I’ve just enjoyed the new Netflix series “The English Game” about the development of football among mill workers in Darwen and Blackburn, Lancashire in 1879, the same year my great-grandpa John Hacking was born in Blackburn. The show brought back memories of a fascinating trip I made to Blackburn in March 2017, when I researched the story of my great-great grandpa Edmund Hacking, the Blackburn Market inspector.
Blackburn was a cotton mill town and many of the Hackings worked in the mills. As a boy, Edmund Hacking was a “half-time” mill worker in his youth (going half time to school, half to the factory) yet got out of the mill to enter the Blackburn police, then become Blackburn Market Inspector for 28 years before suddenly dying of pneumonia amid dubious circumstances surrounding a possible market stall holder bribery scandal.
Edmund’s story emerged in a hand-written diary kept in our family. I followed some clues and spent 3 days in Blackburn. I read old municipal government records at the library, looked at weaving looms at the museum and visited Edmund’s grave at Blackburn Old Cemetery…and of course enjoyed lots of meat pies at the Blackburn Market!