LOCAL historian Barbara Riding is hoping that Bygones readers can help solve the mystery of how a memorial stone appears to have developed a life of its own.

The stone, which was originally set above the front door above a confectioner’s shop off Dukes Brow in Blackburn ended up in the back garden of a house several hundreds yards away.

Barbara takes up the story.

“Two hundred years ago at the top of Dukes Brow there were several cottages. Two of them were just round the corner on Revidge Road by what used to be the Dog Inn.

“In the 1930s, my old friend Kathleen Sharrett used to live on one of them. Her father, William, moved in with his family and carried on the business there as a confectioner’s shop.”

From the shop William sold a variety of goods including sweets, patent medicines and even ice cream which he made in his kitchen and stored in an ice bucket in a shed at the bottom of the garden.

Regular visitors to the shop included local schoolchildren and golfers as nearby Blackburn Golf Club didn’t have any catering facilities at the time.

Several Blackburn Rovers players were regular visitors as there were official club lodgings nearby.

Barbara said: “One of the things about the cottage that fascinated Kathleen was a large stone above the door inscribed with the names Thomas and Ann Guest. She imagined they might have been the first people to live in the cottage.”

In 1939 Blackburn Council proposed a road widening scheme at the top of Dukes Brow which meant the cottages would have to be demolished.The Sharrett family were evicted and moved to a flat above their second shop on Northgate.

The cottages were finally demolished in 1947. A year later a family moving into a house on Granville Road found a large stone with an inscription on it lying in the back garden.

When the house was subsequently sold, Ray Smith, former chairman of Blackburn Local History Society took the stone and put it in his own garden.

“As a member I was able to go and photograph it,” recalls Barbara. It was inscribed ‘Thomas and Ann Guest, 1800’. So over 70 years later I was able to give Kathleen a photograph of her well-remembered stone.

“But I still wonder, who moved the stone?”

If you can shed any light on the mystery, email bygones@nqnw.co.uk