Amy Rowbottom is the collections assistant at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. The 24-year-old read English at the University of Hull, and she now lives in Huddersfield.
What is your first Yorkshire memory? Oddly enough – and this does sound so contrived, but it happens to be true – it is of coming to Haworth as a little girl, and of visiting the Brontë Parsonage. I was born in Norfolk, and we were up for a family holiday. I must have enjoyed the experience, because, whenever we came back up here, I pleaded to come again – and again.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why? I just love Hull and Humberside in general. It has such a lively atmosphere, and it has just about everything. The city seems to be re-inventing itself all the time. There’s theatre, the Museums Quarter, the nearby wetlands, the docks, that wonderful view over the estuary to the bridge. It’s only now that I’m discovering the diversity of the city’s night-life, because I was a very conscientious student (yes, they do exist!). I’ve yet to complete their Larkin Trail, but that is a ‘must do’ for the very near future.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire? If money is absolutely no problem, then it’s a shopaholic’s splurge in York, which has some great, and very individual shops. I love the city, it just throws history at you. You walk into the Minster and you think, ‘Richard III would have seen this, he could have stood right here’ – I’m one of the biggest fans of a man who was a true warrior king.
Do you have a favourite walk – or view? I am, I have to confess, not a great walker. But it occurred to me recently that a lot of my time these days is spent in giving directions to our visitors, who are always wonderfully curious as to the locations which inspired the sisters. I think I really should follow my own advice, put on some sensible shoes, and get striding out to see the things I’m talking about.
Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch? The last couple of years have been wonderful for the sporting women of the county – in just about every field of endeavour from boxing to running and cycling, so if I could, I’d like to get them all together, listen to their stories, and to find out what makes them tick.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner? James Mason, who for many years was one of the top box office draws in Hollywood. I don’t think that he ever turned in a duff performance. I go past the house that he bought in Huddersfield just about every day, and by all accounts he ‘fell into’ acting because he thought that it would be a fun occupation. He certainly made a success of it.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be? Hull. I can’t wait to see all the rejuvenation completed, and places like the Ferrens Art Gallery re-opened, for the UK City of Culture next year. That’s going to be a truly great event.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? Folk have very long memories, and while there’s not a lot of grudge-holding, they never let you forget things. I like that – it comes out a lot in the novels written by Mrs Gaskell, who lived over ther other side of the Pennines, but wrote a lot about Yorkshire. I think that her modern equivalent is the wonderful Sally Wainwright, who gets the character of the people here to a ‘T’.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what? Not that much, although living where I do, you have to keep up with what is happening to the Giants and the Terriers. I admit to enjoying watching a game of darts now and then.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub? We are surrounded by several in Haworth, and to name just one wouldn’t be fair. A lot of them are associated in some way or another with the Brontës and some don’t seemed to have changed very much at all. I’m thinking, in particular, of the Black Bull, which was one of Branwell’s favourite drinking haunts, and where he went for more than a few glasses of his favourite tipple only three days before he died.
Do you have a favourite food shop? Not a particular shop, but the products of Longley Farm in Holmfirth. The yoghurts are so good, really delicious – with no unrefined sugars, and they are full of flavour. I am one of their biggest fans.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it? It’s become so multi-cultural, and I’m very proud of that. And so many of the county’s great assets seem, at long last, to be getting attention and money invested in them. I’m thinking in particular of the revitalised York Art Gallery, which is a beautiful building. May the good work continue!
If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be? The house prices, for a start – I wish that there was much, much more affordable housing for young people. And the transport is also pretty grim. I wish that the railways were more connected, and timetables were more sensible.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire? Were you expecting me to say the Brontë family? Well all of that remarkable clan, of course, but I also have a soft spot for Harold Wilson, who has that famous statue in front of Huddersfield station. He steered the country through some difficult times.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work? One hundred per cent, because without the Brontës, and the Parsonage, I wouldn’t be doing my dream job today.
Who is your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer? The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the book, Anne’s masterpiece. And I love music by Arctic Monkeys and Pulp.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be? Apart from the Parsonage? I’d tell them to get themselves over to Huddersfield, and to look up at the amazing architecture.