Blackburn WITH Darwen

A place where vibrant towns are surrounded by glorious, rolling countryside. Where a strong heritage is celebrated with an exciting new cultural scene. Where a successful industrial past meets with a bold vision for the future and where there’s a thriving business community with a powerful entrepreneurial spirit.

This is a place with an ‘anything is possible’ attitude, with a deep sense of community pride and with powerful partnerships as a force for good.

Scroll down now to discover the place, the people and the opportunities!

Invest in
Blackburn WITH Darwen

We’re on the cusp of a major economic revolution!

Our £1bn vision for the future – underpinned by six strong growth strategies – has the potential to transform our economy – making Blackburn with Darwen one of the most important economic centres in the North.

We’re already proud to be home to leading sectors and businesses, including EuroGarages, Assystems, Perspex, Graham and Brown and more. And, we’re well positioned to unlock the opportunities brought by the Government’s £5bn investment in the neighbouring Samlesbury Enterprise Zone and the re-location of the National Cyber Force HQ there.

Come and be a part of our story!

Our Place, Our People

Fashion with Fight

The future of fast fashion is changing and a thriving Blackburn factory is playing its valuable part in the revolution. Behind the scenes is well-known fashion designer and the BBC’s ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ judge, Patrick Grant. The founder of Community Clothing chose the town not only because of the area’s rich link to cotton mills, textiles and making, but also for the infectious community spirit and the strong connections between the town’s hard-working families and the factory’s workers.

Food with Goals

Meet Chef Dan Jolley – personal chef to Liverpool Football Club ace Mo Salah and the proud owner of CDJ Restaurant in Darwen. Dan has worked in some of the finest Michelin Star restaurants in the world – now you’ll find him back home and in the kitchen at CDJ impressing customers with his sensational culinary skills. With an ever-evolving menu and its infamous steak nights, CDJ is proving super popular – definitely one for all you foodies!

Sublime with Surreal

Award-winning artist Alexandra Gallagher is showing Blackburn with Darwen as it’s never been seen before, through a collection of incredible new postcards. Alex first fell in love with the borough when she travelled here to study at Blackburn College as a teenager – being drawn to the place and the people who call it home. Her works are renowned for being a celebration of the ‘surreal and the sublime’ – look out for her new collection celebrating landmarks across the borough complete with an octopus, zebra, runaway Mummy and more!

Global with Local 

When we talk about what makes Blackburn with Darwen truly ‘Spezial’, there’s one person we must mention, Gary Aspden. The Darwen-born designer and adidas Spezial curator is passionate about regeneration through culture. In recent years, he’s brought an international adidas exhibition to Blackburn – complete with its very own adidas Blackburn shoe – hosted a star-studded C.P. Company exhibition in an underground car park in Darwen and, most recently, he brought Liam Gallagher here to perform an intimate gig at King George’s Hall –  supporting homelessness charity Nightsafe.

Grit with Graft

Blackburn-born TV presenter AJ Odudu has been big on our screens again this year as the new host for Big Brother on ITV. And, AJ has once again flying the flag for her hometown with the star, a proud ambassador, saying it’s where she gets her ‘grit and determination’ from. She added: “I love the whole ethics of the place. I feel like people in Blackburn just work hard, get on with it and graft – and that’s something I take with me wherever I go.”

Culture with Creativity

Jamie Holman’s work is rooted in our rich local heritage and culture. He works from a studio in the town centre in partnership with curator Alex Zawadzki and a team of graduate assistants as ‘Uncultured Creatives’, delivering large scale art works locally, nationally and internationally. Jamie is a founder director of Prism Contemporary, the first independent contemporary art gallery in Blackburn and is associate artist for The British Textile Biennial. He’s also Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Festival of Making NPO, and is represented by The Second Act Gallery.

