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The Whitaker Museum and Art Gallery

January 19, 2015

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I was fortunate to find myself in the Rossendale area last week and popped into The Whitaker, as I’d passed before but never previously had the time to stop and visit and was so glad that I did.

The Whitaker Museum and Art Gallery was built in 1840, called Oak House, it was the private residence of Mr George Hardman. The estate was originally over 28 acres, having cottages and farms within it. George, earnt his living in the woollen trade, becoming a partner in Hoyle Ashworth & Co’s Newhallhey Mill. In 1849 that company was dissolved and became George Hardman & Son. When George died in 1852, it was taken over by his three sons. The business had connections to the Hardman family up to the 1950′s, but Oak House and estate was sold in 1896 to the Whitaker family.

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What a welcome from these decorative tiles and ornamental glass engraving ! Views of the local mills and something for all ages.

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Mr Richard Whitaker came from Rawtenstall, at work from the age of six, he even spent some time at George Hardman’s mill. Moving on, he rose through the ranks to managerial level. However, he never forgot his origins, and his sole aim on purchasing the Oak House estate was to establish parks and playgrounds for the people and children of Rossendale. The 28 acres were then laid to park at Mr Whitaker expense, at a cost of over £4000.00. A number of playgrounds, ornamental gardens and paths were put in, including the fountain that still stands in front of the museum.

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These drinking jugs and cordial jars came to life with their either whimsical or stern characters.

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The museum collections were acquired from a number of local sources, to create a museum of general interest. The first curator, also the local librarian, was a Mr Hargreaves Wilkinson, under his auspices the museum and its collection slowly started to develop. Initially on the first floor and in two rooms downstairs, display space was always at a premium. In the 1930′s the displays did expand, and the collections were slowly added to.

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I couldn’t help but notice this gem entitled David Whitehead Ltd, Lower Mill, Rawtenstall by non other than John Piper !  There’s an impressive room housing an array of  stuffed animals, including a small elephant, a tiger grappling with a python and a huge collection of birds.

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The museum collection now encompasses fine art, decorative art and furniture, ceramics, glassware,  archeology, geology, natural history, numismatics, costumes and textiles, local social history, arms and weapons, handling and learning collection.

In 2013 The county council decided it could no longer fund the museum and so The Whitaker Group stepped in to ensure the museum stayed open for the people of Rossendale. The museum aims to remain true to its original 1902 declaration to educate and enlighten the people of Rossendale, providing a focus for learning and cultural activity into the 21st Century. How fabulous that this museum is still going strong and if you’re in the area, I’d also recommend sampling the best coffee and orange and chocolate marble cake for miles around ! I did and buzzed all the way home lol

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You can find the Whitaker at Whitaker Park, Haslingden Road, Rossendale, Lancashire, BB4 6RE, Rawtenstall. Opening times on their site here.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2015 6:10 pm

    That museum is like the inside of someone’s head – a little bit of everything from elephants to art! Sounds fab & a great post! Thanks for sharing!

  2. skushtrana permalink
    June 9, 2015 3:36 pm

    So glad you found the Piper, it’s my favourite exhibit in this wonderful place :- )

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