the TIALD laser designation system experimentally fitted to a few Tornados. With the Tornado also being converted to have Sea Eagle capability, the Buccaneer's days were numbered.

S.50 firing rocket pods in the final year of operation by the SAAF the late Herman Potgieter

The South Africans retired their last few examples on 30 June 1991, and the RAF's 237 OCU disbanded in October 1991, its training task no longer necessary. 12 squadron disbanded in October 1993, 27 squadron replacing it (with Tornados). With problems with the maritime attack Tornado - the GR.1B - 208 squadron soldiered on. A new 12 squadron was formed in January 1994 with Tornado GR.1Bs at Lossiemouth and began their working-up period. In the last weeks of service, some of 208's Buccaneers were painted in colour schemes reflecting the use of the Buccaneer by both the RN and RAF over the years, but it all ended in March 1994 as the new 12 squadron became fully operational. It is a tribute to the Buccaneer's designers that not only does the Tornado replacement not have the range of the Buccaneer, it could not carry as many Sea Eagle missiles!

How it all ends - Buccaneer nose at scrapyard in Elgin near Lossiemouth, 10th August 1997 author

This was not quite the end of Buccaneers flying in the UK - three aircraft used for research and development work were still flying, and continued to do so until October 1994 when a final flypast was made by all three over HMS Ark Royal. The total production run had been 211 examples. At the time of writing, no more than 40 still exist with the remainder having been lost in accidents or, for the most part, scrapped.

And those final three flyers? Well if you want to see any of them fly, you'd better go to South Africa - where they have joined Mike Beachyhead's collection of airworthy classic jets. One did fly in civil hands in the UK in 2002 before departing for South Africa, but Buccaneer action in the UK has been limited to the trio of taxiable examples at Bruntingthorpe. Hawker Hunter Aviation at Scampton do have a Buccaneer as part of their fleet, which they had hoped to return to the air for trials and defence simulation work, but to date no suitable contract has materialised.

At the 2001 census, Blackburn had a population of 105,085, [2] whilst the wider borough of Blackburn with Darwen had a population of 148,850. [5] Blackburn had a population of 117,963 in 2011, [1] with 30.8% being people of ethnic backgrounds other than white British. [6]

A former mill town, textiles have been produced in Blackburn since the middle of the 13th century, when wool was woven in people's houses in the domestic system. Flemish weavers who settled in the area in the 14th century helped to develop the woollen cottage industry. [7] The most rapid period of growth and development in Blackburn's history coincided with the industrialisation and expansion of textile manufacturing.

Blackburn's textile sector fell into decline from the mid-20th century and subsequently faced similar challenges to other post-industrial northern towns, including deindustrialisation, economic deprivation and housing problems. Blackburn has had significant investment and redevelopment since 1958 through government funding and the European Regional Development Fund. [8]

Toponymy Edit

Blackburn was recorded in the Domesday Book as Blacheborne in 1086. The origins of the name are uncertain. It has been suggested that it may be a combination of an Old English word for bleach, together with a form of the word "burn", meaning stream, and may be associated with a bleaching process. Alternatively, the name of the town may simply mean "black burn", or "black stream". [9] [10] [11]

Prehistory Edit

There is little evidence of prehistoric settlement in the Blakewater valley, in which Blackburn developed. Evidence of activity in the form of two urn burials has been discovered from the Bronze Age in the hills around Blackburn. In 1879, a cinerary urn was discovered at a tumulus at Revidge, north of the town another was excavated in 1996 at Pleasington Cemetery, west of the town, by gravedigger Grant Higson. [12] The presence of a sacred spring—perhaps in use during the Iron Age—provides evidence of prehistoric activity in the town centre, at All Hallows Spring on Railway Road. [13]

Roman era Edit

Blackburn is located where a Roman military road crossed the river Blakewater. The road linked Bremetennacum Veteranorum (Ribchester) and Mamucium (a major Roman fort that occupied Castlefield in Manchester). The route of the road passed east of Blackburn Cathedral and probably crossed the river in the Salford neighbourhood just east of the modern town centre. [n 2] It is not clear whether the road predated the settlement. [10] [14] [n 3]

Roman temple spring at All Hallows Edit

All Hallows Spring was excavated by Antiquarians in 1654 and found to contain an inscribed stone commemorating the dedication of a temple to Serapis by Claudius Hieronymus, legate of Legio VI Victrix. [14] [16]

Middle Ages Edit

Christianity is believed to have come to Blackburn by the end of the 6th century, in either 596 (as there is a record of a "church of Blagbourne" in that year) or 598 AD. [17] [18] [19] The town was important during the Anglo-Saxon era when the Blackburnshire Hundred came into existence as a territorial division of the kingdom of Northumbria. [19]

The name of the town appears in the Domesday Book as Blachebourne, a royal manor during the days of Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror. Archaeological evidence from the demolition of the medieval parish church on the site of the cathedral in 1820 suggests that a church was built during the late 11th or early 12th century. [19] A market cross was also erected nearby in 1101. [20] The manor came into the possession of Henry de Blackburn, who divided it between his two sons. Later, one half was granted to the monks of Stanlow Abbey and this moiety was subsequently granted to the monks of Whalley Abbey. During the 12th century, the town's importance declined as Clitheroe became the regional centre. [19] In addition to a settlement in the town centre area, there were several other medieval domiciles nearby.

Industrial Revolution and textiles Edit

Textile manufacturing in Blackburn dates from the mid-13th century, when wool produced locally by farmers was woven in their homes. Flemish weavers who settled in the area in the 14th century developed the industry. By 1650 the town was known for the manufacture of blue and white "Blackburn checks", and "Blackburn greys" became famous not long afterwards. [7] By the first half of the 18th century textile manufacture had become Blackburn's main industry. [21] From the mid-18th to the early 20th century Blackburn evolved from a small market town into "the weaving capital of the world", and its population increased from less than 5,000 to over 130,000. [22]

John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles provides a profile of Blackburn in 1887:

Blackburn. parl. and mun. bor., parish and township, NE. Lancashire, 9 miles (14 km) [14 km] E. of Preston and 210 miles (340 km) [340 km] NW. of London by rail – par., 48,281 ac., pop. 161,617 township, 3681 ac., pop. 91,958 bor., 6974 ac., pop. 104,014 4 Banks, 2 newspapers. Market-days, Wednesday and Saturday. It is one of the chief seats of cotton manufacture, besides producing calico, muslin, &c., there being over 140 mills at work. There are also factories for making cotton machinery and steam-engines. B. has been associated with many improvements in the mfr. of cotton, among which was the invention (1767) of the "spinning jenny" which was invented in nearby Oswaldtwistle by James Hargreaves, who died in 1770. There are several fine churches and public buildings. A Corporation Park (50 ac. in area) is on the outskirts of the town. Several lines of railway converge here, and pass through one principal station belonging to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Ry. Co. B. returns 2 members to Parliament. [23]

From around 1750, cotton textile manufacturing expanded rapidly. Supplied with cotton by merchants, and paid by the piece, cottagers spun cotton into thread and wove it into cloth. The merchants arranged for cloth to be bleached and dyed.

