SPECIALIST steeplejacks are now at work on the £8million restoration of an iconic building from the height of East Lancashire’s Industrial Revolution prosperity.

Emergency safety repairs to the roof of Blackburn’s Cotton Exchange are well under way at a cost £30,000.

Local specialists, High Level Maintenance from Tockholes, are working now on removing some of the internal plasterwork and tiles in the space and installing netting.

The new ‘Meemaws’ cafe, which references the dialect used in the cotton mills in their Victorian heyday’ is now open in the basement and hopes to stage live music soon.

And the trustees of the ambitious project bring new life top the former Apollo cinema, a grade II-listed building constructed in 1863, have applied for share of £15m cultural regeneration fund.

It has been has been set up to help the North of England build a “lasting regional legacy” from the upcoming ‘Great Exhibition of the North’.

Trustees hope the roof work can make the building safe to open for Heritage Open Days 10 September for limited tours.

Full restoration of the once derelict shell into a cinema, bar, coffee shop and theatre space is likely to cost around £8million creating a space for the North-West region capable of hosting national exhibits on the scale of Dippy the Dinosaur from the National History Museum in London.


The trustees have released a set of exclusive internal pictures to the Lancashire Telegraph.

Harriet Roberts, a trustee of charity Re:Source Blackburn, said: “Weare ambitious that the building should be considered as a landmark cultural destination.”

Alastair Murdoch, a fellow trustee, said, “We need to raise an initial £60,000 in order to open the doors by April 2018.

“The vision is to create a performance and exhibition space of incredible size and magnitude to stage events of national and international importance.”

Tony Warburton, Director High Level Maintenance, said, ‘We’ve worked on many prestigious heritage buildings over the years but the potential of the Blackburn Exchange has taken our breath away and we feel privileged to be working on this space.”

The King William Street building is being restored by charity Re:Source Blackburn.

High Level Maintenance have more than 40 years of experience in restoring historic buildings including Liverpool’s Anglican, Blackburn and Salford Cathedrals