A SET of rare football photos from the early 20th century have been donated to a library.

Cllr Dave Smith, a keen Blackburn Rovers supporter, donated three early photographs of the team to Blackburn library, in Town Hall Street.

Darwen resident Eileen Helliwell, 71, who has lived in the area her whole life, gave the set of photos to Cllr Dave Smith whilst she was clearing out her loft whilst moving house.

The photos originally belonged to Eileen’s grandfather, Walter Wood, who is pictured in the photos and was a non-playing member of the team. Walter died in 1909, which helps to date the photos as 1909 or earlier.

Eileen said: “I understand Walter was a trainer for Blackburn Rovers and is the gentleman with the cap on.

“My mother sadly never knew her father because he died when he was just a baby.

“The photos of my grandfather were stored in the loft for up to 60 years.

“When I decided to move house I still had the photos with me in the loft but because they were in such awful condition I decided to give them to Cllr Smith because I know he is a big Rovers fan and very interested in the history of the club.”

Cllr Smith, realising the photos were important historical images, donated them to the library and the digital local history website ‘Cotton Town’.

Mary Painter, community historian at Blackburn Library, later researched the people in the photographs. 

Players pictured include Eddie Latheron who was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele in the First World War. 

Also pictured is Bob Crompton who was a Rovers player, manager and director as well as an England player.

Mike Jackman, author of several books about Blackburn Rovers, suggested that the images are some of the earliest known photographs of the team. 

The photos were taken soon after the team moved to Ewood Park.

Cllr Dave Smith said: “As a keen Blackburn Rovers fan it’s fantastic that these historical photos have been donated by Mrs Helliwell.”

Eileen’s son Andrew said: “I’m glad to be part of something very old even though I’m not a big fan of football.”

If you want to donate any photos relating to Blackburn, Darwen and surrounding areas contact Blackburn library on 01254 661221 or email library@blackburn.gov.uk