This site celebrates the life and work of sculptor John
Cassidy (1860 - 1939).
This page is for news, comments from readers and other
odds and ends that don't need their own page.
Bust of Sir Charles Hallé, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.
News and comment: updated 19 March 2013
'Adrift' to return
As recorded in our feature on
Cassidy's masterwork 'Adrift', the sculpture was removed from its
location in St Peters Square, Manchester and placed in storage to make
way for the building site which is the refurbshment of the Central
Library and Town Hall Extension. Since then, plans have been
developed for the reconfiguration of the square itself to improve its
appearance and also allow for an enlargement of the Metrolink tram
station. Planning permssion for these changes has now been given, and
work has begun. We are please to say that permisson was granted on
condition that 'Adrift' should be returned to the square in a position
approved by the City Art Gallery. The map extract above (the full
on the Mancheser council site) shows the proposed location,
which is outside the square itself, to the side of the library among
This picture shows the proposed site in March 2013,
occupied by ugly temporary buildings related to the work on the
Library. We'll need to wait for these to be removed (sometime in 2014?)
to get an idea of how the sculpture will 'work' in the area. It has to
be remembered that the work was never intended by its artist, or James
Gresham who commissioned it, to be an outside landscape feature, but
better to be outside that not seen at all.
Cassidy in Print: Our
essay about John Cassidy and his Manchester patrons has now been
published in the Bulletin of the
John Rylands University Library of
Manchester, as part of a theme issue on Manchester Architecture.
The full list of contents of the issue 'Architecture and Environment:
Manchester in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries' is:
Hebbert, Michael: Introduction [by
the guest editor]
Hodgson, John: 'Carven stone and
blazoned pane': The Design and Construction of the John Rylands Library
Barter, Marion and Hartwell, Clare:
The Archirecture and
Architects of the Lancashire Independent College, Manchester
Connelly, Angela: 'A pool of
Bethesda': Manchester's First Wesleyan Methodist Central Hall (2012)
Morris, David: 'Here by
experiment': Edgar Wood in Middleton (2012)
Jolley, Victoria: An Unsuspected
Skyline Rival: Lee House, Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester
Cunliffe, Steve and Wyke, Terry:
Memorializing its Hero: Liberal Manchester's Statue of Oliver Cromwell
Manchester Scupltor and
his Patrons: Their Contribution to Manchester Life and Landscape (2012)
Perkins, Chris and Dodge, Martin:
Mapping the Imagined Future: The Roles of Visual Representation in the
1945 City of Manchester Plan
Crompton, Andrew: Manchester Black
and Blue (2012)
For more about the Bulletin
see our list
Volume 1. To enquire about purchasing a copy of
this issue, which we understand costs £25 including UK postage,
email the administrator Judith Kent: Judith.Kent@manchester.ac.uk. All
the eaasys are well worth a read by anyone interested in Manchester's
Sheila Crehan of the Slane History and Archaeology Society
writes: 'Our activity for Heritage Week was a John Cassidy walk on 23
August. People assembled at St. Erc's cemetery carpark at 7 pm. We were
supported this year by a large group from Rathfeigh Historical Society
whose members deserve great credit as it was a very wet evening. It
rained incessantly during the walk. Shelter was taken along the way
under trees and hedges and beside large vans and walls.
'Some walkers succeeded in reaching the gate which opens to the laneway
that leads to the dilapidated remains of Cassidy's birthplace. The very
inclement weather forced others to return to their cars.'
'Afterwards we ended up in the local Conyngham Arms hotel where a
lively discussion on Cassidy took place and where images of some of the
sculptor's work were passed around. Refreshments were served and
despite the rain we all felt happy with our effort.'
'Ship Canal Digger' lost to view
News from Manchester
Galleries: 'From Monday 9 January 2012, the Manchester Gallery
will be closed while we renew the display. It will reopen at the
beginning of May with an installation of international contemporary art
inspired by Manchester.'
This refers to the room on the ground floor of the Mosley Street
gallery devoted to art works relating to Manchester. This has in recent
times been the only place in the Gallery where a Cassidy work - 'The
Ship Canal Digger' could be seen, which thus joins 'Adrift' in
(hopefully) temporary obscurity.
'Adrift' taken away
Above: the site of Cassidy's major work 'Adrift' in St Peters Square,
Manchester, as seen on 13 April
2011, now amid builders' detritus connected with the 'improvements'
on in the Town Hall and Library. 'Adrift' has been
removed and placed in safe storage as if was feared it would be
damaged. We are assured that it will be replaced when the work is
complete - maybe in 2013.
RSS Feed now available
You can now find out about news articles on this site without visiting
it, but subscribing to our new RSS Feed.
