It is often referred to as Brontë country due to it being the former home of the famous sisters; these jewels of literature resided in what is now the Brontë Parsonage Museum which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Less known is the fact that Haworth was the world’s first Fairtrade village, twinned with Machu Picchu, and that the local steam train featured in the classic film ‘The Railway Children’. The village is traditionally English and the community celebrate their Victorian heritage on several occasions throughout the year; with the most important event being the 1940s weekend which attracts around 40,000 visitors over the two days. Due to the dependence of businesses on tourism, there is little local trade as most shops cater to the seasonal visitor with tea rooms, antiquarian bookshops, restaurants, pubs and hotels throughout the village.
As I drove past Haworth station which is situated at the bottom of the village, it became evident how extravagant this 1940s weekend was going to be. Under the spring sun stood a full-to-capacity vintage bus preparing to carry its riders up the steep hill to the heart of the festival. However, first I was intent on seeing the steam train arrive at the station. I slipped through the crowd past women draped in jewels and fur as well as men in uniform, in complete awe at the attention to detail and effort. Billowing smoke heralded the train’s arrival; a small boy sitting on his father's shoulders clapped his hands together in excitement as the doors opened revealing the next wave of fashionistas to enter Haworth.
The 1940s weekend has grown in popularity each year and is now one of the largest events in the country celebrating the era. Fundraising is the main focus of the weekend, it costs on average £20,000 to produce the festival so that investment needs to be returned, as well as generating a profit for the chosen charities. The food and drink stalls, competitions, performances and military parades all work together to achieve the common goal of providing monetary support to armed forces’ charities. Last year the festival organisers donated £26,000 to SAAFA, the world's oldest military charity. I was interested to see that the event was popular across a wide age range as it attracts men and women who lived through the 1940s, young people inspired by the fashion and families who enjoy the bygone experiences that the weekend provides.
Behind this beautiful guise are hand creams, body lotions, balms, bath melts and soaps ready to be sampled by curious visitors. Crystal chandeliers create a soft glow on the antique glass trays which hold a selection of the wares. Locally sourced, quality ingredients are used to create the products and although the original recipes have been modernised they are still made using traditional methods in Caroline Rose’s own workshop. The apothecary is a perfect representation of the festival; the attention to detail and passion is replicated throughout the village and loved by visitors from the UK and beyond.