After 1775, spinning mills were built in the town. Early mills were warehouse conversions the first purpose-built spinning mill was constructed in 1797 and by 1824 there were 24. The number of spindles reached 2.5 million by 1870 and spinning mills were constructed up to that time – 24 since 1850. Spinning declined between 1870 and 1900 as the sector transferred to south Lancashire. [24]

In 18th-century Blackburn, weaving was primarily undertaken by handloom weavers working from their own cottages. However, as powerlooms were introduced into the mills after 1825, the percentage of handloom weavers began to decline and this occurred more rapidly in areas closer to the town. Handloom weavers continued to make up a sizable portion of the workforce in outlying rural areas. The last handloom shop in Blackburn closed in 1894. [25]

1800s Edit

In 1807, the Daniel Thwaites & Co brewery was established the company is still in business today and is now based at Sykes Holt in Mellor. [26]

Improvements to the power loom in the early 1840s, and the construction of a railway line in 1846, led to greater investment in power looms in Blackburn in the second half of that decade. The railway brought opportunities for expansion of the cotton trade, and in subsequent decades many new mills were constructed: [27] between 1850 and 1870, 68 weaving-only and four combined weaving/spinning mills were built and nine weaving mills were built per decade between 1870 and 1890. [28]

Improvements in power loom efficiency meant that weaving, the primary source of wealth and income for handloom weavers, began to transfer from the cottage industry to factories. [29] This led to high rates of unemployment: according to figures published in March 1826, some 60 per cent of all handloom weavers in Blackburn and Rishton, Lower Darwen and Oswaldtwistle were unemployed. [30] High unemployment led to the Lancashire weavers' riots. At 3:00 pm on 24 April 1826 a mob arrived in Blackburn after attacking power looms in Accrington. Proceeding to Bannister Eccles' Jubilee Factory on Jubilee Street, the mob destroyed 212 power looms in the space of 35 minutes. They then turned their attention to John Houghton and Sons' Park Place factory, located nearby, and destroyed another 25 looms, before seeking more machinery to attack. The crowd began to disperse at around 6:00 pm, troops having arrived at 3:30 pm to try to quell the rioting. [31]

20th-century decline of the cotton industry Edit

In 1890, Blackburn's Chamber of Commerce had recognised that the town was overly dependent on the cotton industry, warning of the dangers of "only having one string to their bow in Blackburn". [32] The warning proved prophetic when, in 1904, a slump hit the cotton industry and other industries dependent on it, such as engineering, brewing and building. [33] In 1908, another slump saw 43 mills stop production and a quarter of the town's looms lay idle. [34]

During the First World War suspension of trade with India resulted in the expansion of colonial British India's cotton industry at the expense of Britain's, [36] and the imposition of an 11 per cent import tariff by the colonial British Government led to a dramatic slump in trade in 1921, a situation which worsened in 1922 after the Indian Government raised the tariff to 14 per cent. This caused the number of stopped mills to increase to 47, with 43,000 looms lying idle. [37] Two years into the slump, Foundry and Limbrick Mills became the first to close permanently. [36]

Not long afterwards, in 1926, the General Strike saw production suspended at half the town's mills and 12,000 unemployed. [36]

In 1927, Matthew Brown & Co. relocated to the town's Lion Brewery, on Coniston Road, following their acquisition of local brewer Nuttall & Co, later the subject of a hostile takeover by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries in 1987, ceasing brewing in 1991. [ citation needed ]

In 1928, there was another slump in textile production, and another strike in 1929 after employers requested a 12% wage cut 40,000 cotton workers struck for a week and eight mills closed, making 28 closures in six years. [36] By the start of 1930, 50 mills had shut and 21,000 people were unemployed. [36] A financial crisis in 1931 led to 24,000 unemployed, with 1,000 houses and 166 shops lying empty in the town. [38] A total of 26 mills closed down between 1930 and 1934. [36]

1948 mass fingerprinting Edit

Blackburn became the first town to undertake the mass fingerprinting of people following the murder of June Anne Devaney in May 1948. [39] June Anne Devaney was a three-year-old patient at Queens Park Hospital when she was abducted from her cot and murdered in the hospital grounds on 15 May 1948. Fingerprints on a bottle underneath her cot led the police to fingerprint every male over the age of 16 who was present in Blackburn on 14 and 15 May 1948. After taking over 46,500 sets of fingerprints, a match was made with Peter Griffiths, a 22-year-old ex-serviceman. Griffiths admitted his guilt and his trial ascertained if he was sane or not. After deliberating for 23 minutes, the jury found him sane and he was hanged at Liverpool Prison on Friday 19 November 1948. After his conviction, the police destroyed all fingerprints they had taken. [40] [41]

1948–1999 Edit

Between 1948 and 1950 the textile industry experienced a short post-war boom, during which sales increased, industry training methods improved and automatic looms were introduced, which allowed a single weaver to control 20 to 25 looms. Loom sheds were rebuilt to house new, larger looms. [42] Despite the post-war boom, the cotton industry continued to decline and only 25 of the town's population were employed in textiles by 1951 this figure had stood at 60 per cent up to the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929. [43] In 1952 the number of weavers fell from 10,890 to 9,020. [44] By 1955 more cloth was imported from India than was exported [44] and between 1955 and 1958 another 16 mills closed. In 1959, due partly to the re-organisation of the textile industry as a result of the Textiles Act, another 17 mills closed. [45] By 1960 there were 30 mills operating in Blackburn. [46]

Closures continued in the 1960s with The Parkside, Fountains, Malvern and Pioneer Mills shutting in 1964. [47] In 1967 the Eclipse Mill at Feniscowles closed, unable to compete with imported cloth sold at nine pence cheaper per yard than the mill could produce. By the end of that year there were 26 mills operating. [48] The 1970s saw further closures, and the number of textile workers in Blackburn reduced to 6,000 by January 1975, the year in which the Albion and Alston mills stopped production with the loss of 400 jobs. [35] [49] In 1976 there were 2,100 looms in operation in the town, compared with 79,405 in 1907. [50]

21st century Edit

Blackburn is administered by Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority, which encompasses Blackburn and the small town of Darwen to the south. The town sends one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons.

Local government Edit

The council has been elected "by thirds" since 1996 [n 4] In its 2007 Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), the Audit Commission described the council as "improving well" and gave it the highest "four star" overall performance rating. [51]

Although children's services, adult social care and GCSE results were praised, the commission highlighted "significant health problems" and increased "levels of repeat victims of domestic violence" as causes for concern. [51] Despite generally good performance, overall user satisfaction levels with the council are below average and not improving. [51] The borough has Beacon Council status and shares its best practice in education policy with other councils as part of the scheme. [52]

Parliamentary representation Edit

The historic constituency of Blackburn was created for the 1832 general election and sent two Members of Parliament (MPs) to Westminster until it was abolished in 1950 and replaced for one parliamentary term by two new single-member constituencies, Blackburn East and Blackburn West. At the 1955 general election, Blackburn East and Blackburn West were merged into the modern-day constituency which is relatively tightly formed and returns a single MP.

Coat of arms Edit

The coat of arms of the former Blackburn Borough Council has many distinctive emblems. [53] The blazon of the arms is: Argent a Fesse wavy Sable between three Bees volant proper on a Chief Vert a Bugle stringed Argent between two Fusils Or. On the crest, a Wreath of the Colours a Shuttle Or thereon a Dove wings elevated Argent and holding in the beak the Thread of the Shuttle reflexed over the back and an Olive Branch proper. The Latin motto of the town is Arte et Labore, correctly translated as "By art and by labour" but often translated as "By skill and hard work". [54]

The motto, granted on 14 February 1852 to the former Borough of Blackburn, is poignant, as Blackburn, once a small town, had risen to importance through the energy and enterprise of her spinners and manufacturers, combined with the skill and labour of her operatives. [ citation needed ] The Borough of Blackburn was formed by the amalgamation of the County Borough of Blackburn, the Borough of Darwen, part of the Turton Urban District and the parishes of Yate and Pickup Bank, Eccleshill, Livesey, Pleasington and Tockholes from the Blackburn Rural District. [55]

Blackburn council and its successor have been predominantly controlled by the Labour Party since 1945 and continuously for 19 years until May 2007 when it fell into no overall control. [56] [57] UKPollingReport characterises the constituency of Blackburn as "a mix of deprived inner-city wards dominated by Muslim voters, white working class areas and Conservative voting suburbs". [58] Until 2015, the MP was the former Secretary of State for Justice and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Previous MPs for Blackburn include the former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle from 1945 to 1979. [ citation needed ] The distribution of seats as of May 2018 was 44 seats for the Labour Party, 17 for the Conservatives and 3 for the Liberal Democrats.

