AFTER years of trawling through ancient archives and historical 'digging', Christine Parkinson is confident she has found the footprint of the lost Stakes Hall in Mill Hill, where she grew up.

Painstaking research has led her to question the account of William Abrams, who published the History of Blackburn in 1877 - and said the hall had been demolished to make way for Mill Hill mill, a century before.

Said keen historian Christine: "Like most people carrying out research, I picked up this remarkable account of Blackburn and its history and read that George Astley, was the last of the family to live in Stakes Hall, after more then 400 years, when he died in 1777.

"Jonathan Haworth and Robert Peel then came along, he said, purchased some of the estate land and built their mill - but one thing that didn't sit well with the idea that it had been demolished, were the maps of the early 1800s.

"One building stood out, its angled site sitting at odds with everything built around it and which I had known as a row of houses as a child."

Determined to find the answer, Christine delved through the archives and discovered that a James Almond had left his wife Mary the hall and all his chattels in 1787 and 10 years later the Sun Fire Insurance Company issued an itinerary of Stakes Hall and its stables and barn.

In 1800, she uncovered, it was advertised as a genteel place of residence; in the mid 1800s William Hothersall became the first licensed victualler there and in 1857 it was advertised in the Blackburn Standard as 'hall and shop for sale.'

Owner Joseph Eccles, or the manager of Mill Hill mill, Jas Woods, were the people to contact for interested purchasers.

During this period of history, Mill Hill, as across East Lancashire, was expanding rapidly and the rise of more cotton mills and factories necessitated the building of new homes for its incoming workers.

Said Christine: "The hall was not demolished at all; now no longer a thriving farm, as it had been in its hey day, it was converted into mill workers' cottages and more were built round it, thus obscuring its identity and which would not have been evident to Abram.

"The row of houses I had known as a child was the old hall and I have the only known photograph of it, with my cousin Stuart in the foreground."

Continued Christine: "This faceless identity took it into the 1960s and then, in July 1964, flooding in the Waterfall area, sealed the fate of many of the streets.

"Row after row of homes were demolished by the council as part of slum clearance schemes and I believe Stakes Hall was demolished around 1966/67, so we lost it, without ever realising what was being knocked down.

"The saving grace is that the outbuildings still exist, among them, I believe Stakes Hall flour mill - which I will be researching next."