Darwen Market Square and Railway Road Improvements

High quality public realm to regenerate Darwen town centre
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
£1. 692m
Blackburn with Darwen Council Framework Contract NEC Opt B


EWCE have realised a longstanding vision for Darwen. The project gives Darwen a new civic square and enhances the approach to the town’s thriving market. It creates stunning views across Darwen to its green and moorland surrounds. Through consultation, the square was designed for large scale events, socialising, relaxing, reflection and events and, fairs, with the people who live and work in Darwen as well its many visitors in mind. A key focus has been on creating a balance between a future looking, contemporary, fit for purpose space whilst observing and preserving the attractive natural and historical features within and around the site.

The new square also boasts landscaped areas, seating and artwork honouring Darwen soldiers killed in the First World War and a large copper peregrine falcon, which is a nod towards the birds that nest in the town’s India Mill chimney. The sculpture, designed and created by renowned artist Liam Hopkins, who has work showcased in galleries around the world, has been made using woven copper and has an impressive five-metre wing span.



The Works

This £1.5m project was carried out in Darwen town centre in front of the Market Hall.  The public realm works included the laying of 2,000m² of natural stone pavement and the construction of raised landscaping beds using Burlington slate from the Lake District.  The existing stone retaining wall at the market square was cleaned and re-pointed with lime mortar and the cast iron railings on top of the wall were fully refurbished.  This included making replacement posts which were cast in a mould taken from the original posts.  Extensive lighting was also installed to illuminate the sculpture and other architectural features

Key Challenges

The works were of great interest to the people of Darwen and under continual local supervision.  The works were carried out within a busy town centre environment. It was essential to minimise the impact of the works on the general public, retail outlets, and other local businesses.  The site was completely hoarded off for the duration of the works, and all deliveries were carefully coordinated each day to ensure works could progress in a safe and productive manner.  Sections of paving in front of shops were completed on early morning shifts and Sundays so that business was not affected.  Buried services, including a medium pressure gas main, were present on the site.  All excavations adjacent to the gas main had to be completed in line with specific guide lines following consultation with National Grid.

Various events were scheduled in the town centre during the construction phase including the Darwen Live music festival.  A series of on-site coordination meetings were held with the client and event organisers.  From this we could agree and implement special measures to deal with the increased traffic and pedestrian numbers associated with this event.

Additional site security was put in place outside of working hours to safeguard the high value materials that were used on the project.

Added Value

EWCE reported to Blackburn on social value KPI’s.

As part of our commitment to development and training within the industry, a work placement position was created and filled by a 19 year old student Jacob Carter.  During his placement Jacob was mentored on site by our Senior Engineer and introduced to modern setting out techniques.

Our Project Manager and Construction Ambassador, Greg Brett, gave a Safe Play At All Times (SPLAAT) presentation and competition to Avondale Primary School on Health and Safety. Pupils were challenged to create health and safety posters for the construction site. The best four artists were presented with book tokens and their posters displayed on site.

All staff and subcontractors came from Blackburn with Darwen or the surrounding boroughs.

EWCE managed to source the natural stone paving slabs used on the scheme from a local supplier in Bolton.  Not only did this help reduce the carbon footprint of the scheme, but it also helped local business to benefit from works.

Client Feedback

“It’s money well spent and I think the space looks fantastic. Darwen has a great open space now to provide outdoor events and that’s what the people of Darwen deserve.”
Councillor Phil Riley
Lead Member for Regeneration, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

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Get in Touch

For all enquiries, please get in touch with the team here at Eric Wright.