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The Outrider project comes to Herefordshire

The Outrider project comes to Herefordshire

Herefordshire Council is delighted to have received funding from Arts Council England for an exciting new project.

The Outrider project is a partnership between the council’s Herefordshire Libraries service and local artist based organisation Salt Road.  The project will utilise funding of £28,000 to provide an innovative and exciting visual art project using the unique Alfred Watkins beekeeping collection at Hereford Library. 

Alfred Watkins (1855-1935) was a born and bred Hereford man and is known for being an inventor, businessman, amateur archaeologist, world famous pioneer photographer and beekeeper.  He is also the author of The Old Straight Track, the first ever book about Britain’s ley lines.  Alfred worked for his family’s brewery business and his first job was as an ‘outrider’, otherwise defined as ‘a person who rides out ahead; a trailblazer, forerunner, guardian, guide or scout’.

Hereford Library is proud to hold a unique nationally recognised collection of approximately 2,500 photographic prints taken directly from Mr Watkins’ original glass plates.  The photographs were taken over a period of 60 years across Herefordshire and its neighbouring counties and include Mr Watkins’ interest in beekeeping, archaeology and topology.  Mr Watkins also bequeathed his own book collection to Hereford Library, which includes numerous books on beekeeping, a subject close to his heart as he was a founding member of the Herefordshire Beekeepers Association.

As part of the project, new and experienced artists will be commissioned to make works of art inspired by the Watkins beekeeping collection and an exhibition of this work will tour libraries and galleries across the West Midlands.  Young people will also be encouraged to join in by creating digital art using the project’s “dark tent”, while older people and community groups will be engaged in making a community quilt inspired by bee hives. There will also be a workshop programme to accompany the exhibition, which is being led by local artists Dr Sally Payen and Jaime Jackson.

Anne-Marie Dossett, Herefordshire Council librarian, said: “We are delighted to be working with Salt Road on this exciting and innovative project.  Hereford Library has carefully looked after the history of our county since it opened in 1874 and holds numerous collections.  We would love more people to be aware of how special our Alfred Watkins beekeeping collection is and we hope this project will also help to highlight the current plight of our bees.

“The project will also help to promote and celebrate the role of the library in holding important historical information and as a place where people can meet in a friendly and enjoyable way to further their knowledge and get involved in creative activities.  We are also working with members of the Wye Valley Beekeepers Association to raise awareness about honeybees and beekeeping.”

To keep up to date with the project, follow Sally Payen’s Outrider blog at

Please note: The attached two bee related photographs are from the collection held by Hereford Library.  They were both taken in approximately the 1890s.

Tags: Leisure and culture, Events