Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Another Amazing Discovery.

Whilst researching the address that my great grandfather was living at according to the 1891 census, aged 26, along with his 26 year old wife Hannah, and my newly born grandmother Doris, aged just one year, I made an astonishing discovery. They lived at number 62 Barrett Street Stretford. Here is the census page to prove it.


My great grandfather, William Terry Brookes was an accomplished landscape painter until his death in 1923. I own several original watercolours that are his work. He is of course the son of the more famous artist Warwick Brookes 1808-1882, who was famous for his pencil drawings of child life.

When I entered Barrett Street into a present day map search to try and find its location, the results that were returned were astonishing. Unbeknown to me at the time, also living on Barrett Street, Stretford in 1891 was another young family. They are listed at number 8, just a few doors down on the same side of the street, as Robert, aged 33, his wife Elizabeth, also 33 and Lawrence S, their 3 year old son.

Nothing unusual there? Well the surname of this other young family was Lowry. Yes, the famous Manchester artist, whose depictions of early 20th century working life in Salford by his painting of "matchstick men", (a term he would not like to be used) none other than LS Lowry, was born on the same street just a few doors down, and at the same time give or take two years, as my own grandmother. Here is the census page to prove it.


That opens up all sorts of possibilities. Lowry's biography states that he started drawing as a young boy, and his parents, recognising his interest, arranged for him to attend art school. He lists his inspiration as being the pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was a contemporary of my great great grandfather Warwick, and I have letters that were sent between the two of them in the 1870's.

Did the young Lowry ever watch my great grandfather WT Brookes painting his landscape watercolours as a boy, perhaps together with his young friend Doris, at the same time as listening to stories about the Manchester pre-Raphaelite movement and the artists of the previous generation that were part of it? We may never know. What a pity we only now have Internet access and the people we can link by using it are no longer around to ask.