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.

Stitching for sisterhood at Aawaz Accrington this International Women’s Day

A warm welcome and creative crafting were the order of the day at Aawaz, Accrington this week. Friends’ member and Haworth crafting queen Bee Daly led a lovely ‘Slow Stitching’ project as part of International Women’s Day celebrations.

Each designing to her own theme, members had a chance to try out creative embroidery and decorative sewing under Bee’s expert tutelage. Swathes of fabrics, buttons, beads and coloured thread were kindly provided by Bee and the Haworth.

The stiching project continued over three days and these are just a few of the lovely works created by women who participated.

The Friends are funding materials to create a decorative wall hanging, combining all the panels.

A well-established, Hyndburn-based charity. Aawaz, which means ‘voice’ in Urdu, aims to improve the lives of south Asian women and their families, and to help create harmonious, equal and cohesive communities.

Aawaz Centre Manager  Zulekha Dala said the project had been very popular with members and that they would like to continue to collaborate on future events.

In the near term, Haworth Art Gallery manager Yvonne Robins invited Aawaz members to a private tour of the Haworth  one morning in March.

Wonderful work, everyone!

*To get involved, become a Friend of Haworth Art Gallery, or just learn more about the Friends’ activities, contact us at haworthaccrington@gmail.com

 

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.

 

 

Raising the Roof to Raise Funds!

Diner-style delights. No Amercian Graffiti on these walls please!

Friends and family rocked around the clock at a fifties fun night Saturday to raise funds for a good cause. The Friends of Haworth Art Gallery joined forces with the Gallery Kitchen and Haworth staff to raise an impressive £800 towards a defibrillator for Haworth Art Gallery and grounds.

Nice duds dudes!

 

The fun kicked off with raspberry cocktails to complement the American diner delicacies, and guests geared up to an evening of fifties festivities with a charity auction and raffle. Generous gifts of paintings by Haworth Stable Block artists Heather Ashton, Catherine Lansdale and Steve Crowther, and a team shirt signed by Accrington Stanley players were just some of the brilliant buys on the block.

 

Roll over Beethoven, Elvis and Buddy Holly..

Guests got into the swing in some great 1950’s era gear to bring the rock ‘n’ roll vibe alive. DJ Michael Sixsmith and his partner Kyla Louise got the party started with their dance demos and some lightning lessons in jive and twist. The mood was buoyant as people found their stride and stepped up to the beat. Even the air guitar was period perfection!

 

Could Bill Haley have matched this performance with one Comet?

Sales and donations were off the charts and the total raised was a real shot in the arm for the target amount. An enormous ‘Thank you!’ to Accrington Stanley for their superb support, to our generous artists and all our kind donors, bidders, guests and everyone who helped to make the evening such a huge success, not least the Haworth and Gallery Kitchen staff.

Here’s to the next one!

 

 

 

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!

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!

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.

Goooooal! Friends Social Evening Bashes it out of the Park

Yes, yes, we’re mixing our national sports metaphors. Sorry, ref. But in response to an enthusiastic Independence Day turnout, the Friends would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended our first community social event on the 4th of July for making it such an enjoyable and successful event. And no footie in sight!

In the warm summer weather, the kettle was underemployed for once, as cool drinks flowed, like the conversation, freely. It was especially refreshing to find so many local people with an interest in the history of Baxenden and its residents.

Jean Emmett reveals the lives of the Haworth retainers

 

The evening was kicked off by local historian, Harry Emmett. Harry set out the formation for the featured speakers and was on hand to answer questions relating to his own research, including the history of the motor cars owned by the Haworth family and driven by their chauffeur, Joseph Taylor. The featured speaker for the first half was keen researcher, Jean Emmett, who shared her many fascinating findings on the lives and connections of the staff who worked  for the Haworths at Hollins Hill, as it was then known. William and Anne  were, by all accounts, excellent employers, treating their staff much like friends and ensuring their welfare. Jean shared photographs of the staff, including Ellen Priestly, Anne’s companion, whose portrait was only recently brought to light, and of Joseph Taylor, whose descendants are still active in the local community (see earlier blogs for more on their stories).

Roger Cunliffe unearths local history

Changing ends, Roger Cunliffe ran with the theme on local history, starting with a look at the origins of the name Baxenden in earlier centuries,  Once known as Bastanedenecloch (yep!), it mercifully became shorter over time, ultimately contracting to its present-day nickname, Bash (phew). Roger shared a wealth of information and images relating to the early days of Baxenden and its surroundings. During his talk, he described the former tramway, the history of local buses and railway travel; the retired mills and brick-works, and even the old smallpox hospital, the remains of which can still be seen today behind the grounds of Hollins School (future blogs will examine these too).