Football with Diversity

At Blackburn Rovers, your background doesn’t matter as long as it’s blue and white! Instrumental to that is Yasir Sufi – the club’s proud Commercial and Partnerships Manager. Born in Blackburn, Yasir is a true blue – a lifelong Rovers fan inspired by his father to make a difference to his community. And he’s doing just that! BRFC was the first-ever club to be awarded the new EFL Diversity Award – a celebration of excellence in equality, diversity and inclusion in football.

Alexandra Gallagher

Prepare to see Blackburn with Darwen as you’ve never seen it before through a collection of incredible new postcards by award-winning artist Alexandra Gallagher!

Visit Us

National Festival of Making

This packed two-day celebration of all things making is not to be missed! Blackburn with Darwen’s biggest event of the year, there’s everything from free making workshops to impressive art installations, theatre and musical performances, makers markets, delicious street food, talks, tours and so much more. The event draws in tens of thousands of people each year with visitors travelling from far and wide to be part of the action in Blackburn town centre. ‘Make’ sure it’s in your diary!

King George’s Hall

Over the last century, everyone from The Beatles to David Bowie, The Clash and Queen have graced the stage at King George’s Hall. Today, it’s still attracting sell-out crowds with its impressive line-up of performers – Liam Gallagher, Florence + the Machine and Paul Weller just three of the big names to have recently visited. And the Christmas panto is always a favourite, oh yes it is! The impressive hall sits at the very heart of Blackburn’s £50m new Cultural Quarter with works ongoing to transform the Blakey Moor building opposite. Read more on that below.

Darwen Tower

We’re blessed to be surrounded by rolling countryside here in Blackburn with Darwen. And, when it comes to free things to do, it doesn’t get much better than a walk to the newly restored Darwen Tower with breath-taking views from the top. If you’ve not been before, you can find different walking guides to suit your ability online. Or, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Re:Fresh team offers free guided walks with routes right across the borough.

Blackburn Museum
and Art Gallery

Back when it first opened its doors in 1874, it was one of the first purpose-built free museums outside of London. And, today, it’s still free to enjoy. The museum and art gallery houses a rich and fascinating collection covering fine art, decorative art, Egyptology (the famous Egyptian Mummy is a popular attraction), coins, manuscripts, natural history, social history and more! This year the museum will also re-tell the stories of the cotton industries from different views and of what’s happened to the mills since.

Darwen Live

The biggest free to attend music festival in the UK (possibly even Europe!), Darwen Live continues to grow and grow every year. The main stage in the town’s impressive Market Square is the main focus with up to 20 other venues offering live entertainment over the course of the ever-popular two-day event. Tens of thousands turn out to enjoy local, national and international talent with previous headliners including The Buzzcocks, Toyah, Hot Chocolate, Black Grape, Toploader and more.

British Textile Biennial

The British Textile Biennial throws a spotlight on the nation’s creativity, innovation and expression in textiles against the backdrop of the impressive infrastructure of the cotton industry in Pennine Lancashire. With its epic mills and grandiose civic architecture along the country’s longest waterway, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the landscape tells the story of textiles. This biennial festival celebrates that story while showcasing its contemporary expression with the community that has textiles in its DNA.

Blackburn Cathedral

While it’s one of England’s newest Cathedrals, it’s also believed to be one of the country’s oldest places of Christian worship with the building’s foundations dating back as far as 596. Blackburn Cathedral is also home to the biggest collection of religious modern art in England and visitors are often mesmerised as they tour the building and all it has to offer. Afterwards, you can also enjoy the delights at the Cathedral’s popular café, Checks & Greys – its name taken from the traditional weaving patterns for which the town was once world-famous for.

The Making Rooms

Push open the doors to the Making Rooms and you’ll reveal a whole world of creativity! Indeed, this is a place where creativity, technology and advanced manufacturing come together in a community facility for use by artists, inventors, students, children and just about everyone else! Here, you can make anything from high-tech products and gadgets to toys, artwork, home decoration and more.

