A Darwen-born veteran and railway enthusiast has come under fire for claiming accommodation in his hometown “to flatten”.
Steve Davies MBE, former director of the National Railway Museum, received an outpouring of responses after making the comments on social media. Mr Davies, who served in the British Army, posted a picture from the lane behind the bottom of Marsh House Lane which he captioned: ‘We hear a lot about so called leveling but all that our people want is a decent, civilized life, conditions, not slogans.
“Not asking too much. This was my home town of Darwen in Lancashire a few days ago. A shame in the 21st century.”
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In an autobiographical statement on his appointment as Chairman of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust in 2020, Mr Davies said he had “enjoyed the privilege of growing up in the 1960s in Darwen, in the industrial heart of the Lancashire”. However, many have questioned his comments criticizing Darwen’s accommodation and believe he shouldn’t be “reprimanding” his hometown.
Responding to some of the comments criticizing his stance, Mr Davies added that he thought some of Darwen’s accommodation ‘needs some flattening’ and in response to some that highlighted residents’ efforts to improve their streets, he said, “You can’t polish a shit.”
He said: “It’s not about the c*** lying around, it’s the appalling state of the accommodation. It’s got to be leveled out and started from scratch. It’s happened elsewhere in the city but the pace of progress is pitifully slow.
“This housing stock is way beyond the point where anyone would be expected to take pride in their surroundings. To borrow an Army phrase, you can’t polish a shit!”
A local resident replied to Mr Davies on Twitter: “I’m a Darrener, born and bred and this lane/ginnel can be seen about 60% Darwen – why are you scolding your hometown? Many residents care of these lanes – we are an old cotton town and the houses reflect that and the Darreners love their historic town!”
Councilor Kevin Connor, who represents the Marsh House borough of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said while there are pockets of housing that need improvement it is not always as simple as ‘just the tear down”.
He told LancsLive: “There’s always room for improvement, there’s no two way about it, but we have a lot of new housing running on Cranberry and Bailey’s Field and they have l look really good. Any improvement to existing housing should involve a lot of money.
“There is an element that some private owners don’t take their responsibilities seriously, and that’s unfortunate, but the majority of owners are pretty good. Marsh House has much to be proud of and we have stunning views of Darwen’s Tower and the moors.
“It’s easy to start demolishing old terraced houses, but some of them are reaching their lifespan and maybe it’s possible now to start looking at certain areas and thinking ‘can we improve them’. “