Heritage Hyndburn – Howarth art gallery, the Tiffany Collection


Originally known as Hollins Hill, Howarth art gallery was once the home of William Howarth. The Howarth’s came from humble beginnings, but soon found fortune, with two cotton mills in the town.

The Howarth family originally lived on Burnley Road in Accrington. Moreover, William was a county councillor and was active in the Baptist Church. The family was involved in town life and William was preident of the Mechanics institute.

The Accrington mechanics institute

In the mid 19th century state education was virtually non-existent. Therefore, it was left to local manufacturers, via the mechanics institutes. Additionally, the Accrington and Church Industrial Co-operative Society, provided funding for classes.

The Accrington mechanics institute dates back to 1845. Notably, classes in the early years were in reading, writing and arithmetic. The co-op society donated £19,000 for education. Later, more advanced classes took place in Machine construction, Geometry and mathematics.

Moreover, the Mechanics Institute and the co-operative society worked hand in hand. Interestingly, they were from opposite ends of the social spectrum. The mechanics institute was dominated by the middle class. While the Co-operative society represented the working classes and budding Workers Unions. Art classes were also a feature of the Mechanics insitute.

Hollins Hill

William Howarth commissioned the building of Hollins hill in 1909. It was his intention to bequest the building to the town after he and his sister had died. Additionally, The park surrounding the house and his collection of watercolour paintings, were also included.

Accrington Carnegie Public Library,

Accrington library opened in 1908 after a £10,000 bequest from the industrialist, Andrew Carnegie. The ground floor contained a reading room and lending department. Next, the first floor housed the reference library. Finally, the 5000 volumes from the mechanics institute were moved to the new building.

Art and the new library.

The first floor lecture room was designed to hang paintings. Consequently, by 1921 there was a permanent collection of 69 paintings. The most famous being Storm off the French Coast by Claude Joseph Verne.

Vernet, Claude-Joseph; Storm off the French Coast; Shipley Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/storm-off-the-french-coast-35800

This painting was presented by the Mayor of Accrington in 1908.

Moving to Hollins Hill and Howarth Art Gallery

William only lived at Hollins Hill for two years before he died. His sister died in 1920 and the house, paintings collection, and 13 acre landscaped garden, were bequeathed to Accrington Corporation.

The Howarth’s also left £28,000 to the town, to maintain the Gallery. Notably the paintings from the library were moved to the new gallery. Here they joined the existing twenty paintings and thirty watercolours.

Joseph Briggs Accrington engraver

The gallery is also famous for it’s Tiffany glass collection. Joseph Briggs from Accrington joined the Tiffany company in the U.S. He eventually became Tiffany’s right hand man. Briggs became president of the company and sent his glass collection to Accrington. This can now be seen in the gallery.

Technical education in Accrington https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03057875780000051

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