Interactive artwork celebrates history and heritage of village famous as birthplace of the Bronte family

A new interactive artwork has been launched in the village famous as birthplace of the Bronte family.

Lovette & Widdops was a bakery, pictured here in the 1960s, and is better known as the birthplace of the Bronte family.

‘Echoes of Thornton’ is an audio-visual walk which encouraging people to find out more about the village's rich history and importance of community.

The village is famous for being the birthplace of the literary Brontë family, whose house still stands, as well as its 20-arch viaduct and South Square - former workers cottages that were saved from demolition in the 1980s by a group of volunteers and became a thriving arts and heritage centre.

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South Square Centre has long worked with its immediate community - putting on art exhibitions, a host of classes such as yoga and ‘knit and natter’ and offering a welcoming café and bar.

Lovette & Widdops in 2021.

Throughout the pandemic it has continued to support the immediate area with Zoom classes, online works, and even entertaining local care homes from their gardens.

This new live artwork continues in the same vein, gently encouraging people outside but remaining safe whilst working up to the reopening of the building in June.

The audio-visual walk combines stories collected from former residents of South Square’s cottages with images from Thornton Antiquarians archive of key buildings now and then.

Created by local artists Lucy Barker and Lucy Courtney-Clegg the archive imagery and memories have been turned into a series of videos and vignettes to invoke a familiarity, homeliness, and comfort in everyday stories.

Broadbents - a confectioners and bakers from around 1955. Before this time it had been a stationers, printers and a post office.

Project manager, Alice Withers, said: “We already had some stories thanks to the archives, but we also put a call out for former residents of South Square cottages and found several including Mary Lou Jones who now lives in Australia.

“Mary Lou’s family - the Jennings - lived at South Square from 1911. She was full of stories that have made the final piece and she shared some wonderful photos with us. We also met Derek who lived here as a child in the late 1960s; he has given us an 8mm cine footage film of him in the garden, his birthdays, and a visit from Father Christmas! It’s been such a fascinating process.”

A Discovery Map guides visitors around key sites in the village looking at them ‘then’ and now stories and historical facts are shared via their smartphone.

“Echoes is not only of interest to our immediate community but to West Yorkshire as a whole,” added Alice. “It’s such an important part of the region’s heritage and we’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors from further afield.”

Broadbents today.
Mary Lou Jones pictured at South Square in 1955. She now lives in Australia.