Debut novel inspired by Burnley’s industrial past

Author Christine Shuttleworth Milsteed at the Weavers Triangle Vistiors Centre with her new book 'The Seamstress of Carrington Hall'.
Author Christine Shuttleworth Milsteed at the Weavers Triangle Vistiors Centre with her new book 'The Seamstress of Carrington Hall'.

An Australian author inspired by Burnley’s industrial past launches her debut novel at the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre today.

Christine Shuttleworth’s “The Seamstress of Carrington Hall” is set in late 18th Century Burnley and is the culmination of years of research.

A lot of people who have read my book already have said they learned a lot about working conditions and the poverty at the time

Christine Shuttleworth

A descendant of Lancaster’s Shuttleworth family and distant relative of Lord Shuttleworth, Christine last visited Burnley in 2013 to regain a feel for the town and to confirm the accuracy of her research.

She met local historian Roger Frost and was granted access to records at Gawthorpe Hall – her ancestors’ former home – to learn more about the town during the Industrial Revolution.

Christine then returned to her Queensland home to fulfill her long-held ambition of writing an historic novel.

“I have always been interested in writing and I also enjoy researching,” she said

“When my father died and I retired, I decided I had the time for the project and the more I worked at it the more I enjoyed it.

“It was not for any commercial gain. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Christine’s interest in English history was kindled at primary school in New Zealand.

Since retiring she has traced her Lancashire ancestry back to 1180 and educated herself about the harsh realities of life in a mill town during the Industrial Revolution.

Christine’s research was the impetus behind her novel, and so historical accuracy was a major concern.

“Books that take my interest are those that have got a factual base – something you can learn from,” she said.

“A lot of people who have read my book already have said they learned a lot about working conditions and the poverty at the time.”

“The Seamstress of Carrington Hall”s heroine, Fleetwood is first driven from her leased cottage at Carrington Hall after the death of her parents, and then from her aunt’s house.

A chance meeting with Valdo, a mysterious gypsy, and her ability with a needle help her to overcome adversity as she struggles to make a living amidst poverty.

“I have depicted her as a woman who did not take her constraints, who wanted to be something better and get up in the world,” she said.

“I want people to take away that if you want something badly enough and you are prepared to work for it there is nothing that can stop you.”

Some of the proceeds from the book’s sales in Australia went to Care Australia, a charity providing famine relief in her home country.

Some of the proceeds from the book’s sales in the UK will go to the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre.

Christine Shuttleworth will be delivering a short speech and signing copies of “The Seamstress of Carrington Hall” at the Visitor Centre in Manchester Road, on Sunday at 2-30pm.

Full details of the book and the author can be found on the writer’s website – www.christineshuttleworth.com.