New Year, Artistic Cheer!

We wish you all a Happy New Year and a wonderfully artful year ahead! Here’s our calendar of exhibition highlights in a year bursting with creativity at Haworth Art Gallery. Don’t miss out on your favourites.

The Gallery reopens on Saturday, January 5th, while The Gallery Kitchen reopens on Thursday, January 3rd.

And, remember, you can still catch the spellbinding story of Accrington’s past, present and a glimpse of the future – Transforming Our Town –until February 3rd. An incredibly impressive array of words and images that captures the story and spirit of our town – the little town that could!

In addition to this calendar of scheduled exhibitions, the Haworth is home to a host of live music events (see below) and other amazing activities throughout the year, so please be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute developments.

Happy 2019, everyone!

Season’s Greetings!

We’re dreaming of a white Christmas: Haworth Art Gallery under a winter blanket of frost and snow.

The Friends of Haworth Art Gallery would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers, members, supporters and kind helpers for their valued contributions over the course of the past year. It’s been an excellent year for the group, raising funds and awareness for the benefit of the Gallery,  embarking on new endeavours and making strides in our continuing projects.

Probably our most significant project over the course of the year, our research into the lives of staff who worked at the house when it was the privately owned Hollins Hill (from 1909 to 1921), has proven to be an exciting endeavour that promises continuing rewards as we open up new avenues of association.

We have enlisted assistance from the relatives of former household  staff from near and far: from Accrington and Littleborough in the local area, for example, and further afield from Oxfordshire and Cornwall. Our crack researcher, Jean Emmett, continues to unlock the secrets of this beautiful house and its former occupants.

Spreading the word about this project has helped elicit more details of these families and we hope to extend this reach even further as the picture continues to build. Thank you to all who have helped explore this fascinating line of investigation. A very merry Christmas to all  and a happy and healthy 2019! 

A Real Christmas Cracker!

To your good Elf! Santa and his best helpers ring in the festive season 

Sunday afternoon at the Haworth was packed with seasonal delight when Father Christmas came to visit! Throngs of excited children got the chance to meet Santa, who talked to each one in turn and made notes of all the Christmas wishes of gifts and toys for girls and boys. Ably assisted by two of his trustiest helpers, Elves Roger and Liz, Santa handed out sweets and wrote the names of all the good girls and boys in his magical book, to make sure he doesn’t forget anyone on Christmas Eve!

It’s Elf Service! Trusty Elf, Roger, dishes out treats to each young visitor

As well as meeting Santa, children joined in making Christmas crafts with Gallery staff and volunteers, creating wonderful Christmas wreaths and beautiful baubles for the tree. A winter wonderland of fun was enjoyed by young and old alike – a hubbub of happy voices ringing throughout the Gallery. 

A sleighful of great prizes is raffled off to support the purchase of a defibrillator for the Haworth

The huge raffle attracted lots of interest from parents and children alike, with a range of fabulous prizes, generously donated by staff and community members. Of equal interest to all ages was a delicious chocolate stall, full of festive treats! 

A new and important fundraising project of the Friends of Haworth Art Gallery is to raise money to buy a defibrillator for the Gallery and grounds. In total, the Friends raised £370 over the course of the afternoon – a brilliant start to this fund! The Friends would like to extend an enormous and, dare we say, heartfelt “thank you” to the local community for their support in contributing to this critical acquisition.

Special thanks also go to Daniel and Chloe Fullalove, who organised and ran the chocolate stall, which accounted for more than £100 of the funds raised, so huge thanks and well done to them! The Fullaloves and a good number of our members should also congratulated for breaking out the most christmassy of jumpers – nicely done, folks!

We would like to wish all our supporters, visitors and readers all the very best for Christmas and the New Year and would like to thank the local community and all those who have provided help and support for our many projects over the course of 2018. Thank you!

Jean, purveyor of happiness!
Marilyn and Alison bring sartorial sparkle
Christmas Fullalove! The Fullalove family lend Christmas cheer and helping hands to the chocolate station

Calling all Cowlings!

Your Gallery needs YOU.

The Friends of Haworth Art Gallery are seeking descendants of the Cowling family in Lancashire and potentially beyond: did you have a father, grandfather or other relative – or perhaps knew someone – named Joseph Cowling, who lived in Baxenden, Accrington, in the 1910’s through to 1971?

The Friends are seeking information about Joseph as part of their research into the lives of staff who worked at Hollins Hill, as the gallery was known when it was a private house owned by the Haworth family from 1909 to 1921. Joseph was then an under gardener at Hollins Hill. Originally from Yorkshire, he came to Accrington and married local girl, Rachel Hindle, at St John’s Church Baxenden in 1914. They had three children: Thomas, born in 1915; Joseph born in 1921; and Mary, born in 1929.

