BLACKBURN, a municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Lancashire, England, 210 m. N.W. by N. from London, and 24 N.N.W. from Manchester, served by the Lancashire & Yorkshire and the London & North Western railways, with several lines from all parts of the county. Pop. (1891) 120,064; (1901) 127,626. It lies in the valley of a stream called in early times the Blackeburn, but now known as the Brook. The hills in the vicinity rise to some 900 ft., and among English manufacturing towns Blackburn ranks high in beauty of situation. Besides numerous churches and chapels the public buildings comprise a large town hall (1856), market house, exchange, county court, municipal offices, chamber of commerce, free library, and, outside the town, an infirmary. There are an Elizabethan grammar school, in modern buildings (1884) and an excellent technical school. The Corporation Park and Queen's Park are well laid out, and contain ornamental waters. There is an efficient tramway service, connecting the town with Darwen, 5 m. south. The cotton industry employs thousands of operatives, the iron trade is also very considerable, and many are engaged in the making of machines; but a former woollen manufacture is almost extinct. Blackburn's speciality in the cotton industry is weaving. Coal, lime and building stone are abundant in the neighbourhood. Blackburn received a charter of incorporation in 1851, and is governed by a mayor, 14 aldermen and 42 councillors. The county borough was created in 1888. The parliamentary borough, which returns two members, is coextensive with the municipal, and lies between the Accrington and Darwen divisions of the county. Area, 7432 acres.
Blackburn is of considerable antiquity; indeed, the 6th century is allocated to the original foundation of a church on the site of the present parish church. Of another church on this site Cranmer was rector after the Reformation. Blackburn was for some time the chief town of a district called Blackburnshire, and as early as the reign of Elizabeth ranked as a flourishing market town. About the middle of the 17th century it became famous for its "checks," which were afterwards superseded by a similar linen-and-cotton fabric known as "Blackburn greys." In the 18th century the ability of certain natives of the town greatly fostered its cotton industry; thus James Hargreaves here probably invented his spinning jenny about 1764, though the operatives, fearing a reduction of labour, would have none of it, and forced him to quit the town for Nottingham. He was in the employment of Robert Peel, grandfather of the prime minister of that name, who here instituted the factory system, and as the director of a large business carefully fostered the improvement of methods.
See W.A. Abram, History of Blackburn (Blackburn, 1897).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)