In the 1970s Blackburn experienced its first significant wave of Asian immigration [ citation needed ] and became a focus for far-right politics. In 1976, two National Party councillors were briefly elected, including John Kingsley Read. [ citation needed ]

In July 1992, white and Asian youths rioted for several nights in Blackburn, with incidents taking place including an arson attack on a café which had allegedly been a meeting place for local Asians involved in organised crime. [59]

Although some towns in the North of England suffered race riots in the summer of 2001, the streets of Blackburn were undisturbed and the disturbance of the Summer 2011 riots was minimal. [ citation needed ]

The next resurgence of support for the far right came in 2002 The incumbent Liberal Democrats were pushed into third place behind Labour. Commenting on the elections, Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: "It is very sad. We had the far right in Blackburn 26 years ago when they won two seats in Shadsworth. But there the whole community decided they wouldn't have it. You can never say they won't put candidates in Blackburn but we will work hard on community relations." [60]

The council until prior to 2008 had two members for the England First party, Mark Cotterill for Meadowhead ward and Michael Johnson for Fernhurst. Mark Cotterill has since stood down and Michael Johnson joined the For Darwen party. Members of the BNP won a council seat in the town in November 2002 following elections in May which saw three of their colleagues elected in nearby Burnley. The BNP's Robin Evans secured a 16-vote majority in Mill Hill ward with two recounts following a campaign using pub meetings and leafleting. [61] Robin Evans resigned from the party in October 2003. [62]

Although the city of Preston, the administrative centre for Lancashire, is located about 9.2 miles (15 km) to the west, Blackburn is the largest municipality in what is known as East Lancashire. The town is bounded on other sides by smaller towns, including Accrington to the east and Darwen to the south. Blackburn with Darwen forms a unitary authority. The village of Wilpshire, is 2 + 1 ⁄ 2 miles (4 km) north of Blackburn, and is partly contiguous (development-touching) however in the Ribble Valley local government district. Other nearby villages are Langho, approximately 1.2 miles (2 km) north-east, and Mellor to the north west.

The small towns of Rishton, to the east, and Great Harwood, to the north east, are both in the local government district of Hyndburn. 11 miles (18 km) further to the east [ clarification needed ] lies the town of Burnley. [63]

Geology and terrain Edit

Located in the midst of the East Lancashire Hills, some areas of the town are characterised by steep slopes. The town centre centres in a plain of 91–110 m above sea level surrounded by hills. The Revidge to the north can be reached via a steep climb up Montague Street and Dukes Brow to reach a peak of 218 metres (715 ft) above sea level. [n 5] [64]

To the west, the wooded Billinge Hill in Witton Country Park is 245 metres (804 ft) high, while Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital is situated to the east of the town at a vantage point of 202 metres (663 ft). [64] These figures can be considered in the context of other hills and mountains in Lancashire, including Great Hill at 456 metres (1,496 ft), Winter Hill at 456 metres (1,496 ft), Pendle Hill at 557 metres (1,827 ft) and Green Hill at 628 metres (2,060 ft).

The River Blakewater, which gives its names to the town, flows down from the moors above Guide and then through the areas of Whitebirk, Little Harwood, Cob Wall and Brookhouse to the town centre. The river is culverted and runs underground in the town centre, under Ainsworth Street and between Blackburn Cathedral and the Boulevard. On the western side of the town centre the Blakewater continues through the Wensley Fold area before joining the River Darwen outside Witton Country Park the Darwen flows into the River Ribble at Walton-le-Dale. [ citation needed ]

The geology of the Blackburn area yields numerous resources which underpinned its development as a centre of manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. Mineable coal seams have been used since the mid-late 16th century. [65] The Coal Measures in the area overlie the Millstone Grit which has been quarried in the past for millstones and, along with local limestone deposits, used as a construction material for roads and buildings. In addition, there were deposits of iron ore in the Furness and Ulverston districts. [66]

The Blackburn area was subjected to glaciation during the Pleistocene ice age, and the sandstone-and-shale bedrock is overlain in much of the area by glacial deposits called till (which is also called "boulder clay") of varying thickness up to several tens of feet. Glacial outwash (sand and gravel) also occur in small patches, including along Grimshaw Brook. [67] [68] [69]

Green belt Edit

Blackburn is within a green belt region that extends into the wider surrounding counties, and is in place to reduce urban sprawl, prevent the towns in the nearby Greater Manchester and Merseyside conurbations from further convergence, protect the identity of outlying communities, encourage brownfield reuse, and preserve nearby countryside. This is achieved by restricting inappropriate development within the designated areas and imposing stricter conditions on permitted building. [70]

Sizeable areas of green belt exist within the borough, west and south of Blackburn surrounding Witton Country Park and Pleasington parish, with other parishes in the borough containing portions of green belt, Tockholes, Eccleshill, Yate and Pickup Bank parish, Livesy, Darwen, with North Turton largely covered. The green belt was first drawn up in 1982 under Lancashire County Council, [70] and the size in the borough in 2017 amounted to some 5,260 hectares (52.6 km 2 20.3 sq mi). [71]

At the time of the UK Government's 2001 census, Blackburn, defined as an urban area, had a population of 105,085 and a population density of 11,114/sq mi (4,291/km 2 ). [2] According to further statistics from the same census, this time defining Blackburn as a Westminster parliamentary constituency, the population was 69.22 per cent White British (national average for England 89.99 per cent) with significant Indian (14.31 per cent) and Pakistani (11.45 per cent ) ethnic minorities. [72] 12.33 per cent of the population was born outside the European Union. [73] In terms of religion, 57.53 per cent of residents were Christian (average for England 71.74 per cent), 25.74 per cent Muslim (average for England 3.1 per cent) and 15.98% no religion or not stated. [74]

With regard to the economic activity of those aged 16–74, the 2001 Census indicates that 33.93 per cent were full-time employees (average for England 40.81 per cent), 11.72 per cent part-timers, 5.97 per cent self-employed (average for England 8.32 per cent), and 4.5 per cent unemployed (average for England 3.35 per cent). [75]

The 2001 census also records the social grade of the constituency's 72,418 people aged 16 and over: using the NRS social grades system, 10,748 were classed as AB (higher and intermediate managerial/administrative/professional), 17,514 as C1 (supervisory, clerical, junior managerial/administrative/professional), 11,691 as C2 (skilled manual workers), 19,212 as D (semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers), and 13,253 as E (on state benefit, unemployed, lowest grade workers). [76]

Additionally, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council manages a site for Gypsies and travellers, in the Ewood area of the town. [77]

The 2011 census showed that there was an increase in the number of people of ethnic minorities living within the Blackburn with Darwen area. Results showed that 31 per cent of people in the area were of an ethnic minority background, with 66.5 per cent defined as white British. [78] This equates to roughly 45,500 people within Blackburn with Darwen being of a minority ethnic group – a level three times greater than the average across Lancashire and the rest of the region. [79]

In 2011 Blackburn had 117,963 residents, of whom: [1]

There is a distinct contrast between different areas with ethnic groups due to segregation. Areas south and west of the town centre such as Ewood have an indigenous majority, with all wards in the area being more than 85 per cent White British. In contrast, most wards north and east of the town centre have an Asian majority, but also a small but increasing community of people from mainland Europe.

