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Brookes of Manchester

Peter Berry



Warwick Brookes, born in Salford in 1808, and died in Stretford, Manchester, in 1882, was part of a well known Manchester family during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. He was one of several Warwick Brookes who all became well known nationally in their own fields of interest, from art and photography to politics. This Warwick Brookes became well known amongst the aristocracy and politicians of Victorian Britain for his remarkable pencil drawings, which also earned him the recognition of now more famous artists of that time such as Frederic J. Shields and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Brookes of Manchester

Warwick Brookes was, by trade, a block designer in the Manchester calico printing industry. His mother, Ellen Sagar, was from Askrigg, North Yorkshire, but on the death of her mother, she joined the Greengate, Salford, household of one Mrs. Frances Goadsby, where her sister Elizabeth was already established. This Mrs Goadsby was the mother of Thomas Goadsby, who was present at Warwicks christening, and later became Mayor of Manchester in 1861-2. The facts that have been passed through time suggest that in 1807 Ralph Brookes


married Ellen and in 1808 Warwick was born. However, present day research into church baptism registers suggest that they in fact married on 3rd January 1809, after banns were read on the 11th, 18th and 25th December 1808. I have found many contradictions such as this during my research, particularly relating to the achievements of the various Brookes with the name Warwick. For the purposes of this book I will leave dates the same as the subject himself believed them to be. The name Warwick is used throughout the family due to a tradition that came down the Sagar family line. Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, during the wars of York and Lancaster, became the residence of Richard Neville, the King maker, Earl of Warwick; and the tradition


in the Sagar Brookes family is that a daughter of the great house eloped with a Dales lad, a Sagar, and when a son was subsequently born they named him Warwick. The name has regularly been given to the first born son of the family since then. Whether there is any truth in this legend hasnt yet been proved, but the continuous use of the name makes it difficult to establish which one was responsible for the part of Manchesters history that many of them played a part, as nearly all of them became famous in one way or another during the 19th and early 20th century. This Warwick Brookes had a skill which was to benefit both him and his family in the future. That skill was the ability to draw detailed pencil sketches of life


objects, in the beginning without any formal training, of such high quality, that he later won the respect of not only accomplished artists, but also that of the English aristocracy, the Prime Minister W.E. Gladstone and Queen Victoria. He married late in life, due to his commitment to look after his mother when his father Ralph died. When he did marry, he and his wife Eliza went on to produce seven children. This would have an impact on his development as a full time artist, as he couldnt afford to give up the regular work that provided him with the income required to support his young family. Warwick Brookes died at his home on Egerton Grove, off Stretford Road, Manchester, on 11th August 1882. During


his life he won the friendship and respect of now famous artists such as Frederick Shields and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and an account of his life was later published by his life-long friend, Thomas Letherbrow. The facts for this book have been researched in detail using that account as a source of information that came straight from his time. As he became highly respected as an artist in his own lifetime he became known as Brookes of Manchester. He is my great, great grandfather.


Chapter 1
Early Days. In 1807 Ralph Brookes married the future artists mother, and having no savings of their own, so early in their lives, took her to live with his father in Birtles Square, Greengate, Salford. On the 5th May 1808 Brookes was born, around the time when the artist Benjamin Haydon was in London at the start of his life-long fascination with the Elgin Marbles during his preparation for an early commission The Assassination of Dentatus, which contains figures derived from the Parthenon freeze. After a few months the newly married couple moved to their own house in Smiths Buildings nearby. Times were hard, trade was bad, and poverty was widespread. Also at this time, another king maker was at work in Europe, in what we now know as The

Peninsular War. By 1808 France had achieved domination over most of mainland Europe, but the tide started to turn when Napoleon created a new enemy by displacing the Spanish throne in favour of his brother Joseph. The Spanish uprising that followed encouraged Britain to send an expeditionary force to the Iberian Peninsula. The ensuing war was to play a large part in the downfall of Napoleon. Brookes relatives were plain Lancashire folk living in the neighbourhoods of Street Gate and Halshaw Moor, which are both in the modern day districts of Little Hulton and Farnworth respectively. His great uncle had been the gardener at Peel Hall, Salford, which is close to the present day location of Salford University and Peel Park. At six years of age young Warwick was sent to the National School, which was close to the New Jerusalem Temple on Bolton Street, Salford, where the

children were taught to write with their fingers on narrow tables covered with sand and fitted with a smoothing board. Here he first became acquainted with that basic tool which he was to employ with such effect in the future, namely, the black lead pencil, which he occasionally carried to the teacher in order that the attendance book might be marked, an operation which he watched with intent interest. Subsequently, an ingenious youth named George Walker, whose sister married Dr. Scholefield of Every Street Chapel, taught him to draw and carve all manner of things, giving him the first inclination to his artistic talents. Every Street Chapel, Ancoats, called The Roundhouse, was built around 1823, in the round, and on the site of an earlier building. It would, much later, become the subject of a Lowry drawing in the 1900s. Rev. James Schofield, a minister there, became a popular quack doctor

and was a notorious Chartist, and friend of Henry Hunt, also an influential member of the working class Chartist movement who advocated political reform and the repeal of the Corn Laws. Both were involved in the infamous Battle of Peterloo at St. Peters field, Manchester on 16th August 1819. At school, Brookes companions regarded him with admiration, acknowledging that he was the first in everything; all the paraphernalia of play was made by him to the highest quality. It is certain that, in his mind, the constructive faculty was already developed, and would become useful to him in his future business, whilst everything connected with the mechanism of art was also already present. In the meantime the affairs of the country showed no improvement, and became even gloomier. Food prices and taxes were high, and the heads of families

