LORD Darwen, Roger Michael Davies, has died aged 73.

He had been ill for some time and died in his sleep at home near Chelmsford, Essex, on Friday.

He is succeeded by his eldest son, the Hon Paul Davies.

The new Lord Darwen will be in the town on Thursday as guest of honour at a dinner at the Whitehall Hotel to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of Darwen Cemetery.

Coun John East, chairman of the Friends of Darwen Cemetery who are organising the dinner, said: “Paul’s father had not been well for some time.

"However, Paul had arranged to come up to our dinner a few weeks ago with his wife and sister and will still fulfil that commitment even though it is obviously a difficult time for the family.”

Lord and Lady Darwen will attend a ceremony to mark the unveiling of a headstone on the previously unmarked grave of the first interment.