A former domain of the Hollins Hill gardeners, the glasshouse was rebuilt with the conversion of the stable block and now houses the Art Garden

Leaving Hollins Hill on the death of his employer, Anne Haworth, Joseph set up a successful market garden on land just off Hill Street, Baxenden, eventually moving into number 2, Glen Cottages, adjacent to his business. In 1936, his brother Richard moved to number 5, Glen Cottages, and in 1938 also married a local girl, Maggie Jane Hunter.

Joseph died in 1974 in Rawtenstall, perhaps near to one of his children. Another of his children moved to Clitheroe and a great niece still lives in the Baxenden area, but we know little else about his family and appeal to your help in finding out more, or locating documentation.

The beautiful Rose Garden at the Haworth

Can you help fill in the gaps? If you are related to Joseph, have family documents, photographs (especially of Joseph and Rachel), or family stories, please contact us by email at Alternatively, please leave a message with the duty staff at Haworth Art Gallery during your next visit. We will be thrilled to receive any relevant information and add another branch to the tree of the Haworth’s heritage. Thank you.

Tiny Tiffany Triumphs at Friends’ Fun Palace Festivities!

Accrington Library was bursting with colour and creativity on October 6th, when the Friends joined with other groups in the local Fun Palace action. Fun Palaces give children of all ages the chance to join in free and fun cultural activities at selected venues around the country, supported by groups like the Friends.

Our team got cracking (not literally, thankfully!) with Tiffany glass-themed activities, where children had the chance to make brightly coloured lanterns of their own or to bring to life drawings of Tiffany objects with colour.

Great fun was had by all! Lots of laughs were had in between the deep concentration required to produce a lovely lamp, which children decorated with twinkling stars and emoji stickers *:) happy Everyone could take their lanterns home, where some were planning to illuminate them with electric tea lights. Brilliant!

The crafts proved so popular, we almost exhausted supplies (note to self: bring more next time)! Friends’ members Jean, Harry and Alison were joined by our kind volunteer, Jav, who was a much-needed extra pair of hands. 

Children and parents flocked straight to the table, eager to get started, and over the course of two hours we managed to help 40 children to create and colour their lamps and drawings.

An amazing afternoon for everyone involved. Thank you to the Library for hosting, to Jav for helping out, and to everyone who joined in . . . Tiffantastic!

Tiffany on Tour and a House Fit For a Duchess

Upstairs, Downstairs, Hither and Yon: Haworth History and Heritage Talk

A friendly crowd, ready to be regaled; watched over by William Haworth

A fun, friendly and informative time was had by visitors to the Haworth at the Friends’ latest history and heritage event Sunday. Below Stairs and Beyond the Park served up a fresh look at the lives of the people who worked for the Haworth family and the world they inhabited at the turn of the last century in Hollins Hill, as it then was. Keen local historians and Friends founder members Jean Emmett and Roger Cunliffe engaged the audience in a fascinating social history of the Haworths’ era, and the industrial heritage of the local area – with a few props to boot!

Abraham Naboth Imlah Whiston, Haworth valet-cum-curator

Firstly, Jean uncovered the lives of staff who worked at Hollins Hill in its days as a private house. Key among these were coachman, William Beech, chauffeur, Joseph Taylor and valet, Abraham Naboth Imlah Whiston, who later became the gallery’s first curator. Jean also offered a glimpse into the life of Anne Haworth’s elegant companion, Ellen Priestley. Perhaps surprisingly, none of these family retainers was born in the immediate area: William hailed from Shropshire, Joseph from Manchester and Abraham from Cheshire, while Ellen was born in Russia. Jean helped to bring their personalities to life with colourful details of each one. An appeal to the many local people at the event elicited information about a previously unidentified gardener, which will help the Friends trace further details of his life.

Taylor in the Rolls Royce Double Landaulette

Roger then shared his history of Baxenden, where the Haworth is located, detailing its numerous quirky name changes since first being recorded as Bastanedenecloch in the 1100’s and now often abbreviated, quite punchily (ahem), to Bash – so much simpler. Roger shared his fascinating insights into the various types of transport systems that have passed below the park on which Hollins Hill was built: from the construction of the road by Blind Jack o’ Knaresborough in the 1700s, to the old coaching routes established in the 1800’s (see earlier posts for more on these); from the steam trams which would have climbed the hill in the Haworths’ day, to the corporation buses that became the norm in the 1930s (more to come on these). Roger illustrated these changes with models of the trams in use from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and a model of an old Accrington Corporation bus in its proud livery of navy and scarlet, the historic colours of the Accrington Pals.