spent too much time and money at the public-house discussing the war with America, the doings of Napoleon and Wellington, and the National Debt, which was at that time around 860,000,000. As time went on Brookes love of drawing increased; he was more than willing to learn, but there was no school of art available in Manchester at that time. So he would look at objects to draw and learn his technique from around his own home. He drew objects from his mothers delft display case and worked at that. Another object which excited his enthusiasm was a sign called the Running Horses which was hung opposite Blackfriars Street. The animals were Magistrate and Fitz Orval running for the cup; one of them belonged to Thomas Houldsworth whose colours were green and gold. Houldsworth was an entrepreneur who owned a Manchester cotton mill, and had

a passion for owning racehorses. The painting had an indescribable charm to Brookes. Determined to copy it, he made repeated visits, and the drawing that resulted hung for several years on the wall of his fathers workshop. Moving on to around 1817, though times were still very bad, and the harvest was a failure, although the cotton industries were growing, Brookes father Ralph had passed away, and he was taken by his uncle Thomas, a block printer at John Barge and Company of Broughton Bridge, to be employed as a tear boy. A tear boy was a job in the calico printing industry, usually given to a child. He was responsible for spreading the die ink across a flat table which was covered in animal skin. The printer would then transfer ink supplied from this table, in an even layer to his block, before each impression on the fabric. At this early time in Manchesters industrial past, the

factory was located in what were then meadows by the side of the clear river Irwell. In the design room, often known locally as the conjuring shop, John Preston, the foreman, would sometimes invite Brookes into his office, give him a pencil and paper and a chintz pattern to copy. The copies, which were always of high quality, were shown to Mr. Barge, a partner of the company, who, it was said, exclaimed, Have I a tear boy who can do this? The result was that he was promoted to the drawing room at five shillings a week. Brookes father may now have been dead, but his talents were starting to enable him to provide a good family income. The young Brookes had a keen interest in nature, and began to draw objects from the world that surrounded him. He would draw his own hands and feet, over and over again, in intricate detail, until he achieved the perfection that he required.

The sketch book that is held in the archives of Manchester Central Reference Library is full of this kind of drawing, many of the same subjects, repeated until they were to his liking. In his leisure time he would walk in the fields that were then still much in evidence around his home, sketch book in hand, drawing scenes and still life that he came across. It is said that his second drawing from nature was of a dead bird, a grey bob, which were his favourite, but a species that I am not personally familiar with. His interest in drawing soon started to take precedence over all other aspects of his life. He was lucky enough to be recognised for this at his work, and his employer soon began to make full use of his talents, to his delight, as he could not only now enjoy his passion for drawing for leisure, but also pursue this at work. He designed a pattern called the peg and star pattern. Authorization was given to have

this engraved, and it proved so popular that it was used over and again in the production of rolls of printed fabric. He was serving his apprenticeship, and before he had completed his four years he was given the roles of what were known in the industry as sketch maker and putter on. Sketch making was the bringing of the pattern to an exact scale, and then mixing the objects in the most efficient way to be made on to the copper roller for machine printing. Putting on was the drawing of the pattern on to a block for the block cutter. As a result, during his apprenticeship, he acquired the skills of three distinct businesses, and when it was completed he was happy that he was able to take home a relatively high wage to his mother, who he would devote himself to look after for the rest of her life.


Chapter 2
The young man

In 1832 Brookes left John Barge and Company and joined the company of John Dugdale and Brothers, where he stayed for the next 7 years. His leaving there may have had something to do with a curious incident. By now Brookes had passed the age of his right to vote in the Borough of Salford, and had developed his own strong political views. Before the Representation of the People Act of 1832, better known as the Great Reform Act, a much lesser percentage of the population were eligible to vote. The Act also created Salford as a Parliamentary Constituency, and in December of that year elections were held to decide its first MP. As well as this Brookes was also a supporter of both


the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, which removed many of the restrictions on Roman Catholics in the United Kingdom which were still in place even after earlier acts of Catholic emancipation, and also of the abolition of slavery. One of the candidates in the election was Joseph Brotherton, who had been a Salford cotton mill owner but had gained sufficient wealth to enable him to retire at the age of 36 and devote himself to public service and religious activities. He had been a pastor at the Every Street chapel of the sect of Bible Christians, mentioned earlier, succeeding William Cowherd in 1816. Unusually, for a mill owner at that time, Brotherton was a follower of various causes such as vegetarianism, pacificism, and antislavery, which made him an important figure in Victorian social history. In the 1832 poll for parliamentary candidates, Brotherton received 712 votes against his

opponent, William Garnetts 518. He was re-elected in 1835, 1837 and 1841. Brothertons representation was contested in 1835, by Brookes employer John Dugdale, who had been persuaded to run in opposition, but this failed. Brothertons representation was again contested in the 1837 election by William Garnett, a local businessman, who owned a mansion at Lark Hill, which ironically was to later become Peel Park, after Garnetts mansion was acquired by Salford Borough in 1844 and later turned into municipal facilities, greatly influenced by Brotherton. (The council used a government grant and a donation of 1000 from the Prime Minister, Robert Peel, after whom the park was named, as part of the purchase price of 4,500.) The result of polling for the candidate on this occasion was a tie. It was said that in this poll, Brotherton had voted for himself. The boroughreeve, whose duties by this

