Records show that there has been a Fire Brigade in Blackburn since at least 1794, based in a variety of locations before finally settling at Byrom Street in 1921. Over 30 cottages in the vicinity were also Fire Brigade property, for the use of the firemen, although these cottages are now all privately-owned.
One former employee’s name has passed into legend, as he is believed to have been haunting the Fire Station since his death in 1940. His name was Robert Hodgkinson – commonly referred to as ‘Bob Ockie’.
Arguably the best of these tales concerns the experience of one Jim Yates, who was on switchboard duty overnight. In the early hours of the morning, the old-fashioned switchboard indicated a call from the recreation and snooker-room above. Knowing that the room was empty at the time, Jim ignored the call. A short time later he heard snooker balls rolling across the floor and was forced to investigate. He was mystified to find that over twenty snooker balls were indeed on the floor of the recreation room. There was no-one else in the building and no-one could have accessed that room without first passing him at the switchboard.
Jim later discovered he lived in the same house where ‘Bob Ockie’ had died. Perhaps that’s why he was singled out for such a display of his presence!