A PROUD descendant of a leading Blackburn radical campaigner has researched his history to ensure his legacy is more widely know to the public and her son.

George Dewhurst, a tireless campaigner for the rights of mill workers during the 19th century, was accused of high treason (an offence carrying the death penalty) after addressing a workers protest Habergham Eaves in Burnley.

He was imprisoned for two years, including a spell in Lancaster Castle, on a lesser charge. During his time behind bars he became a campaigner for inmates’ right and conditions.

Eventually he became a councillor for Sr Paul’s ward in Blackburn and was instrumental in the creation of Corporation Park as an open space for town’s working people.

His great-great-great-great-granddaughter Emma Speed has spent the last two years researching her radical ancestor with the help of her son Monty, now seven.

The two are this week visiting his grave and imposing monument in Blackburn Old Cemetery on Whalley New Road 161 years after his burial on August 19 1857.

Volunteers from The Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery have cleared around the memorial and Blackburn with Darwen Council parks department arranged a new planter of flowers from Corporation Park for it.

Mrs Speed said: “I am so proud of George and all that he achieved and so is Monty.

“He loved helping me research his ancestor and found it like being a detective.

“I want more people to know about George Dewhurst, his courage, moral code and what he achieved.

“Through the documents I’ve seen, it's obvious he loved his home town and its people.

“ His arrest was debated in Parliament and papers noted that he was locked up for ‘opening his mouth too wide’. It’s been a fascinating journey of discovery for Monty and I - a personal Who Do You Think You Are?.”

The Blackburn-born former BBC documentary producer now wants to make a film about George, but is now looking for a last image of the man described at the time as ‘a blunt-mannered Lancashire man with a mouth indicating stubborn resolution’.

Mrs Speed said: “Although we have many documents about George and a fabulous description of him, we don’t have a photograph.

"We know one existed and was with the family somewhere over the years, but no one knows where it is now. If anyone knows of a photo of George, please do contact me.”

Mr Dewhurst, born in 1791, was a reedmaker, married twice and had four children. He spent some time in America.

He had a memorial fountain to him put under Darwen Bridge, later moved to Fleming Square.

His epitaph says: “With reverence tread around his simple grave, who, though a worker 'mong reeds, mules and looms, tried his whole life the people’s rights to save.”