The new facade of Blackburn Central Library on Town Hall Street which transports it to a bygone era
by Bill Jacobs, Local government reporter
BLACKBURN Central Library’s Town Hall Street frontage was yesterday revealed in all its ‘Back to the Future’ glory as the scaffolding which has covered it for months came down. The main entrance will reopen early next month ensuring that the £2million renovation of its exterior to its original 1930 state will be completely visible. A small amount of scaffolding will remain at the ‘old entrance’ on Northgate. Blackburn with Darwen council leisure boss Damian Talbot said he was delighted the removal of the concrete cladding attached to the original front of the Blackburn Co-op Emporium in the 1970s was almost complete.
He said: “The scaffolding that has been on the central library for around 12 months is almost completely removed, and the majority of the stonework has been restored.“This was a vital piece of investment, and what it did was give us an opportunity to restore the building to its original glory.
“The library is very important in the town, very well used and one of the busiest libraries in the north west, and it is a landmark building in Blackburn centre.”
The facelift started in April 2013, coinciding with transforming the inside into an online information hub as well as store for thousands of books.Council bosses authorised the removal of the cladding after severe erosion of the frontage saw a risk of lumps falling off on to the street.
For 40 years the building was home to Blackburn’s premier department store, the Co-op Emporium that sold everything from groceries to footwear and furnishings. The Emporium was opened in 1930 after four local Co-ops merged in 1920.When the department store moved into Ainsworth Street in 1970, the new library moved in.
Work is continuing around the ground floor main entrance and due to be complete next month.Most of the scaffolding is now down and some of the hoardings also down.The old entrance has been uncovered during the works and is a great architectural feature to the former Co Op building.