time were to convene and preside over meetings, was James Garratt Frost. He had also given his casting vote to Brotherton. Brookes was well known for his support of the same values that Brotherton stood for, which were often at odds with those held by the mill owners and businessmen at the time, and included fighting for reform of the employment of children. The end result of the poll for the parliamentary candidate was 890 votes for Brotherton against 888 for Garrett. As Brotherton had voted for himself, and Frost had awarded him his casting vote, Brookes was seen by his employer to have decided the election, against his own wishes. Due to his popularity with the working class people of Salford, Brotherton remained in office for 24 years, and was unopposed at the 1847 and 1852 elections. Another occurrence in 1837, which was to affect Brookes, was the visit to

Manchester of the now much respected artist Benjamin Haydon. He had come to lecture at the Mechanics Institute as part of a campaign to stir up enthusiasm for a school of design, outside of London, in the place where talented artists, whose flare for design was said to be limited and unimaginative, could be trained locally to supply the needs of the fabric printing industries which were prevalent in that area. On arriving in Manchester he declared I found Manchester in a dreadful condition of art. No school of design, the young men drawing without instruction. A fine anatomical figure shut up in a box; the housekeeper obliged to hunt for the key! Ill give it to them before I go. Haydon took his campaign to the public and lectured to packed audiences at the Mechanics Institute. Brookes attended every lecture. Haydon seemed to be succeeding with the idea amongst the wealthy businessmen, who were

needed to finance the idea, but was enraged to find out what actions had been taken after he had left. The Council of the Royal Institution had appointed a sub-committee to enquire and report on the proposed school of design. He found that they had written to Charles Poulett Thomson, who was MP for Manchester, and President of the Board of Trade. His reply was that the plan of founding a school of design in Manchester was of no use, for their school in London was doing nothing, and so the whole project collapsed. A school of design did eventually open however, in the basement rooms of the Royal Manchester Institution, on Mosley Street, under the patronage of wealthy men such as Benjamin Heywood, Edmund Potter, and William Fairbarn, if not under the patronage of the Institution itself. At first it appeared that the school could save local businesses a substantial

amount of money annually, as the Manchester men were spending in France for designs in calico printing. The difficulty was to persuade the merchants and businessmen to subscribe to the project and to decide how design should be taught within the school. Until then there was only one precedent, and that was the Central School, at Somerset House, London. There were already heated discussions about the methods used to teach design there, and they would also manifest themselves in Manchester later. There was debate between those, who like Haydon, favoured the study of the living model, and those who preferred to concentrate on flowers and ornamental forms. The first report in 1839 stated that there were thirty-six pupils, of whom twelve were qualified to draw from the round, either statues or busts, thirteen were good copyists, and eleven were

elementary students. Classes were held from 7.00pm to 9.00pm in the evening. The declared object of the school was to impart systematically knowledge of the principles and practices of art, with a view of its application to manufacture. The schools first master was John Zephaniah Bell, himself an accomplished artist, who had worked with Sir David Wilkie, a good friend of Benjamin Haydon. It is said, Bells appointment was at his recommendation, and he was an excellent teacher. But because of his devotion to the human form, it appeared to the businessmen who were funding this project, which he presided over, was an academy of art rather than a school of design. Brookes took full advantage of this opportunity to study art, and the following year he gained two out of four of the first prizes ever offered by the school. One of the prizes won was for a

life-size drawing of the human figure. I suspect it was the influence of Bell that turned his own interest to that of the human form, something that he would become famous for in the future. The other prizes were won by Francis Chester, who in 1845, together with the architect John Gould Irwin, was responsible for building the Theatre Royal, in Manchester, and Robert Crozier, who later became president of the Manchester Academy of Art. The three of them formed a friendship that would last for the rest of their lives. On the 18th August 1840 Brookes entered the employment of Cooke and Unsworth, a firm which later became the Rossendale Printing Company. He stayed with this company for 26 years, even though he would, during that time, receive offers from both home and abroad in relation to his art. He continued


in his trade until illness prevented him from working any longer. The school of design which Brookes enthusiastically attended was originated with the intention of promoting the art of design as applied to textile fabrics. Bell believed that the best way of doing this was through the basic techniques of drawing the human figure. Although the ornament was not completely neglected, he taught drawing and painting from the cast and from the living model, with excellent results. However, the committee was not satisfied, and in the end the class had to be discontinued, after Bell resigned in 1843. But its chief members were determined it should be carried on, formed a society, and established an art class which met in an attic over Roses china shop in King Street. Brookes associates in this venture were Francis Chester, Robert Crozier, Edward Benson, George Hayes, Sam Mayson, Fred

Tavare, Thomas Letherbrow, and a few others. They met at 7.00 in the evening during winter, and at the same time in the morning during summer. The stove would be lit, a model would be placed and the students would get to work drawing and painting until nine oclock. In April the following year, Haydon returned to lecture once again at the Mechanics Institute. This time he was able to view and admire the work of Brookes and Crozier, and asked if he could display some of their drawings so that he could refer to them during his sixth and final lecture. Crozier had seventeen on display, and Haydon used them to demonstrate what could be achieved with proper instruction. At 7.30 the next morning he was with the students in their attic, explaining his own method of working, trying to instil in them some of his own enthusiasm for art. To have this old and respected artist, whose work included

