Traveller's tales

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

'And he painted matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs.'

L.S. Lowry, whose paintings are so revered and loved (see walking Lowry characters above)

by everyone from Salford and Manchester, as well as every town and village in the north west of England, lived most of his life in Salford. In the latter part of his life though, he lived in a stone house near the centre of the little village of Mottram in Longdendale, north east of Manchester, and on the road to Derbyshire and the Peak District.

Travelling on the number 6 bus from Stalybridge to the Derbyshire milltown of Glossop at the foot of the High Peak, I always looked out for two things en route. One was the petrified frog in the walls of Mottram Cutting, called 'Deep Cutting' by locals, and the other was Lowry's house on the right going towards the crossroads at the centre of the busy village.

Later, taking my wife around the gallery in Salford Quays that bears his name and holds his paitings and sketches, I look at pictures of an age that is gone in these parts.

At five o'clock, when the mills turned out their workers, it was said that the main street of nearby Lees was flooded with lads and lasses rushing to get home for their tea. Today, no mill buzzers sound at five, or any other time, for that matter, though High Street in Lees does fill up - with traffic. People still have to work, but the number of places they are employed in has probably trebled.

Lowry came from different days, and his work, though still popular with many, is probably not as popular with those of us who missed living though those days. To younger audiences, his paintings must look like lunar landscapes. Actually, that is what they most probably looked like to those peopling them; it's strange what you can get used to, isn't it?

Robert L. Fielding

Visit My Website