Accrington Corporation bus in the Pals’ livery, on Peel Street, alongside the Market Hall

The audience also heard about the old industrial buildings along the route of the former railway line from Accrington through Baxenden towards Manchester: the now demolished mills and the long-defunct Baxenden brickworks, in operation for just a few short  years and outshone, of course, by its more famous neighbour. Such is Roger’s enthusiasm for his subject, however, he proudly professes to building a small collection of rare Bash bricks!

After the presentations, audience members browsed through the fascinating documents, books, photographs, maps and charts that illustrated their subjects. Thank you to our wonderful speakers and to our lovely visitors for both their participation and for their kind donations to the Friends’ funds. Our next public event will be the children’s Fun Palace project held at Accrington Library on October 6th. Stay posted for more details.

Don’t Dawdle, Daisy!

Better shape yourself if you want to get a seat at our next heritage event, Below Stairs and Beyond the Park. . .

If you’ve ever watched Mrs Patmore berating her young charge and wondered about real life below stairs in the early days of the 20th century, come along to our informal heritage event at Haworth Art Gallery this Sunday, September 23rd, at 2pm.

By popular demand, speakers from the Friends’ founding members will give us another peek into the lives of those who made Hollins Hill run like a well oiled machine for their employers, the Haworths. We’ll also be looking at the history and heritage of the local area and at the industry that helped shape the lives, both above and below stairs, of the occupants of Hollins Hill, as Haworth Art Gallery was then known.

So, come and take tea, if you please, ma’am, or simply make yourself comfortable, sir, and allow yourself to be transported to another era. While donations are appreciated, admission is free (which is more than can be said for Daisy), so please arrive early to be sure of a seat.



Outside the Box

What a summer it’s been! A summer full of surprises. The wacky weather, the sporting highs and lows and even your secret favourite reality show (it’s ok, we won’t tell); it’s been one big turnaround after another. Expecting the unexpected became the new normal. And things at the Haworth were turned on their heads a bit too.


Throughout the summer, the Haworth staff have been working hard to manage the redisplay of the world-famous Tiffany glass exhibition. The display is being reimagined to illustrate more closely how the town came to own such a major collection of works by New York’s famed Tiffany Studios; itself an unexpected turn of events.

Jack in the Pulpit, a fine example of Tiffany’s stylised organic forms, Haworth collection

In fact, you could say the Haworth embodies the unexpected: an elegant Arts & Crafts mansion in a hard graft northern town; a venerable museum and art gallery where you can enjoy a Sunday rock concert; an oasis of art and culture where kids can come and get messy – and everyone can fill their boots with a lush lunch.  But perhaps the biggest contradiction of all: an internationally important collection of American art glass . . . in Accrington!

How did a stunning collection of American Art Nouveau come to be in a small industrial town in Lancashire? Accrington’s many exports to New York, the products of its textile and manufacturing industries, famously include the ‘Nori’ brick core of the Empire State Building. But how did the Big Apple give up so many treasures to Accrington?

Its history follows that of a migrant Accrington lad and is a touching tribute to his hometown. The story of Joseph Briggs and his journey to New York is a significant piece of the exhibit’s provenance, and one which curator Gillian Berry felt merited closer attention.

Joseph Briggs, by O Segall

Briggs, an engraver by training and a creative soul, was uninspired by the prospect of industrial working life in Lancashire and left for New York at the tender age of 17. His early experience in his adoptive home was far from humdrum. Through chance encounters, he spent his first couple of years in the US performing in a Wild West show; a far cry from Accrington factory life!

But Briggs’ ambitions lay elsewhere and he sought out work that would utilise his artistic skills. As luck would have it, Tiffany Studios was looking to hire new talent. Tiffany Studios was a dazzling nexus of artistic creation that captured the era’s zeitgeist and energy; exactly where Briggs wanted to be. Sadly, after a couple of applications, he didn’t make the cut. However, his artful perseverance (and perhaps a bit of northern nous) ultimately succeeded in winning him a place as Louis Comfort Tiffany’s right hand man – quite literally.

Briggs earned his 1893 entree to the company by a chance encounter in the rain, when the Englishman deftly accompanied Tiffany from his car to his office under his trusty umbrella, and forged an instant connection. After an initial trial, for which he depicted a religious scene in order to demonstrate the range of his skills, Briggs was hired. In time, he would be promoted to run the company’s mosaics department, ultimately becoming Managing Director of the studios and remaining for some 40 years. Briggs’ association with Tiffany was unique; both had maverick and creative streaks that they understood in each other. and the two worked very closely to the great benefit of the company. 

