Tear it down or build it up?

‘Leave it alone!!’ Say the traditionalists. They like their buildings historical. They like them with red bricks, straight lines and character.

‘Smash it! Rip it down’ say the regenerative types. They like their buildings new. They like them with glass fronts, sleek curvy lines and glowing colours lighting up the night sky.

So which is right? 

At the moment we have an exhibition on photos of old Blackburn. Some of these photos are from the earliest days of photography, whilst others are from the 1950’s and 60’s. As you would expect, the photos have created a large amount of nostalgia for the way blackburn used to be. What makes it interesting are the current developments which are happening around the town. The same thing was happening in the 1960’s and there were very similar reactions to the developments then as there are now.

A convincing guide for the people of Blackburn?

Using a guide for the newly built market from the 60’s (this is the market which has just closed) it is interesting to see the vision the leaders of Blackburn had for it’s future. Removing the old clock tower and cloth covered stalls to create the new indoor market was portrayed as the key to the development. As the guide states ‘Blackburn’s new market…is much more than a market…Rather it is the symbol of the new Blackburn, The beginning of the final onslaught on the old and the ugly in our town centre, and their replacement with the new and the graceful’. I’m sure many of you don’t agree, but it’s worth wondering whether the current developments will stand the test of time.

In the exhibition we have a comment box asking your view on developments within Blackburn and whether new buildings replacing old ones is a good thing or not. About half the people that commented stated they wanted to see both, a reflection of the history but new buildings to show the town as a modern, dynamic place. Interestingly, of the remaining people, there are a lot of comments supporting the demolition of the majority of old buildings. There are no comments, however, lamenting the demise of the market (the one that’s just closed). People still remember the original one and it appears the wounds from the demolition of the market tower have not healed.

The market tower only took a few hours to demolish. Do you wish it was stilll here?

What do you think? Was the rebuilding scheme of the 1960’s a total failure?  Will the new developments last the test of time? Do they need to last the test of time? Should the town have a large overhaul every 50 years?

Put your thoughts below. It would be interesting to hear them.


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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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