The Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery

Notable Residents


Frederick John Kempster  (The British Giant)

Frederick Kempster died in Blackburn Workhouse at the age of 29.
Originally from west London, Kempster moved to Wiltshire with his older
sister. By 1911 he was over 7 feet tall and began working in show
business as a "giant". In 1918, he was working in Blackburn with the
circus when he caught pneumonia and died.



 The Grave is twice the length of a normal grave

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Mrs Elizabeth Ann Lewis (the Drunkards Friend)

Elizabeth Ann Lewis was born in Shropshire in 1849 to farm labourer
George Lewis and his wife, Ann. In 1867, she married Thomas Lewis, a
coach builder from Cheshire. The couple settled in Blackburn, where
Elizabeth Ann was horrified by the scale of alcohol addiction and public
Celebrated as the "Temperance Queen" or "Drunkard's Friend", Lewis
dedicated her life to improving conditions for the working classes. She
challenged the town's 600 licensed premises by establishing temperance
bars where customers could drink herbal alternatives to beer, like
sarsaparilla or dandelion and burdock. She also introduced musical entertainment.





John Lewis

The Founder of Blackburn Rovers

In 1875, John Lewis founded Blackburn Rovers with his friend, Arthur
Constantine, and both played for the side in its inaugural match on 11th
December. Lewis went on to have a renowned career as a referee, notably
officiating at the Olympic Games of 1908 and 1920. Over time, John
Lewis's grave fell into disrepair but in 2008 Blackburn Rovers
remembered its founding father by paying for its restoration.




Private James Pitts V.C.

A hero of the Siege of Ladysmith in the Boer War, Blackburn-born Pitts
earned his VC as a Private in the 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment
alongside Robert Scott. His citation reads that Pitts and Scott, "held
their post for fifteen hours without food or water, all the time under
an extremely heavy fire". Pitts went on to serve in the First World War
as a Corporal and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1918.




James Kenyon (cinematographic pioneer)





 Thomas Thwaites

Thomas Thwaites died on the 20th January 1871, aged 62.  He was
the Mayor of Blackburn in the year 1860-1 and became a cotton broker. 
Unfortunately he lost the bulk of his fortune in speculations during the
Cotton Famine.  He then became a brewer trading in Accrington although
he was not as successful as his brother Daniel.



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