As of 2007, the town centre was subject to a multimillion-pound investment, and Blackburn with Darwen Council have already made some refurbishments and renovations of key public places, notably the Church Street area with its Grade II listed [80] art deco Waterloo Pavilions complemented by street furniture and sculptures. As of 2006, The Mall Blackburn (formerly known as Blackburn Shopping Centre) was the main shopping centre in Blackburn with over 130 shops and 400 further outlets close by. [81] in June 2011, Blackburn Market opened in a new site under the shopping centre [82] and opened six days a week (Monday–Saturday). The previous market was based on the other side of Ainsworth Street. It first opened on this site in 1964, where there was a three-day market (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) and the Market Hall (Monday–Saturday).

The town centre was expanded by construction of the Grimshaw Park retail development (including Blackburn Arena) in the 1990s. [ citation needed ] The adjacent Townsmoor Retail Park and Peel Leisure and Retail Park are more recent developments. [ citation needed ]

in May 2008, one of the town's most well-known shops, the shoe store Tommy Ball's, closed due to insolvency. [83] The town's oldest store, Mercer & Sons, also closed after a decline in sales blamed on the credit crunch. It opened in 1840 and was originally an ironmonger, but it converted to selling toys, household goods and hardware. In January 2009 the directors of the company announced that the shop would close after a 30-day statutory consultation, unless they changed their minds or a buyer was found. [84]

Markets continue to offer a wide range of local produce, such as Lancashire cheeses, tripe, Bowland beef and lamb. Walsh's Sarsaparilla stall decided not to join the move into the Mall shopping centre in 2011, [ citation needed ] and opens six days a week. [85]

Major employers in Blackburn include: Blackburn College, Thwaites Brewery, BAE Systems (Samlesbury Aerodrome site, located at Samlesbury, northwest of Blackburn) Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (based at the Royal Blackburn Hospital). [ citation needed ]

Drumstone Trade Park near the town centre has trade outlets. [ citation needed ]

Numerous business parks exist in and around the town. [ citation needed ]

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs through Blackburn from Feniscowles in the SW to Whitebirk in the NE, skirting the town centre to the east of Blackburn railway station. This important early industrial artery arrived in 1810 and became the chief focus for industrial growth in the 19th century, with raw cotton imported via Liverpool. [ citation needed ] While it suffered neglect in the wake of the area's industrial decline, the Blackburn stretch has benefited from a number of regeneration projects since the 1990s. British Waterways residential moorings are to be found at Finnington Lane Bridge on the western edge of the borough.

The M65 motorway passes to the south of Blackburn. It runs from Colne, about 17 miles (27.4 km) north-east of Blackburn, to a point close to the village of Lostock Hall near Preston, about 12 miles (19.3 km) to the west. Junction six of the motorway is located at the eastern edge of Blackburn, near the Intack area junctions five and four are located to the south, near the village of Guide and the Lower Darwen area respectively and junction three is located at the south-western edge of the town, close to the Feniscowles area. The M65 links Blackburn to the national motorway network, connecting to junction nine of the M61 and junction 29 of the M6.

Other major roads in and around Blackburn include the A666 and the A677. The A666 runs from the A59 near the village of Langho, some 3.7 miles (6.0 km) to the north-west of Blackburn. It passes through the town centre and continues south through the towns of Darwen and Bolton, then south-west to the town of Pendlebury, near Manchester, where it joins the A6 at Irlams o' th' Height. The A677 runs from the east part of Blackburn, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the centre. It passes through the centre of the town and continues to the western outskirts. It then heads north-west to the village of Mellor Brook before continuing west towards the city of Preston. It joins the A59 about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) west of Blackburn, about halfway between Blackburn and Preston. Barbara Castle Way (named after the former local MP) runs from Montague Street to Eanam Roundabout, passing close to the town centre as part of the A6078 town centre orbital route.

Blackburn's newly redeveloped railway station in the town centre is served by Northern. Services to Manchester Victoria station typically take around 50 minutes. The station also hosts East Lancashire Line services eastwards to Burnley, Colne and Leeds, and westwards to Preston.

Blackburn's new bus station in Ainsworth Street opened in May 2016. A new interchange was built outside the station as part of the Cathedral Quarter redevelopment, where all buses continue to Blackburn Bus Station. Manchester Airport, the busiest airport in the UK outside London, [86] is the nearest airport to Blackburn with scheduled flights, about 28 miles (45 km) to the south-east of the town. [ citation needed ]

Cathedral Edit

Blackburn Cathedral was formerly St Mary's Parish Church. It was reconsecrated in 1826 on the site of a previous church that had stood for several hundred years. In 1926 the Diocese of Blackburn was created and the church gained cathedral status. [87] Blackburn was selected above other locations for the new wave of Archbishop Temple's cathedrals because of its then excellent public transport infrastructure – the cathedral stands next to the bus and railway station. [n 6] Between the 1930s and 1960s an enlarged cathedral was built using the existing building as the nave. [88] Six of the cathedral's bells were cast in 1737 and are claimed to derive from even older bells. [89] An image of the cathedral is used behind BBC interviews filmed at BBC Radio Lancashire in Darwen Street, opposite the cathedral. [ citation needed ]

Ewood Park Edit

The ground was opened in AprIl 1882. [90] Work on the redeveloped, all-seater stadium got underway in February 1993 when the old Darwen End stand was demolished. This stand, with the old Blackburn End stand, was redeveloped before the Nuttall Street stand was also demolished ready for redevelopment in January 1994. Almost two years later, on 18 November 1995, the new Ewood Park was officially opened. [91] With a capacity of 31,367, [92] it consists of four sections: the Darwen End, Riverside Stand (so named as it stands on the banks of the River Darwen), Blackburn End, and Jack Walker Stand, named after a Blackburn industrialist and club supporter. The stadium also has conference and banqueting facilities.

Queen Victoria's statue Edit

Blackburn's statue of Queen Victoria stands next to the cathedral grounds overlooking the Cathedral Square. Victoria's fourth daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, unveiled the statue on 30 September 1905. It was sculpted by the Australian Sir Bertram McKennal out of white Sicilian marble and stands on a grey granite plinth. [93] It is 11 feet (3.4 m) high and weighs 9 long tons (9.1 t), while the plinth is 14 feet (4.3 m) high and weighs 30 long tons (30.5 t). [94]

Town Hall Edit

The construction of Blackburn's original, Italian Renaissance style Town Hall was completed in 1856 at a cost of £35,000, [95] equivalent to about £1.5 million as at 2008. [96] The architect was James Paterson and the contractors were Richard Hacking and William Stones. It originally housed a police station with 18 cells, a large assembly room, and a council chamber. [97] A tower block extension was constructed in 1969 at a cost of £650,000, equal to about £6.6 million as at 2008. [96] The tower block is not strictly an extension to the earlier building: the two buildings are connected only by an elevated, enclosed footbridge. The tower block was 198 feet (60 m) high and the top was 545 feet (166 m) 9 inches (23 cm) above sea-level when built, [98] although it has since been re-clad and these figures may have altered slightly. The two buildings are known locally as the New Town Hall and Old Town Hall respectively. [99]

Technical School Edit

The foundation stone of the Technical School building was laid on 9 May 1888 by the Prince and Princess of Wales and completed towards the end of 1894. It is built in the Northern Renaissance style and has a slate roof, an attic, a basement and two intermediate storeys. Made mainly of red brick and yellow terra cotta, it is profusely decorated, with ornate gables, a round arched entrance with angle turrets and balcony above, and a frieze below the top storey with panels depicting art and craft skills. A Grade II listed building, it is now part of Blackburn College. [100] [101] [102] The Prince of Wales placed a time capsule in the wall of the college during his visit. The college celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2013.

Other landmarks Edit

The Wainwright Bridge was opened in June 2008. [103] The £12 million bowstring arch bridge crosses the East Lancashire and Ribble Valley railway lines west of the town centre and forms part of the A6078 Town Centre Orbital Route. The bridge is named after Alfred Wainwright, after a vote by the townspeople. [104] [105] Blackburn Arena, opened in 1991, houses an ice rink and is home to the Blackburn Hawks ice hockey team.

