Fashion designer, Patrick Grant, known to millions as a celebrity judge on the BBC Great British Sewing Bee programme, is to visit the Blackburn Heritage Festival to open a museum of sewing machines next week.
The designer, author and businessman will visit the festival on Saturday 12 September when he will be officially opening the collection with a meet and greet, book signing at Hobkirk on Darwen Street, Blackburn at 1pm.
Hobkirk recently featured in the press following a sales boom in sewing machines triggered by the popular series. Businessman and enthusiast, Peter Hobkirk is delighted to be hosting the visit by Patrick who he has described as the ‘George Clooney’ of the sewing machine industry.
Peter said, ‘After the amazing response over the last few months, it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to welcome Patrick to our premises and to have the chance to show him the range of products and services we offer to both domestic customers and industry professionals and manufacturers.’
The museum is Peter’s own collection of over 200 full size and toy sewing machines dating back to 1860. He took over the business from his father, Edgar Hobkirk who inherited the family firm from his own father, Peter’s grandfather, Billy Hobkirk. Billy started the business in the early 1900s when he travelled on his bike round Blackburn mending sewing machines.
Mark Hobkirk is now Managing Director of the company which employs 18 staff including 6 mechanics who supply and repair domestic and commercial machines across the UK.
Peter explains, ‘There was a great surge in machine sales in the late 1950s and early 1960s when more sophisticated, electric machines were introduced with the ability to do a wider range of stitches. Hobkirk has always offered a part-exchange scheme for customers to upgrade their machines and it was at that time that I began collecting the old fashioned hand and treadle machines. There was a trade for the tables themselves which I sold on to pubs and clubs. That’s when my collection first began and since then I’ve been collecting for my own personal pleasure, travelling to auctions throughout Europe.’
Social media channels have been buzzing with excitement from viewers of the programme who are fans of the Saville row designer, voted one of the GQ’s best dressed 50 men. This isn’t the first time the businesses had had celebrity status. Hobkirk hit the headlines when the team were asked to provide and install a sewing machine to the ITV soap opera, Coronation Street for a key storyline at the Underworld textile factory. Sewing staff at the time, including Janice Battersby staged a walk out when a sophisticated new commercial machine from Hobkirk, fictionally called ‘The Silver Stitcher’ was installed in Mike Baldwin’s manufacturing company.
The Museum of Sewing Machines will be open to the public on Saturday 12th September from 11am – 2pm with the book signing from 1pm – 2pm. The museum will also be open on Sunday 13th September from 1pm – 2pm when Peter will be giving a guided tour. After the opening, the museum will be open by appointment to individuals and small groups.
There’s an additional opportunity to meet Patrick Grant when he will also be talking about his career in design earlier the same day between 11.30am – 12.30pm in the Hornby Lecture Theatre, Blackburn Library.