The Keswick School of Industrial Arts was founded by the philanthropists Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and his wife Edith at the Crosthwaite Parish rooms in 1884.
The school moved to a purpose built workshop and showroom next to the river Greta at High Hill in 1894 and continued there until closing its doors finally in 1984 due to it not being a financially viable business. This was mainly due to the fact that handmade pieces were just too costly to produce to compete with mass produced items.
There are pages and pages of articles online written about the school and the reasons for its being and the reasons for it ceasing to trade. The most important thing to remember is that the school ran for 100 years using the skills of local men and women in various guises, producing some of the best arts and crafts pieces ever produced within the UK. Pieces which have stood the test of time and to this day are still beautiful and yet functional being made with a loving eye and patient hand.
During the 100 years of the schools existence there were obvious changes, designers came and went; workers were employed; some long term; some were there periodically.
W H Mawson employed KSIA workers during the winter months when the KSIA laid some off and I'm sure Mawson poached more than a few workers. When Edith, Canon Hardwickes' first wife passed away, his second wife Eleanor was a great influence on the school and its direction and together with Athol Weeks made the school flourish after the hard times. Before, during and after the Great War. Many people were responsible for the school lasting so long and it is to them that we give credit.
Hopefully in the designers section we will be able to add to the history over time with images etc of all the designers and the workers which should complete the history of the school..1884/1984
We believe he wanted to be able to mark his own work and use his own designs so set up in direct competition with the KSIA. Although we know from pieces that he copied a great many of the designs from the KSIA and he hired the lads from the school during the winter months.
William set his shops up at 11, 13 and 15 lake road in Keswick with a large shop frontage showing his works to great effect. The image above shows his shop front in an advertisement for the Furness Railway and is dated for June 1913. Not content with running just the KHI, Mawson was also running an antique dealership next door to the KHI and advertised himself as selling in 12 rooms "genuine old specimens of old English furniture, china etc collected from the Halls, Farms and cottages of lakeland".
He also advertised himself as a member of The British Antique Dealers Association.
He was also an artist and a music teacher so the man was talented and although he had many strings to his bow I think the KHI is his lasting legacy. The Lake Road address by 1938 was a grocery store and we believe Mawson had moved his business to 19 Bank Street.
Unfortunately we have no images or advertisements for this part of his business. WH Mawson died in June of 1960 at 19 Bank Street aged 88, his obituary appearing in the Keswick reminder.