A Unique World

...of lost imagination & forgotten history. 

The museum is housed in the 19th century former mill owner's residence, which was built in 1840 for the Hardman family. At the time the house overlooked their woollen mill at New Hall Hey.

Eventually sold in 1902 to local businessman, Richard Whitaker, who presented the house and its grounds to his much loved home town of Rawtenstall with the intent that they be converted into parks and playgrounds for the community to enjoy. 

Offically opened by The Mayor Alderman H W Trickett in 1902, the museum first exhibited collections acquired from a number of local sources creating a museum of general interest. 

The first curator, also the local librarian, was a Mr Hargreaves Wilkinson, under his auspices the museum and its collection slowly started to develop through the years. Initially on the first floor and in two rooms downstairs (display space has always been at a premium) but in the 1930′s the museum endured significant growth and represented more of what you see in todays exhibits throughout the Natural and Social History rooms. 





 The Tiger & The Python

Significantly this growth was within the natural history collection, being an area of huge intrigue for the Victorian middle classes. Pieces of which still remain on display today.

The dramatic Tiger and Python exhibit locked in their terrifying embrace dates back to 1810. Only rediscoverd in the 1970's, and now one of the museums main attractions situed pride of place in the Natural History room. The piece was Illustrated in the 1814 catalogue of William Bullock’s London Museum, and we now know it was painted by the French artist de Barde (1777-1828), whilst he was exiled in Britain, a painting which is currently part of The Louvre, Paris collection.


Tiger & python

Engraving of the painting called

'Tigre Royal embroire par le serpent'

by Vicomte Alexandre-Isidore Leroy de Barde, dated 1814

Click for
Location & Contact Details