MORE than £750,000 has been spent on upgrading Blackburn railway station’ in recent years but no place has been found for the historic Victorian clocks taken down in 1998 when it underwent a major redevelopment.

Two other 19th Century timepieces on the ‘Up platform’ towards Preston had already been removed and smashed up[ in 1974 after the infamous Beeching Cuts of the 1960s.

So when a major refurbishment was authorised in 1998 there was a major campaign to save the other two clocks, dating from 1886.

Despite each being clearly marked 'Clock To Be Refurbished And Reused In Blackburn Station Redevelopment' as they went into storage, they never reappeared to keep passengers punctual.

Now Blackburn Library volunteer Jeffrey Booth has researched their fate for its Cotton Town local history website, drawing heavily on Lancashire Telegraph accounts of the row from 2002 and 2003.

He writes: "When the planning application for the massive station refurbishment was passed late in 1998, it said that the clocks should be carefully removed and salvaged for reuse at the station or offered for sale to a rail preservation society.

"The two clocks were put into storage under the station and lay there for four years.

"When the station was refurbished it was decided by Network Rail the clocks would be out of keeping with the new-style station and would be relocated to Manchester Piccadilly.

"They were offered to the National Railway Museum in York but had no response. There was a big outcry from Blackburn Council who accused Network Rail of going back on their promise.

"Blackburn’s MP Jack Straw thought at least one of the clocks could have been situated in the foyer which was not modernised. The vice chairman of Blackburn Civic Society said it was a shame that the people of Manchester have the benefit of our history, but 'at least they won’t be scrapped'.

"The clocks were worth around £2,500 but Network Rail was offered for the refurbishment of £16,000 to relocate them to Manchester.

"Jeff Stone of the Exchange Arcade in Fleming Square tried to buy the clocks in 2002 to save them for Blackburn but wasn’t given the opportunity to quote a price. He said at the time: 'We wanted to put them in Fleming Square to keep them in Blackburn'."

One of the clocks is still situated on Platform 13 of Manchester Piccadilly but there is no sign of the other.

It is rumoured it was sold for £3,000 to an American collector.