Hollins Hill Heyday

History enthusiasts gathered at Haworth Art Gallery today to see and hear the story of Hollins Hill, as the building was known in its days as a private home, told through the medium of a beautiful old photograph album.

An example of the lovely period photographs of the Haworth at the time of its bequest

The album was presented to the public for the first time since its restoration by expert bookbinders and restorers, Formbys Ltd. Haworth Curator Gillian Berry joined the Friends to talk about the restoration project and the Haworths’ bequest of their home, which prompted the album’s creation.

When the Haworths bequeathed their beautiful house and its contents to the town of Accrington, an inventory of their effects became necessary. Hence the album was commissioned: an astonishingly crafted, leather-bound document of the items in the bequest. Amazingly detailed with stunning photographs of the house’s interior, its exterior and the surrounding nine-acre parkland, the album was certainly more lavishly executed than was strictly necessary for the task. The exquisite photographs illustrated the individual rooms with all their contents just as though the Haworths had merely stepped away.

The album before it was restored to its former beauty by Formbys Ltd of Ramsbottom

Those attending today’s event were treated to the fascinating story of the album, which was restored from the very dilapidated state into which it had fallen, to the astonishing artefact now returned to its home at the Haworth.

The story of Hollins Hill’s heyday was also helpfully illustrated by the presence of a stunning contemporary (1913) SCAT automobile (main photograph), which was generously displayed on the Haworth Motor House forecourt by owner Gordon Cornthwaite. A jaunty addition to the period mood!

Pages prior to restoration

The Friends also raised funds by way of a tombola, the proceeds of which will complete the acquisition of a defibrillator for the gallery and park by providing high-spec housing for the equipment.

While the album itself will be carefully maintained and displayed on similar occasions, a facsimile will remain on display at the Haworth for the public to view.

Start the car and get yourself over to see it as soon as you can!

 

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!

 

Step Inside . . . and Back in Time

It’s time for the great reveal! Fantastic photographs of Haworth Art Gallery, just as it was when it was home to William and Anne Haworth. These incredible images are collected in the newly restored album of Hollins Hill, as it was then known, in the splendour of the Edwardian era.

The century-old album has undergone significant restoration by expert bookbinders, Formbys Ltd, and is now safely back in its home at the gallery. It allows us a fascinating insight into the elegance of the Haworths’ Edwardian home as it was in their time, complete with the family’s furnishings and extensive collection of artworks. 

The Friends of Haworth Art Gallery, which funded the restoration project, officially delivered the restored album to the Haworth staff on May 16th. Friends’ founding Trustee, Jean Emmett, presented the album to Curator Gillian Berry at an event attended by Friends and staff.

This is a wonderfully skilled restoration, carried out with impeccable craftsmanship,” said Gillian. “The album is an amazing record of the period and a really significant piece of the Haworth’s history.”

The photographs illustrate in intricate detail the house as it was in its owners’ time. Each photograph shows an aspect or a room of the house exactly as it was in the early 1900s. The book has been painstakingly restored and the photographs preserved in the restored copy and in digitised form.

Commissioned by William for himself and his sister Anne, the house itself was built by Walter Brierley in 1909. It was destined not to be their home for very many years, however. William passed away in 1913 and Anne in 1920. Both died without direct heirs and they generously bequeathed the house and its contents to the Corporation of Accrington upon Anne’s death. In 1921 the house became the town’s principal museum and art gallery and was renamed in the Haworths’ honour.

As you browse through the photographs, you might recognise the entrance hall here, the music room there – or the room now housing the Gallery Kitchen – each with all its elegant furnishings and beautiful paintings in place. Although it’s almost a hundred years ago, we see their lovely home as though the Haworths had stepped away just for a moment.

The family’s art collection can clearly be seen in a number of the photographs. If you look closely, you might rcognize the works of Henry John Yeend King, Myles Birket Foster or Pierre Édouard Frère among the many paintings which were a part of the Haworths’ beautiful bequest and which still hang in the gallery today.

It’s a truly remarkable record, not only of the house as it was, but as a piece of Accrington’s social history; as local mill owners, the Haworths had a reputation for fairness among their employees and for benevolent works in the town.

The restored album can now be preserved for future generations and will be the subject of occasional presentations by gallery staff. Stay posted for events. Friends Trustee Harry Emmett has made a replica album containing high definition copies of all the photographs, which will be on display to the public at the Haworth.

“We’re delighted that the Friends have been able to sponsor this lovely restoration project,” commented Jean. “And  we’re absolutely thrilled that visitors will be able to enjoy the photographs for themselves.”

Be sure to come and see the photographs on your next visit to lovely Haworth Art Gallery, the Haworths’ wonderful gift to the people of Accrington, and see how much of their bequest you can identify from these mesmerising images.

