The Board of Trustees

Manchester Historic Buildings Trust (MHBT) was established in 1998 to rescue and restore Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and comprises the Board of Trustees and The Members (Friends). Trustees have the ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, ensuring that it is solvent, well run and delivers the charitable outcomes for which it has been set up.

We are always looking for new Trustees to join the Board who have the skills, knowledge, experience, and commitment to help the organisation to build on its achievements, continue to meet its objectives and provide a sustainable future.

Trustees can also take leading roles on Select Committees, which meet regularly, produce reports, and make recommendations to the full Board; and perform other voluntary roles helping with tours, events, weddings and as Duty Managers. Board meetings are held every two months in the late afternoon/early evening and are currently held on Zoom.

Trustee roles are voluntary and unremunerated.

If you are interested in becoming a Trustee of MHBT please email

The following people currently sit on our Board of Trustees

The Trustees

Alex Walker (Chair)

Alex retired as Head of Arts & Heritage for Preston City Council after a 40-year career,  spanning decorative arts curator to head of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery. She spent four years as Chair of the British Association of Friends of Museums, leading reviews of governance, communications and sustainability. She is a member of the advisory panel for the Heritage Volunteering Group and Secretary of the Harris Free Library and Museum Endowment Trust. She has been a Museums Association regional representative and is completing her term as Chair of the NW Federation of Museums. She joined the Board of Trustees in 2022.

Lesley Burn (Vice Chair)

Lesley joined the Board in November 2021 after having volunteered at the House for five years, both as an open day guide and also contributing to the development of the House’s social media presence. During her 35 year paid career, she ran a management consultancy providing project development and implementation expertise to public sector organisations, particularly to the NHS, at local, national and international levels.

Anne Higgins (Secretary)

Anne joined the board in May 2018 after being a regular volunteer and active member of the Friends of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. During her career Anne was Director of Adult Social Services and a Corporate Director for Trafford Council, and has recently completed a six-year term as a Non-Executive Director at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Trust. She held a number of roles including Chair of the Charitable Funds Committee and Chair of the Quality and Governance Committee. Anne will be standing down as a trustee in October 2024.

Jane Baxter

Jane joined the board in May 2018 and has been a regular volunteer at the House since 2014. Jane’s career has included setting up and running a Stained Glass Business, designing panels and decorative lighting for the hotel and leisure sector, and working as a Marketing and Product Development Manager for a window and door company . She now works freelance in marketing and design for small businesses. Jane is a member of The Gaskell Society, has been on the Friends of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Committee and was a member of the project team responsible for the restoration of Elizabeth’s bedroom 2020-21.

Louanne Collins 

Her career includes setting up the Statistics collection at Warwick University and assisting in setting up and directing the Macclesfield Silk Museum, firstly as a curator and archivist and finally as Director responsible for four sites. She has also written a number of non-academic publications and is an active member of the Textile Society. She has been involved with Elizabeth Gaskell’s House since the early days of fund-raising and has been a Trustee since January 2015. She was also a member of the project team responsible for the restoration of Elizabeth’s bedroom 2020-21. Louanne will be standing down as a trustee in October 2024.

Dr. Diane Duffy

Diane joined the Board in November 2021 after having volunteered at the House for seven years.  As well as being a tour guide and a regular presenter of talks, she has also been heavily involved in the research and delivery of several exhibitions and pieces of interpretation at the House.  Diane holds a Ph.D. in early nineteenth-century women’s writing and was a secondary school English teacher for 38 years. She now works in the community as a teacher and is an active member of the Gaskell Society.

Nick Eyre

Now retired, Nick worked initially as a solicitor for North American Investment Bank in the City of London before moving on to senior management positions in large, retail financial services and consumer sectors in Bristol and Manchester. He also ran a successful consultancy providing recovery services to the banking sector. He became a Trustee in July 2016 and will be standing down in October 2024.

Dan Jarvis

Dan joined our board in March 2021. He comes to us with over 10 years experience working in marketing, comms and audience development in the cultural sector and is currently Relationship Manager for Engagement and Audiences at Arts Council England, previously launching the new Manchester Jewish Museum, and roles at The Lowry, Centre for Chinese Arts Centre and Z-arts as well as freelance work. He is also artistic director of Green Carnation Theatre and is a freelance theatre director. He completed the Clore Emerging Leaders residency in 2020.

Janet Allan MBE (President)

The guiding hand behind the preservation and restoration of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. as Chair of the Gaskell Society 1998-2004 she led a group of campaigners who set up the MHBT  in 1998, who went on to buy the house and raise funds for its restoration. She was chair of the MHBT throughout the restoration process, culminating in the successful opening of the house to the public in October 2014. In 2015 she was elected as President in recognition for her work. She has also been a Trustee of the Buxton Opera House, the Spring Bank Arts Centre in new Mills and a Librarian at the Portico Library, Manchester.


Vision and Values

Vision: To ensure Elizabeth Gaskell’s House gives pleasure, inspiration and a place to learn for today’s visitors, volunteers and businesses who use the House, and continues to do so for generations yet to come.

We aim to bring the Gaskell home to life as a part of Manchester’s community by:

  • Protecting and promoting the literary and cultural heritage of the House and its visitors
  • Celebrating the life and literature of Elizabeth Gaskell and her relevance today
  • Valuing and promoting the Gaskell family’s role in the history of Manchester and Ardwick
  • Being an educational and intellectual hub, a place of learning and discovery
  • Supporting local groups, residents and schools to use and value the House and its heritage

The Board of Trustees, staff and volunteer team at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House aim to:

  • Welcome visitors and volunteers of all backgrounds
  • Make every visitor and volunteer feel valued
  • Nurture a family and community feeling at the House
  • Be an inspirational place where people can learn and share their knowledge
  • Commit to sustainable business practise that reduce our impact on the environment
  • Embrace our Mancunian identity – be authentic and proud of being part of this great city

If you would like to contact any of our Trustees or are interested in becoming a Trustee please do so via the house address or email

I'm afraid we must do some shopping

Elizabeth Gaskell 1863