MULLARD'S was the first company to move on to the new Whitebirk Industrial Estate when it opened in Blackburn in the late 1930s.

The foundation stone was laid in 1938 by the mayor of Blackburn Ald J Fryars and very quickly the factory was producing more than six million radio valves a year and providing much needed jobs for the local workforce.

But it was the advent of television, which prompted the huge expansion of the site, as it moved into the manufacture of cathode tubes.

Indeed, in its heyday the plant occupied a vast 46 acres off Philips Road and employed more than 6,000 people, including assemblers, technicians, chemists, scientists and engineers - it was the largest and best equipped vacuum tube and manufacturing plant in Europe.

Mullard Blackburn produced tens of millions of capacitors, transistors and valves every year, and when colour tv came on screen in the 1960s, it simply transferred its skills into that market, manufacturing not only in Little Harwood but at a large site in Simonstone as well.

This photograph from our archives, shows the few staff which were left, when the very last valve came off the production line and the factory closed, in 1982.