The recipient of this magnificent centrepiece was William Henry Hornby (1805-1884), who has been justly described as one of the greatest men his home town of Blackburn in Lancashire ever produced. He was a leading industrialist, was elected in 1851 as first Mayor of Blackburn and was sometime chairman of the local Conservative Party. Hornby was married in 1831 to Margaret Susannah (1810-1899), daughter and sole heir of Edward Birley of Kirkham, by whom he had seven sons and four daughters.
The presentation of this ‘elaborately executed candelabrum’ to Mr. Hornby, as well as a ‘Family Bible and Prayer Book . . . got up in a style of binding rich and elegant in the extreme’ for Mrs. Hornby, occurred at a grand demonstration accompanied by procession including no less than four brass bands. This ceremony took place on Thursday, 8 September 1853, when between 10,000 and 15,000 people attended, thronging the large area in front of the then newly-opened Blackburn Railway Station. ‘Every window within sight was filled with people, and even the house tops had their share of patronage. . . The repeated cheers which rose from this vast multitude must have been heard to a very considerable distance [and] the effect of this immense mass of people, intermingled with numberless flags and banners of all descriptions, and orange and blue ribbons [for the Conservative Party], as seen from the [station] balcony, was beautiful.’ 'The testimonials, which were open for inspection in one of the spacious apartments in the station during the morning, were then removed to the front of the balcony, and were placed on an elevation in view of the whole assemblage. At the moment when they were so placed, their appearance was greeted with loud and continued cheers.’
‘THE CANDELABRUM . . . of the Louis Quatorze style,’ reported the Blackburn Standard, ‘was designed and made by Messrs. Barnet and Sons [i.e. Edward Barnard & Sons], of London, and was supplied by Mr. John Sagar, silversmith and watchmaker, Blackburn, through Mr. G.A. Godwin, [retail gold and silversmith] of High Holborn, London.’ Following a detailed description of the piece, the paper concluded that it reflected the highest credit on the taste of the committee who selected it, ‘and on the skill of the artist from whose design it has been produced. The cost of it was three hundred and fifty guineas.’ (Wednesday, 14th September 1853, p.5)
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