Blackburn railway station features a 24-foot (7.3 m) mural by the Ormskirk-based artist Stephen Charnock. It shows eight famous faces associated with the town, including Mohandas Gandhi, who visited nearby Darwen in 1931. The station was renovated in 2000. BBC Radio Lancashire has its studios in Darwen Street in the town centre. Thwaites Brewery, which produces cask ale, has had a position in the centre of the town since 1870. There is also King George's Hall, which is an arts and entertainment centre and Thwaites Empire Theatre. A section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs through the town. St Anne's Roman Catholic Church is also situated in the centre of the town, is a Lombard Romanesque church, built in 1926, destroyed by arson in 2002 and rebuilt in 2004. [106] The Canterbury Street drill hall was completed in 1870. [107]

Parks Edit

Corporation Park, north-west of the town centre, was built on 20 hectares (50 acres) of land bought from Joseph Feilden, lord of the manor, for £50 per 1 acre (0.40 ha) in 1855. It opened on 22 October 1857, with shops and mills closing for the day, church bells ringing and flags flying from public buildings. Railway companies claimed 14,000 people travelled to the opening. [109] A conservatory was opened on 16 May 1900. [108] Corporation Park contains the Blackburn War Memorial which commemorates those who lost their lives in the two World Wars. [110] [111] [112] The town's annual Armistice parade concludes at the war memorial.

The town's Queen's Park was opened in June 1887, having been laid out at a cost of £10,000 on land acquired by Blackburn Corporation from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1882. It originally had two bowling greens, two tennis courts, a lake of over 1.2 hectares (3 acres), a children's paddling pool, a bandstand, and a refreshment room. Two additional bowling greens and a pavilion were added in 1932. [113]

Witton Country Park is a 190-hectare (480-acre) space to the west of the town. The land was purchased in 1946 and was the ancestral home of the Feilden family. It is larger than all the town's other parks and playing fields put together. [114] Witton Park High School is located within the park, as are three astroturf football pitches and a full-size athletic track, which is home to the Blackburn Harriers. The Blackburn model aircraft club also uses the park for radio-controlled aircraft. Pleasington cemetery and crematorium lie on its edges.

Roe Lee Park, in the north of the town, opened on Wednesday 30 May 1923 to commemorate a visit by George V. It was originally a 6.5-hectare (16-acre) site with five tennis courts and three bowling greens. [114] The borough council website describes it as a 7-hectare (17-acre) "urban fringe park with bowling greens, kick around area and children's playground". [115] In 2007, all four parks described here were winners of Green Flag awards. [116]

Libraries Edit

Blackburn Central Library, located in the town centre close to the Town Hall, is described as "the seventh most visited library in England". [117] The library has various sections and facilities, including: an information and reference section, a media section, a community history section, a children's library, and a creche. An ICT training suite at the library has been named the "Bill Gates Room". [118] Blackburn has smaller libraries for the Mill Hill, Livesey and Roman Road parts of the town, and a mobile library service. [119]

Secondary education in Blackburn is provided by nine state-funded schools and one private school. [120] In 2005, Tauheedul Islam Girls' High School became the first Muslim state school in the North West. It had previously been an independent school. [121] Since then Tauheedul Islam Boys' High School has been established and Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School joined the state-funded sector.

The town also has a few special schools. St Thomas's and Sunnyhurst Pupil Referral Unit educates children unable to attend mainstream school for health reasons or other difficulties. [122]

Over £25 million was invested in educational initiatives in Blackburn with Darwen in the late 2000s, including new schools, city learning centres and children's centres. Over 11,000 adults take part in some form of educational programme. [123] Blackburn with Darwen council has twice had Beacon Status for education in the "Fostering School Improvement" and "Transforming the School Workforce" categories. [123] Compared with 56.5 per cent nationally, 51.3 per cent of pupils in Blackburn with Darwen achieve grades A*–C. [124] The average GCE/VCE A/AS and Equivalent Point Score per Student is 649.7, compared with 716.7 nationally. [124]

Although the town's proportion of ethnic minorities is below 25%, in some schools the vast majority of pupils are from the ethnic minority population, whilst other schools are almost entirely white. This has been identified as a problem to racial integration in the town. [125]

The independent school sector is represented by Westholme School and Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda.

The two further education colleges in the town are Blackburn College and the sixth-form St. Mary's College. The town does not have a university, but some higher education courses for over 18s are provided by the East Lancashire Institute of Higher Education (ELIHE).

Football Edit

EFL Championship side Blackburn Rovers is based at the Ewood Park stadium. It was established in 1875, becoming a founder member of The Football League in 1888. In 1890 Rovers moved to its permanent home ground at Ewood Park. Until the formation of the Premier League in 1992, most of Blackburn Rovers' success was pre-1930, when they won the league twice and FA Cup six times. [126] After finishing runners-up to regional archrivals Manchester United in 1993–1994, Rovers won the English Premier League the following year. [127] In 2002 they won the League Cup. [128]

Ice hockey Edit

Blackburn has an Olympic-sized ice rink housed at the 3,200-seat Blackburn Arena. The arena is the home of the Blackburn Hawks and Lancashire Raptors ice hockey teams, both of which play in the English National Ice Hockey League.

Cricket Edit

Although Lancashire County Cricket Club play inter-county cricket at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, the town club at Alexandra Meadows on Dukes Brow is East Lancashire Cricket Club. [129]

Blackburn Northern Cricket Club states it has recently leased the Ribchester Cricket Ground for its matches. [130]

Blackburn is mentioned in The Beatles' song "A Day in the Life".

I read the news today, oh boy
4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. [131]

The title of the unofficial fanzine of the town's football club, Blackburn Rovers, is 4,000 Holes, [132] and the 1968 Beatles film Yellow Submarine has John mentioning the lyric as well in the "Sea of Holes".

In 1975 documentary film-maker Nick Broomfield made Juvenile Liaison about a juvenile liaison project in the town. It examines a series of children and their run-ins with the law, over minor wrongdoings such as theft, truancy and being abusive to parents. After its production, the film was banned by the BFI for many years Juvenile Liaison revolved mainly around the activities of Sergeant Ray, whose preventive measures for dealing with young troublemakers fell mainly in the strong-arm category. In 1990 Nick Broomfield returned to Blackburn to film a follow-up. Juvenile Liaison 2 revisits some of the residents from the first film, in some attempt to measure the success of the scheme.

The 1994 TV film Pat and Margaret starring Victoria Wood and Julie Walters was partly filmed in Blackburn.

The TV show Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, screened on BBC One from 1996 to 1998, included many scenes shot in Blackburn.

The 2005 British film Love + Hate, directed by Dominic Savage, was shot in Blackburn. [133] [134]

The film-makers Mitchell and Kenyon were based in Blackburn in the early 20th century. Much of their film stock, some 800 negatives, was found in their old premises on Northgate in 1994 and is now in the safekeeping of the British Film Institute.

St Peter's Burial Ground Edit

During late 2015, work done on St Peter's Burial Ground in advance of road construction involved disinterring the remains of nearly 2,000 individuals buried there during the cemetery's period of operation (1821–1945). The burial ground had been connected with the former St Peter's Church, a large one that seated some 1,500 people, which was demolished in 1976. Archaeologists found that nearly half of the bodies were those of young children, who appeared to have died quickly during the mid-19th century from illnesses affected the lungs and gastrointestinal system. The numbers are taken as reflecting the massive increase in the city's population during that period due to its booming textile industry, which led to unhealthy living situations among the working classes.

