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Exhibition up and running

The Friends' exhibition covering the 150 years of the old cemetery went on display at Darwen Library on June 18th.

Both walls of the exhibition room are covered with photographs and information.

It was compiled and displayed by Tony Foster and Harold Heys with assistance from Lena Talbot.

Librarian Mary Painter said: "It's a very bright exhibition, especially considering the rather sombre subject." Tony has also done a display in one of the glass cases in the foyer. 

                                                 Harold Heys June 2011

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Celebrating the first burial

The sun came out and the cemetery was looking as good as it has done for 30 years or more as the Friends of Darwen Cemetery marked the pauper's grave of the first interment at the cemetery - exactly 150 years on. There is now a marble marker on the grave of 15-month-old Richard Hurst Eccles of Red Earth Mount. He had died of "teething", a common cause of death in the mid-Victorian days.


The unveiling ceremony was done by the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Councillor Karimeh Foster and Lord Darwen, fourth Baronet Paul Davies who had travelled up from his home near Oxford together with his uncle Stephen and sister Sarah.


After the ceremony, attended by some 60 people, three members of the local clergy gave blessings - the Rev. Andrew Holliday for the Church of England, Fr Peter Wilkinson, representing the Roman Catholic Church and the Rev Geoff Tolley representing the United Reformed Church.




Earlier in the afternoon, Lord Darwen and his relatives enjoyed a very interesting tour of the town. Tony Foster and I showed them round the houses and mills the Davies family used to own. They saw Waterfield mill and the site of Greenfield Mill. They toured Garden Village which was built for their workers by the Davies family just before the Great War, and they saw houses such as Heatherfield, Woodside Bank and Moorthorpe before visiting the family vault and the top of Section C.

Mrs Marsh made the party very welcome at Moorthorpe and she showed them the deeds of the house that revealed that two of Lord Darwen's forefathers had lived there around 100 years ago


In the evening there was an excellent dinner attended by about 50 at the Whitehall. Tony Foster gave a short talk on the early Davies involvement in Darwen which had begun with the arrival of the Rev. Thomas Davies to take over the pastorate of Duckworth Street Chapel in April 1860 - the same month that Richard Hurst Eccles had arrived in Darwen.


I spoke on Gandhi's visit to Darwen - he had been invited by Percy Duckworth, the first Baron Darwen - and the later history of the family. Chairman John East presented him with a folder containing a lot of the Davies history from 100 years of involvement with the town.On the following morning John showed them Duckworth Street UR Church and they had coffee and biscuits with the Mayor and her consort, Councillor David Foster, in her parlour at Blackburn Town Hall.


Lord Darwen, who succeeded to the title only the week before his visit, on the death of his father Roger, lives near Oxford with his wife and children. His company designs and manufactures sustainable housing.

In a gracious speech at the dinner he thanked everyone for making his visit such a resounding success. He said he and his sister and uncle had thoroughly enjoyed their brief visit and he warmly complimented the Friends on all the hard work they had done to brighten up the cemetery.

For loads more photographs click on this link to go our Gallery

Harold Heys June 2011
               Photographs by Paul Dargan & Rosemary Jackson

The Cemetery gets ready to Celebrate its 150th


THE Friends of Darwen Cemetery have made a lot of progress in the past 18 months, thanks to the efforts of the committee and members and generous donations from local organisations and individuals.

And now, just in time for the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Cemetery, great strides have been made at the Garden of Remembrance in the southern circle of the old cemetery, thanks largely to the generous help of Brent Stevenson Memorials.

150_ashes_garden_mon_(3)Brent's team have designed and erected a new marble centre-piece for the garden and in addition they have erected a matching marble seat and a circular walkway inlaid with marble which resembles a bright sun, The once -towering rhododendrons were cut back last year and are now growing again at a manageable height.

When the Friends group was launched by Councillor John East early in 2010 the Remembrance Garden, where local folk will be able to spread the ashes of their loved ones and perhaps position a small, engraved marker, was one of the hopes and aspirations.

Now it is taking shape. Says John: "We have a lot of work to do there yet but it is already looking very smart. I am sure many folk will welcome the innovation."

The cemetery was given a spring clean before the ceremony marking the first burial - that of a small illegitimate child, Richard Eccles of Red Earth Mount - and a team of council workers has been strimming the whole of the southern reaches. Areas on Section C have been seeded and several trees have been planted.


In addition volunteers tidied up the lad's unmarked grave area and laid new turf and planted flowers ready for the placing of a headstone to mark his passing.


Work is also well under way on Section B and headstones, flattened in the cause of "elf 'n' safety" a few years ago, have been re-erected and crosses have been dowelled back on to plinths. Again, there is a lot of work to do but, as John says: We are getting there slowly although a lot of our helpers are getting tired. We need some new blood!"

                                 Harold Heys May 2011
                             Photographs Paul Dargan & Harold Heys

150th Anniversary Meal


Come and join us at a special meal at The Whitehall Hotel on 2nd June 2011. The Menu for the meal has been specially devised for us by the Chef of MJs Restaurant at The Whitehall Hotel. (Menu attached)
The meal will take place after the unveiling of the plaque for the first burial (6.00pm in the Cemetery) and is booked for 7.00pm for 7.30pm.
The cost is £15 per person.

Please contact John East.

Send your menu choice (see the below link) along with a cheque made payable to Friends of Darwen Cemetery to:
C/O Unit 34, Darwen Enterprise Centre
Railway Road, Darwen BB3 3EH

RSVP by 26 May 2011

Please click on the the below link to see the Menu

Downloadable PDF Document

                                                             FODC May 2011
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