The crowd had plenty of questions for our speakers and shared their own memories of area history. A closing shot by Harry (Emmett, of course) still left plenty of extra time to mingle, chat and view the impressive displays that Jean and Roger had assembled, with photographs, maps, family trees and old census documents among the yards of material they have researched. There were no penalties for supporters looking forward to the next heritage evening (though there may be a bit of a season break till we can unearth more research) . . .  One possible option for our next event is a history walk around Baxenden and Accrington, so watch this space and dust off your boots!

 

Wednesday World Cup Window! Baxenden Heritage and Social Evening

Football image courtesy of Freepik

It’s a footie-free Wednesday window this week and The Friends of the Haworth are diving into the area to host our first local heritage and social evening. Join us at the Baxenden Village Club, (formerly the Conservative Club) on Manchester Road this Wednesday, 4th July at 7pm for an evening of culture, conversation and a coffee or two.

It’s set to be an interesting, relaxed and sociable evening with two speakers from our group sharing their fascinating research into the lives of those who lived at Hollins Hill and of the history of Baxenden and the surrounding area.

The event is free for anyone who would like to attend and we’ll even throw in a cuppa (but not through the window)!  Hope to see you there.

And, oh, yeah: come on, England!

WhipcrAccy-way! The Accrington Stagecoach Spectacle

Had you been living in Accrington in 1815, you might have passed the time occasionally by just hanging around Abbey Street, or on Manchester Road in Baxenden, for no apparent reason. But in fact, you’d have been loitering with unseen intent because you’d heard tell that a stagecoach would be passing through, writes Roger Cunliffe.

The stagecoach was a tremendous innovation in its day and its arrival in your neck of the woods was met with great anticipation. The passage of the coach from Clitheroe to Manchester was greeted enthusiastically by large crowds that would line both sides of Abbey Street, jostling for a view of the carriage and its travellers, as well as the horses and coachmen.

Stagecoach and four preparing to depart
Travel was extremely costly, and even men of means begrudged the expense of journeying by coach. The fare was twice as much to travel on the inside, with less than two feet width per traveller. Coaches usually accommodated six passengers on the inside. In early coaches, passengers facing the direction of travel would also have the indignity of dust and rain blowing in their faces. Only in later improvements on the coaches were blinds or windows added.
The more modestly priced roof seating could accommodate twice as many as the interior, but there was the ever-present danger of falling off! Not to mention the greater discomfort to external passengers of inclement weather (a virtual certainty in the North of England). The combined load of passengers would bring the weight of the coach to some two or three tons, so gentlemen passengers on the roof were obliged to get off and walk up steep hills to alleviate the horses’ burden (this, incidentally, is said to be the origin of the nickname Ha’penny Brow on the main road north into Preston, where the cheaper fare necessitated a walk up the long incline).
The turnpike roads traveled by stagecoaches were maintained by payments at toll houses along the route (see earlier post on Blind Jack for more on the local turnpike). Accrington’s surviving toll house where tolls were collected on the turnpike between Manchester and Clitheroe, is in Oak Hill Park and can be seen inset into the park’s eastern perimeter wall on Manchester Road. A coach drawn by six horses would have to pay around three shillings to pass.
Former Red Lion, Abbey Street, Accrington

By 1818, there were at least two rival coaches on the road: the Rocket and the Highflyer. Either arrival was still regarded as an event on Abbey Street. The sound of the guard’s horn was the signal for the gathering of townsfolk round the Red Lion Inn (as it then was) to await the arrival of the coach with the latest news from Manchester or Clitheroe way.

Coaching Inns sprang up along the routes for the refreshment of the passengers and no doubt the guards too. The current Railway Hotel at the Baxenden-Rising Bridge border has characteristics of a Coaching Inn. The coaches did not stop for long, however, and if you missed hearing the guard’s horn, you would be left behind.
There was stiff rivalry to get back before the competition, this being a point of comparison in deciding which coach to take, so drivers were happy to take payments for getting back first. Accidents were occasionally the unfortunate result of accelerated speeds on poor roads and hills. The illustration shown above demonstrates how the Highflyer might have raced home in an attempt to beat its rival, the Rocket.
Nowadays, if you’re waiting around with no apparent intent on Abbey Street or Manchester Road, it might just be that your particular bus company has moved on. No names mentioned!