Blackburn Pride

When we talk about Pride – and we mean real pride by the absolute bucketful – there’s one event that’s not to be missed – Blackburn Pride! The first event blew everyone away with more than 1,000 people turning out to celebrate life and diversity in our borough. The ‘big and bouncy’ Blowjangles band led a packed parade to the Town Hall Square where there were live performances, street magic, aerial artists, Blackburn’s People Choir and more – hours and hours of family-friendly fun!

Blackburn Town Centre

Head to The Mall and shop ’til you drop with a big Primark, River Island, Next and more. Blackburn is also home to Lancashire’s biggest market and there’s a fantastic selection of independent shops, places to eat and drink and places to visit too – including the museum, Making Rooms, Blackburn Cathedral, an ice skating arena and more! You can also watch big name acts and live shows at the impressive King George’s Hall – it sits at the very heart of a brand new £50m Cultural Quarter being developed in that area with a new Reel Cinema and a whole host of new eateries.

Read more on Blackburn BID website

Darwen Town Centre

Darwen is the kind of place that you only really find out how amazing it truly is when you speak to the people. Ask them, and they’ll be sure to tell you about the market, the new Market Square, the fabulous range of independent businesses, all of the places to eat, events throughout the year and of course, walks to the much-loved Tower!  Darwen is also ‘the’ place to go for a night out with a wide range of bars, restaurants and live music venues. And, the town centre is set to benefit from significant investment as part of the £100m Darwen Town Deal – you can read more about that below.

Visit Darwen Town Centre Website

Woman wearing festive outfit enjoying a glass of mulled wine

Living in Blackburn with Darwen

Our Quality Housing Offer

There’s a rapidly changing housing offer in Blackburn with Darwen with more than 1,500 high-quality, new family homes built in the last five years and another 2,000 in the planning. More and more people are moving here – making the most of the low house prices, the freedom of the surrounding countryside, all that our towns and villages have to offer and the fantastic transport links. Scroll through to find out more about living in Blackburn with Darwen…

Our Community Spirit

In Blackburn with Darwen there’ll always be someone who’ll say hello to you in the street and a band of willing volunteers ready to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in whenever anything needs doing. A fantastic example of this is our super successful ‘Red Bag Revolution’ – more than 1,000 volunteers who give up their own time to help pick up litter and keep our borough looking its very best. We’ve a brand new People’s Jury too – also made up of volunteers – helping tackle our local response to the Climate Emergency. We’re proud to be BwD!

Our Top Performing Schools

Here in Blackburn with Darwen we’re determined that every child and young person should have the opportunities needed to fulfil their potential. And, when it comes to schools and education, we’re proud to be home to Star Academies – the best performing Multi Academy Trust in the UK. It leads on the Government’s National Institute for Teaching and one of its 30 schools – Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School in Blackburn – is one of the top performing schools nationally.

Blackburn College’s
World-Class Campus

Students travel from right across Lancashire to study at Blackburn College – one of the largest colleges in the UK! From its world-class campus, its talented pupils go on to study at top universities and it’s also in the Top 10 in England for Advanced Apprenticeship success. The college, with its university centre, has strong and growing links with Lancaster University, UCLAN and the AMRC. Linked to the £5bn re-location of the National Cyber Force HQ to Samlesbury, the college is investing in infrastructure and cyber-related technology.

Our Parks and Open Spaces

Blackburn with Darwen is beautifully framed by rolling moors and sprawling countryside. There’s plenty of walks and our playgrounds are undergoing upgrades too. This year will see our flagship Witton Park upgraded as part of £500K of improvements. Popular with residents and visitors, it already boasts 480 acres of countryside with pretty picnic spots as well as nature trails, a sports arena, children’s bike track, cycle centre, café and more. And there’s a brand new Go Ape Treetop adventure facility there too!

Our Impressive Leisure Facilities

Blackburn with Darwen has some of the best leisure facilities around – from swimming pools to studios, steam rooms, saunas, sports halls and more. There’s three, state-of-the art leisure centres – Darwen, Blackburn and the Witton Park Arena. The council-run facilities offer low cost entry with memberships available from as little as £18.50 per month. Outdoors, there’s 3G pitches, grass pitches, courts and the arena is home to regional track and field events. For families, the two flumes and water play zone at Blackburn Leisure Centre are always a favourite!