The remains were to be relocated to another section of the cemetery. A memorial service conducted by Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, for those being re-buried was scheduled to be held during the summer of 2016. [135]

Politics and industry Edit

Jack Walker, steel baron and once owner of the local steel company Walkersteel, was born in the town in 1929 and lived locally until he moved to the Channel Islands in 1974. He was a former owner of Blackburn Rovers. [136]

In politics, William Henry Hornby, a leading industrialist, the first mayor of Blackburn, and Chairman of the Conservative Party was born in the town in 1805. John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn, OM, PC, Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor was born in the town in 1838. The town had close links with Barbara Castle, an MP in Blackburn for 34 years (1945–1979) and holder of the positions of Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Social Services under Labour governments of the 1960s and 1970s. Mohsin Issa and Zuber Issa are owners of EG Group.

Arts and music Edit

    (1946–2001), rock musician (1941–2005), actor star of UFO (1825–1884), writer, known as the "Blackburn Poet" (1938–2020), fiction writer (born 1937), contemporary artist many of his paintings feature Blackburn and Lancashire scenes and landmarks (1912–1953), contralto , (born 1980), television presenter and documentary director , composer, (1908–1984) (1892–1995), actress [137] (born 1983), stand-up comedian (born 1934), broadcaster (born Ethel Carnie, 1886–1962), writer and feminist , (born 1968), actor/comedian , (born 1997), singer/songwriter [138] (born 1974), musician, member of Belle and Sebastian (born 1942), actor [139] , (born 1978), author (born 1967), actor [140] (born 1968), actress (1928–2015), Scottish composer (1821–1880), Christian hymnist and poet (born 1960), television host (1939–2015), actor , (born 1991), singer and actress (1907–1991), guidebook author (born 1956) musician and actor (born 1961), film maker [141] (1916–2008), historian and author

Sport Edit

    (born 1973), footballer and football manager (born 1979), England rugby union player (born 1934), chess player, author and translator (born 1986), footballer for AC Omonia (born 1996), footballer for Stade Reims and Greece (1933–2005), motor-racing engine designer (born 1979), footballer for Blackburn Rovers and England, then football coach (born 1988), footballer for Millwall F.C. (born 1965), four time motorcycle World Superbike champion (born 1988), footballer for APOEL FC (born 1972), England rugby union player (born 1997), footballer for Millwall F.C. (born 1984), cricketer for Lancashire (born 1931), England cricketer (born 1988), footballer for Cardiff City F.C. (1936–2004), rock climber [142] (1866–1950), footballer and coach

Sciences Edit

    (born 1963), Ultrasonics and Underwater Acoustics professor, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton (1936–2006), biochemist and medical researcher (1912–1973), mathematician and astronomer
  1. ^ By road 27 miles (43 km) [3]
  2. ^ Not to be confused with Salford in Greater Manchester.
  3. ^ George C. Miller in his Blackburn: The Evolution of a Cotton Town says:

The ancient military way from Mamucium (Manchester) to (Bremetennacum) (Ribchester), passing over Blacksnape, plunges on its unswerving course through Blackamoor, over the scarp at Whinney Heights, to pass across the Blakewater in the vicinity of Salford. This fact alone presents a reasonable argument for the existence of a British oppidum or walled village on the site, it being customary for such primitive communities to cluster in the vicinity of a ford or bridge. [15]

Last remaining Blackburn Beverley saved by stranger after Fort Paull closure

The last remaining Blackburn Beverley has been saved from the scrapheap thanks to an anonymous benefactor and Condor Aviation.

The iconic aircraft, the last remaining example of one of the Royal Air Force’s most important transport planes, was under threat of being broken up after its home of many years, Fort Paull, was put up for sale earlier this year.

First built in 1952 by Blackburn in Brough, East Yorkshire, the Beverley aircraft – named after the local market town where many of its engineers lived – were some of the largest planes in existence, with a wingspan of nearly 50m and capable of carrying more than 90 paratroopers at any given time.

The Beverley served operationally with several squadrons, with home bases at Abingdon and Dishforth, as well as being deployed overseas.

On his decision to save the Blackburn Beverley, Martyn Wiseman, managing director of Condor Aviation, said: “The Blackburn has had an esteemed history, and as a fan of radial engine aircraft, I couldn’t bear to see this go the same way as all the others.

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“Working with a benefactor who shares my passion, we secured the XB259, along with a large number of artefacts relating to its history, from Fort Paull when the heritage site was auctioned off in late September.”

Plans are afoot to move the plane to Birchwood Lodge, a private airfield in Yorkshire, just a few miles up the road from where the Beverley was built and will remain there until its final days.

Members of the public will be invited to visit the plane at its new site, and there are plans to create a library and exhibition of some of the additional artefacts purchased with the plane.

Major Robert ‘Blackie’ Blackburn’s Last Mission

It was just after 10:30 on the morning of March 2, 1945, when ground crews of the 509th Fighter Squadron pulled the chocks on 16 Republic P-47Ds. As the Thunderbolts taxied out for takeoff, a few of the veteran pilots wondered why this mission was supposed to be a “maximum effort” against the German airfield near Dortmund.

Most everyone in the 405th Fighter Group of the Ninth Air Force knew Germany’s aircraft fuel supply was running on empty. More important, there was a serious lack of pilot replacements needed to keep what was left of the Luftwaffe flying. On the ground, the German army was in retreat after suffering serious losses at the Battle of the Bulge. It seemed likely that the end of the war was only weeks away.

This mission was to be the 141st for the squadron commander, Major Robert M. Blackburn. Bomber crews from the Eighth Air Force in England were rotated out of the combat zone after 25 missions. Most fighter pilots from the Ninth flew about 70 missions and went home “Blackie,” as most of the men called him, had just returned from R&R back in the States. As a returning 100 mission pilot, he could have asked for an assignment in the training command. But Blackburn wanted to be in the action right up to the end. As a result, he resumed his command of the 509th Fighter Squadron based near Waterschei, Belgium, at a field designated Y-32, in January 1945.

There were four flights of four aircraft making the mission that day, designated Red, White, Blue and Yellow. Blackburn, as usual, was leading the squadron. His call sign was “Red Leader.”

Second Lieutenant Mike Titre, flying the “Yellow Four” position in the squadron formation, was the last man to take off that morning. Titre remembers the day as unremarkable. “A clear sky with the temperature at about 60 degrees,” he later recalled. “Perfect for flying.”

While designated as fighters, P-47s were used as fighter-bombers in the Ninth Air Force. On this mission, each Thunderbolt carried two 500-pound general-purpose bombs under its wings, a full load of ammunition for each of the eight .50-caliber wing guns and a 108-gallon belly tank. “We had enough firepower to destroy a marshalling yard,” Titre explained. This mission fit Blackburn’s own audacious plan completely. He was known to have said, “If the Luftwaffe won’t come up to us, we will go after them on the ground.”

Blackburn’s P-47 was a D-30-RA model with a bubble-top canopy. Thunderbolts were huge aircraft with a gross weight of 13,500 pounds. By this time in the war, Republic was delivering P-47Ds unpainted, in the natural aluminum finish. A few of the 509th aircraft had been painted in olive drab camouflage over neutral gray. The cowl ring, canopy frame and tail stripes were bright red. The left side of Blackburn’s cowling was decorated with a cartoon drawing of a running floppy-eared dog labeled Chow Hound. A Roman numeral III trailed behind the dog’s tail. The fuselage sides behind the cockpit were marked with a large black G9*B, with G9 designating the 509th Squadron and B indicating Blackburn’s aircraft. The tail bore the black Bureau of Aeronautics registration number, 433291.

When specific targets were not assigned, experienced commanders were given considerable discretion in the selection of targets of opportunity. Some went after trains and marshalling yards, while others sought out vehicle depots, ammunition dumps, or tank and troop concentrations. Blackburn habitually went after airfields. This Sunday morning he was looking for the Luftwaffe on the ground. As the 509th approached the field at Dortmund, Titre said he could see “about a dozen twin-engine aircraft parked close together near a hangar.” They turned out to be Junkers Ju-88s. This was to be a surprise attack on the field, and Blackburn told the rest of the pilots he wanted “total destruction.”

