IN its heyday it was one of the jewels in Blackburn’s crown - an attraction which brought shoppers from across East Lancashire.

The Thwaites Arcade on Church Street opened in 1884 and for more than 80 years was part of the town centre landscape.

Its demolition in 1971 is still mourned by many who remember it and certainly Blackburn lost one of its most characterful retail attractions.

The ornate arcade, which ran between Church Street and Lord Street, took two years to build using mainly local craftsmen. It would be home to 24 retail units with access at either end of the arcade through impressive wrought iron gates.

Apart from a fire in 1901, the Arcade had a settled life in the town until the Second World War when its cellars became official air raid shelters.

Shopkeepers also displayed some ingenuity to get around the wartime blackout restrictions putting large sheets of plywood at either end of the arcade allowing them to keep their lights blazing.

Gradually shopping habits and town centre plans changed and by the mid Sixties the arcade’s days were numbered. Among the last tenants were an opticians, a bakers, various outfitters and a boot maker.

In 1971 the demolition men moved in and the Thwaites Arcade was torn down.