MOST towns and villages throughout East Lancashire appear quite different to how they looked not many years ago.

Factories and mills, pubs and clubs, shops, grand houses and churches have disappeared or taken on a new lease of life, if that’s the right word.

Darwen has lost two Non-conformist churches in just a few months and among the usual problems of What Happens Next? is where various plaques and commemoration stones should go for safe keeping.

Most artefacts are memorials to those who died in two world wars. Some have made their way to Darwen Heritage Centre. Others, from factories such as Belgrave and Greenfield, lie gathering dust in the cellars of Blackburn Museum apart from an occasional outing.

Occasionally, a really unusual plaque turns up, just begging to be kept safe for posterity.

And so it was when a heavy memorial tablet was hauled into Darwen Heritage Centre from the now-closed Bolton Road Congregational Church.

“Might you find a corner for this?” enquired a couple of church stalwarts.

It proved a challenge and plastered walls were no match for the weight of the granite slab. However, Blackburn memorials firm Brent Stevenson stepped in and James Stevenson and a team managed to fix it close to the entrance.

It marks the redeeming of the church ground rent in 1921 by Darwen postmaster Edward Green in memory of his second wife Emma “a faithful and devoted member of the church.” The £500 Green spent would be around £30,000 today.

Green had started work as a junior clerk at Burnley Post Office and had become superintendent postmaster before moving to take charge at Darwen Post Office, then at the top of Union Street, in 1901.

His first wife, Susannah, had died shortly after giving birth to their daughter Lizzie in 1881. He married Emma Greenhalgh in 1889 and they lived at Craigside, Ross Street, Darwen.

She was the daughter of a prominent and wealthy Burnley jam-maker, John Greenhalgh, who had a factory and a grand house at the bottom of Rectory Road, near the town centre.

He retired to Stockport where he died leaving an estate whivch today would have been valued at about £3 million.

Emma inherited a substantial sum and donated £1,000 to endow a bed in the women’s ward at Burnley General Hospital in memory of her parents.

Edward Green, a prominent member and official at Bolton Road Congregational Church, retired to Blackpool in 1915 and he died there in 1927.

The church was demolished in the Sixties.

Albert Gavagan, secretary of Darwen Heritage Centre, said: “The plaque is very unusual and we were more than happy for it to join the many memorials we have acquired in recent years.”