Haworth centenary: what’s in store?

The Haworth’s centenary as Accrington’s art gallery – the jewel in the town – is just around the corner. The fascinating photograph above was taken in 1921, the year the building was opened to the public. What a decorous entourage assembled for the occasion!

“This can’t last. This misery can’t last.” Laura Jesson, Brief Encounter.

As the Haworth staff and Friends volunteers prepare to mark the 100th anniversary (watch this space!), we’ve been hard at work documenting the gallery’s two major artwork stores, uncovering and preserving important artefacts in the permanent collection, many of which will help shape the event.

Our featured photograph was among the hundreds of items in the building’s watercolour store, work on which has been ongoing for the past year, documenting and assessing the condition of each item.

Among the many lovely discoveries were several sheet music albums belonging to William and Anne Haworth. At least one album, bearing William’s monogram and the date 1902, pre-dates the era when the Haworths lived in the house, then known as Hollins Hill.  Friends’ member Frances Prince, leader of the Red Rose Singers, is cataloguing this music, with plans for the group to perform some of it in the 2021 anniversary celebrations. The centenary exhibition will chart the story of the house and celebrate the people who lived and worked here from 1909 to 1920.

Mayoral insignia from the inception of Accrington Corporation, showing the lovely Town and Market Halls.

In addition to all the fantastic photographs and artwork, the store holds a variety of paper-based works, including cartoons, architectural drawings and copies of the documents and correspondence relating to the building of the house,

Among them was this illuminated manuscript (left), recording the bestowal of the mayoral insignia at the first meeting of the newly formed Accrington Corporation in 1878.

Also in this store is the original photograph album of the house from 1921, after Anne died and bequeathed the house to the Corporation. It shows the rooms and furnishings as they were when the house was her home. A copy of the album, sponsored by the Friends, is available at the Haworth reception desk for all visitors to see. Make sure to have a look on your next visit.

A romantic pen and ink sketch (above right) from the watercolour store suggests a Brief Encounter moment; a bittersweet image of an Edwardian-era couple, parting ways as his train prepares to leave. Also in this collection is a photographic portrait of Joseph Briggs (below right), who donated the vast majority of the Haworth’s Tiffany collection to his hometown.

Joseph Briggs, the local lad who became MD of Tiffany Studios and gifted his town the largest Tiffany collection outside the US.

In the early days of 2020, gallery staff, aided by eight volunteers, emptied the gallery’s oil store. Tasked with documenting and assessing the gallery’s more physically substantial works and re-hanging them in a more accessible order – we recorded each painting’s position in the store for ease of management.

Next on our list is documenting the Haworth’s extensive collection of art books, detailing works from Goya to Rembrandt and beyond.

Many of the works in these two stores will inform and illustrate the forthcoming anniversary exhibition, which will be a significant feature of the Haworth’s programme of events next year.

Looking ahead to 2021 has become a luminous objective. We very much hope to see you all there.

*If you’d like to help us realise any of our projects, or perhaps have information about any aspect of the gallery or its heritage – no matter how small – please don’t hesitate to contact us at haworthaccrington@gmail.com.

Heartening News!

Brilliant news! The British Heart Foundation (BHF)  has informed the Friends that it will match funds raised towards a defibrillator for Haworth Park and Art Gallery. This excellent cause, spearheaded by Trustee Jean Emmett and Chair Alison Phelan, was  greatly helped on its way by Haworth Art Gallery and Gallery Kitchen staff, artists and volunteers, who gave generously of their time, money and prize donations.

The news means that £600 raised through their efforts will be matched by the BHF to reach the target amount for the defibrillator and its installation. It enables the Friends to purchase a high quality defibrillator and training pack, including training for up to ten people at a time in CPR.  The equipment is compatible with North West Ambulance kit and has a ‘child key’ which would allow the voltage to be adapted for use on a small child, should that be necessary. Installation is expected to be within the coming month.

