James Yorke Scarlett (1799-1871) was a hero of the Crimean War who led the Charge of the Heavy Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. In 1835, he married Charlotte Anne Hargreaves, a coal heiress from Burnley, the town becoming his adopted home.
The collection contains over 200 items, mostly plans, maps and drawings relating to military training together with some of General Scarlett's military equipment and books, including a book given him by Queen Victoria and a ceremonial sword given to him by the people of Burnley.
The majority of items in the collection arrived at Towneley in 1934 as a loan from the executors of Hargeaves Collieries on behalf of Mrs Clara Aspinall (1889-1940). General Scarlett had no children and after the death of his wife, most of his effects were inherited by his wife's sister and subsequently went to Mrs Aspinall, her great grand-daughter. General Scarlett's medals, the helmet he wore during the Charge of the Heavy Brigade and the ceremonial sword were inherited by his nephew, William Scarlett, 3rd Baron Abinger. The sword was given to the museum in 1956 by James Scarlett, 8th Baron Abinger. He loaned the medals and helmet to Towneley in 1959 and after his death in 2002 these were transfered to the regimental museum of The Royal Dragoon Guards in York.
In 1973, the collection was displayed in a room of its own with a diorama model depicting the Charge of the Heavy Brigade. Around the same time the collection was recorded on index cards and the objects added to the Accession Registers. These entries have been added to the Modes database.
In addition to objects in this collection there are four watercolours, a bust and around 27 papers in the documents and manuscripts collection relating to him.. There are also around 20 items of ceramics in the general ceramics collection with transfer printed images of General Scarlett and his wife.
The display room with the diorama was closed in 1991 when it became used for office space before becoming one of the store rooms in 2002.