 

 

It’s a Kind of Magic . . .

Creaky old leather-bound books with dusty, dilapidated covers are the stuff of mystery and magical adventure. Aged and cherished by unknown hands, their yellowed pages lead our imaginations into the secret worlds of a different time or place.

Such is the case of a lovely, but very battered, old photograph album that came to the attention of the Friends of Haworth Art Gallery. The album, which is a treasure of the Haworth, and was handed down from its original owners, beautifully illustrates the days when the house was an elegant private home.

William Haworth commissioned the house for himself and his sister Anne to live in as  their home. It was to be built on former farmland at the southern edge of Accrington, overlooking a wooded clough and the hills beyond, yet easily accessible from the main thoroughfare through town, Manchester Road.

William Haworth, Standing by R. Parker

The Haworths, scions of a well-respected local mill-owning family, and active philanthropists in the town, had until then lived in an imposing, Victorian house, with large, colonnaded portico, in Burnley Road, Accrington.

William engaged architect Walter Brierley, dubbed the ‘Lutyens of the North’, for the design and construction of the new house, and Simeon Marshall for the surrounding grounds. It was the first decade of the new century and the house was to be a fine example of the Arts & Crafts style, a movement that celebrated a looser and more organic vernacular than the heavier, more ponderous architecture of the Victorian era.

East elevation and stone staircase ascending to the former Hollins Hill

William named his house Hollins Hill, after the farm to which the land had belonged. Completed in 1909, the house embodies all the elegance of Edwardian England, with its extensive use of simple motifs drawn from nature. If you’re lucky enough to have visited the Haworth, you’ll no doubt agree that their vision was beautifully conceived and executed.

Stone steps and gardens, the approach from the east via Manchester Road
South elevation and lawn

This period style and elegance are captured in the many beautiful photographs preserved in the Hollins Hill album. It depicts all the principal rooms as they were when the house was still inhabited as a home, meticulously illustrating the uses  and original furnishings of each. It brings to life beautifully the serenity of the lovely house with its gracious yet unpretentious design; its warm wood-panelling, its delicate plasterwork and its fine but unfussy furnishings. It shows an architecturally significant house that is also a lovingly created and comfortable home. The photographs are still a fresh and vivid portrayal of an elegant house and an excellent example of its genre.

Sadly, the entire photograph album has fallen into great disrepair: Its cover is stained and no longer holds its contents together safely; individual pages are fragile and tattered.

The Hollins Hill album before restoration; please stay posted for its progress

Which is where the Friends come into the picture . . . Happily, the group is in a position to sponsor the album’s repair by a team of specialist bookbinders. The entire book has now been sent to Formby’s, the most experienced company in its field (which also happens to be based in nearby Ramsbottom) to be lovingly brought back to its former splendour. Although, in its present bruised and battered state, the album holds great promise, with its many beautiful photographs and strong suggestions of its earlier integrity, we think the restoration process will indeed demonstrate a little bit of real-life magic.

We’re all agog for the outcome and will be delighted to share with members and readers the final results and those lovely images of a bygone era. Please stay posted for news of the album’s return.

Bookbinding is spellbinding!

 

Another Season, Another Reason…

In like a lion and out like a lamb. So goes the old saw about the month of March. And even by the wild extremes of late winter, early spring, the weather this year has already turned seasonal expectations on their heads. Some days seem to bring all four seasons at once!

 

With the hottest February day on record, many of us basked in the welcome warmth. Signs of spring shyly made their way out early and delicate blossoms crept into bloom, but the summery temperatures were bookended by snow, which once again returned to this little corner of Lancashire, along with sleet, hail and blustery winds. Here in Haworth Park, the spring flowers have been clinging on for dear life. Fortunately for us, snowdrop, crocus and narcissus are as tough as they are beautiful.

And whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot, there’s eternal sunshine in store in the park grounds and gallery. Snow, rain or shine, the Haworth shares its charms: a place to sit or stroll in the sunshine, a sledder’s delight in the snow, and if it’s raining out, the gallery’s ever-changing exhibition calendar will brighten dark skies. On grey days, the Tiffany collection brings perennial joy, its intense colours reflecting every season. 

Photography: Jean Emmett

After wildlife watching in the park or admiring all the goodies in the gallery, tasty treats are bound to tempt the palate in the Gallery Kitchen.

Whatever the weather, there’s something distinctly delightful or just plain different to do or see at the Haworth. So, make a beeline before spring is sprung . . . or autumn leaves!

 

Get your Grease on!

Fascinated by the fifties? Always find your feet tapping to a jumpin’ jive? Fancy learning a few steps to make those moves sing with the swing? If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, make sure to grab your tickets NOW for the Friends’ Fifties Diner & Rock ‘n’ Roll night. A real throwback to the days of diners, drive-ins, juke boxes and soda fountains, our fifties night will make your heart beat to the sweet sounds of rock ‘n’ roll. You’ll be going ape on the floor before you can say: ‘Let’s go, Daddy-O!’

