MILL chimneys once dominated the East Lancashire skyline.

They were a vital cog in the prosperity of our industrial towns and villages, even as they belched out soot and smoke, blackening the buildings and homes around them and creating smog filled streets.

Scores of mill, factory and foundry chimneys can be counted on every old photograph of our town centres in years gone by.

Soaring 160ft and more above the rooftops - the giant India Mill chimney in Darwen was more than 300ft high when fitted with its original cast iron crown - meant steeplejacks had to have a head for heights.

They also had to know how to lash ladders to the sheer face of the brick built sentinels, so inspections and repair could be carried out, high above the streets.

And when the King Cotton era came to an end, the demolition men moved in - they brought some chimneys down brick by brick, while others had a spectacular end, as fires lit below brought tons of masonry toppling to earth.