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The Story of Ainsworth Jewellers and Blackburn

The History of Ainsworth Jewellers and Blackburn Town Centre

Newspaper Articles

Established in 1870, A. Ainsworth & Sons (Jewellers) Ltd is still a family run jewellery business in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter in Blackburn Town Centre.

About us

With nearly 150 years of experience and still run by the Ainsworth Family, we pride ourselves in delivering the finest quality in jewellery, at reasonable prices, with professional customer service and advice.

Whether it's searching for that special gift, needing advice on repairing or remodelling your own jewellery or needing a valuation for insurance - we would be delighted to welcome you into the store and help.

1870 - Joseph Ainsworth (left) founded

J Ainsworth Jewellers & Clockmakers at Number 63 Darwen Street (which is just two doors away from our current premises - right).

In the late 1870's Joseph also purchased the shop at 9A Darwen Street (one of the long since demolished properties in front of Blackburn Cathedral).

In 1885 Joseph amalgamated both shops and moved across town to Number 9 Northgate.

c1910, Number 9 Northgate was sold and due to a high increase of business, the company was relocated to 15 Northgate.

By 1921 James had bought a further shop at Number 74 King William Street (left) while George and Arnold bought 48 Market Place.

On Joseph's death in 1934, the three sons entered into partnership and continued the Northgate and Market Place businesses.

George became one of the first members of the Blackburn and District Branch of the National Association of Goldsmiths, and was eventually elected president and served on the committee for several years.

The other two Ainsworth brothers were James (middle) and Alf (right). James then bought 74 King William Street (pictured below), while Alf remained at Northgate.

Alf took responsibility for wholesale side of the business and it is believed that at this time Ainsworth's had a number of representatives on the road.

In 1938 Arnold closed 48 Market Place and moved to Number 50 Market Place (which was underneath the Kitchens of Booths Cafe).

He was then called up to war so James, who had sold his King William Street premises, came to work at 50 Market Place while Arnold was away with the RAF.

During the war, stock became hard to come by, and the windows seen on the right became more and more empty. As there became no stock left in the windows, each window was covered over with brown paper.

In 1946, Arnold employed Miss F Openshaw (below), who went on to become Ainsworth Jewellers longest serving member of staff.

Miss Openshaw continued to work for Ainsworth Jewellers right up until 1988.

Miss Openshaw

In 1956 Arnold's first son Michael joined the business.

In 1961, Arnold’s Son Kenneth joined the business.

Both sons trained at Batty's Jewellers on King Street in Manchester before they entered the family business.

On Saturday November, 13, 1965 Arnold, Michael and Kenneth closed 50 Market Place and opened 57 - 59 Darwen Street on November 20, 1965.

In the same year, the iconic town hall clock was demolished and the re-development of Blackburn Town Centre started.

On Saturday November, 13, 1965 Arnold, Michael and Kenneth closed 50 Market Place and opened 57 - 59 Darwen Street on November 20, 1965.

In the same year, the iconic town hall clock was demolished and the re-development of Blackburn Town Centre started.

In 1970 Ainsworth Jewellers celebrated 100 years as a family business.

Centenary celebrations included the presentation of the Ainsworth Centenary Salver to Arnold (pictured left with his wife Gwladys) from the directors in appreciation of fifty years devoted efforts on behalf of the firm, and a marble clock and ashtray from the staff at the time.

Any couple buying an engagement ring in this year was also given a silver sugar spoon engraved with the words 'Ainsworth Jewellers Blackburn 1870-1970'.

These can all still be seen in-store today.

Ashtray and date keeper

In 1980 Ainsworth Jewellers became members of The Company of Master Jewellers, a network of leading independent retail jewellers across the UK and Ireland.

In 1990, Kenneth's son Philip joined the business and in 1995, when Michael retired, Ken and Philip became the two directors of Ainsworth Jewellers.

Also in 1995, Ainsworth's became a founding member of the Online Appraiser Jewellery Valuation Service which is still used for all our valuations to this day.

In 1998, Philip was invited to join the Blackburn Town Centre Partnership Board, discussing the future direction of Blackburn Town Centre.

In 2013, Philip became a director of the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ).


Also in the same year, Philip became a founding member of the Blackburn BusinessImprovement District Board (BID).

In 2015, Ainsworth Jewellers celebrated 50 years on Darwen Street. The celebrations included the development of the new Consultation Room, and a prize draw, serving prosecco and 1960s food.

In 2017, Ainsworth Jewellers hosted a £395,000 refurbishment sale. This was to enable the ongoing refurbishment and improvement of the store here on Darwen Street which will be in evidence during 2018.