Libraries Newsletter December 2021

Christmas and New Year closures
In addition to regular opening hours, all libraries will be closed on the following dates:
Sat 25th Dec (Christmas Day)
Mon 27th Dec (Bank holiday)
Tue 28th Dec (Bank holiday)
Sat 1st Jan (New Year's Day)
Mon 3rd Jan (Bank holiday)

Cherry Tree Library will close from Thu 23rd Dec to Tue 4th Jan inclusive (Tai Chi will take place on 4th Jan).
Mill Hill & Roman Road Libraries will close from Fri 24th Dec to Mon 3rd Jan inclusive.

Further increases to library opening hours
We are delighted to announce further increases to opening hours and services at Roman Road Library from week beginning Monday 6th December.  The new opening hours across all libraries will be:

Blackburn Library
Mon: 10 am - 7 pm
Tue - Fri: 10 am - 5 pm
Sat: 10 am - 2 pm

Darwen Library
Mon: 10 am - 7 pm
Tue: Closed
Wed & Thu: 1 - 5 pm
Fri: 10 am - 5 pm
Sat: 10 am - 2 pm

Cherry Tree Library
Mon: 2 - 4.30 pm
Wed: 10 am - 12.30 pm & 2 - 4.30 pm
Fri: 2 - 4.30 pm
Sat: 10 am - 12.30 pm

Mill Hill Library
Tue: 10 am - 12.30 pm & 1.30 - 3 pm
Wed: 10 am - 12.30 pm
Thu: 10 am - 12.30 pm

Roman Road Library
Mon: 5 - 7 pm
Tue: 9 am - 12 pm
Wed: 12 - 2 pm
Thu & Fri: 9 am - 12 pm

New Children's & Young People's Patron for Blackburn with Darwen Libraries

We are delighted to announce that author Christina Gabbitas has agreed to be a patron for our Library and Information Services, with a particular focus on children's and young people's work.  Christina is no stranger to Blackburn, having been born in the town.  Her father was a fireman, based not very far from the library, and she attended school at St Luke & St Philip's Primary School.  The patronage was formally announced at a ceremony in Blackburn Central Library on Tuesday 23rd November, attended by Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Cllr Derek Hardman, Executive Member with responsibility for libraries Cllr Damian Talbot, Chair of the Blackburn BID (Business Improvement District) Catherine Price and pupils from St Luke & St Philip's School.  Christina was in Blackburn to take part in education activities linked to the Knife Angel statue at Blackburn Cathedral, and to promote her book 'No More Knives' which warns children about the dangers of knife crime and county lines gangs in an age appropriate, graphic novel style.  Representatives from the local police force were also in attendance to support this work.

The Write Time - creative writing workshops

Literary arts organisation Read Now Write Now has been awarded funding from Arts Council England to run FREE online creative writing workshops for adult beginners living in Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Bolton and is looking for people to take part.  Starting in January 2022, author Charlie Lea will run six writing workshops, each lasting 8 weeks, in partnership with Lancashire Libraries, Blackburn with Darwen Libraries, Blackpool Libraries and Bolton Libraries. At the end of the workshops participants will have the opportunity to submit a short story which can be included in a published anthology that will be placed in all four libraries’ catalogues, and further have an extract of their story read out and uploaded onto YouTube.

During the workshops Charlie will use examples from famous novels to guide the writers on how to set the scene, build characterisation, plot and plan their stories.  Previously, Charlie has delivered similar writing courses for adults in the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire West, Warrington and in Trafford and over 250 new writers have seen their first stories published into an anthology.  All courses will take place online via Zoom rather than at library venues. There will be a maximum of 15 free places on each course and registration will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

Dates: 8-week courses from week beginning 10th January 2022
Monday afternoon: starting 10th January 2 - 3.30 pm
Tuesday evening: starting 11th January 7 - 8.30 pm
Wednesday evening: starting 12th January 7 - 8.30 pm
Thursday evening: starting 13th January 7 - 8.30 pm
Friday morning: starting 14th January 10 - 11.30 am
Saturday afternoon: starting 15th January 2 - 3.30 pm
All interested people need to do is choose one of the above courses and then email to book on and register.
Trees planted in memory of Suzette Quinn

The Tuesday Reading Group at Blackburn Library sadly lost one of their members when Suzette Quinn passed away last winter, and they decided to plant a tree in her memory.  In actual fact 10 saplings were planted as part of the National Trust's goal to plant 20 million trees by 2030, and will hopefully be enjoyed for many years to come.
Introducing the British Newspaper Archive
We're thrilled to announce that access to the British Newspaper Archive is now available at all Blackburn with Darwen Libraries.  The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership between the British Library and Findmypast to digitise millions of pages from the British Library's vast newspaper collection - over 44,700,000 and counting - making them available online for the first time ever.  The physical collection is one of the wonders of the modern world, containing newspapers from Britain and further afield dating back to 1603 in over 600,000 bound volumes and on over 300,000 rolls of microfilm.  Together, these cover approximately 45 km or 28 miles of shelving.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can now search hundreds of millions of news articles, family notices, letters, obituaries, advertisements and illustrations by keyword, name, date or title and watch your results appear in an instant.  Compared to hours of painstaking research through hard copies or microfilm (often requiring a visit to London or Boston Spa in West Yorkshire) it's easy to appreciate the ground breaking nature of this project.