World-class sporting facilities:
Junction4 Skate Park

Not many places can claim to have a steady flow of Olympians visiting, but we can! And, they’re all heading to one place – Junction4 Skatepark. With the help of Darwen Town Deal, the Olympic-standard facility has gone from being one of the smallest skate parks in the country to one of the very best – hosting international competitions at its brand new £1.2m facility. It’s not just for Olympians either, there’s everything from beginner’s sessions and lessons to skateboard nights, scooter nights, inline skate nights, bike nights, family sessions and holiday clubs. Oh, and there’s a cocktail bar at the urban sports village too!

Our £1bn Vision for the Future

Vision for the Future

£250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan

£250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan

The largest town centre regeneration scheme of its type in the region.

The £250m scheme will deliver:

  • Low carbon town centre accommodation adjacent to retail, local services and flexible workspaces
  • £60m Skills & Education Campus with Cyber Zone (see below)
  • Business and technology workspaces for low carbon, green and renewable industries 
  • Revitalised/repurposed historic buildings 
  • Improved public realm & increased cycle/pedestrian routes

The framework for the 15 acre site has been developed by BDP Architects and Maple Grove Developments is the development partner.

£100m Darwen Town Deal

£100m Darwen Town Deal

Darwen is set for an exciting commercial and cultural renaissance.

With the £100m Darwen Town Deal as the catalyst, the plans include:

  • An impressive regeneration of the town centre including the repurposing of the Market Hall, an extension of the Library Theatre and the potential for new town centre living
  • Significant investment in local employment and strategic manufacturing with support for a new Perspex national manufacturing centre and a new AMRC Additive Manufacturing Accelerator – the first-of-its-kind for the UK
  • A new Sports Village boasting Olympic facilities, improvements to the town’s gateways and the opening up of Darwen’s sprawling green spaces with new trails linking to the town, moors and the newly-restored Jubilee Tower.
£60m Skills & Education Campus with Cyber Zone

£60m Skills & Education Campus with Cyber Zone

This £60m scheme will deliver a skills and education campus of national significance.

Part of the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan, it boasts a cluster of university, training and education leaders with the potential to support 3,000 learners a year.

It also offers the opportunity to establish a Cyber Zone of scale – linked to the £5bn relocation of the National Cyber Force HQ to neighbouring Samlesbury, making Blackburn with Darwen an integral part of the Government’s proposed Northern Cyber Corridor between Lancaster and Manchester.

£20m has already been secured for this project through the Government Capital Regeneration Project. This was part of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement confirming Blackburn with Darwen as a Government Levelling Up Partner.

Blackburn’s £50m new Cultural Quarter

Blackburn’s £50m new Cultural Quarter

It’s set to be a big year for Blackburn’s brand new Cultural Quarter.

Set around the historic King George’s Hall, work is already well underway on transforming Blakey Moor Terrace and construction work has started on Blackburn College’s landmark Victoria Building too.

New life is also being breathed into the area with the opening of Reel Cinema and hundreds of thousands of pounds invested into brand new restaurants. Soon to join them will be Akbar’s which already has successful Indian cuisine restaurants in major cities, including Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.

And, the Council is looking for funding opportunities for King George’s too – a true gem in the crown of the area – last year hosting Liam Gallagher, Florence + the Machine, Paul Weller and more as it celebrated its 100th year as an impressive music venue.

Historic devolution deal
for Lancashire

A historic devolution deal putting greater power into the hands of local communities in Lancashire has been signed by the Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young. A total of £20m will be provided to Lancashire Combined County Authority along with a further £1m to support the authority in the early stages of the deal. The Combined County Authority is expected to be implemented in 2024 and be ready by 2025.

