AN idea to name the new Freckleton Street bridge, in Blackburn, after the philanthropic Harrison family prompted one local historian to recap its achievements.

Roger Frost believes it would be tragic if the name was not remembered in the town in some way - almost two centuries after the family's fortunes were established by Joseph Harrison.

For he has revealed that among the several honours bestowed on him was the unusual title Machinist to HRH Prince Albert', and that the Science Museum in London today has Harrison looms in its exhibits.

The story begins in 1826, when Joseph founded his first iron foundry in Dandy Walk, making, initially, gas lamps for the then very new gas undertaking.

But, continues Roger, he realised that there were opportunities in the textile industry, and probably became one of the first manufacturers of power looms for weaving in the town.

"He founded, along with William Dickinson, the loom making industry for which Blackburn was once famous wherever in the world there was a textile industry."

But one of his honours appears to have been unique and came in 1851 when his firm exhibited at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace.

"Prince Albert must have been more than impressed by Joseph's exhibits because, alone among all the engineers who exhibited, he awarded the Blackburn man the title which he proudly used as the engineering side of his business flourished."

Joseph's exhibits consisted of an early power loom, made around 1800, which worked at 60 picks a minute and his own made in Blackburn, which could operate at 220 picks a minute, with only one weaver required to operate two or three of them.

They had been set up by another Blackburn textile engineer, Henry Livesey, who then worked for Joseph.

Writing at the time, a university professor of mechanics commented: "The power loom of the present day is one of the most remarkable machines of the age we live in."

l Blackburn's new bridge is to be named after Alfred Wainwright, famous for his pictorial guides to the Lake District, following a vote by Lancashire Telegraph readers.