Charters of incorporation

County Borough of Blackburn

Prior to the year 1803, Blackburn possessed no governing authority beyond the town constable, acting under the instructions of the Select Vestry. In that year a body of Police Commissioners, twelve in number, was appointed by statute, charged with the duties of paving, lighting, watching, and cleansing the town. Ultimately their powers became merged in those of the Blackburn Improvements Commissioners appointed in 1847 under a local Act of Parliament. William Hoole was elected chairman of the latter body, and John Hargreaves, clerk.

This body continued to function until 1854, some time after the incorporation of the borough, and under its auspices the Market House was built, the new market place was laid out and a code of by-laws published for regulation of the town.

For some years it had become evident that, in consequence of its prosperous cotton trade, the town was increasing rapidly, both in area and the number of its inhabitants: new houses were encroaching upon what had formally been isolated hamlets in the suburbs and problems of sanitation, law and order, commodity prices, control and marketing of provisions and the innumerable responsibilities now undertaken by local government, were rapidly assuming formidable proportions, altogether beyond the scope of the Commissioners.

In these circumstances it was decided to present a petition for a Charter of Incorporation to the Queen in Council and on 28 November 1850 it was duly drawn up.

In response to the prayer of this petition, Her Majesty, by writ of Privy Seal, was graciously pleased to grant a Charter of Incorporation to the borough.

The Charter, which bears the date 28 August, 15th Victoria (1851), consists of three skins of parchment, neatly engrossed and ornamented, to which is affixed a large seal of green wax, being under the Royal Great Seal of England The Charter now hangs in the Council Chamber of Blackburn Town Hall.

Blackburn Borough Council

The Charter of Blackburn's second Borough Council
The Charter of Blackburn's second Borough Council

Blackburn's first borough Council was created in 1851 In the 1880's it was renamed a county borough and received new powers. Then in April 1974 some of its powers were transferred to Lancashire County Council and a new Local Authority was created which involved Blackburn, Darwen, North Turton and parts of the old Blackburn Rural District.The new authority became known as Blackburn District Council. On 15 May 1974 the Queen made up for the districts loss of prestige by giving it the title of borough once more by the granting of a new charter, the Great Seal of Elizabeth II is attached to the bottom of the charter. This charter now hangs in the Council Chamber of Blackburn Town Hall.

Darwen Borough Council

On the 22 March 1878, the people of Over Darwen were given permission by Charter to set up their own borough council with a mayor, aldermen and 18 councillors, who would have power to acquire property and appoint officers in order to carry out the functions of Local Government.

The granting of the charter provided a time schedule for the setting up of the new Council and divides the Borough into 6 electoral wards. Attached to the charter is the Great Seal of Victoria.

In time the original name of the borough, Over Darwen, became shortened to Darwen and the Darwen Council continued to operate until 1974 when the Borough of Darwen, the countyborough of Blackburn and various other local authority areas were merged together to form the new borough of Blackburn.

The charter now hangs in the council chamber of Blackburn Town Hall.