BBC’s Heritage Festival Blast from the Past

The BBC is turning back the clock to take part in heritage activities in Blackburn. As part of the Blackburn Heritage Festival, BBC Radio Lancashire is celebrating its Blackburn Roots by staging an event that will happen both off and on air called “Radio Days”.

One of the founding presenters, Gerald Jackson will lead the team in recreating the nostalgia of BBC Radio Blackburn as he reunites some of the original presenters and staff. There are also plans to broadcast some archive gems from the past four decades. The old favourite BBC Radio Blackburn 351 familiar jingles and songs from the decade will be mixed with more recent sounds of BBC Radio Lancashire.

BBC Radio Lancashire’s Darwen Street studios are right in the heart of the changing face of Blackburn in the heart of the developing Cathedral Quarter and has had a home in Blackburn for over forty years, originally opening on King Street in 1971.

BBC Presenter, Gerald Jackson is one of the original staff at BBC Radio Blackburn and will be helping to officially open the festival at the pop up band stand opposite the studios at 10.30am on Saturday 13th with civic dignitaries and soap star and actor, Blackburn’s Peter Gunn whose television and film credits include Coronation Street and Hannah Montana.

On Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of September between 11am and 1pm the radio station will be hosting two live shows from the Darwen Street studios with recollections and live performances in front of a live studio audience, many of whom may well have their own memories.

Doors open at BBC Radio Lancashire from 0900 till 1300 for entrance to the WW1 trench exhibition at Darwen Street, Blackburn BB2 2EA. No bookings are needed.

The radio programmes will be broadcast on 855khz and 1557khz AM and online at from 1100 until 1300.

To be in the audience, book via the BBC Radio Lancashire Helpdesk 0345 305 9000 or


Nigel Thompson, Acting Assistant Editor takes us on a tour through the sound archives.

Blackburn has always been at the forefront of pioneering ambition; in industry and education not to mention entertainment. The BBC established Radio Blackburn to serve “the people of North East Lancashire” as one of the second wave of local radio stations across England.

In the cold days of January 1971 the station received a warm welcome when it began broadcasting on one FM frequency and then on AM in 1972. In a short space of time, presenters became household names and the radio cars a familiar site on the roads around the busy news patch which the station served. From Barbara Castle to Jack Straw, politics has featured strongly; both MP’s between them served the town for over 40 years.

The station charted the changing face of Blackburn over the years as mills closed and new industry developed around the district. Power cut news for the three day week proved an essential public service, one of many times when the radio station became a vital link between emergency services and an audience who relied on accurate information.

In 1981 the radio station expanded to become BBC Radio Lancashire, serving the rest of the county through a chain of FM transmitters and a second AM frequency for the north of the county. The audience grew and despite new radio services opening across Lancashire remains the first choice for many Lancastrians.

For over 40 years the BBC has been part of life in Blackburn; as well as on FM and AM, we’re now on digital radio and available world-wide thanks to the web.

It means life in Blackburn can be enjoyed by a wider audience than those early pioneers could ever dream of.

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