Saturday, 28 July 2018

Greengate as you have never seen it ................. sometime in the 1850s

Now there will be no one who remembers this bit of Greengate and I doubt there will be many who have seen this painting.

It is the work of C W Clennell who spent sometime in the twin cities during the 1850s when he painted railway stations, public buildings and churches.

There are 81 of his works in the Manchester Local Images Collection and two of these are of Salford along with one of Blackfriars Bridge and Victoria Bridge.*

I rather like them although some have commented on how they portray the darker side of Manchester ...... all gloom, chimney stacks and smoke.**

And certainly the ones quoted by the author deliver just such a grim impression of what another historian said was the “shock city of the Industrial Revolution.”***

But that is not what I see when I look at his Greengate, or for that matter some of the others.

That is not to say that Mr Clennell did root out the dirt and the grime but I haven’t come across a painting or a drawing of his that does.

Now that I know is a hostage to fortune and so I await someone to furnish the evidence of a run down terrace of back to backs or a tall and dark textile mill.

All of which I would welcome, because as it stands there isn’t that much about him.

Unless I have been looking in the wrong place history has been very unkind to Mr C W Clennell.

His father gets a write up in the National Biography and an obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine which ran across two pages, but not C W., who I am guessing was Charles Warren Clennell but that is a guess based on the fact that his grandfather was Charles Warren.**

Nor is that all because some of C W’s painting of Yorkshire were for a long time ascribed to his father.

So I shall I think spend the next few days showcasing his work of Salford and Manchester to rectify the story.

Location; Salford

Picture; Greengate, C W Clennell, 1850s, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

* Manchester Local Images Collection,

** Beyond the Metropolis: The Changing Image of Urban Britain, 1780-1880 Katy Layton-Jones  2016 page 42-43

***The Victorian City, Asa Briggs, 1963

**** Obituary; Luke Clennell, The Gentleman's Magazine 1840,

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