Sports, leisure and the Arts Blackburn Park Conservation Area


Blackburn Park is principally an area of large family houses with spacious gardens, arranged along tree-lined roads which criss-cross the level ground of the park. Building materials and styles are very varied. The older houses generally have textured light red or buff brick walls with blue slate roofs, and in some cases brick or stone dressings in contrasting colours are used even for window mullions. The later houses are predominantly smooth red brick, though render, half-timbering and decorative tile fringing are extensively used. Red tile and occasionally green slate are used for roofs and vertical cladding. All houses have pitched roofs, some of them steep, and there are a variety of gables, hips and half hips topped with interesting finials.

Windows in the conservation area are even more varied than the walls, some being subdivided by glazing bars, some leaded and a great many having stained glass. This is a particular characteristic of the area, many of the houses having been built around the turn of the century when the Art Nouveau style was at its peak. Flowing curves were expressed in stained glass windows more frequently than in the building structure itself. Bay windows, bow windows and oriel windows are to be found in profusion.

Entrance doors are varied with combinations of fielded timber panels and stained glass panels, and they always open on to a covered porch. These are formed by a projecting gable or some other overhanging element of the house. Some have a separate roof which is sometimes flat with a balcony, but they are usually pitched.

Chimney stacks are a notable feature of some of the houses, being tall and decorated with projecting strings and corbelled brickwork. Some chimney pots are tall and narrow, others are short and squat, while others still are especially formed to prevent down- draughts. Walls are mainly of brick with moulded terracotta copings, and occasionally the wall is divided into fielded panels with a plinth below and corbelled brickwork above. Sometimes brickwork is bonded in a darker red or in other brick colours.

Gardens at both front and rear of houses are large by most standards, and their boundaries to public highways are marked by walls and/or privet hedges. Stone walls are always topped with a course of large coping stones. Few garden gates remain intact, but those that do are as carefully detailed as the houses to which they belong. Typical gates are of timber, with a solid panel below and some open space above filled with shaped slats or turned spindles. While some gate posts are fairly plain, most are decorated to some extent, perhaps with a ball finial, whilst a few are of carved stone and very elaborate.

The line of the old Midland Railway, closed in 1967, runs in a cutting near the north east boundary of the area. It is now used as a walking and cycling route, but is primarily a wilderness with trees and shrubs left largely untended. The roads, originally paved with stone setts, are now surfaced with tarmacadam. Some footpaths, however, still have their original stone flags and kerbs. On some roads these are unfortunately being displaced by tree roots. The remainder of the pavements are either patched or have been replaced with tarmacadam. It is expected that in the future paving flags will be reinstated, while close to trees stone setts will be used; these will be able to move with the tree roots, thus preventing breakage.

None of the original cast-iron street lamps remain in Blackburn Park. They have been replaced by a mixture of taller steel or concrete columns which are not complementary to the character of the area. Other street furniture is also of modern design.

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