The Judgement of Solomon and Satan and Uriel, sitting around the stove in their attic was an event that all the students would remember forever. Letherbrow, a member of the student group, later received a letter from him intending to keep their spirits high and not to give up their enthusiasm for art, even though the powers that be still couldnt seem to see the value of a formal school of art. Whilst visiting Manchester, Haydon wrote a letter to his wife, which described to her the incidents that had occurred during the attempted establishment of the design school: Manchester 9th. April 1844 Only think of what has happened. I had established here a school of design with the figure as the basis. Sometime since, again influenced by those obstinate ignoramuses in London, the council here

allowed itself to be persuaded to abolish the figure. The young men behaved admirably well. They met together, subscribed, and continued the figure privately, and waited for my coming down. Now that I have arrived they have brought me their drawings, which are admirable for their accuracy, breadth, and finish. This is going on like the early Christians. Persecution like this will make the thing. These councils and pupils are doing here what is being done by councils and pupils in many of the great towns in which I have lectured. Such is the baneful and mischievous influence of that blot of centralised ignorance in London; the moment my back is turned they start to undo all the good I have done. But if the young men only remain sound and continue to draw the figure, those gentlemen in London will one day be brought to acknowledge their error. It is pitiable to find such obstinacy and

ignorance of what is for this great countys good in high places. As he had promised during that early morning meeting with the students in their attic, Haydon forwarded, from Liverpool, a sketch of his palette, and its arrangement. This was addressed to The United Society of Manchester Artists. The term united was certainly appropriate as they bonded as friends with only one interest the love of art. Each was on a footing of equality with the other, and the only superiority which was apparent was in the quality of their work. Francis Chester had a passion for colour. Crozier was consistent in everything he produced, and Brookes works in oils, although always noteworthy for his refinement in drawing, his appreciation of colour didnt always show. Although Brookes might not excel in colour, he had a singular mastery over form. He was able to stand, sketch

book in hand, and produce studies so finely drawn and exquisitely finished, that the untrained eye could easily mistake his work as being from many a more famous artist. Few artists possess the skills of all the faculties of art. Some excel in drawing, while others were best with the brush. Brookes, within his own limitations, was consistent; never careless, but always expressing his images with refinement. It was said of him by William Bradley, the Manchester born artist who became famous for his detailed pencil drawn portraits, that he was the greatest master of the pencil he had ever known, with perhaps the exception of R.J. Lane, A.R.A, who lithographed the works of Sir Thomas Lawrence, and Jackson R.A. But Brookes had originality, of which there is no evidence in the work of Lane. Scale made no difference to him. A lifesize figure would be drawn with the same accuracy and care as one the size of a

thumbnail. Some of his sketches are on the scale of one inch by three quarters, and are drawn with such accuracy and finish. The students of the attic never quarrelled about whose work was best. They supplemented their classes there by holding monthly meetings at each others houses to enjoy books, prints and sketches. They would discuss rare impressions of Durer, and the Little Masters, the etchings of Van Dyke, and the works of Rubens, Rembrandt, Turner and Gainsborough. Brookes maintained an independence of judgement, and was able to hold his own during many a strong argument, but always with good humour. His friends always wished that the selfreliance that he displayed in his opinion could have gone even further, and impelled him to leave the trade of a pattern designer for the full time studio of the artist. What might have become of him if he was able to devote as much time

to art as he did to the design of the next chintz pattern? Of course, this is something that we will never know. Prudence won over inclination and it was art that suffered the loss. Brookes and his group of students continued in this way, forging lasting friendships, until 1849, when the Manchester school of design was reestablished in Brown Street under J.A. Hammersley. Although known as a landscape artist, the study of the living figure was again established. It was his energy and intelligence that saved the school, rather than the principles that were laid down by London. Under his direction the school recovered and grew. The syllabus underwent changes, and the training of calico printers was no longer considered to be the main function of the school. In 1854 the school became a department of the Manchester Institution.

Brookes was also proficient by now in other forms of art for which he would become famous. This was etching on copper, and engraving on wood, at which he succeeded without effort. He might have also excelled at music. As a boy he sang in the choir at Gravel Lane Church, and once, at Ashton-on-Mersey Church, sang solos in a musical service. He would also sometimes amuse friends by whistling an intricate piece in a faultless style.


Chapter 3
The family man

The year is now 1852, and Brookes, having kept his promise to look after his mother, for most of her life, had met his future wife Eliza, some time earlier, whilst walking, and of course, sketching, with his friend Thomas Letherbrow, in the area around Dunham, Cheshire. They married and he settled down, at the age of forty four, into his new lifestyle with seven children following over the next twenty years. This sealed the future for Brookes, who could no longer contemplate giving up regular employment for the sake of art. He had a young family to support, and perhaps memories of his own difficult childhood remained in his mind. Of his seven children, there are three whose lives became of sufficient interest


to briefly mention here. His eldest son, named Warwick of course, described himself as a photographic artist and miniature painter as his own career developed. He set up in business, in Manchester, around the area of Cathedral Steps in Victoria Street, as a photographer. This annoyed his cousin, also called Warwick, who had established his own photography business much earlier, but in the same area. This cousin had started in business while photography was in its infancy, and to be successful it required, not only an artistic understanding, but also knowledge of chemistry. He became spectacularly successful; possibly being helped by the fact his uncle had earlier enjoyed Royal patronage in recognition of his own artistic talents. From his premises at 350 Oxford Road, Manchester, he photographed many from the theatre, including W.C Fields in 1905, poets,

