A place to unwind.
The Whitaker (previously Rossendale Museum & Art Gallery) is set in a beautiful park at the centre of the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire. A little 'gem' of the valley originally built in 1840 and heroically rescued from closure in 2013 when it embarked on a loving and passionate journey of restoration and enhancement under the leadership of the newly formed 'Whitaker Group'.
Currently run as a 'not-for-profit' community organisation, and supported by a niche inhouse team and some incredible volunteers, The Whitaker continues to be a unique and wonderous place that remains in place for the community, celebrating its amazing heritage and reconnecting it with cultures past and present.
The team pride themselves in doing things a little differently. Choosing to think beyond historic perceptions of museum behaviour and expectations, ensuring the ongoing journey of the Museum is one that is shared with all who visit; making The Whitaker yours to cherish and enjoy for many more years to come.
However despite all the renovation and change, The Whitaker Group are passionate that the aims of the museum remain true to its original 1902 declaration; to educate and enlighten the people of Rossendale, providing a focus for learning and cultural activity into the 21st Century.
The History of the Whitaker
The Whitaker is in a Victorian house which was left, with the stables and parkland, to the people of Rossendale by Richard Whitaker. the house called Oak Hill was home to mill owner George Hardman a cotton and woollen manufacturer and partner in New Hall Hey Mill. The family business continued after George’s death but the house was sold to the Whitaker family in 1896. Richard Whitaker had begun work in the local mills at the age of six and after making his fortune abroad returned and bought the mill where he had started work all those years before.
Whitaker wanted local people to ”walk in the park and breathe fresh air” so the park was opened to the public in 1900, and was soon followed by the establishment of the museum, Rossendale Museum and Art Gallery, in 1902 with the purpose of educating and enlightening the people of Rossendale through its collections.