The collections include runs of most of the newspapers published in the UK since 1800.  The scale of the newspaper publishing industry from the early 19th century onwards is enormous, with many cities and towns publishing several newspapers simultaneously, often aimed at distinct audiences depending on social status, geographical location and political affiliation.  Newspapers aimed at county circulation also feature prominently, providing an unrivalled picture of provincial life.  Now being added is a wealth of material from the 20th century up to the 1980s.  Drop in and see what you can find for yourself - a framed front page can make a great birthday present for someone!
Winter craft fun at all our libraries
There's something for everyone in our libraries this season, whether you're young or just young at heart.  Age guidance is suggested.  Booking is not required, but depending on how busy we are you may need to wait a little while when you arrive, so that we can control the numbers and keep everyone as safe as possible.

Blackburn Central Library
  • Mon 20th Dec, 5 - 7 pm, Book folding craft for adults (make an angel or hedgehog)
  • Tue 21st Dec, 2 - 4 pm, Make a cardboard snowman (age 2 - 7)
  • Wed 22nd Dec, 2 - 4 pm, Create winter pine cone characters (age 7 - 11)
Darwen Library
  • Mon 20th Dec, 2 - 4 pm, Create winter pine cone characters (age 7 - 11)
  • Wed 22nd Dec, 2 - 4 pm, Make a cardboard snowman (age 2 - 7)
  • Wed 29th Dec, 2 - 4 pm, Book folding for adults (make an angel or hedgehog)
Cherry Tree Library
  • Wed 22nd Dec, 11.30 am - 12 pm (straight after story time), Make a cardboard snowman (age 2 - 7)
Mill Hill Library
  • Tue 14th Dec, 10.30 - 11.30 am, Make a cardboard snowman (pre-school)
Roman Road Library
  • Tue 21st Dec, 10 - 11 am, Make a cardboard snowman (age 2 - 7)
  • Thu 23rd Dec, 10 am - 12 pm, Create winter pine cone characters (age 7 - 11)
Light the Night: The Snowman TM and The Snowdog’ brick model trail up and running!
The Snowman and The Snowdog brick models are now located in 16 BID member shops and businesses throughout the town centre (including Blackburn Central Library).  You can pick up a beautiful trail map from The Mall’s Ask Me point and participants are in with a chance of winning £100 in high street vouchers for completing the trail quiz.  They also have a QR code trail with the free Experience Blackburn App with prizes to be won.  The trail runs until 5th January 2022 to support the town centre throughout the festive season.  More information is available at

New exhibition at Darwen Library

‘Out Beyond Here’ Monday 29th November 2021 – 7th January 2022.
‘Daydream Vision Creative’ is the production company of Darwen based photographer/musician/artist Micky Carlisle.  His exhibition ‘Out Beyond Here’ will display his initial works and the blueprint of his creative future.  ‘Out Beyond Here’ is inspired by the observations of the natural world and will also contain a varied collection of reworked images of these familiar environments in a more abstract manner. 
Regular events at our libraries
Reminiscence session at Cherry Tree Library:  This month's session at Cherry Tree on 1st December at 2 pm is looking at Christmas Past.  What was your favourite toy as a child, and what was Christmas dinner like in the 50s and 60s?  If you have any photos it would be good to look back at those, and you can wear a Christmas jumper if you like (but this isn't compulsory).
Darwen Library Reading Group is up and running again, and meets this month on Monday 13th December from 5.45 - 6.45 pm.
Connect & Learn with IT:  The monthly session at Roman Road Library takes place on 16th December from 9.30 - 11.30 am.  Booking is required - phone (01254) 587934 or email  For details of weekly sessions at other libraries see below. 


Weekly events (no sessions 23rd - 31st Dec inclusive)

2 - 3 pm, Brew time, Cherry Tree Library.  
5 - 7 pm, Youth group, Roman Road Library.

10 - 11.30 am, Tuesday Reading Group, Blackburn Central Library.
1.30 - 2.30 pm, Tai Chi, Cherry Tree Library.  Booking required (see below).*
2 pm, Brew time, Mill Hill Library.

10 am - 12 pm, IT drop in, Blackburn Central Library.
10.30 - 11 am, Read, Rhythm & Rhyme, Blackburn Central Library.
10.30 - 11 am, Story time, Cherry Tree Library
10.30 am - 12 pm, Craft & Chat, Mill Hill Library.
12 - 2 pm, Craft group, Roman Road Library.
11 am - 12 pm, Brew time, Cherry Tree Library.
2 - 4 pm, Connect & Learn with IT, Darwen Library.  Booking required (see below).**

11 - 11.30 am, Story time at Mill Hill Library.