including Edwin Waugh, and members of the aristocracy. He entered, and won, many prestigious photographic exhibitions, and one of his pieces, an image of the actor Sir Henry Irving, is held at the National Portrait Gallery. He took great exception to the artists son, Warwick, setting up a photographic business in Manchester, in the same name, and even printed disclaimers on the back of his work which stated he had no trade connection with any other photographer operating in that name. The artists son did, however enjoy some success of his own, and there are still images of his available to buy today. He eventually moved his studio to the Marple area. The second son, my great grandfather, William Terry, followed in his fathers footsteps into the world of art. He became a prolific and accomplished landscape painter, enough so to name

himself as such on the later censuses during his lifetime, something his father never managed to accomplish. The whole of the present family own paintings which he was responsible for, and were produced between the late 1800s and 1923, the year of his death. His paintings, unlike his father, who used a monogram, WB, were signed with initials and surname, W. T. Brookes. A daughter, Mary Jane, married one Edward Allen Brotherton in 1882, the year of her fathers death. Sadly, during childbirth in 1883, she passed away as did the child. Brotherton, born in Ardwick, Manchester, went on to become a well known and successful industrialist in the chemical industry. During his own distinguished career, became a respected MP for Wakefield, Lord Mayor of the city of Leeds, was created 1st Baronet Brotherton of Wakefield, County of York, on 27th June 1918, and 1st Baron

Brotherton of Wakefield, county of York, on 17th June 1929. He never re-married, and kept in contact with the Brookes family until his death. He established a library at Leeds University which is named after him. The nephew, also Warwick Brookes, who was the photographer of 350 Oxford Road, was also head of his own remarkable family. He had three children of his own, Warwick, (of course), Blanche, and Gordon Byron. Warwick was a flamboyant businessman, who during his own career, alternated between extreme wealth, bankruptcy, and back again. He also dabbled in the business affairs of his brother-in-law, managing his London fitness centres, and became MP for Mile End in 1916. Blanche, who at first was her fathers assistant at the photographic studio, became acquainted, and later married, a world famous music hall strongman act, Eugen Sandow. Their

marriage at Manchester Cathedral in 1894 was a huge society affair, and Sandows manager, Florenz Ziegfeld Jnr, of Ziegfeld Follies fame, was their best man, his signature appearing on their wedding certificate. Gordon Byron, who was previously an actor, was a hero of the Great War, and was killed in action at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, during the Battles of the Somme. He held the rank of Captain, and had only recently been awarded the Military Cross for extreme gallantry under fire. Brookes the artist was most certainly a family man. He loved his children, and they often featured as models in his pencil drawings. One of his most famous, a detailed drawing titled May Day at Bowden, features several children in a first floor open window of a building overlooking the celebrations. All of them are his own. He was to become famous for his pencil drawings of child life.

The year 1857 was a memorable one for Manchester with the Art Treasures Exhibition. The main event was located at Old Trafford, and a subordinate exhibition was held in Peel Park, Salford, where the works of local artists were displayed, with many contributions from Brookes and his associates. Brookes himself exhibited more than a dozen drawings as well as a painting in oil of three cats. The exhibition was officially visited by Royalty, and Brookes work was much admired by Prince Albert. It is widely accepted that this is where Queen Victoria first became acquainted with Brookes talent as an artist, having been told of his work by her husband. It is as a result of the Peel Park exhibition that the Manchester Academy of Art was established, and Brookes was elected a member. Later, during the time when he was seriously ill with consumption, (now known as tuberculosis), the hanging committee

treated his contributions so scornfully that he wrote to them in protest, and resigned. The year 1858 was a sad one for Brookes. He lost his mother, with whom he had been so close. The gloomy days of his childhood in Greengate had softened over the years, and he recalled happy memories of visits to Wensleydale, the place where she grew up. She had often related stories to him of her own childhood, and he often visited the places she had described, with his sketchbook close to hand. These were Bolton and Middleham Castles, the Roman remains at Bainbridge, and the stronghold of the Earl of Warwick, whose name he had been given. He visited and sketched SemmerWater, Hardraw, Aygarth, Richmond and Easby in Swaledale. The city of Lancaster was also a favourite subject, as his mother had also told him of relatives there.


Brookes was an amiable character, and made friends easily. It was to his good fortune, when, in 1865 he secured the friendship of one Doctor Samuel Crompton, who happened to be the grandson of the Bolton inventor in the cotton industry. Crompton was well known for his work with the blind people of Manchester, and between 1840 and 1859, had been a surgeon at Henshaws Asylum for the blind. The asylum had been founded in 1810 as a result of a bequest of 20,000 from the will of Thomas Henshaw, a wealthy Oldham hat manufacturer. The institution was run as a charity from public subscription and donations. However, around the time Crompton was involved, there had been much infighting as to the way the charity was run, much of it based around religion. Crompton, almost single handedly, took it upon himself to expose the apparent corruption of the board. Crucially, he

didnt wage his crusade on sectarian lines, but concentrated on the Boards inability. The location of the asylum was in Old Trafford, on the site which is now occupied by Greater Manchester Police as their Headquarters. Next door was the Botanical Gardens, which were later to become the White City Amusement Park. That was subsequently demolished to become the White City Retail Park. The Botanical Gardens were the 1857 location of the Art Treasures of Manchester Exhibition. Crompton was not only responsible for uplifting Brookes from his depression, which was a result of the illness, that struck him around 1866, but also spirited him to acknowledge defeat, and continue to fight on until victory. For almost two years Brookes was unable to leave his home, and during the whole of that time Crompton visited him almost daily, not only tending to his needs medically, but

also administered his affairs with beneficial results. Crompton introduced Brookes to Sir Walter Charles James. James had succeeded his grandfather in the baronetcy in 1829, and acquired Betteshanger House, Kent in 1850, serving as High Sheriff of Kent in 1855. Between 1837 and 1847, he had been Liberal MP for Hull, and became a good friend of William Ewart Gladstone. During Gladstones second term of office as Prime Minister, James was raised to the peerage as Lord Northbourne of Betteshanger in the County of Kent. Sir Walter James became one of Brookes kindest and most influential friends, introducing him to a wide circle of the nobility. During his illness, Brookes employer, the Rossendale Printing Company, treated him with compassion, while he took the advice of two of his friends, Lord Hardinge, and James Nasmyth, who

advised him to publish a series of photographs which could be sold to enable him to maintain the upkeep of his family. Lord Hardinge, or, Charles Stewart Hardinge, 2nd Viscount Hardinge, had been a Conservative MP for Downpatrick, Ireland, between 1851 and 1856, when he succeeded his father in the Viscountcy and entered the House of Lords. Emanating from Kent, I presume his introduction to Brookes was one of those that came through Sir Walter James. Nasmyth, however, was an engineer. His father, Alexander, was a landscape and portrait painter in Edinburgh, where James had been born in 1808. One of his fathers hobbies was mechanics. In his early life James Nasmyth had regularly attended the Edinburgh School of Arts, and was one of the first students of the Institution, just as Brookes had been one of the first at Manchester. However, James became interested in mechanics

himself as a result of spending much time in his fathers hobby workshop, where, at the age of seventeen, he constructed his first steam engine. His interest in mechanics won over his interest in art, and eventually, in 1829, won an apprenticeship in the workshop of Henry Maudsley, who also became famous for his own achievements. Unfortunately, two years later, Maudsley died, and Nasmyth was employed briefly by a partner as a draughtsman for the company. In 1838, after Maudleys death, the Lambeth Company provided the 750 h.p engine for Isambard Kingdom Brunels ship the S.S Great Western; but in 1831 Nasmyth had already left, at the age of twenty three, having saved up enough cash to start his own company. His first premises were in an old cotton mill on Dale Street, Manchester, but he soon relocated to Patricroft, an area around Eccles, in Manchester, where in 1836, he

and his business partner, HolbrookGaskell, opened The Bridgewater Foundry, trading as Nasmyth, Gaskell and Company. They soon started to receive orders from the newly formed railway companies, and his connection with The Great Western Railway Company, who were also owners of the steamship mentioned above, The Great Western, led to them being asked to design and make machine tools of unusual size and power that were required in the construction of the engines for their new venture, the S.S Great Britain. The builders of the Great Western had experienced difficulties in the production of its huge paddles, in that the tilt hammers that were employed delivered insufficient power in their blows, which were all of the same force. The builders of The Great Britain required machinery of much greater force for the production of its propulsion system. It was Nasmyth who sketched his new ideas

for a new steam hammer in what he called his scheme book, which he would show to potential customers. On a subsequent visit to France, where he hoped to secure orders from dockyards there, he happened to see a hammer of his own design at work. After making enquiries, it was admitted that a manager from the works had copied Nasmyths design from his scheme book, whilst on his own visit to England. On Nasmyths return home, he quickly patented his design, and put it into full production. An example of his steam hammer can now be found facing the location of his works in Patricroft, which is now a business park. A much larger version was displayed in the campus grounds of Bolton University. In 1856, at the age of 48, Nasmyth retired to Penshurst, another Kent connection. Among others, Sir Walter James showed Brookes collection of thirty one photographs of his drawings to Sir Francis

Grant P.R A, (President of the Royal Academy), who ordered copies for the library. Brookes was selling them, with the aid of his friends for 4 a set. From then on Brookes kept records of the letters he received in recognition of his art. Amongst them could be found correspondence from the Duke and Duchess of Argyle, who sent an invitation to London or Inverary Castle, and also stated how delighted Princess Louise was with his drawings. One purchased by her was a study of a kitten, which was Brookes own pet, and survived his death, having reached the ripe old age of sixteen at that time. Throughout these volumes there is evidence of kind feeling, warm friendship, and appreciation of his art; none more so than those from the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, his wife and daughters. Letters from J.E. Mallais, G.F. Watts, W.P. Frith, T. Woolner, Birket Foster, Sam Cousins, Fred Taylor, Tom

Taylor, Sir W. Boxall, and Lord Granville could be found. A letter from Dante Gabriel Rossetti, speaking of the photographs says They are remarkable and indeed admirable. Their production by an untrained hand, seems almost incredible. I cannot doubt that when seen they will be widely appreciated in London by all whose judgement is of any value. The babies seem to me to be triumphs, every one of them; not that they are better than the other figures, but because every artist knows to his cost how difficult it is to obtain such success in reproducing babyhood. Frederick Shields also became a good friend of Brookes. A letter from Shields to Rossetti mentions Brookes predicament, and of him selling the photographs to provide an income. This is an excerpt:


