Sunday, 28 November 2010

My First Museum

On Sunday afternoons when the weather was not fit for a blow across the moors, we would be taken instead to Cartwright Hall in Manningham Park, gift of Lord Masham who was the owner of local Listers Mill. Built by the same architects as the Kelvingrove in Glasgow, we were rightly proud of Our Museum. There were the usual tall cases of forbidding, if dead for quite some time, avian raptors in pursuit of small, startled, cuddly but equally dead rodents. Art with a capital A still waited my discovery as I rushed past into the hall which housed the miniature models of working looms, spinning machines, carding machines and all the boasts of fine Bradfordian textile engineering tools. This, as much as the top of Rombalds Moor, was heaven indeed. Later, as an adult and having returned from France, I spent my Sunday mornings in the Museum, lazily drinking coffee, and taking much more notice of the art exhibits - I was particularly fond of the John Sell Cotman watercolour collection there. The very idea of having a coffee bar in Cartwright Hall would have made my parents almost as indignant as I felt to discover the working models had been warehoused. Time passes. I mentioned recently that I had been reading an autobiography of Kathleen Binns who was from my neighbourhood. It was the first of two books I had bought. The second was the childhood autobiography entitled Now a Stranger of Humbert Woolff - also from my neighbourhood, but in the 1890s. I had never heard of Humbert before and was expecting a memoir similar to Kathleen's. However, I have been quite bewitched by this book. It is so funny and so beautifully written, I felt that Humbert must have written more. I googled him, and found that to be the case. In fact, upon the death of Frank Bridges, Humbert was lined up to be a poet laureate. Maybe history forgets too quickly the people who come second.
In case you are in or near Bradford, do pop into Cartwright Hall to see the exhibition of Polish paper-cuts that, too, is totally bewitching.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting - you have the right to adore this beautiful building. Oh, I would love to see it myself someday!
    You are so right about time passing, and worthy and fascinating people being forgotten. How nice that you have brought these authors, and their subjects, "back to life".