2 - 4 pm, Knit & Natter, Cherry Tree Library.

*For Tai Chi bookings, please contact Age UK (01254) 266620.
**For Connect & Learn IT bookings please phone (01254) 587934 or email
Could you be a volunteer at Darwen Library?

Blackburn Festival of Light
2021 marks Blackburn Festival of Light's 10th year, having grown from a small event run by one artist working with the council to the large celebrations of the last few years.  This year's event date is Saturday 18th December when celebrations will include a community lanterns parade, street performers and music.  Here is a short video of the last parade in 2019: (a virtual parade was projected onto the Town Hall throughout December 2020).

The event will see a host of illuminated street performers, lit-up buildings and fire performances as well as the lantern parade, and there is still plenty of time to get involved.  Starting from 27th November there will be lantern making sessions at The Bureau each Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1 - 4 pm.  Go along to The Bureau and work with a professional lantern artist from The Blackburn Festival of Light team to create a beautiful paper and willow lantern for the Lantern Parade.  It's not compulsory to go with a child and it's suitable for all ages from 5 - 95!  It is a messy, gluey activity, so please wear suitable clothing.

There are opportunities for community groups to get involved too, including artist led workshops with groups and group leader training to enable leaders to go away and deliver the workshops themselves.  Groups can submit an expression of interest online here:

We are excited to announce that the 1921 Census for England and Wales will be published online by Findmypast on 6th January 2022.

Taken between two world wars, during a period of economic turmoil and at a time when women had just won the right to vote, the 1921 Census will provide some fascinating insights about society and how it has evolved over the past 100 years.  Preparing the 1921 Census for online publication is the largest project ever completed by The National Archives and Findmypast, consisting of more than 30,000 bound volumes of original documents, stored on 1.6 linear kilometres of shelving.

Mystery History

Congratulations if you correctly identified last month's picture as the railway bridge over Whalley Old Road.  We believe the locomotive in the picture is BR 46203, "Princess Margaret Rose".  According to the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust, she was retired from regular railway service in 1962 but was preserved and returned to mainline specification in May 1990.  She was withdrawn from service again in April 1996 and has been a static display in Swanwick ever since.  Another major overhaul would be required to get her back into working order now.  Judging by the cars which also feature in the picture, it would appear that this dates from the early 1990s, but if anyone knows the exact date do please get in touch and let us know.

This month's mystery photo takes a slightly different form.  It's a seasonal view from the archives which depicts a nativity play at Queen's Hall Methodist Church in the 1950s or 60s.  Do you recognise any of the children in the picture, or were you one of them yourself?  What role did the young man in the white coat play in the proceedings?  The picture was taken by John Ceriog Hughes, father of Community History Library Volunteer David Hughes who has generously donated all his father's slides for use on the Cotton Town image gallery at
News from partners
Care Network:  The Care Network are on the lookout for more volunteers.  If anyone is interested, please contact them on 01254 507255 or call in to the office opposite Blackburn Central Library to ask for an expression of interest form.  They are also looking for builders, roofers, painters & decorators and gardeners to join their safe trader scheme.  Again, please contact them if interested in applying.
Flourishing Minds:  Flourishing Minds is a partnership service delivered collaboratively by Lancashire Mind, One Voice, Age UK and Blackburn with Darwen Wellbeing Service funded by Blackburn with Darwen Council Public Health.  It offers wellbeing support and activities to all Blackburn with Darwen residents and those registered with a Blackburn with Darwen GP if they are age 18 or over, and not currently accessing another mental health support service. 
Email or phone 01257 231660 for more information.
Fit Rovers:  Are you age 35 - 65?  Do you want to lose weight?  Do you want to make a change?  Meet other fans just like you, and get to see behind the scenes at Blackburn Rovers Football Club.  Fit Rovers is a free 12 week programme that helps fans to make better lifestyle choices.  To book your place on the next free course, visit, contact or phone 01254 508136.
Walking and Cycling Suvey:  The IMO charity are trying to gain an insight into barriers to walking and cycling in the borough, identify where people look for information and find out more about what the public wants and needs.  If you're interested in taking part, you can take part in the survey
180 open day:  Hoping for a new start in the new year?  Then come to the 180 open day for an introduction to all they have to offer, if you want 2022 to be the year you break free from negative life cycles, eg addiction, crime, poor mental health and prison.  It's on Tuesday 7th December from 1 - 3 pm at Unit 25, Albert Mill, Duchess Street, Lower Darwen, BB3 0QE.  Please wear gym clothing and bring a water bottle.  Contact or phone 07904 345561 to book your place.
Please note: Any opinions expressed in this newsletter are the contributor’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Blackburn with Darwen Library and Information Service.

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