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Lord Shuttleworth: the Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is moving from Gawthorpe Hall to Northlight

18 Oct 2023 –– Commercial

The Honourable Rachel Beatrice Kay-Shuttleworth MBE (1886-1967) lived at Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham, her family home for generations.

Taught to sew, draw, and paint from a young age when, at her family's South Kensington residence in London, Rachel's passion for textiles and design was fuelled by regular visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

She amassed an extensive collection of textiles throughout her life, some 30,000 items largely acquired through donations from a vast network of family, friends and acquaintances. Some of the most significant pieces in the collection were made by Rachel herself.

This significant collection is currently housed in Gawthorpe Hall, but recently, the managing Trust decided to move to bespoke facilities at Northlight.

We caught up with Lord Charles Shuttleworth, the Chairman of Trustees and the great-nephew of Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, to find out more.

Lord Shuttleworth told us, "The textile collection was founded by my great aunt Rachel more than 100 years ago. She had a tremendous social conscience. She wanted to help young ladies in Padiham, and teaching people to sew was her way of doing this. She built up the collection

by acquiring things that she could use as teaching aids, so it's always been connected with education and teaching.

It's now outgrown the available space at Gawthorpe and needs modern conditions for storing valuable textiles. We decided to move out of the Hall for lack of space and the need for sound environmental conditions.

I think the most important thing we've got to do is to try and make sure we've got a sustainable future. It's a world-class collection hiding in Lancashire, so part of our future is expanding accessibility.

At Northlight, we're on a corner, looking out over the canal. We can practically see Gawthorpe Hall. If we had another little ladder on the top of there, you could! It will offer better space, and that's important both from an environmental point of view and for access. People will be able to come for study lessons and study courses. We haven't got the room to do that at Gawthorpe.

Also, it's very well connected to public transport. It's right on the side of the canal to start, and a railway station is not very far away, so we're very confident it'll be a significant improvement."

We also spoke to Linda Drury, Director of Gawthorpe Textiles Collection. She told us, "We have four members of staff plus volunteers just to manage such an extensive collection. Rachel intended it to be a learning resource, available to everyone to experience the joy of textiles and craft.

We have unfortunately outgrown the available space at Gawthorpe Hall. Although items will always be on display there, we needed more room and space to make the collection more accessible for people. At Northlight, we can make items available for viewing, run study courses, and invite community groups in. As well as opening the collection up, this will also be income generating for us, making us sustainable for the future.

We were drawn to Northlight; it's perfect for us as it's a historic building with a grand heritage as a textile mill. It's also a great location to get to by bus, the train station is next door, and there's lots of free parking.

There are also other arts tenants we can network with, such as In Situ and Community Arts by ZK. Northlight has been great with us, creating a bespoke area with room for storage and a viewing room with lots of natural light. We hope to move in by October – moving the collection will be an enormous task!"

We can't wait to welcome the Gawthorpe Textiles collection to Northlight – you can see more on their website: www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk