The following article appeared in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times,   July 25th, 2002

One of the area's leading
craftsmen dies aged 71
One of the most talented craftsmen in Clitheroe has died at the age of 71.            

Mr Bill Holgate (pictured) was a leading expert in wood graining and marbling techniques in this country and overseas.

Highly respected and held in great esteem by his hundreds of students and customers, Mr Holgate was awarded the Freedom of the City of London seven years ago in recognition of his remarkable achievements in preserving ancient decorative skills.

He enjoyed his work immensely and, in recent years, has passed his knowledge on to many people who wanted to either learn or polish up the skills necessary to produce professional work closely resembling wood and marble.

Born in Clitheroe, he attended St Michael and St John's RC school until the age of 14.   He was apprenticed to Clitheroe decorators George Houlker and Sons and attended Blackburn College for seven years.

At 21 he completed National Service and, returning home, worked for Mr Francis Nutter, a decorator held in high regard in Clitheroe.

Other than a brief spell during which he worked for the Post Office and ICI, Mr Holgate spent more than half a century in the decorating trade, setting up his own business in 1960, which has been continued by his son Ian.

In the 1980's, as decorative art became fashionable again, much of it due to Jocasta Innes' influence, Mr Holgate decided to sharpen the techniques he gained during his apprenticeship.

He returned to Blackburn Collage as a student, but within a very short time his talent was recognised and he was asked to take over the class!   Since 1988 he taught, often in his own studio, with weekend and five-day courses attracting students from all over the world.

In "retirement", his aptitude continued to result in many requests to work abroad, and he regularly visited America, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

His first "marbling mission" in the USA resulted from a collage student having attended Mr Holgate's collage classes, prior to returning to San Francisco.   The student told his employer in America about Mr Holgate, and the Clitheroe decorator was subsequently invited to spend five weeks working on a project in the USA.

His reputation quickly spread and offers of work began to pour in to his home in Littlemoor Road, Clitheroe.

In this country, Mr Holgate's work is on display in stately homes, National Trust properties and the House of Lords, among others.   He has worked in France, Holland and Sweden, and years ago was asked to complete a piece of walnut graining for one of Pink Floyd's Album covers.

A member of the Association of Painting Craft Teachers and Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers, his skills and professionalism have been recognised and applauded wherever he has gone.

In February, he and his wife, June, who has travelled with him on many of his visits overseas, celebrated their golden wedding.

He was taken ill while on an assignment in Chicago last year, and news of his death has resulted in many letters and tokens of appreciation being sent to his wife and family, Peter, Carol and Ian.   Mr Holgate leaves four grandchildren and one great grandson.

The funeral was held at St Michael and St John's RC Church last Friday and followed by interment at Clitheroe.