Accrington’s Haworth Gallery is best known for its internationally acclaimed collection of Tiffany glass. It is the largest public collection in Europe.
Tiffany glass was produced in New York between 1878 and 1933 by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Charles Lewis Tiffany. Although his father was the founder and owner of the world-famous jewellery store Tiffany & Co, Louis’s main interest was glassmaking and glass design. He was the champion of the Art Nouveau movement in the US and is best known for his colourful lamp designs.
The gallery’s collection was donated by Joseph Briggs. The Accrington man left for the US in 1891 and two years later began working for Tiffany. He stayed with the company for forty years, becoming Tiffany’s personal assistant and eventually the head of his company.
By the 1930s the fashion for Art Nouveau had dwindled and sales of Tiffany glass declined. One of Brigg’s finals tasks at the company was to dispose of unwanted stock. 140 pieces were donated to Accrington’s municipal museum in Oak Hill Park. In 1951 the collection was transferred to the Haworth Art Gallery.
Today the collection of Tiffany glass is housed on the first floor of the museum. Displays explore the influence of nature on Tiffany’s designs, the Art Nouveau movement, classic designs such as the Peacock vase and Tiffany lamp, Tiffany’s interior design work, mosaics, glass blowing, and more.
Although much of the exhibition space is devoted to Tiffany glass, the gallery also boasts a permanent collection of 18th and 19th century oil paintings and watercolours. Works include The Tempest by Claude Joseph Vernet.
Temporary exhibitions are also held at the Haworth Art Gallery. At the time of our last visit, in September 2015, a gallery on the first floor was displaying landscape paintings by local artist Dermod Ruddock. On the ground floor there was an exhibition of model boats, planes, and trains. The gallery also hosts workshops and lectures.
The gallery itself was built in 1909 by Walter Brierley as a house for brother and sister, William and Anne Haworth. William Haworth died in 1913 and Anne in 1920. Anne bequeathed the house and its contents to the people of Accrington.
The Gallery Kitchen opened here in June 2015. Situated on the ground floor it offers light lunches and afternoon tea.
Haworth Art Gallery is also a popular wedding venue. Ceremonies are held in the ground floor music room.
At the time of writing (September 2015) the gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday. Opening times are noon to 5 pm (4.30 pm on weekends). The gallery is closed on bank holidays. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
The gallery is situated in Haworth Park, a nine-acre park offering beautiful views across the Pennine hills. The main entrance to the park is on Hollins Lane (postcode BB5 2JS). There’s a free car park right next to the gallery. There’s also a pedestrian entrance on Manchester Road.
The nearest train station is Accrington, just over a mile from the gallery. Bus 464 runs from Accrington to Rochdale, passing the entrance on Manchester Road.