Celebrating the tailors of times gone by

Warrington’s finest tailors, milliners and cobblers who worked to keep the town’s residents ‘clothed and booted’ in times gone by are the focus of a new exhibition.

A Stitch In Time opens on Saturday, 7 October, and will showcase a selection of garments, accessories and footwear from Warrington Museum and Art Gallery’s rarely seen costume collections.

The exhibition will explore the lives and tell the stories behind Warrington’s costumiers of the past while celebrating their skill and knowledge.

Visitors can delve into the past to learn about master clog maker Douglas Gandy in Mersey Street, premier department store Hodgkinsons Limited in Bridge Street and Burtons Shirt Factory in Wilderspool Causeway among several others.

Gandy’s handmade clogs were once sold all over the north to textile and factory workers to protect their feet and Douglas Gandy was the last of a line of cloggers who began a family business in 1818.

Meanwhile, William Hodgkinson, founder of Hodgkinsons Limited, lived a real rags to riches story and has been described as Warrington’s own ‘Mr Selfridge’.

Also on display will be some of the area’s magnificent historic uniforms and civic regalia dating back to ­­­­the 19th century.

A Stitch In Time is the culmination of the ‘Cabinets of Curious Costume’ project made possibly thanks to a £2,500 grant from the AIM (Association of Independent Museums) Arts Scholars Charitable Trust Brighter Day grant scheme.

This scheme aims to assist small museums and similar institutions that have found it difficult to access support and to help them recover from the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and enforced closures that affected many in the sector.

Most of the Museum’s uniforms, ceremonial costumes and fashionable garments relating to Warrington’s past were previously kept in storage out of view due to the size constraints of the galleries.

But the funding has allowed the items to be repackaged, reassessed and better protected ready for this new exhibition about the town’s traditions and trendsetters which will bring them proudly onto display.

Collections Officer Craig Sherwood said “Led by Collections Assistant Hannah White, the Cabinets of Curious Costume Project has helped Warrington Museum and Art Gallery to increase access to its costume collections through education and outreach opportunities.

“It’s also enabled us to improve the storage of some of the more significant pieces from the collections – including mayoral robes and military uniforms from well-known Warrington personalities.

“As an added benefit, the project has enabled us to photograph many items that were previously not in public view and share them more widely through our social media channels.”

A Stitch In Time is at Warrington Museum between Saturday, 7 October, and Sunday, 21 January, and is free to view.