Answers at last for the run-down 'eyesore' block of shops left derelict for years

Work is finally starting on several of the empty properties in Duckworth Street
Work is finally starting on several of the empty properties in Duckworth Street -Credit:LancsLive

Residents have welcomed work "finally starting" to refurbish a run-down block of derelict shops which have been empty for years.

The row of commercial properties in Duckworth Street in Darwen, on a busy stretch of the A666, has long been a cause of complaint for local residents. The buildings have been empty for several years with old rotting signs being branded "an eyesore".

In August 2021 four fire crews were called to the boarded-up Engineers pub after a blaze broke out in the loft space. Residents speculated at the time that the building was being used as a cannabis farm.


Olivia Johnson, who lives on the nearby Greenway Street, often walks past the block of shops. She said: "It's just looked such a mess for so long, I don't know why they've been left like that.

"The pub has been shut for God knows how long and those metal boards just look an absolute eyesore."

A listed company, Engineers Arms Darwen Limited, was dissolved in June 2018 around the time when the pub closed for good. Despite Admiral Taverns' attempts to find a new landlord the venue has remained empty since.

How the block looked two years ago
How the block looked two years ago -Credit:Google

However, after many years with the buildings falling into disrepair, work has started to refurbish several of the empty properties. While the pub remains boarded up activity has been seen, over the last few weeks, at least three properties.

Howard, who works at one of the shops on another stretch of Duckworth Street, welcomed the renovations. "Finally," he said.

"It's been a bugbear of mine for ages. The annoying thing is; many of the shops along the main road do really well, and it's become a sort of market street of sorts.

"Hopefully we'll get some good shops opening up and it'll benefit all of us. It's really good news to see work being done."

In February a property developer revealed his plans for another row of shops along Duckworth Street. Zarif Khan bought the former Fintastic shop in 2018 and after overcoming delays due to some of his other properties he is now finally set to refurbish the empty store.

Mr Khan, who has handed over much of the day-to-day running of the family business to his son, said the property will be split into two shops while he will also renovate the flat upstairs which is likely to have two bedrooms.