Local historian Barbara Riding looks at how a well-known East Lancashire junction got its name

Looking back there are several locations in Blackburn named after people who have played a part in its history, usually mill owners or MPs.

There is Feilden Street, Hornby Court, Harrison Street, Fleming Square, Barbara Castle Way, to name but a few. Then in more modern times there is Wainwright Bridge, Carl Fogarty Way, Alan Shearer Way, and Jack Walker Way - but why Sudell Cross? There is no portrait of Mr Sudell in the Art Gallery, or a blue plaque on a building somewhere, so why Sudell Cross?

Two hundred and fifty years ago, a boy was born in a house on King Street. He was named Henry after his father, who sadly died before he was born. Sudell House as his birthplace became known is now more recognisable as the sporting and camping shop, Outdoor Action.

The front of the shop has been extended out covering what was originally the garden. Round the back of the building is the Friends Meeting House in Paradise Lane, built on what used to be Mrs Sudell’s orchard.

It is presumed Henry lived in Sudell House until he married his cousin Maria Livesey and moved to a house in what became Higher Church Street. The site is now under what was Debenham’s store.

Henry Sudell was a Chapman, or a “putter out” which means he bought the cotton from spinning mills for hand loom weavers to weave cloth in their own homes. He became very wealthy having inherited land and money from his grandfather and his uncle John.

He soon set his sights on building a house out in the country. In November 1796 he advertised for masons, joiners, carpenters and labourers to meet at St John’s Tavern to discuss the matter.

In 1799 Henry and Maria moved into their mansion, Woodfold Hall. He had a high stone wall built around it, five miles in circumference. He kept deer in the park and had a pack of hounds. He formed a company of local volunteers and was captain of 250 men.

He provided land in the town centre for the building of St John’s Church and land in Mellor for St Mary’s Church. He had the reputation of being a very fair employer and when 6,000 weavers assembled in Blakey Moor in 1818, and marched to Woodfold Hall demanding a rise, he agreed to a five per cent increase in their wages.

For 26 years Henry Sudell lived the life of the Lord of the Manor but in 1826 he felt the credit crunch.

Having speculated in American and continental markets that failed to come up to expectations, he became bankrupt. Rather than face bailiffs and the shame, he and his family left the town, and set up home at Box near Bath.

Henry Sudell died in 1856 at the age of 91. He did visit Blackburn however as someone wrote in the Blackburn Standard in April 1851, Birthday Celebrations, “On Monday evening Henry Sudell Esq. late of Woodfold Park celebrated his eighty seventh birthday at the Fox and Grapes Inn, Preston New Road, with a considerable number of that gentleman’s friends. The evening was spent in a most agreeable manner.”

His obituary in the Blackburn Times said: “No gentleman was so highly honoured in his day and more generally remembered than the venerable gentleman who half a century ago, stood at the head of our merchant princes.”

Why Sudell Cross? Why not!