Titre recalled, “The attack began as briefed.” Blackburn went in first with a divebombing run that started at about 12:30 p.m. The rest of the P-47s followed and began their runs in a trail formation. Red, White, Blue and Yellow flights rolled in and dropped their bombs in order. “After Red Leader finished his bomb run,” Titre said, “he started his strafing passes.” Blackburn had already completed two low-level machine gun attacks before Yellow Four was able to drop his bombs. “We were coming in from all directions,” remembered Titre. “It was a melee.”

Lieutenant Don Enos, flying Red Three behind Blackburn’s aircraft, recalled: “We were making the first pass after dropping our bombs, very low, very fast. We were staggered to the right. Blackie was strafing what appeared to be two Ju-88s parked side-byside. There was a large explosion which completely enveloped his plane.”

Colonel Chester Van Etten, operations officer of the 405th, had warned Blackburn about the flak guns around German airfields. When Blackie returned to the squadron after R&R, Van Etten told him the Germans were firing smokeless 20mm guns, noting, “You couldn’t see the shells explode.” He recommended that the pilots “break off strafing passes at least 3,000 feet above terrain.” Blackburn’s response to the warning was, “They can’t hit me!” It’s not clear if debris from the exploding Ju-88s hit Blackburn’s “Jug” or if the 20mm flak batteries got him.

About the time Blackburn’s plane was hit, Titre remembered, “I had just rolled into my first diving attack from about 6,000 feet. I released my bombs at around 1,200 feet and was pulling up. I looked down for a fleeting moment and saw one of our aircraft on fire. I knew it was Blackie.” There are conflicting reports, but it appears Blackburn’s aircraft had rolled over and was upside down and on fire at about 500 feet from the ground. “No one saw a parachute,” Titre said. “We assumed he crashed with his aircraft.”

Before he went down, there was a radio transmission from Blackburn. Some recall him saying, “Good show, Schooner Squadron” (“Schooner” was the call sign for the 509th). Others remember the message as “Take over, Red Three and give me credit for the two I got.” Red Three immediately called, “Schooner Squadron, re-form 10 south at 6,000.”

With their leader down, the attacking P-47s broke off the attack and headed for home. As the squadron joined up, a radio transmission was heard with no call sign, but everyone recognized the voice of Major Jack Berger, commander of the 511th Squadron, which had been attacking other targets in the area. He asked, “Was it Blackie?” The answer back: “Yes.”

Blackburn had joined the 509th Fighter Squadron in Walterboro, S.C., as a first lieutenant and served as a flight leader. Later he was promoted to captain and became operations officer. He took command of the squadron in October 1944 and almost immediately was promoted to major.

Titre remembered him as “a premier pilot,” adding: “He was almost worshipped by some of the men. He was referred to by officers and enlisted men alike as a ‘legendary leader.’” Titre added: “To fly 140 missions in the Ninth was astounding. Blackie was a real go-getter. He flew every mission he could.”

By the time he was shot down, Blackburn had been awarded 24 Air Medals, two Silver Stars and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. Never known to shun publicity, he made sure all of his missions were recorded with the appropriate symbols on the fuselage of his aircraft beneath his cockpit.

Two German civilian eyewitnesses on the ground that day saw G9*B as it “crashed into the ground like a rock.” Sixteen-year-old Magda MacDiarmid, who lived on a farm with her family near the airfield, reported, “the pilot saved himself with his parachute.” She added, “After the crash the pilot, with both hands above his head, surrendered to two Air Force [Luftwaffe] officers, who took him prisoner.” Another eyewitness account indicates that a man belonging to the German SA (Nazi Party) ran up to Blackburn and held him as soldiers approached from the nearby airfield that had just been attacked.

The German report states, “After the attack, one of the ‘Jabos’ [fighter-bombers] pulled away trailing smoke. The pilot escaped from his burning aircraft. His parachute deployed and glided down to the ground. His aircraft broke apart and crashed.”

The nose section crashed into a field, with the tail falling a short distance away. The report goes on to say after Blackburn unbuckled his parachute harness, he put both hands on his head and waited to be taken prisoner. He handed over his pistol to a Luftwaffe major, who was accompanied by a sergeant and a corporal.

By this time a crowd from the nearby village of Asseln had gathered. They were understandably upset about the attack, and some became belligerent. Another member of the SA tried to kick the American pilot, but the Luftwaffe troops prevented it. The Nazi Party members wanted to prosecute Blackburn in front of the entire village. But the German major was intent on taking Blackburn back to quarters at the airfield.

Suddenly one of the Nazi Party men pulled a gun and shot Blackburn in the back. As he was falling, he was shot once again in the head. Clearly Robert M. Blackburn died while in the custody of Luftwaffe soldiers who had tried to protect him. At 24, he had logged a total of 347 combat hours. MacDiarmid later told American investigators, “This is an awful war memory that I will never forget in my lifetime.”

When the war ended several weeks later, Blackburn’s crashed P-47 was almost forgotten. In early 1946, Van Etten, second-in-command under Blackburn, borrowed an Army Stinson L-5 and flew to Dortmund from Wiesbaden. He later told Titre that he found “Blackie’s Jug inverted on the deck” at about a 10-degree angle. Just the tail was sticking up, with the letter “B” plainly visible. There were about six burned-out German planes approximately 300 yards from the “would be” nose position of Blackie’s bird. Van Etten told Titre this indicated Blackie had made more than one strafing pass. It was well known among P-47 pilots that more than one pass across an active German airfield was suicide.

The story of Robert Blackburn ends here, but not that of Thunderbolt G9*B. On February 1, 1991, according to a German newspaper story, a bulldozer was clearing an area near the old Dortmund Luftwaffe air base. As the digging progressed for the foundation of a new building, a portion of an American fighter was unearthed from “about 2.5 meters under the surface.”

At first the aircraft was thought to be a British fighter. Closer investigation showed it was an American P-47D. In 1994 a 54-yearold retired schoolteacher from Dortmund, Horst Munter, started investigating the Thunderbolt. Munter later said that his interest in aircraft stemmed from his memories of seeing the crashes of two Allied fighters, a Supermarine Spitfire and a Lockheed P-38, near his home when he was 5 years old.

Munter, who taught aerodynamics and chemistry at a local school, retrieved several of the parts from what has turned out to be G9*B. He has restored three of the four Curtiss Electric propeller blades, the badly damaged prop spinner and several parts from the cockpit and engine compartment.

Those parts, along with models of many of the aircraft from the 509th, are displayed at his home today. Munter’s investigations also led him to the name of the pilot of G9*B, Major Robert Blackburn, who had died on a sunny Sunday March afternoon in 1945.

Blackburn was buried in the Dortmund-Main Cemetery on March 30. A year later his remains were exhumed and sent to the American Ardennes Cemetery at Neupre, Belgium.

Originally published in the May 2006 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.


The B-20 was an attempt to combine the best features of both the flying boat and the floatplane. While on the water, the B-20 was essentially a floatplane, using a large float under the fuselage for buoyancy, and two smaller floats near the wingtips for stability. In flight, the main float retracted upwards towards the fuselage, fitting into a "notch" to become streamlined as a part of the fuselage. The wing floats folded outwards, somewhat like those on the American Consolidated PBY flying boat design, to become the wingtips. [2] This configuration gave the correct wing incidence for takeoff and for flight and in the latter a much reduced drag compared to the deep hulls of flying boats. [3]

Blackburn, along with Supermarine, Shorts and Saunders-Roe tendered designs against Air Ministry Specification R1/36. The Supermarine was chosen initially but Supermarine could not start work soon enough (due to their work on the Spitfire) and what would enter service as the Saunders Roe Lerwick became the chosen aircraft. However, the Ministry was interested enough to authorise and contract for the construction of a prototype of the B-20, serial number V8914, to test the concept.

