AN imposing house built for a leading Blackburn solicitor at the end of the Nineteenth Century played a key role in a little-known children’s TV series a hundred years later.

Lancrigg, on Gorse Road, was the home of the Marsden family, being built for Charles Marsden.

In 1991, the camera crews moved in and began shooting a six-part drama series for youngsters called A Likely Lad. It was broadcast by the BBC the following year.

Not too much is known about the series but it was a drama set in 1900. Thirteen-year-old Willy Overs (played by Lee Brennan) was old enough to leave school and his father appeared to have very firm ideas on what his son should do. Willy, however, had his own views on where life should take him.

The series was based on the award-winning children’s novel by Gillian Avery.

In taking over Lancrigg, the BBC changed the name of the house to Laurel Villa. During the war, as with many other houses, all the gates of properties in Gorse Road had been collected for scrap metal for the war effort, so new gates had to be made for the TV show.

They covered part of the Tarmac in setts to make it look more appropriate for the period and the modern garage attached to the house was ‘disguised’.

The producer of the series told an onlooker that the contents of the cellar was a property manager’s dream.

Blackburn historian Barbara Riding has been given some pictures of Lancrigg which appeared on a Christmas card sent by Carl Marsden, a descendent of Charles, to his neighbours on Gorse Road in 1992.

One showed the house when it was first built and the other, the view of Billinge Hill which it enjoyed before houses on the opposite side of Gorse Road (those of even numbers) and Buncer Lane were built.

Mr Fred Gemmell who lived across from the Marsdens received one of these cards which he passed on to Barbara for her collection of local photographs.

He was around at the time of filming the TV series and the colour pictures on this page are ones he took of the crew at work.

If you remember the filming or the series, email