Children’s charity steps back in time

An old photo of Blackburn Orphanage which is now the headquarters of Child Action Northwest.
An old photo of Blackburn Orphanage which is now the headquarters of Child Action Northwest.
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One of the district’s longest-serving children’s charities is lifting the lid on its fascinating history this month.

Child Action Northwest is inviting the public into its Whalley Road headquarters in Wilpshire to learn all about its history, which dates back almost 130 years.

The CANW Heritage Day, which is a free-of-charge event, will take place on Sunday from 10am to 4pm and this year’s theme is “Extraordinary Women”.

As a charity, CANW was built on the foundations of Blackburn Orphanage, which was formed by James Dixon in 1891.

The day will include an interactive exhibition with admission books from the orphanage, photographs and cot plaques on display, plus a series of talks.

Trevor Booth, who was left at Blackburn Orphanage in 1934, will be on hand to share stories about Extraordinary Women that crossed his path while growing up.

There will also be two special talks that will bring to life the history of Jane Dixon, Mrs Taylor, Mrs Wilbraham and Mrs Street, four stalwarts of the orphanage.

Jane Dixon, the wife of founder James, was the matron of Blackburn Orphanage for 35 years from its opening in August 1891.

Mrs Taylor joined the orphanage staff in 1906 and worked as an assistant over the next 20 years, while Mrs Wilbraham became the orphanage cook in 1907, a role she kept for almost two decades.

Mrs Street came to the orphanage with her husband Tom in 1928 and worked firstly as assistant matron until being promoted to matron and later retiring in 1966.

Heritage Day will also include a nostalgically themed tea room with refreshments to bring back memories of yesteryear and younger children will be catered for with an arts and craft table.

Sue Cotton, CEO of CANW, said: “Blackburn Orphanage has such a rich history, something which we’re proud to still be living and breathing as CANW. As staff, we regularly shout about the vision and legacy of our founder, James Dixon – and the Extraordinary Women who helped him along the way – but this will be the perfect opportunity for the public to come into our home and see it for themselves.

“The exhibition pieces will give a wonderful insight into how our charity came to be all those years ago and we hope the various talks we’re hosting will bring the history books to life for generations to come.”