Cornbrook House, Manchester, 11th, February 1868. MY DEAR ROSSETTI, For the past month that is, ever since Mr. M'Connell gave me the opportunity of seeing the "Sir Tristram" I nave meant to write how great pleasure I enjoyed in hanging over it; and if (as you intimated) you relied in any measure on my poor opinion, it will satisfy you to know I indeed think with you that it approaches nearer to the highest standard than anything you have yet achieved in water-colour. Let me say how much the subject of your last note gratified me, for I have known Warwick Brookes for


some years, but not intimately, his disposition being too retiring for that. Your information concerning him is not very accurate, for he must be nearer fifty than forty, and has a family of six children, the eldest girl being about sixteen years. With this young family he never dared to venture to give up a situation as pattern designer for ladies dresses which he held in a firm here, and which brought him in a settled sum per week, for the uncertain and fluctuating remuneration attending the profession of art. So that all you have seen, and much more, has been done during the leisure hours of his evenings and


Saturday afternoons. For two years back he has been lying sick of consumption; and his main, perhaps his only, source of income has been the sale of the set of photos, with which you are acquainted. Sir Walter James has most generously exerted himself to spread the circulation, and other friends have done their best also. He is too independent in temper to accept help in any other way; but I am certain would feel both grateful and pleased with such assistance as you can secure for him in this way. The price of the set is four pounds. 1 took the liberty, believing it would gladden his sick chamber, of showing him your letter on Saturday


night; and though he was too weak to read it himself, he most earnestly expressed his estimation of your approval. Most truly yours, FREDERIC J. SHIELDS. Rossetti replied: 16 CHEYNE WALK, 21st February 1868. MY DEAR SHIELDS, Your letter calls for my thanks in various ways. First, about Warwick Brookes, whom I almost guessed to be more of a regular artist than had been represented to me. I shall be anxious to have a set of his admirable photo'd drawings, and will write him with this, enclosing the 4. When here I have little

doubt their being seen must lead to further sales. Howell, to whom I spoke on the subject and who saw the photos at my mother's, at once said he would undertake that Ruskin would wish to have an original drawing. I will speak further to him when my own photographs arrive. It is melancholy to think that any aid and appreciation, such as the drawings cannot fail to excite, will come only at such a painful time. Is there really no hope of recovery? I cannot understand how such an artist can have failed so long to obtain employment from the dealers in Manchester. His babies are worthy of William Hunt, and have never been surpassed.


Does he work in colour? In such case I fancy employment in London as a copyist to begin with might easily be obtained. But I suppose the health question now quite negatives this. Text reproduced from The life and letters of Frederic Shields by Ernestine Mills, 1912. It can be seen from the above letters between two eminent artists, that, although the main content was to make the other aware of a colleagues predicament, it also shows that they relied heavily on the appraisal of each others work. Shields mentions in the 1868 letter, that Brookes had a young family of six. That was true at that time, as the last child, Edith, was not born until 1871.


Chapter 4
At last recognition brings fame. By now fame had caught up with Warwick Brookes, who had become known to the upper classes of Victorian Britain as Brookes of Manchester. Although probably not as well known to the working classes of Salford from which he was so proud to have come, he started to enjoy the trappings of his popularity. He received invitations to be present at society parties, and accepted invitations to spend weekends with Gladstone at Harwarden, his country house in North Wales. Due to his illness, and the intervention of his friends, his art had now, unintentionally started to provide him and his family with their income, and the recognition he deserved. He received commissions from book publishers and authors to illustrate books.


In 1870 Edmondston and Douglas, book publishers of Edinburgh employed Brookes to illustrate a small book for them titled Little Tales for Tiny Tots. He designed the cover and drew six illustrations for this commission. Around the same time he also drew some pencil sketches for Doctor John Brown, also of Edinburgh, the popular author of Rab and his Friends, for a series of essays and poems. They were to illustrate his cocks and hens and swine and bubbly jocks. As a result of his sketch, Brown wrote in respect of Brookes: Genius such as yours is best left to its own promptings; you are thoroughly original without being in the least odd or strained. You remind one most of the German Richter, but you are more yourself than anybody else. He also illustrated a later book for Brown, Marjorie Fleming a sketch Being the paper entitled Pet Marjorie. For this book, Brookes provided six drawings,

which were faithfully reproduced as etchings by Dawsons of London for the 1884 publication. This edition had originally been published in the North British Review in 1863 and had been reedited by Brown during 1876 to 1877. The drawings had been provided by Brookes some ten or twelve years earlier than the publication date, and were described by Brown in a Preface as being exquisite pencil sketches. A memoriam to Brookes was also printed at the front of the book, as it was published two years after his death. Although Brookes illness had stopped him from working at his trade, it had also enabled him to concentrate on his art, and he took hold of his pencil at every opportunity, and drew every picture with infinite vitality. His drawings were also in demand from the people who wanted to be associated with him. Although Prince Albert had brought Brookes work to the attention of

