Today the historic Grade II listed Cotton Exchanged once again opened it’s doors to members of the public.
Although a long, long way from being back in use (£5 million away in fact!), today’s public event as part of Blackburn’s Urban Room programme was a positive step forward in securing the building’s future.
Led by Alastair Murdock, chair and trustee of Re:Source Blackburn, the event included a presentation about the building’s rich history and some discussion about their plans for the building and some of the challenges they now face – dry rot, leaking roof, identifying a sustainable use and of course securing the funding needed.
Re:Source Blackburn a local church charity, acquired the property last September after receiving a generous donation from the Lancaster Foundation. After some initial emergency repairs to prevent any further damage to the building, the charity is now working hard to develop its ideas for the building which include a restaurant, exhibition space, a business and creativity centre and an auditorium.
A heritage report and condition survey of the building has now been completed and an option appraisal of the proposals will be starting in September 2016. With support from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, the Cornerstone Development Trust, Architectural Heritage Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Princes Regeneration Trust, this marks the start of an amazing new chapter for the building.
The highlight of the event was a tour of the building, the historical internal fabric of which hasn’t been seen since the beginning of the 20th century when the Cotton Exchange lost its purpose and was converted (quite unsympathetically) into a cinema.
Much of the magnificent High Victorian Gothic detail was covered when the vast hall was split into a multi-screen theatre. Despite still being in a very poor condition, visitors were impressed by the architectural detail that remains, including the ceiling to the grand entrance tower which was previously hidden within the cinema’s projection room.