Blackburn was incorporated in 1851, when it was given a corporation and a Mayor. To mark the event, a new Town Hall was to be built in the town centre on King William Street. The Town Hall was completed and opened in October 1856.
At that time, the Cotton Exchange was still operating from rooms in the Bull Inn on Church Street. The Exchange group had already close links to the Council as many mill owners and traders sat as Councillors and Aldermen, so when the Town Hall was built, it was a great opportunity for the Exchange to move from the small rooms at the Bull Inn to the grand new venue of the Town Hall.
In January 1857, at a meeting of the Exchange at the Bull Inn, thanks were given to the Bull Inn proprietress, Mrs Sansom, for her years of attention and kindness to the group, and then members voted unanimously to move the Exchange into the new Town Hall from the following week, taking up two rooms on the south side of the ground floor of the building.
Their time at the Town Hall was brief, and by October 1859, the Exchange group had grown so much as to fill both their rooms and the Town Hall entrance during their gatherings. This, as well as complaints that the Council needed the rooms for town business, gave the Exchange group good enough reason to decide that the time had come again for their own building.