The conditions for match-funding require that the defibrillator be housed in an unlocked box with 24/7 public access, which will be met by plans to mount the equipment on the outer wall of the Haworth, easily accessible via several of the gallery’s exits as well as the park and stable complex. The funds raised by the Friends also enable the group to purchase housing for the equipment that incorporates an alarm and temperature control.

The Friends are particularly pleased that they were able to raise funds in a relatively short time for this worthwhile project. Fundraising projects included a Christmas raffle and chocolate stall and a fantastic evening of fifties fun, complete with auction and raffle, for which Accrington Stanley generously gifted a signed shirt, and stable block artists Heather Ashton, Steve Crowther and Catherine Lansdale kindly donated works. Special mention also goes to Rishton artist Nigel Airey, who made the big-hearted donation of his large abstract work. Enchanted Forest, which was auctioned in March.

The Friends would like to thank everyone who contributed to this result, including of course all the above- mentioned. But also the community members who participated in various events that helped raise these vital funds, while also enjoying the gifts of the gallery.

We ❤️ You!

 

Double Take!

The Friends were delighted to present Haworth Curator Gillian Berry with the newly refurbished Hollins Hill photograph album, which has been restored so beautifully, and which the Friends have been very proud to sponsor. The album is in superb condition once again and will be a lasting photographic testament of the Haworth bequest for generations to come. Trustee Jean Emmett, who was a driving force behind the restoration, made the presentation on behalf of the Friends on May 16th, attended by several key members of the group.

Friends present the restored album AND the high resolution replica which will go on display to the public
Friends present the restored album – and the  replica, which will go on display to the public

Importantly, the restored album was not the only version the Friends presented to the gallery. Trustee Harry Emmett, who, with wife Jean was a driver for the restoration, has also created a replica of the album containing high resolution copies of all the photographs from the original. The copy will enable the visiting public to see these fantastic photographs at close quarters and to appreciate the detail of the house and its contents at the time of its bequest in 1920. It will also allow for the continued conservation of the original, which the Haworth staff will present for occasional display and discussion – so the conservation effect is two-fold.

As it was; the album was in great disrepair and needed the specialist attention Formbys could provide

Specialist bookbinder Formbys Ltd carried out the restoration work on the album’s leather exterior, which was stained and discoloured, and on individual pages, which were dog-eared and detaching from the spine. Formbys’ reputation is unparalleled in restorative bookbinding; their client roster reads like a Who’s Who of national heritage – and, fortunately for us, they’re based in the neighbouring town of Ramsbottom. . .

How lucky we are to have such amazing resources on our doorstep. Don’t delay – come  and see for yourself the sumptuous images from this extraordinary artefact. As we say around here, it’s come up a treat!

 

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.

Local Lights Open Hollins Photographic Exhibition

The Haworth Art Gallery hosted an event for students, friends, families and local dignitaries to open an exhibition of Hollins students’ photography. The exhibit is the result of a joint venture between The Hollins Cohesion Through Creativity Initiative and the Friends of the Haworth, in which students were given free rein to photograph aspects of the Haworth from a young person’s perspective.

Student photographers unveil their works for friends, family and other Haworth visitors

Councillor Kath Pratt was notable among the guests who attended the opening of ‘Haworth Through the Lens’, a wide-ranging photographic exhibit captured entirely by Hollins students, and now on display in the Haworth’s Education Room. Other guests included Blackburn University Senior Lecturer Martyn Pearson and Peter Graham, a student in the Photographic Media Degree Programme who is making the first formal photographic record of the interior architectural detail of the Haworth Art Gallery. The Haworth Artists’ Network was represented by Clare Drew, who helped prepare the exhibition, along with members of the Friends of Haworth Art Gallery. Continue reading “Local Lights Open Hollins Photographic Exhibition”

Photography workshop for The Hollins pupils

A productive afternoon for The Hollins photography project group. We started the session with a discussion about themes for the images to be created.  Members of the group can choose to work alone or with other members in a joint project.  Lots of ideas were bouncing around – shapes, colours, angles, exteriors, nature, people, the list grew as pupils explored the possibilities.
Continue reading “Photography workshop for The Hollins pupils”