Hart of the Town

The Blackburn BID is hosting a visit by a leading curator when she comes to the Blackburn Heritage Festival to launch a new exhibition coming home to Blackburn Museum after receiving rave reviews in London.

Dr Cynthia Johnston will be presenting a talk at the Hornby Lecture Theatre at Blackburn Library on Saturday 12 September as a free Heritage Open Day activity.  ‘Hart of the Town, Heart of Blackburn’ is the story of a passionate local entrepreneur, Robert Edward Hart who made his money in rope during Blackburn’s cotton town boom and invested in the museum’s world class collection of manuscripts which have been described as ‘an almost entire history of the written word’ from Asyrian tablets dating back to 2000 BC to works by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

Dr Johnston explains, ‘The Hart family business, Thomas Hart Ltd, manufactured ropes that powered the cotton mills in the North West, and all over the world. The success of the business created great financial wealth for the family. For Edward Hart, as he was known, that wealth enabled him to pursue two passions.

The first was the building of his world-class collection of manuscripts and books and his equally important collection of coins. The Hart Collection of Roman coins in the museum is the only complete run of Roman Imperial coins outside of the British Museum.

But Hart was also passionately committed to the community of Blackburn. His greatest gift was the purchase of Witton Park for the Town in 1945.

Cynthia continues, ‘In this talk I will discuss the treasures that Hart brought to Blackburn and left ‘to the people of the town’ upon his death in 1946. I will also describe his many acts of philanthropy which characterized how he led his life, and how Hart’s gifts still have a major impact on Blackburn today.’

For more information on the Blackburn Heritage Festival visit www.blackburnheritage.com

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