(Prior to 1826)
There is evidence that there were Quakers living in and around Blackburn as early as 1655, when a Thomas Taylor wrote: “At Blackburn there was one John Culby a Friend and John Edge a well wisher. At Haslingden John Robinson, a shopkeeper a ‘pretty’ Friend. The Friends there and at Rossendale Head meet together”.
For Friends living Around Blackburn during the late 1600’s and early 1700’s, the nearest Meeting Houses were at Chipping and Newton. Usually they would meet in each others houses.
It was not until 1793 that there is a first mention, in any records, of a meeting in Blackburn. A request by a John Danson Junior, who lived in Blackburn expressed “a desire to have a Meeting settled in that town”. In the minutes of Marsden Monthly Meeting, dated June 1793, an entry can be found stating that “Report is made that a few Friends of Blackburn have obtained liberty from the Quarterly Meeting to hold Meetings for Worship on first days and some other suitable day of the week, the Quarterly Meeting, and the Monthly Meetings of Preston and Marsden unite in appointing visitors”.
The first Meeting for Worship, for Blackburn Friends, took place in premises, at the corner of Barley Street.
In 1809 a house was obtain on the south side of Clayton St. and was duly registered as “a place of Religious Worship for Protestant Dissenters commonly called Quakers”. Meetings continued in this building until 1823, when it was decided that it had become unsuitable for meetings and in a state of disrepair. It was in December of that year that there is an entry in the Lancashire Quarterly Meeting records : “Friends at Preston Monthly Meeting have informed us that the building now used as a Meeting House by friends of Blackburn is much out of repair, and an eligible piece of ground for building the new Meeting House had been found”. A committee was duly appointed to inspect the site.
In March 1824, the committee confirmed that the old building was unsuitable, an extract from the records states that “3 of our members have examined the present Meeting House there, which they report to be a damp uncomfortable building in a dilapidated state. They have also viewed the plot of land mentioned at the last Quarterly Meeting, as having been offered to Friends, which was then deemed an eligible situation, but which does not seem to be well adapted to the wants of Friends. They, therefore, made further enquiry and have succeeded in meeting with a plot of land, in a good situation and of a convenient size; that is, containing about 1,000 sq, yards, fenced round with a good brick wall, and which may be had………………………….On considering which, and finding on enquiry, that a suitable building for a Meeting House cannot be met with there on rent, we are of the judgement that it is desirable that a Burial Ground should be purchased, and a Meeting House erected.
The committee reported that the total expense for the new Meeting House was £906,5s,7d. The land the Meeting House was built on, had belonged to Alice Sudall and was called the ‘Cherry Gardens’. Since she lived on King St. it may well have adjoined her house.
And so the present Meeting House was built.
In 1824, from the Minute Books and the very brief minutes they contain, we can see that there were 26 members and about 20 attenders, but as to who was first no-one can say.
It was in March 1826 that Quarterly Meeting established ‘Blackburn Preparative Meeting’.