Guest of Honour at the centre’s ‘Knutsford Means Business’ exhibition was Councillor Arthur Moran, Mayor of Cheshire East Council.
Other guests included Knutsford Deputy Mayor Peter Coan and 2017 Knutsford Royal May Queen Charlotte James, together with representatives of the businesses taking part.
The exhibition runs until 16 December. It tells the story of past and present businesses and the historic properties presently or formerly occupied. On display is a range of artefacts from the Heritage Centre’s archives.
Participating businesses are The Courtyard Coffee House and Restaurant, Arthur Lee Interiors, Nationwide Building Society, Stuart Rushton, TechnoType and Weightmans. Former businesses featured are Henry & Julius Caesar and Watson & Son, both part of the town’s rich commercial history.
Alison Teggart, Nationwide Branch Manager, comments:
“We are really proud of our presence in Knutsford and keen to further our involvement with the local community and support our Members, both new and existing. Our relationship with the Heritage Centre is apt due to our branch premises in King Street being of significant historical interest and amongst the oldest in the town.”
The adjacent King Street premises of Nationwide and TechnoType form part of one of the town’s oldest buildings, believed to be at least 400 years old. Both properties have first-floor rooms with ornately decorated plaster ceilings. These are hundreds of years old and carefully preserved.
Emma Collins, Weightmans law firm partner, states:
“Through its predecessor firms, Weightmans LLP has had a presence in Knutsford since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. We are proud to continue serving the community and to support the Heritage Centre’s fascinating exhibition exploring the history and longevity of businesses in the town.”
Estate agents Stuart Rushton & Company is another of the many businesses that occupy an old building with an interesting heritage. As the exhibition relates, the King Street premises were home to three generations of the Gidman family, which went on to establish a business that bottled a range of mineral waters, pale ale and Guinness Stout.
Hollingford House, the Arthur Lee Interiors building, dates from around 1760. One of its occupants in the 1800s was Dr Peter Holland, who treated the local gentry and was uncle to Elizabeth Gaskell. The exhibition traces both the history of the building and the Arthur Lee family firm.
The Courtyard Coffee House is also supporting the exhibition with a display featuring one of the most short-lived forms of transport, the penny farthing bicycle. An exciting invention in 1871, but overtaken by progress only 20 years later.
Val Bryant, Heritage Centre Director and Trustee, has ambitions for the exhibition to become a regular event. She explains:
“Knutsford has over a hundred listed buildings. Many are business premises. They all have a story to tell – and the Heritage Centre is the natural place to tell it.
“To give present and future Knutsfordians access, many families that previously owned companies which are no longer trading have entrusted documents, photographs and memorabilia for conservation in our archives. People are interested in these for a variety of reasons. One of the most common is researching family links – where a great grandparent might have worked, or something they might have been involved with for example.
“Our aim is to make exhibitions of this kind a regular event. Our present exhibition is already attracting visitors intrigued to know more about the town in which they live. Children doing school projects, or who are just plain curious, will also find the exhibition highly informative.
“The Heritage Centre is integral to Knutsford’s cultural fabric. Businesses – present and past – are as important to the town as it people, and that precisely what the exhibition celebrates.”
Guests at the opening of the Heritage Centre’s Knutsford Means Business exhibition
90A King Street, Knutsford,
Cheshire, WA16 6ED
Tel: 01565 650506