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.

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!

 

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.

 

 

Tea party at the gallery

We are indebted to Janet Duhan who is the great granddaughter of Abraham Whiston for this photograph  we believe to show the celebration of the opening of the Haworth Art Gallery in 1921.

No doubt there could be other similar photographs tucked away in the backs of drawers in Accrington homes and we hope that their owners will loan them to us to copy and include in future publications and biographies. Eventually  we look to producing a pictorial history  of the gallery.

Harry