Around Manchester with L.S.Lowry

Lowry’s pictures, like Coronation Street, Blackpool Tower, and football teams City and United, have been part of my life as long as I can remember. They have always been there as prints hanging in the houses of my friends and families. Manchester and Salford supplied the backdrop to many of Lowry’s paintings but my favourites are the pictures showing people, the famous ‘Matchstick Men’.

It is impossible to live and work in Manchester without seeing any evidence of Lowry. We have named both a hotel and an arts centre after him, and of course, I drive past locations from his paintings on an almost daily basis. Why not come on a tour round Manchester to see what must have influenced him? We can stand in his footsteps, see what he saw, and where he lived, studied and worked. If you are an artist, why not bring your sketch book. Who knows, maybe one day, you may have your own exhibition!!!! [scrollGallery id=11]

Let’s start at the beginning: Robert and Elizabeth Lowry had already met, married and taken a house at 8 Barrett Street, Old Trafford when Laurence Stephen Lowry was born on the 1st November 1887. Although Barrett Street no longer exists, many of the surrounding original streets are still standing and a plaque commemorating Lowry’s birthplace can be seen. The Lowry family then moved across the City to Victoria Park .This was Manchester’s first purpose-built garden suburb, designed by architect Richard Lane. Behind walls with toll gates and its own police force, Victoria Park attracted Manchester’s rich and famous, as well as merchants from all over the world. The Lowry’s family house and many of the Victorian Villas still stand in what is now a conservation area. The next move, and probably the most influential, came next. A change in the Lowry family finances meant they could no longer afford to live in the secluded world of Victoria Park.  As we stand outside the house on Station Road, Pendlebury, we realise we are in another world. The trees and villas have been replaced by chimneys and terraced streets. This was the industrial side of the city with its coal mines and mills which employed thousands of workers and spewed out their industrial pollution into the air of the city. Thankfully, the air is a lot cleaner now! Lowry has been quoted as ‘hating it at first then getting used to it then becoming engulfed by it’.

We’ll spend a little time in Pendlebury before moving on as many of Lowry’s subjects can be spotted here: Pendlebury Market; the Memorial to the Miners who died in one of the pit disasters; the mills; churches; and Clifton Junction, where Lowry would have got the train, which appears in many of his landscape pictures. Lowry must have grown to like the area as he stayed for 40 years!! Before we take a trip out to Mottram in Longendale,  we will also see where Lowry studied and many scenes which he sketched and painted. This is where you can choose what you’d like to see: Peel Park, Angel Meadow, Central Library, Ancoats Mills, or maybe you have a favourite place?  We can even pop into Lowry’s favourite pub and have a quick drink with him! As we travel out to Stockport, immediately as we arrive, a Lowry is there in front of us: the huge viaduct, one of the largest brick-built structures in the World. The old streets, market and, of course, its people are all recognisable from the artist’s work. We can then go and see where the artist spent the rest of his days, The Elms in Mottram.

After seeing Lowry’s other houses, this is probably in the middle. It is semi-rural but not isolated, a discussion we can have outside the front gate, as we see evidence of Lowry’s pictures around us again. Whilst researching and taking photos for this epic blog, I took my daughter back to university. Mottram is the gateway to the Pennines and the way through to the M1. “Who lived here Dad?” she asked, looking up from her mobile. “L.S. Lowry”, I replied. She looked around. “Oh yes, he painted that church on the hill. I did a project about him in junior school.” She has another look round, and I am expecting her to say something cultural, relating to Lowry or to art. “Nice Mini, Dad. Love the colour. If you bought me one I could drive myself back to Uni.”!!!

L.S.Lowry died in a nursing home in Glossop on 23rd February, 1976 at the age of 88. He was laid to rest with his parents in Southern Cemetery. In 2000, Salford Council named the Lowry Centre after the artist. As well as housing theatres, the centre contains the largest collection of the Lowry’s work, covering films, paintings and paper cuttings. If you would like your very own personalised tour, please contact me. Lowry’s travels also took him out of Greater Manchester, and I’m very happy to include some of them on your tour should you wish to visit them too.

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