Kicking off with a cocktail, you’ll have an evening filled with fifties favourites and served up with a delicious two-course dinner from the Gallery Kitchen. If the dance steps are new to you, there’s a primer to get you started and fistfuls of floor-fillers to put your moves into practice. There’s even a dance-off for any Sandy or Danny wannabes! What a blast, baby!

Organised jointly by the Friends and Management of the Haworth and the Gallery Kitchen, this fabulous fun-fest is held in aid of the Haworth’s defibrillator fund, which will be a valuable resource for visitors to the park and gallery. Tickets are £25 a head; doors open at 7pm, Saturday, March 23rd.

So peel a wheel and punch it straight to the door for your trip to the floor – the bash in Bash’ll be peachy keen!

Kickstart for the Heart ❤️

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and the Friends are sharing a matter of the heart. With a twist. 

Along with some very kind collaborators, we’re raising funds for a worthwhile cause: a defibrillator for Haworth Art Gallery and Park. A valuable asset for the gallery and grounds, a defibrillator could be a lifesaving proposition in a moment of need, so please help us support this critical target.

Nigel Airey with his painting, Enchanted Forest, generously donated to the defibrillator fund

To give our funding a boost, we have a couple of initiatives to get you up out of your seats. First, a fabulous opportunity to buy a striking piece of art, generously donated by Rishton artist Nigel Airey. Enchanted Forest is a large abstract work in a style that echoes Jackson Pollock’s drip technique, executed in a vivid, evocative pallet. The purchase will take place by silent auction, in which would-be buyers submit undisclosed bids. The highest bid submitted by the deadline of March 6th wins the painting. The work is on view now at Haworth Art Gallery, so get along as soon as you can for a viewing and then, ladies and gentlemen, place your bids, please!

Beat those feet

A prize we can all win is a Saturday night of nosh and nostalgia at the 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll dinner-dance, March 23rd at Haworth Art Gallery. The Gallery and Kitchen management have put together a too-cool-for-school night of music and moves for anyone who fancies a bit of fifties-era fun!  

The bird’s the word, so just beat feet and get your classy chassis to the spot that’s hot! You don’t have to be a veteran of the vintage to swing along to these slick stylings. Lucky ticket buyers will snaffle a two-course dinner at the Gallery Kitchen and a hep-cat’s haven of ‘50s music & dance. The ‘50s specialist DJ will even give a dance demo of classic moves for your feet to follow and fill the floor.

Dust off your dirndls and full-circle skirts!

So dust off your dirndls and full-circle skirts, and creep back into those crepe soles – it’s bound to be a blast!

Tickets are £25 per person. 7pm for 7.30 dinner. A raffle and auction on the night will raise further funds for the defibrillator. And if the ‘50s aren’t your thing, please spread the word to anyone you think would enjoy this fun-filled evening with a bit of a twist – or, rather – a jive . . . 

Let’s go, Daddy-O!

 

Wild and wonderful; Haworth’s magnificence amid natural and formal flora

A walk through Haworth Park in early summer enchants the  soul and the senses with the profusion of wild flowers. Interrupted only by birdsong and the antics of the squirrels, the Haworth’s peaceful surroundings are a haven for wildlife and a tranquil respite from life’s daily hustle and bustle. Jean Emmett takes a walk through its flora.

The Haworth presides majestically over the scene, as nature races against our efforts to tame it, and large swathes of buttercup and daisy peep through the lawns before their next trim has chance to arrive.

Swathes of buttercups

Wild flowers are encouraged to grow naturally along the margins of the park and a total of around 50 different wild flower species can be seen today. Young trees proliferate around these borders and the many species showing early shoots include the oak, the ash and the holly tree, all self-propagating from their wooded surroundings.

The great field below the Haworth is dense with buttercups just now; simply delight in the profusion of their yellow, yolk-like heads as you wind your way along impromptu footpaths made through the grasses by walkers and by children playing.

Yellow pimpernel

Many of the wild flowers will be familiar to most visitors, but alongside the better known species are large patches of yellow pimpernel, bistort and pink purslane. The vigour of nature at this time of year can amaze us with its ability to take over and fill every nook and cranny with so many marvellous species.

Pink purslane

Along the wall bordering Manchester Road, the beautiful bistort and pink purslane nestle alongside the familiar crowns of cow parsley. The wild flower drifts provide a haven for many insects, not least, of course, the bees, busy visiting to collect their nectar.

And, complementing the wilder areas, we can’t overlook the formal rhododendron plantings,  made so many years ago, and still providing a glorious show.

Formal rhododendron plantings