Blog post number 9 from artist Claire Wellesley-Smith & the Local Colour group
Over the last two years the Local Colour project has been collating an archive related to local stories and the heritage of Elmfield Hall, Gatty Park where we meet each week. Now home to Community Solutions North West the story of how the building and grounds connects with the history of the local dyeing and printing industries feeds into creative work and the development of a community textile garden on site.
As the Local Colour project has developed, conversations about Lancashire industry often feature. Our focus has mainly been on the textile industries that grew up around Accrington where specialisms included cotton weaving, Turkey red dyeing and calico printing in the nineteenth century, and the invention of Terylene, one of the first synthetic fibres, in the twentieth. However, we also look at other industries and how they connect to the local area.
Elmfield Hall is situated on Hyndburn Road, a street with a rich heritage of industrial production. In the first year of the Local Colour project the group wrote a heritage trail that explored the environs of Gatty Park and included references to buildings now long gone. These included the Steiner & Co. print and dyeworks, a large lodge (factory reservoir) now the site of a Lidl branch, and Hagg Works, Gatty’s dyeworks, where The Brickworks pub and a Costa Coffee drive-through can now be found. Slightly further along the road is a large Asda, once the site of Entwisle and Kenyon, or the Ewbank factory. This business produced manual washing machines from around 1875 and were a big manufacturer of mangles and carpet sweepers.
Our creative activities are strongly linked to the local heritage and ideas that develop through our conversations. The group has explored the printing technology used during the nineteenth century, visited archives and museums to see examples of how they were used, and tried out a variety of printing techniques themselves, including block, screen, mono and lino printing. Group member Marcus has also recently used the facilities at The Making Rooms in Blackburn to develop wooden laser-cut printing blocks that combine images developed by the participants in the project.
Our latest initiative, linking the wider local heritage to a print process, has arrived through another group member spotting an Ewbank mangle for sale on Ebay. This is currently in the process of being converted into a printing press for use by the group and at community events. We are hoping that this will ready to use at the Community Solutions Summer Fair on Saturday 13th July.
The Community Solutions Summer Fair is held in Gatty Park, Accrington, Saturday 13th July from 11:00am to 4:00pm. A fantastic day for all the family, with fairground rides, entertainment, children’s activities, craft stalls, table top sale and much more. Free entry and all welcome.