One of several lava vases in the Haworth’s Tiffany collection, organically formed in iridescent glass

After decades of glittering successes for Tiffany Studios and its highly decorative and decadent works, styles began to shift to more simplified forms. The cleaner, more restrained lines of Art Deco and Art Moderne were coming into vogue. The death knell came with the onset of the Great Depression, which killed the market for Tiffany’s sumptuous works and the company finally  closed its doors in 1932.

Briggs had the overseer’s task of winding up the studios and their contents. In so doing,  his mind returned to his hometown. He arranged for a large trove of some 140 Tiffany treasures to be sent back to Lancashire, where they were gifted to the town of Accrington Sadly, Briggs’ own demise not long afterwards, meant that his gift became his personal legacy to his native town.

The collection was placed in safe storage during the Second World War and languished unappreciated in boxes and crates for many years. But in the 1970s, the glass found its way to the Haworth and, happily for the viewing public, has been on display there ever since; an awe-inspiring representation of artistic and human endeavour. The collection is perfectly at home in the sympathetic surroundings of Walter Brierley’s Arts & Crafts architecture; the house and the collection each being wonderful examples of their respective turn-of-the-Century design schools.

The story of Briggs’ life is beautifully told in Douglas Jackson’s book Mosaic

The new reconfiguration of the Tiffany exhibit at the Haworth will illustrate the journey of these astonishing artefacts  and highlight their connection – the great gift of Joseph Briggs and his part in Tiffany Studios’ success – to the town they now call home. Briggs’ own interest and prowess  in mosaic-making will be brought to the fore and the flow of the exhibit will emphasise this creative process and its significance within the collection. It’s sure to be a fresh and fascinating approach to this stunning exhibit.

Stay posted for news of the display’s reveal and whatever you do, don’t delay – come see for yourself!

Early Vintage

In August, the Friends marked a bustling inaugural year with our first AGM, kindly hosted at the Haworth by Gallery Manager Yvonne Robbins. Friends’ Chair Alison Phelan was able to report  a very strong first year, in particular the excellent research projects that have helped bring to life the stories of the Haworth family and their retainers, as well as the history and heritage of the surrounding area of Baxenden.

The Friends have made huge strides in researching and archiving the history of the house, and park and its personnel

The Friends have enjoyed a successful year of fundraising events and member drives in addition to our tremendous heritage events. Trustees, Roger Cunliffe, Jean Emmett and Harry Emmett, have been especially active,  bringing their brilliant insights and research to bear in the Haworth’s archives and presenting their findings so entertainingly in these  events. A number of our members have also donated generously of their time, effort and electrical appliances in supporting our efforts : ) Amazing art works too! And our hardworking Chair has kept all the group’s activities on track with grace and good humour.


Proud parents see Haworth Through the Lens

Other local community projects have included the wonderfully inspiring collaboration, Haworth Through the Lens,  with The Hollins’ CTC initiative, an association we hope to pursue with future projects. Similarly, we look forward to working further with the extensive photographic archive so painstakingly created by talented Blackburn College photography degree student Peter Graham.

Friends indeed!

Forthcoming Friends events at the Haworth will include a heritage afternoon, Below Stairs and Beyond the Park, on September 23rd and a Tombola and Member Drive on December 16th. The Friends will also offer Tiffany-related crafting at Accrington Library as part of a national  Fun Palace event for children on October 6th. More details of all these events to follow. Get those diaries out!

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a slight name change to Friends of Haworth Art Gallery. The shift from Friends of Haworth Art Gallery defers to the widespread use of the ‘gallery’ epithet and we hope will help us to be more identifiable.

The Friends were founded to help promote the cultural heritage of the house and park, the Art Gallery and the Tiffany collection in particular and to emphasise the significance of these in the broader cultural landscape. We are also delighted to help promote the activities of other aspects of the Haworth complex, including the Stable Block and Motor House and the Haworth Artists’ Network, which have all leapt out of the starting block since their own recent launches.

Stable Block and Motor House with Artists’ Studios and Art Garden

Thanks to management at Haworth Art Gallery for their encouragement and support throughout the year and to the staff and volunteers, as well as the management and staff of the Gallery Kitchen, who often generously lend their support.

If you’re interested in arts and culture or have a passion for local history and heritage and are curious about what we do, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Be it a casual interest in attending one of our events or a desire to get involved as a member, we’d love to hear from you. We’re a friendly and dedicated group and can offer opportunities for involvement in any number of ways. However great or small your interest, you can reach us at And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HaworthAcc.