Queen Victoria after the Art Treasures of Manchester Exhibition of 1857, she subsequently purchased drawings from him through her Prime Minister, Gladstone. Entries in Gladstones diaries state: 6th March, 1871, dined at Lady Jamess and secured three drawings of W. Brookes. Another of 24th March, 1871, says: Wrote to Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Queen, Lord Halifax, Mrs Th., Warwick Brookes, and minutes. The Royal collection included two of Brookes most accomplished works, Christ Blessing Little Children, and May Day at Bowden, Cheshire. Both these are now in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A letter from William Brampton Gurdon, Gladstones private secretary states: The Queen has written to Mr. Gladstone. Mr Warwick Brookes drawings are really charming; she has purchased four. His next letter from Downing Street on 27th March 1871

came as a surprise to Brookes. It read Mr. Gladstone desires me to inform you that the Queen has been pleased to approve of a grant to you of 100 per annum. This one gesture now freed Brookes completely from his financial worries, particularly as the royal warrant had been directed to run from the preceding year. It proved to be a new lease of life for Brookes. Later, Gladstone wrote: It was, I assure you, a great pleasure to me to have had any share in securing some marks of the royal favour to one who so well deserves them. In 1876, the now frail artist visited Harwarden, the guest of Mr Gladstone and his family. He must have recalled his youthful days of a war abroad; of famine and of civil unrest at home; of the Luddites, the Corn Law, and Peterloo; and of the prosperity and liberty he now enjoyed. His old Friend Frederick J Shields said of him:

He was a gentle soul, a true artist. What he might have done cannot be said, but what he did is perfect and delightful. It is like some exquisite geometrical pattern of which only a portion has been unrolled; enough to show its perfection, while its further interlacings are unrevealed. You know they may be more beautiful than the portion you see, but they will be the same in spirit, limited and without surprise. He is as the Thames above Windsor flowing through the quiet meadows with the willows fringing its banks; the same, though ever changeful soothing, and peaceful. Not a peak of rock or torrent fall, may not so much as even a steep bank with gnarled roots exposed, and strong branches shooting over you as your boat glides on. There is no taint of evil in his art. It is as pure as the babes he portrays so delicately.


The last commission, on which Brookes worked, was an illustration for Edwin Waughs poem Come Whoam to thy Childer an Me. Waugh was a poet originally from Rochdale, and wrote in Lancashire dialect. This poem, which he originally published in 1856, was the turning point in his own career, and was the event that allowed him to give up his own trade that provided him with a regular income. Brookes worked at this as vigorously as he had ever worked at anything before, and kept working as long as he could still hold a pencil. It was, possibly, the greatest piece he ever did. Warwick Brookes passed away, at home, 4 Egerton Grove Stretford, Manchester, on 11th August 1882. Many of his pencil drawings are kept by Manchester Art Galleries.


Come Whoam to Thy Childer an Me, Warwick Brookes, 4th May 1882


On receiving information of his death from Brookes eldest son Warwick, The Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone wrote by return of post, from the treasury, a letter of enquiry about his mother: Downing Street, Whitehall, August 14, 1882. My Dear Sir, - My wife and I are much moved by your letter. We looked upon your father's life, I may say, with an affectionate interest and regard. It was indeed noble, pure, and beautiful; and it seemed as if an exterior discipline, without internal conflict, sufficed to raise him to the point at which he might escape from the flesh, and from the pressure of the world, to enjoy at once the vision of God. Have the goodness to inform me as to the health, and also as to the circumstances of your mother (I believe she survives him) and family. I


remain, your very faithful and obedient servant,

W.E. GLADSTONE. The son replied by return that his mother was in good health, and on hearing the news, Gladstone forwarded a donation of 100 from the Queens Bounty.


Chapter 5
The farewell Brookes death was reported in newspapers of the day. A typical account describes the event, and lists the mourners as follows: The funeral was at noon, and the cortge consisting of a hearse and three plain carriages left the deceased gentleman's residence at 4 Egerton Grove, Stretford New Road, and proceeded by Chester Road to Brooklands. In the private carriages were:- Mrs. Brookes (widow), Mr. Warwick Brookes, Mr. Arthur Brookes and Mr. William Terry Brookes, (sons), Mrs. Brotherton, Miss M. Brookes, Miss E. Brookes, (daughters), Mr. Brotherton, (son-in-law), Mr. Thomas Brookes, (brother), Mr. Adam Gentle, (executor), Mr. James Hull,

Mr. John Smethurst and The Rev. Edwin Simon, M.A., minister of Zion Independent Chapel, Stretford Road, of which the deceased had been a member for several years. The coffin was polished oak, covered with floral wreathes, and had a plain brass plate with the inscription, "Warwick Brookes died August 11, 1882, aged 74 years." At the cemetery gates, the cortge was met by following members of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, and other friends:- Mr. Robert Crozier (President), Mr. H.H. Hadfield (Hon. Sec.), Mr. J. Hey Davies, Mr. W. Herbert Johnston, Mr. William Morton, (of the council), Mr. William Percy, Mr. Arthur H. Marsh, Mr. John Holding, Mr. Thomas Letherbrow, Mr. Alfred Goodfellow, Mr. Warwick and Mr. John Brookes, (nephews), Mr. Joseph R. Taylor, Mr. John Evans & Co. The services in the chapel and at the


grave were very impressively conducted by The Rev. Edwin Simon. A footnote states: The grave of the old artist is appropriately contiguous to those of two other well known Manchester characters - Mr. Joseph Manchester, and Mr. Charles Calvert, the actor. A message of condolence was received from Mr. Gladstone. Both the Premier and Mrs. Gladstone were exceedingly kind friends and warm admirers of the distinguished artist, who was frequently a welcome guest at Hawarden.

More can be read of the rest of the Brookes family of this era at