Events > 2007
Friends, football fans and walkers gathered at Blackburn Cathedral on, Sunday 21st January 2007, to celebrate the life of Britain's most famous fell walker, Alfred Wainwright.
Wainwright, born in Blackburn in 1907, wrote more than 60 guides to walks in the Lake District and north of England before his death in 1991. Wainwright was also one of the founders of Blackburn Rovers' Supporters Club. The service featured some of his original drawings and writings about his beloved football club.
Hymns he sang on his walks were used during the service, one of a series of events marking his Centenary.
Eric Braysford read his poem about the life and times of AW, 'Every Step a Joy'.
Previously, eighty-seven members of The Wainwright Society had gathered in the crypt of Blackburn Cathedral and Eric Robson chaired the fourth
Annual General Meeting of the Wainwright Society.
Broadcaster and author Eric Robson, chairman of the Wainwright Society, led the address.
Steve Becker's Wainwright programme was broadcast on BBC Radio Lancashire at 12.30pm on Sunday 21st, to coincide with the centenary service at Blackburn cathedral. People outside the area can hear it live through the website at www.bbc.co.uk/lancashire
Haystacks Delight Royal -
Four days earlier Cathedral bells rang out over Blackburn on Wednesday, 17 January 2007 to honour the 100th birthday of one of the town's most famous sons - guidebook writer and illustrator Alfred Wainwright. A group of Lancashire bellringers rang a new, previously unrung, method named Haystacks Delight Royal
Tony Osborne was commissioned, with funds from the Ida Carroll Trust, to write a piece, Wainwright Ways in memory of AW - marking 1907-2007 - and also in tribute to his wife, Betty.
In memory of a great fell walker
Clitheroe Today 01/02/07
A Hike up Pendle Hill in memory of Lakeland legend Alfred Wainwright proved a great success and something of an eye-opener to those involved.. ...
Eric Robson Society Chairman, broadcaster and walking companion of AW writes:
I think the happiest I ever saw Alfred was one summery afternoon when the pair of us were standing on a bit of grass that was plusher than his normal stamping grounds.
Sadly, the view was nothing to write home about. This wasn’t Haystacks or Borrowdale or Mardale before the flood - we were standing in the centre circle of Ewood Park, the Blackburn Rovers football ground and Wainwright was reminiscing about his long connection with both the club and the town.
The happiness came from his unshakeable conviction that the Rovers was the best club in England. It was just a series of unfortunate coincidences that happened to be making it do so badly at the time.
Every Saturday he would still rush away early from whatever filming we were doing to get the Blackburn result, convinced that this was the week when the old glories would start to return. He remembered every detail of the Rovers line -ups that won the FA Cup three years in a row – even though that was in the 1880s. He remembered the struggling days in the late 1930s when he was co founder of the supporters club. He remembered stirring goals and players as heroes and he didn’t dwell too long on the days they spent in the third division.
And memories of the football took the edge off less happy reminiscences about his early days in Blackburn’s Audley Range where Alfred was born in 1907.
A drunken father, poverty and grime in the shadow of a forest of mill town chimneys. He shrugged all that off and went back to the goal that brought them the League Championship .
And in truth Blackburn was good to Alfred Wainwright. The Town Hall gave him a job, encouraged him to study. His position in the Borough Treasurer’s Department was the springboard that would let him escape to promotion in Kendal and escape into the Lakeland mountains.
The rest is the well known story of Britain’s most famous fellwalker, the man who, to date, has sold more than two million copies of his unrivalled Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.
They wouldn’t have been as good if he hadn’t been born in Blackburn. The town gave him a sharp perspective and a bluntness and a wry Lancashire wit that bring his descriptions to life and give his books a depth that treads close to poetry and philosophy.
That’s why in January 2007 we’re celebrating the centenary of Wainwright’s birth, not in the wild uplands of Haystacks that so inspired him, but in the town that made him.