Darwen's ceremonial mace is coming back to the town in the New Year after calls from the town's MP.

The historic item of civic memorabilia dating from 1878 has been located securely in Blackburn Town Hall since 1974.

Now it, and a casket containing the scroll given to the first Freeman of Darwen Timothy Lightbown in the early 1900s, and the Darwen Brass Band Challenge Trophy, are to be moved to the town's Heritage Centre in Railway Road.

They have been dubbed 'Darwen's Crown Jewels'.

The Darwen Mayoral chain will remain in Blackburn as it has been used by the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen as his civic regalia since the Blackburn equivalent was stolen in 1980.

Details regarding the memorabilia's security and insurance cover are being finalised and a secure cabinet to hold the items is being built before their transfer to the heritage centre with a civic ceremony early next year.

News of the move has revealed by Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Cllr Phil Riley, after Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry wrote to him making his third request to bring the Mace and Mayoral chain back to the town.

It has been welcomed by Albert Gavagan, chair of Darwen Heritage Centre and former Darwen East Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Browne.

Sir Jake said that in view of the government's multi-million pound investment in Darwen through the Town Deal, now was the time to bring the civic memorabilia home.

The Tory backbencher told Cllr Riley in his letter: "Fourteen years ago in 2009, I wrote to the council asking if it was possible to return Darwen’s Mayoral Chain and in 2017 I wrote again, asking if the Ceremonial Mace could be returned.

"It was disappointing that these requests were refused but with all the investment in our town I feel that now is the time to ask again!

"It would be a fitting tribute to the work of generations of Darreners if Darwen’s historic ‘Crown Jewels’ could be formally returned to the newly refurbished and restored Town Hall and Market building once work is completed."

Cllr Riley said: "We are in advanced discussions to return the mace, brass band trophy and casket to Darwen Heritage Centre.

"It is a question of finalising the details regarding security and insurance for this valuable civic memorabilia. The Mace is worth a lot of money.

"Returning these 'Crown Jewels' to Darwen seems the appropriate thing to do at this time. I am sure it will be welcomed by the people of the town.

"The chain is used by the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen so will not be going back with the other memorabilia."

Sir Jake said: "It was over 14 years ago that I first wrote to the council asking for them to return what should rightly belong in Darwen, back to Darwen.

"I am delighted that Darwen’s ‘Crown Jewels’ are finally, at long last being returned to where they belong and they can take their rightful place in the heart of our town. "

Mr Gavagan said: "We are really happy with the progress being made and are looking forward to having the memorabilia proudly on display in our new secure museum quality-cabinet.

"We are planning a civic gathering in the New Year to mark the occasion.

"The heritage centre is the perfect place for people to be able to see them along with all the other items of importance to Darwen that we have."

Mr Browne added: "This is excellent news.

"Darwen is where they should be. They should should never have been removed from the town in the first place.

"I understand about the Mayoral chain."

In June the the original Darwen Brass Band Challenge Trophy dating back to 1956 was presented to the winner of the Eighth Annual Festival of Brass in Darwen by Blackburn with Darwen Council Mayor Cllr Parwaiz Akhtar.