Blackburn with Darwen Council have welcomed the news that charity Re:Source will bring the historic Cotton Exchange centre back to life.
The former Apollo Cinema on King William Street, has been taken over by the Blackburn based Re:source who have begun the process of securing funding to transform the building.
Built at the height of the Cotton Trade in 1863, The Cotton Exchange represents the prosperity of the Cotton Trade era, which saw the town becoming the foremost cotton weaving town in the world and one of the original members of the Northern Powerhouse.
The building eventually lost its purpose with the collapse of the cotton trade and was converted into a cinema for a time, but closed in 2005.
Dr Alastair Murdoch, Chair of Trustees at Re:Source, said: “Our vision is to save this magnificent Grade II listed building from continued dereliction, and see it flourish once again as a strategic venue. Even in its current state it is beautiful and awe-inspiring, but The Exchange when finished will inspire hope and raise aspirations in the town.”
The charity that works with local church groups and Christian networks, completed the purchase of the building last September following a £500,000 donation from close friends John and Rosemary Lancaster at the Lancaster Foundation and donations from the church which is part of Re:Source.
A grant from the Cornerstone Development Trust and funding from the Council, has helped the group to develop its ideas for the building, including a restaurant, exhibition space, a business and creativity centre and an auditorium.
However, the charity that has to raise £5 million to restore the building say they are keen to find out what local people want to see the asset used for. Dr Murdoch added: “We’ve already had some great ideas from some incredibly creative people but we don’t want to be too dogmatic about what it will be and want to know what the people of Blackburn think they’d like to see in their town.”
Executive member for Regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Councillor Phil Riley welcomed the news. He explained: “When Re:Source approached us we were delighted to get behind them and do everything we could to help bring this beautiful building back into use. It’s fantastic that they have managed to get so much support for the project and now we can look forward to the restoration of this wonderful asset and the difference it will make to this part of town.”