Our Economy

employees working in manufacturing - largest manufacturing centre in Lancashire
of all BwD premises have an ultrafast connection
local jobs to be supported by 2030 – making BwD a key regional economic centre
people employed in key sectors & growing
of residents are aged under 35 - one of the youngest populations in the UK
businesses, including international HQs
residents of working age 16 – 64 have an NVQ 4 level qualification
five-year success rate for SMEs – best figures in the country for non-city region

Over the last decade, economic performance, business growth and housing delivery has out-performed regional and national rates of increase

Our Connections

Transport Links

Transport Links

We’re well connected in Blackburn with Darwen with easy access to the national motorway networks – the M65, M66, M61 & the M6. It’s also quick and easy to get into Manchester with more than 70 trains a day and 40 trains to Leeds. Locally, £30m is also set to be invested in improving Junction 5 of the M65 and the Haslingden Road corridor – a key part of the Blackburn Growth Axis. The area is already home to new major HQs, including Blackburn-based EuroGarages and Assystems.

Northern Cyber Corridor

Northern Cyber Corridor

Blackburn with Darwen sits on the cusp of a major revolution that will transform its economy. Key to that is the Blackburn Growth Axis which will help unlock £1bn of new economic activity. Anchored by the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan – the largest town centre regeneration of its type in the region – the Axis has the opportunity to support 100,000 jobs in the area. This prospectus presents our road map for capturing and managing economic growth over the next decade.

Proud of Our Heritage:
Imperial Mill

Blackburn with Darwen is renowned for its historic connection to cotton and textiles and the industrial revolution. One iconic landmark linked to that past is Blackburn’s imposing Imperial Mill – built in 1901 at the cost of £120,000. The Council has recently bought the expansive building in a bid to safeguard its future for employment and cultural opportunities. And Blackburn-based arts programme, Super Slow Way has already identified it as one of four ‘cultural hubs’ along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal as part of its impressive new Linear Park proposals.

Latest News

‘Spezial’ Darwen street name revealed – the Gary Aspden Way!

A stretch of road in Darwen has been re-named Gary Aspden Way to celebrate the incredible contributions that the adidas designer and Spezial curator has made to the borough he’s so proud to call home.

‘Stroke of luck’ for art lovers as award-winning National Festival of Making returns to Blackburn!

Nationally renowned artists are set to unveil their specially commissioned works at the Festival of Making this weekend and you can see them all for free!

Patrick Grant and Esme Young set to create a ‘buzz’ at the National Festival of Making!

Are you heading to the National Festival of Making this weekend? We know that Patrick Grant and Esme Young - judges of the hugely popular BBC 2 series ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ – are!

Plans for new £60m Skills and Cyber Campus in Blackburn revealed

New plans have been revealed for a £60m Skills and Cyber Campus of national significance in Blackburn.

Enjoy food, glorious food at the award-winning National Festival of Making in Blackburn!

With so much to see and do at the National Festival of Making, you’re sure to work up an appetite!

New live gigs sure to be a 'hit' at the National Festival of Making!

If you’re looking for something to do over the weekend of July and 6th and 7th, this will be music to your ears!

Get ready for blast off – our guide to family fun at the National Festival of Making!

Looking for fun for all the family? Look no further than the National Festival of Making!

Make your plans - Blackburn’s biggest event of the year is back and not to be missed!

There’s less than two weeks to go until the National Festival of Making returns and takes over Blackburn town centre. And take over it will!

Get ready – Darwen Live is back this weekend for its 25th year!

Darwen Live is back this Bank Holiday weekend and organisers are bringing the party as it celebrates 25 years!

Download the latest
Shuttle Extra

The Shuttle Extra is packed full of features from right across Blackburn with Darwen. Find out more about our place, our people, what’s on and our vision for the future by reading this digital version now! Or, use the contact us box below to request a printed version.

Contact our
Investment Team

We make it easy for you to invest in Blackburn with Darwen. Contact our Blackburn with Darwen Council Growth and Development Team now to find out about the right opportunities for you: