(1860-1939) John Cassidy was born in County Meath in Ireland, on the 1st of January 1860. He studied at the Manchester School of Art, then in London and later in Paris, before returning to live in Manchester, where he remained for the rest of his life. He set up a studio in Plymouth Grove. In 1887 he was engaged to give demonstrations in modelling from life at the Manchester Jubilee Exhibition, at which he reputedly modelled more than 185 portrait busts during the six months of the Exhibition. His work was subsequently exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Hibernian Academy, and frequently in Manchester City Art Gallery. Cassidy also created two matching statues in white marble of John Rylands and his wife Enriqueta Rylands, which stand either end of the reading room at the John Rylands Library in Deansgate. Also he produced portrait statues of Sir Benjamin Dorrian and Benjamin Brierley. Amongst many other works his Statue of Edward VII can still be seen in Whitworth Park. Charles Hallé and Charles Sutton are among the numerous busts of local individuals by Cassidy to be on display in Manchester Town Hall, as well as a plaque to Alderman Daniel McCabe.
“Adrift” , his first figurative outdoor statue of 1908, was first exhibited in London, was purchased by James Gresham, head a local Manchester engineering company, who donated it to the City of Manchester and after several suggested sites it was eventually located on a plinth in Piccadilly Gardens. Recent redevelopment of the Gardens has required its removal – it is intended to relocate the statue eventually in St Peter’s Square, subject to planning permission. Cassidy’s public sculpture can be found at various places around Manchester, as well as in Bristol, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast, Stourbridge amongst other sites around Britain. He remained a bachelor for the whole of his life and died on 19 July 1939 at his last home in Ashton-on-Mersey.
(1817-1876) Matthew Noble was born at Hackness near Scarborough, Yorkshire on the 23rd March 1817, the son of Robert Noble, a stonemason, and served his apprenticeship with his father. As a young man Noble went to London to study under John Francis. He regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1845 until his death in 1876. He first came to public attention in 1856 after winning the competition to design the prestigious Monument to the Duke of Wellington in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. Though not a resident of the region, Noble did a great deal of his best and most important work within Manchester. He eventually acquired great fame and respect as a leading portrait sculptor, and was commissioned to make many portraits of important figures, including Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, the Bishop of York, Earl Feversham, and many others. His work is to be found in museums and other locations in London, Bradford, York, Manchester, as well as work in India. Noble’s London commissions include Sir Robert Peel and the Earl of Derby in Parliament Square, statues at the Royal Academy and monuments in St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. He also produced many notable church monuments, including some in York Minster. He was responsible for the Queen Victoria and Prince Consort statues, both in Salford’s Peel Park and in Leeds, as well as the statue of Prince Albert facing Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square. He also produced several monuments to Sir Robert Peel, in Salford, Liverpool and Tamworth, as well as the celebrated statue of Oliver Cromwell in Wythenshawe, (formerly facing Manchester Cathedral), and monuments to Richard Cobden and Joseph Brotherton in Salford. After a lifetime in poor health, Matthew Noble died in 1876, aged 56, with many of his works unfinished – most were completed by his assistant, J Edwards. A monument to him can be found in St Peter’s Church in his hometown, Hackess.
(1845-1915) Walter Crane was born on 15 August 1845 in Liverpool, the son of Thomas Crane, was a successful local artist. While Walter was still a young man, the family moved to live in London where he was apprenticed to an engraver. Crane became an important and major influence in late-Victorian art and design in Britain, and was appointed Director of Design at the Manchester Municipal School of Art from 1893-1896 – he was instrumental in the establishment of the Art & Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888, and was their first President. Though he exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy (his “The Lady of Shalott” in 1862, for example), he was predominantly an illustrator and designer. By the 1870s he was an established children’s book illustrator, a designer for Wedgwood, and a leading wallpaper and tile designer. In the 1860s Crane began to take an active interest in politics and was a supporter of the Liberal Party and some of their more radical politicians such as John Bright and William Gladstone and campaigned for the 1867 Reform Act. Crane gradually developed socialistic views, and became friends with William Morris. Both men deplored the effects of modern manufacturing and the commercial system of craftsmanship and design. Deeply influenced by Morris’s pamphlet “Art & Socialism” , Crane gradually became involved in both the Art Workers’ Guild and the Arts & Crafts Society. Although a confirmed Marxist, Crane hoped that Socialism would be achieved through education rather than revolution. As the first President of the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society he was a leading light in the revival of arts and crafts of the period, along with other major designers including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Philip Webb and Onslow Ford. He was also Principal of the Royal College of Art from 1897-8, and wrote many influential books on decoration and design, including “The Decorative Illustration of Books” in 1896 and “Line and Form” in 1900. Walter Crane is best remembered today as one of the most important Victorian and Edwardian children’s book illustrators, whose books are now highly collectable.
(1918-1985) Frank Hampson was born on the 21st December 1918 in Audenshaw, and was to become a leading light in popular science fiction illustration, notably with his best known creation, Dan Dare (“Pilot of the Future!”) for The Eagle Comic in the 1950s. His original artwork and imaginative storylines, represented in full colour, (then a revolutionary concept) sold around a million copies a week, the most successful ever comic in the UK. Dan Dare was to become one of the greatest English comic strip icons of all time. Hampson’s family moved to live in Southport where from the age of 11 he was educated at King George V Grammar School. He left school at 14 to become a telegraph boy with the Post Office. During the war he served in the Royal Army Service Corps and was a Dunkirk evacuee in 1940. In 1944 Frank married Dorothy Mabel Jackson and set up the family home in Southport. In 1947 he enrolled on an Illustration Course at Southport School of Arts & Crafts, where he was described as “an outstanding draughtsman”. Later he set up a screen-printing business with fellow student Harold Johns. His professional career as an artist began working on the ‘Anvil’, published as a monthly national Christian magazine. But it was the launch of the Eagle on 14th April 1950 that his big break came and the immediate success of this new large format, full colour glossy magazine caught a wide public attention and Dan Dare became its front page characterisation. So complex and time consuming were the drawings required that he had to bring in several other artists to assist; these included Bruce Cornwell, Terry Maloney and Eric Eden, and later others including Harold Johns and Jocelyn Thomas, colleagues from his days at ‘Anvil’ . Initially they worked in a converted Southport bakery before moving to Epsom in August 1950, and to a purpose-built studio complex in Bayford Lodge in 1954. In every aspect of his artwork Frank was a meticulous perfectionist, who spent hours creating scenarios for Dan Dare, regularly working 20 hour days to meet pressing weekly deadlines. In 1975, Hampson was awarded the Yellow Kid Life Achievement Award at the Italian Lucca Comics Convention, and was declared ‘prestigious maestro’ as best writer and illustrator of strip cartoons since World War II. The following year he was presented with a special Ally Sloper award by the British Association of Comics Enthusiasts to commemorate his major contribution to the art of cartoon strips. Frank Hampson died on the 8th July 1985 at Epsom Cottage Hospital. A blue plaque is located at his birthplace at 488 Audenshaw Road, Audenshaw in Tameside and was unveiled on 2nd November 2001 by his son Peter.
Francis Lennon MBE
(Born 1912) Born in 1912, Francis Lennon has affectionately been called ‘The People’s Artist’. In 2004 Frances was included in the New years Honours List and awarded an MBE for her contribution to the arts in Manchester. Her unique and original artwork, very much in the L S Lowry school, has been extensively used as patterns for cross-stitch and embroidery. Titles such as “Our Rainy Manchester”, “Back Street Kids”, “The Bowling Green” and “One Too Many” exemplify the charm and nostalgia of bygone days in Manchester.
(1816-1903) James Lamb was the leading Manchester cabinetmaker of his day and founded a large cabinet-making and upholstery workshop in the city, initially in John Dalton Street, and then in a large factory building in Castlefield. This factory has recently been completely restored and refurbished and is resurrected as industrial and commercial premises. Lamb led the way in local wood craftsmanship in the north of England from 1850-1885; his company exhibited work at the London Universal Exhibition in 1862, and in Paris in 1867 and 1878, winning several awards. An important figure in the so-called Aesthetic Movement, (a precursor of the English Arts & Crafts Movement), Lamb worked in association with several leading designers of the time, including Alfred Waterhouse and Charles Bevan and is said to have been “ the most aesthetically advanced cabinetmaker outside London in the 19th century”. He made furniture to Waterhouse’s designs for the Manchester Assize Courts, which were shown at the Paris Exposition, and exhibited furniture at the 1887 Manchester Jubilee Exhibition. James Lamb died in 1903 and is buried in St Mary’s Parish Church in Prestwich. His company was taken over by Goodall, Lamb & Heighway in 1899.
(Born 1956) Ralph Sweeney was born in Manchester in 1956 and attended the local Grammar school where he developed his interest in art. Completely self taught he soon found himself busy fulfilling commissions for local businessman and several of his works have recently been sold to national companies based in Manchester. In 1994 Ralph Sweeney turned professional and twelve months later with the help of his family formed his own publishing company to help market his work. His paintings have featured in national newspapers and have also been used to raise money for a variety of charities. Although Ralph Sweeney can paint using most mediums he specialises in pastel, particularly nostalgic scenes. He has produced several portraits of local Manchester footballers including George Best, Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona, a series of ballerinas and ballet dancers and local urban scenes around the region. Recently some of his work has been reproduced as limited edition fine art prints .
Tom Bloxham MBE
(Born 1963) Tom Bloxham was born on the 20th December 1963 in Fleet, Lincolnshire, and is an award winning property developer, founder of the pioneering urban renewal property development company Urban Splash and member of the judging panel for RIBA’s Sterling Award. Bloxham has appeared on Britain’s rich list and has a property portfolio worth over £200million. He started out selling fire extinguishers door to door, then, while at Manchester University studying politics and history, he began selling old records and posters from market stalls. He established and subsequently sold the Baa Bar chain as well as a local radio station. He began subletting portions of his unit at Afflecks Palace and this set off his career in property. Bloxham founded Urban Splash who initially converted redundant properties, mainly formerly industrial buildings, in the north west England into affordable city centre residential loft apartments. They have won in excess of 100 awards for design, architecture and urban renewal. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and in 1999, he was given an MBE for services to architecture and urban regeneration. Tom Bloxham was elected Chancellor of The University of Manchester in June 2008 a post held for seven years. His installation as Chancellor took place in the University’s Whitworth Hall on 3 December 2008. At the same ceremony Sir Bernard Lovell, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Edward Gregson and Eddie Davies received honorary degrees. Bloxham also chairs the Manchester International Arts Festival. In February 2009 the Board of Trustees of Tate announced that the Prime Minister had appointed Tom Bloxham as a Tate Trustee – an appointment for four years. He is also Chairman of the Centre for Cities, an urban policy research unit and a Trustee of the Manchester United Football Club Foundation. He has many successful regeneration projects across the country in his portfolio including ; Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Bristol, Plymouth and Morecambe. He lives with his family in an Urban Splash apartment in Manchester city centre and says that he enjoys Manchester United, skiing, drinking and living a good life.
(1808-1882) Warwick started his working life as an unskilled worker at Messrs. John Barge and Co, a local block printing company. His apparent flair for drawing soon saw him promoted to the designing room. In 1832 he left the company to join John Dugdale Bros in Salford, and in 1840 joined Messrs. Cook and Unsworth, as a block designer, a firm which was to become The Rossendale Printing Company. He stayed here for some 26 years until he was struck with illness, consumption, which was to incapacitate him. He pursued his art in his spare time and his work was exhibited at The Mechanics Institute and also won first prizes at The Royal Manchester Institution. In 1868 Brookes was elected a member of The Manchester Academy Of Fine Arts, his drawings used to illustrate books for contemporary authors. He was also a founder member of the United Society of Manchester Artists which met over Rose’s China Shop in King Street. The full collection of Brookes’ work, mostly members of his immediate family, is held at Manchester Art Gallery. Through an influential aquaintance he met William Gladstone, who introduced his work to Queen Victoria, who subsequently bought some, as did her daughter Princess Louise. The royal collection of drawings is now part of the collections at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Thereafter, he was hailed as a celebrated artist and in demand in society circles. During his lifetime, amongst his artist associates were the likes of Frederick Shields, Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown. Brookes passed away on 13th August 1882 at his home in Egerton Grove, Stretford New Road. He is buried in Brooklands Cemetery in Sale.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT We are indebted to Peter Berry, a descendant of Warwick Brookes for bringing this subject to our attention, and for allowing us to draw material from his Brookes Family Website at https://brookes-of-manchester.blogspot.com/p/warwick-brookes-1808-1882/, for the information and image contained here.