Archive for October, 2012

Marketing Blackburn: A beginners guide

Working in the museum I have the privilege of attending many meetings and discussions on how to market the museum and the town. There will invariably be somebody there who comes up with marketing nonsense which would baffle anyone who lived in the town. I have seen Blackburn described as many things in these leaflets, brochures and websites. A gateway, a cultural centre and a melting pot. Are these true? Is this what you see?

The thing is, this has been happening for many years. Within the collection we have a postcard telling people to ‘Be wise about their town’

Marketing postcard

Listen to the Owl, He knows what he is on about

Here are some of the best quotes from the postcard:

‘Electric cars run out to brownhill…passing under the Skew Bridge, noted for it’s hairpin bend’ A hairpin bend? People would come for miles aroufn to see a hairpin bend!

‘one can see natives in national costume or sportswear.’ Exactly what is the national costume? Flat cap and clogs?

‘For entertainment Blackburn is well catered, Palatial cinemas and theatres…while the town council holds their meetings monthly.’ There aren’t too many places in the world that would have a town council meeting on their marketing.

‘The tanned faces of the people of theis ancient town gives unquestionable proof of the many hours of sunshine they enjoy.’ I can imagine there are many who would disagree!

‘Sunday in Blackburn has a rather Continental flair…and the citizens are even allowed to go out into the country’. They must have campaigned hard to be allowed to leave the town limits!

There are many wondeful things about Blackburn. I’m just not sure that hairpin bends, locals in national dress and town council meetings are the highlights!

Sneaking into Blackburn via Sewers and Trams

Whilst I am not really a telly addict (sport doesn’t count!)  I do like certain types of shows. I like my detective shows and enjoy shows like Spooks and Hustle. These shows move from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again with great speed but provide good entertainment.What always astounds me with these types of shows is the ease with which the main protaganists get their hands on plans and maps. They need to sneak into a building and wihtin minutes they have an A1 sized map detailing all the entrances, air vents, sockets and even securtity cameras. Is this possible in real-life? I doubt it! Even after finding the maps or diagrams you then have to decode them and find the information you want.

We have old plans and maps in the museum and I went to have a look at some of them to see if they would be any use to any would be burglars of yesteryear. The short answer is no but I did come across this little jem…’Some particulars of the Municipal and Sanitary Works of Blackburn by J.B. McCallum’  who was the borough and water engineer. It has a fantastic array of detail relating to various aspects of the municipal system including sewer works, Gas works and the tram system.

The book, from 1885, provides some fantastic maps and descriptions which may not help a spy or jewel thief, but will help historians with understanding the development of the town.

Map

The dirty ways in and out of Blackburn

This map shows the sewer network in Blackburn. Whilst in may not seem instantly fascinating, I suppose sewers never are, it provides historians with a fantastic example of the size of the town and the nature of the sewer system. Don’t be expecting any Hollywood blockbuster style chases through these sewers either. With the majority no bgger than 15 inches it would make for a slow, smelly and ultimately pointless pursuit.


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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