The prototype, built at Dumbarton, flew for the first time on 26 March 1940. On 7 April, during a test run, the aircraft experienced extreme vibration due to aileron flutter and the crew bailed out. Three were lost, the other two were picked up by HMS Transylvania, a converted merchantman. Development ceased when the first prototype crashed, as Blackburn's resources were dedicated to the war effort. [1] The Ministry felt the concept had been proven and the crash was not due to the pontoon design.

The aircraft's wreck still exists, but remains undisturbed as it is designated a War grave. In 1998, one of the engines was raised as it had been caught in a fishing boat's nets and dragged away from the wreck, into shallower water. It is currently an exhibit in the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum. [4]

The B-40 was an improved variant of the B-20 with Bristol Centaurus engines to meet a requirement for a small general purpose flying boat and specification R.13/40 was raised for it. [3] [5] Two prototypes were ordered in September 1941 but the situation was reconsidered in December. Its range was insufficient improvement over the Sunderland III, performance on one engine was unacceptable, and land-based patrol aircraft were capable of covering longer ranges. Further, there was little value as an experimental design because the principle had been proven in the B.20 and for an aircraft the size of the B.40 there would not be a significant improvement in drag. With no operational requirement for the B.40, it was therefore cancelled. [6]

Picture Gallery for Blackburn Aircraft - History

Early examples proved to be underpowered, but this problem was corrected in the definitive Buccaneer S.2, fitted with powerful Rolls Royce Spey engines. Once the Royal Navy's large carriers began to be retired during the 1970s, these S.2 examples were progressively transferred to shore bases or to the Royal Air Force. Upgrades continued throughout the 1980s, most notably the ability to carry advanced missiles and laser-guided bombs. These improvements allowed the Buccaneer become one of the most popular aircraft in British service. Time eventually caught up with the Buccaneer, however, and all were retired from British service by 1994 and replaced by the Tornado IDS.

Several other countries also considered purchasing the Buccaneer, including the US and West Germany, but South Africa became the only export customer. The S.50 variant delivered to South Africa served from 1965 until 1991 and saw extensive action in regional conflicts against Angola, Namibia, and SWAPO guerrilla camps.

Data below for Buccaneer S.2B
Last modified 17 March 2012

Angola border disputes (South Africa, 1978-1988)
Namibia border disputes (South Africa, 1980s)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (UK, 1991)

South Africa, Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag (South African Air Force)
United Kingdom (Royal Air Force)
United Kingdom (Royal Navy)

Photos of Lake Palestine

Boat Docks on Lake Palestine near Emerald Bay

Lake Palestine Marina

Lake Palestine Marina

Another successful fishing day on Lake Palestine. Photo by and courtesy of Baxter's Guide Service

Blackburn Crossing Dam on Lake Palestine, looking East from boat launch

Blackburn Crossing Dam on Lake Palestine

Close-up photo of Blackburn Crossing Dam on Lake Palestine

Close-up photo of outflow side of Blackburn Crossing Dam

Close-up photo of Blackburn Crossing Dam on Lake Palestine

Close-up photo of Blackburn Crossing Dam on Lake Palestine

Lake Palestine Blackburn Crossing Dam outflow into the Neches River

Blackburn Crossing Dam outflow into the Neches River from Lake Palestine

Blackburn Crossing Dam outflow into the Neches River from Lake Palestine

Lake Palestine Blackburn Crossing Dam overflowing, July, 2007

ETMC Lake Palestine location, Highway 155, north of the lake

Looking north across Lake Palestine from near the dam

Texas Highway 155 Bridge across Lake Palestine between Dogwood City and Coffee City

Living on Lake Palestine Texas

Living the good life on the waterfront, Lake Palestine Texas

Today in Aviation: the Blackburn RT.1 Begins Passenger Flights

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the North Sea Aerial Navigation Company starts a passenger service between Leeds and Hounslow in 1919 using ex-military Blackburn RT.1s.

the North Sea Aerial Navigation Company was a subsidiary of the British aircraft manufacturer, Blackburn Aircraft. The company was formed by Robert and Jessy Blackburn in 1908. Robert designed his first plane in Leeds in 1908, and the company’s Olympia Works in Roundhay opened in 1914.

In 1914, the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company was established, and in 1916, it moved to a new factory in Brough, East Yorkshire. Norman Blackburn, Robert’s brother, rose through the ranks to become managing director.

Olympia in Leeds, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Brough (East Yorkshire), and Dumbarton were all home to the company’s factories. Blackburn flew planes on the beaches of Marske and Filey in the early days, and the company even used the former RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor.

Aircraft were flown in and out of Olympia Works by an adjacent airstrip in Roundhay Park before development moved to Sherburn-in-Elmet and Brough from the Leeds site.

Blackburn Kangaroo twin engined anti-submarine patrol aircraft of the Fiirst World War. Phot: By Official photograph – Imperial War Museum [1] – catalogue number Q.63799, Public Domain,

The Blackburn RT.1 Kangaroo

The Blackburn Aircraft Company designed and constructed two prototypes of the Blackburn G.P. anti-submarine floatplane in 1916. Blackburn General Purpose, for example. Although the Blackburn R.T.1 Kangaroo was not ordered, Blackburn produced a landplane version (Reconnaissance Torpedo Type 1).

Martlesham Heath received the first aircraft in January 1918. The rear fuselage was susceptible to turning during testing, and the aircraft had control issues, so the order for fifty aircraft was reduced to twenty, the majority of which were already partially completed.

The more powerful Rolls-Royce Falcon III engine replaced the 250 horsepower (190 kW) Rolls-Royce Falcon II engine starting with the sixth aircraft.

The Blackburn RT.1 could accommodate a crew of three. Its length was 44 ft 2 in (13.46 m) and its wingspan was 74 ft 10 in (22.81 m) with a wing area of 868 sq ft (80.6 m 2 ).

With its 4-bladed fixed-pitch propellers and gross weight of 8,017 lb (3,636 kg), the type had a rate of climb of 480 ft/min (2.4 m/s), a service ceiling of 13,000 ft (4,000 m), and reached a maximum speed of 98 mph (158 km/h, 85 kn) at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) with an endurance of eight hours.

Vertical aerial view of Hendon Aerodrome, Middlesex, UK. Photo: No. 1 Camouflage Unit – This is photograph HU 93052 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain,

Commercial Operations

Three surviving RAF Kangaroos were sold to the Grahame-White Aviation Co Ltd, based at Hendon Aerodrome, an important center for aviation (1908-1968), after World War I. Eight more were sold to Blackburn Aircraft, with three of them being converted into glazed cabins for the company’s subsidiary, North Sea Aerial Navigation Co Ltd, which is also located at Brough Aerodrome.

For the civil market, several different configurations were created, including cargo, pilot training, and/or passenger accommodation for up to eight people. Most of these converted aircraft flew (and sometimes crashed) in military colors for the first few months of 1919, during which the survivors were repainted with civilian registrations and commercial names.

Brough, Leeds, West Hartlepool, Gosport, and Hounslow Heath were among the places where joy-riding, freight, and passenger charters took place in May 1919. Three Kangaroos traveled to Amsterdam in August 1919 for the ELTA air traffic show, where they spent several weeks flying an estimated 1,400 passengers.

North Sea Aerial Navigation Co Ltd began a daily passenger service between Roundhay Park (Leeds) and Hounslow Heath on September 30, 1919. The business was renamed North Sea Aerial & General Transport Co Ltd in 1920, and services to Amsterdam were added.

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Blackburn Shark II’s in RCAF Service

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