Bolton School Senior Girls

Exhibition is Tribute to Life and Work of Old Girl

An upcoming exhibition at Bolton Museum is set to feature the life and work of Constance Howarth, a former pupil of Bolton School in the 1940s. 

The exhibition, dedicated to her memory, is entitled ‘Constance Howarth: The Life and Work of a Bolton Fashion Designer’ and will run from Saturday 26 January to Sunday 7 April, showcasing Constance’s sketches, designs and dresses from the 1950s onwards.

Constance, who died aged 85 in March last year, attended Bolton School and went on to study art at the Manchester College of Art. She became a freelance fabric designer, selling her designs to firms in Lancashire and London. Her inspiration came from visits to art galleries in Europe and she developed her own style, using her own fabric designs to make dresses, which she would wear to visit customers, modelling her own wares to show them off to potential buyers. Constance, from Lostock, visited the USA, particularly Miami and New York, and set about designing clothes for the American market made from the cloth she had designed herself, printed in Lancashire. In the summer of 1955 she had designed and made a collection of 16 dresses, each with its own hat. Hiring a suite in a New York hotel, she showed the designs to buyers from some of the city’s big stores. The gamble paid off and she returned home with orders for hundreds of dresses. THE 1950s are described as the most glamorous of decades and Constance Howarth’s designs attracted attention from the fashionistas of London, Paris and New York.

Whilst at Bolton School, Constance won the Susan Mary Simpson Art Prize in 1940-1, and in 1940 she also won a competition to design a war savings poster, displayed in London. In 1944 she gained her certificate in education from Bolton School Girls’ Division.

The exhibition features a selection of her sketches, notebooks, correspondence, and patterns, along with outfits designed and worn by Miss Howarth from the 1950s to the 1980s.


The museum is also running a series of related events including:

Constance Howarth ‘Up Close’ – Handling and Print Workshop(ages 8+)

Sat 2 Feb, 1pm – 3pm


Fabric Collages(ages 5 – 11)

Tue 12 and Thu 14 Feb, 1pm – 3pm


Nostalgic Textile Collages(ages 18+)

Sun 17 Feb, 11am - 3pm

£5 per person. Call01204 332209to book.


Lunchtime Talk – ‘Introducing a Girl with Go’ with Erin Beeston

Fri 22 Feb, 1pm – 1.30pm

Constance Howarth

Old Girl Constance Howarth (above) and one of her creations (below)

Constance Howarth