History of
The Friends

Learn more about the formation of the Friends’ and a detailed history of the Friends’ projects over the years. 

Who are The Friends?

The exact date of the formation of the Friends is not known as at the time of the construction of the Alfred East Gallery there was little need for support groups such as the Friends to promote the work of the Gallery. Wealthy industrialists and local businessmen guaranteed investment in the Gallery in order to leave a legacy and to benefit the local community.

The earliest record of a gathering of Friends is in the 1950s in the Kettering & District Art Society’s 1959 catalogue. In 1960 the annual subscription was noted as 5 shillings; in 1964 there was a call for members in the KDAS catalogue; in 1966 there was notice of an AGM and in 1978 an exhibition of deceased artists from previous years was held.

In the early days the Friends worked with Kettering Borough Council to improve the Gallery building through the addition of an atrium. Projects to promote the Gallery’s exhibitions were started with local schools and the Friends have continued their series of wide-ranging talks and lectures held in the Gallery. Strong links with the Borough Council have remained with one KBC Councillor commenting to a curator of a Northern gallery that the work of the Friends “was fantastic’ after disheartening comments about support groups.

The Friends charity continues to contribute to the core collection and to fund restoration of both Gallery and Museum pieces.    

History of
The Friends' Projects

Supported Projects


Prints Charming Exhibition

Prizes for Youth Open

The Friends have provided prizes for the Youth Open from 2013 onwards.


Sir Alfred East bust 3D reproduction and photographs


Funding support for the Alfred East Etchings book


Kettering Heritage Map

Designed by Siân Brown and displayed in Kettering Rail Station ticket office, Newlands Centre, Bus Station at Newlands Centre, and Library entrance.

Kettering Heritage Map Postcards

For sale in Museum and Gallery and given to Kettering Civic Society. Sold as Christmas cards at events.

Kettering Twinning Committee

Map prints twinning committee and sales at events.

Frank Jowett fundraising raffle at Open Studios 2015


Centenary dinner organisation, fundraising auction and raffle for Midland Meadows conservation

Centenary stamps with Alfred East illustration

Funding support for publishing the Alfred East Art Gallery Guide



Kettering Old Grammer School Foundation grant for children's activities


Community foundation grant for Open Studios Little Draw

Purchased / Gifted


3 easels for life drawing​


Roman ring


Sir Alfred East oil painting 'Overgrown Garden'

Flat bed trolley


George Holland oil painting ‘Well’s next to Sea’

Dingley ring

New display case for Sergio de Camargo sculpture


WWI box for schools

Small items for children’s workshops from Phoenix and by purchase.


Robert Mercer oil painting ‘Only the Wind Song'

Mark Draper ceramic model of the Alfred East Gallery

Projector stand


Centenary refurbishing of Art Gallery wooden floor

Centenary string trio for reopening event


Chairs for Gallery lecture talks

New tables for the Museum



Sir Alfred East oil painting 'Lake Bourget'

Sergio de Camargo sculpture


Sir Alfred East oil painting 'Midland Meadows'


Sir Alfred East oil painting 'A Sunlit Haven'