Barnsley: 1960s Pollyanna designer Rita Britton returns to fashion

Fashion designer Rita Britton (left) with her new collaborator, Mimi Underwood
Rita Britton (left) and new collaborator Mimi Underwood (right) are manufacturing and designing textiles at Barnsley Innovation Centre [BBC]

An iconic fashion brand with its roots in the Yorkshire coalfields in the 1960s is to be revived by its founder a decade after it closed.

Rita Britton opened her high couture Pollyanna boutique in Barnsley in 1967, but it shut when she retired in 2014 after a stroke and brain haemorrhage.

Now in her 80s, Ms Britton said she had returned to designing and manufacturing fashion with a "new passion".

Retirement "drove her mad" and she wanted to get back to work, she said.

"I realised you don't turn off creativity," Ms Britton added.

"You might decide to retire, but I looked at the people I admire who are older than me like David Hockney and Alan Bennett. Karl Lagerfeld worked into his 90s.

"Creativity does not suddenly end, it's there."

Rita Britton
Rita Britton opened her boutique after working in a paper mill in mining town Barnsley for nine years [BBC]

Ms Britton said she had not realised how famous Pollyanna was, and she initially steered away from the brand because it was such "a name of its time".

"When you work in the middle, you don't see it, you're in it, you enjoy it," she said.

"People all over the world have told me Pollyanna was so iconic."

Ms Britton said she felt she had to "carry on and use" the brand name.

"You gather so much knowledge about the industry you're working in and you think, I can't shelve that."

Rita Britton said the Pollyanna brand has released a large leather shopper which reads: 'London, Paris, New York, Barnsley'
Rita Britton said the brand has released a large leather shopper which reads: 'London, Paris, New York, Barnsley' [BBC]

Ms Britton said she would choose to live in Barnsley over any other town or city in the world and she enjoyed teaching young people about working in fashion.

Barnsley was "such a creative place", she said.

"You wouldn't believe the quality of the textile designers we deal with, absolutely incredible. It's a fabulous industry to be in."

She said that currently Pollyanna was producing a handbag with New York, Milan, Paris, London "AND Barnsley" all printed on it.

"We're not in fashion, we're into style - because style is lasting, fashion is fleeting."

"I've come back with a new passion," she said.

Follow BBC Yorkshire on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Send your story ideas to