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Past Events
Date: 18/06/2016
Title: Rags to Riches
Venue: Cawthorne Villiage Hall, Nr Barnsley, South Yorkshire

Saturday, June 18th. 2016


'Rags to Riches'



Cawthorne Village Hall,

Tivy Dale Road, Cawthorne, Barnsley S75 4EH


The programme for this meeting was home-grown: two in-house Committee members presented items in one of their chosen areas of expertise.

Anthea Bickley was Senior Keeper, History, for Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, working out of Bolling Hall. Her presentation on this occasion described the work of a local architect, John Sowden, who taught at the Bradford Mechanics Institute for many years. His main love, however, was Art. In the 1880’s, Sowden painted over 300 fascinating watercolour portraits of ‘Worthies’ and ‘Street Characters’ and these were in her care at Bolling Hall for many years . It was the latter street characteres, poor but respectable, everyday people of Bradford that was the theme of Anthea's talk. These wonderful watercolours provide a fascinating and rare archive detailing how these poor people dressed.  But that is not all.  Because of the diaries kept by John Sowden, we also know the names of these characters and how they earned their frequently precarious living.  It was clear that in spite of many of their clothes being second hand, they still managed to lead respectable lives.

After an excellent buffet lunch, Sue Seeger, by comparison, in a talk entitled, Never Judge a Book by its Cover, described the contents of an 1885 Velvet Sample book found at Denholme Mill, near Halifax. This beautifully presented sample book with its now slightly distressd cover contained examples of wonderful and varied silk velvets enveloping a far richer past. The book's passage from France to Yorkshire is still a mystery, but as part of her MA research, Sue was able to examine similar books as well as Costume collections across the North to ascertain local English consumption of these extravagant fabrics and their effect throughout the various classes of society.

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