W T Taylor Collection

William Thomas Taylor

William Thomas Taylor (1877 - c.1945) left Burnley in the 1890s for South Africa where he became involved in electrical engineering. He moved to the United States and General Electric in Schenectady, New York, where he had his first practical training. From there, as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, he went around the world building hydro-electric power stations.

In 1907, while on a visit to his family in Burnley, he visited Towneley and “seeing there of cases of curios and scientific exhibits from Burnley gentlemen in different parts of the world”, he decided to send exhibits to Towneley himself. He started in 1908 with a range of products from Kashmir, followed in 1910 with curios from Mexico, culminating in 1913 with three cases of exhibits from Peru including "a mummy of the Inca period". In October 1913, the "Taylor Room" in the North wing opened to display all his gifts.

The "Taylor Room" became the Curator's Office in 1971 and much of the collection was put into storage. The Kashmiri embroideries have been on display in the Collectors Room since 2002. The Peruvian mummy has been displayed on a number of occassions since 2002 including a leading role in the Cotton to Gold exhibition at Two Temple Place, London in 2015.

One of Taylor's gifts which has been on permanent display for nearly a hundred years is Bill the Bear, donated as a bear skin in 1910.

Author: tk - August 2016