Archive for January, 2012

Down and out in Blackburn

Do you ever feel unsafe walking through an area?  Even in the more affluent areas of town we are not totally safe and now id and internet theft can mean you can have all your savings stolen without the thief ever leaving their seat and you none the wiser until you get to Asda and your card is declined.

Wouldn’t more bobbies on the beat be a better thing. Just seeing policeman can help provide reassurance that nothing will happen whilst they are around. But, what about once they have walked past? No matter how affluent an area every town and city will have its drunkards, drug addicts and petty criminals. ‘Oh what has our society become! ‘ I hear you lament, ‘If only we could go back to the glorious industrial days when there were more jobs than people and you worked that long and hard you were always to tired to cause any problems!’

Unfortunately, I have to burst your bubble. There have been criminals and trouble makers since the dawn of time. The industrial era did provide a place like Blackburn with tens of thousands of jobs and school leavers could walk into any factory of their choice, not just one that had vacancies. This however, did not stop crime and we have the evidence to prove it with these criminals’ record cards.

Crime Sheet
The Crime sheet of 62 year old Patrick Cocklin

Take Patrick Cocklin. A youthful looking 62 (trust me, compared to some of the other offenders, he looks young) who was first jailed for 2 months for stealing some shoes. He also had 4 months imprisonment for stealing a manure fork.

Crime Sheet

Crime Sheet for 17 year old Martha Ann Madden

Or how about Martha Ann Madden, who was caught stealing shoes and a shawl and being drunk and disorderly. Many of the crimes are thefts of items like food, shoes or warm clothing. There are also plenty for drunkenness and idleness and we also have one for murder, the convicted man being executed.

It’s fascinating to read these cards and learn what people at the time were being arrested for. It also lends a word of warning to those who look back through rose tinted glasses, industrial Blackburn would have had an aura of progress, desire and honesty but look deeper and into the cracks and life was hard. Very hard.


Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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