This will automatically add new messages in your email or web browser
program telling you that each new or updated article is available.
There are many ways of subscribing to RSS feeds, too many for us to
explain them all, but here are links to instructions for Internet
Explorer 7, Windows
... Hotmail does not appear to have an RSS reader, sadly. I (C.H.) find
Thunderbird, a general-purpose email program, is particularly good
for both email and RSS-reading on the same screen.
The address of the feed to enter in your reader is:
Thanks to funding from members of the Slane Historical Society, John
Cassidy's grave in Manchester Southern Cemetery was cleaned and 'reset'
during the summer of 2010, Cassidy's 150th birthday year. Compare this
view with the pictures from 2009 below
to see the remarkable difference. The work was done by the skilled
craftsmen of local firm James Hilton, and fine job was done too.
The original James Hilton was
a comtemporary of Cassidy: he founded his firm in 1867, initially in
the City Centre and later, as now, opposite the cemetery. Born in
Lockwood, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, he came to Manchester in about
1862, marrying Ruth Edwards (born in Denbighshire, Wales) there in
1863. The 1871 Census shows James Hilton, Sculptor, aged 33, living
with his wife Ruth, his children Jane and Albert, and a lodger named
John Taylor, an apprentice, at 28 Francis Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock.
By 1881 the family are at 57 Molyneux Street, C-on-M, and James, now
described as a mabrle mason, has prospered enough to employ a servant,
Fanny Taylor. The 1891 census has Ruth and Jane living at 16 Clarendon
Road, C-on-M and looking after two boarders. In 1901, aged 63, he
was living with only a housekeeper at 53 Molyneux Street, and
describing himself as a sculptor, while Ruth was living at 266
Stockport Road, Levenshulme with Jane, her husband James Somerville
Crawford and their daughter Ruth. His son Albert Edward took up a
different trade, becoming a signwriter, and by 1911, living at 11
Lancaster Road, Fallowfield with wife Mary and daughter Dorothy, he
describes himself as a 'sign expert.'
James Hilton died in about 1908 but the firm he founded continues under
his name to the present day.
Slane village to have a heritage centre
From the Meath Chronicle, 1 September 2010:
Meath County Council was the
proud recipient of a piece of the heritage of Slane when the Marquess
Conyngham, Henry Mountcharles, gifted the Cavan Row Cottages in the
village to the council. The official handover took place in the council
chamber in the presence of the cathaoirleach, Cllr Ann
Dillon-Gallagher, the county manager, Tom Dowling, and members of the
Slane Historical Society.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Lord Mountcharles said he would like
to see the cottages become a focal point of the village. "Slane is one
of the most significant 18th century villages in the country and it
needs a boost in terms of getting a heartbeat in its centre," he said.
Meath County Council says it intends to refurbish the cottages and
develop them into a heritage and tourism centre.
John Cassidy Commemorative
As part of Heritage
Week in Ireland there was a
guided walk around the Village of Slane organised by the Slane
Society to commemorate the 150th
anniversary of the
birth of John Cassidy, visiting the site of his birthplace and the
village where he grew up.
A recently-discovered work
This commemorative plaque for Martin Hawke, 1861-1928, signed on the
back 'John Cassidy RBS 1929' was recently brought to our attention by
the current owner.
The Carborundum company was formed in the USA in 1891 to manufacture
indstrial abrasives. The company history relates:
Edward Acheson (1856-1931) born
in Washington Pennsylvania, had been performing experiments using
electricity in order to create artificial diamonds. Instead of
diamonds, Acheson discovered a new type of crystal created as a
by-product of his experiments. He quickly determined that the crystals
were able to cut not only glass, but diamonds as well. The crystals
also possessed excellent refractory properties. Acheson decided to
commercialize the new product, adopting the name Carborundum because he
mistakenly believed that the crystals were a combination of carbon and
aluminum oxide, also known as corundum. The crystals were later
revealed to be silicon carbide, and recognized as the world's first
man-made mineral. Acheson set up his company in 1891 and began
producing grinding wheels using the new substance.
Carborundum opened its British subsidiary in 1913, with Martin Hawke as
Managing Director, and established a factory in the Trafford Park
industial estate in Manchester.
Martin Hawke was actually born in 1862, in Cornwall, the son of an ore
dresser in the tin mining industry. He married Bessie Hill, from
Plymouth, and the couple emigrated to the United States in 1886 where
he found a job with the Carborundum company and rose to a managerial
position, becoming an American citizen. His sons Irving Joseph Hawke
and Clarence Ewart Hawke also worked for the company. He returned to
England to set up the Trafford Park factory, and made his home at
'Maynwood', Leicester Road, Hale, Cheshire, a wealthy suburb of
Manchester. His name appears many times on the passenger lists of
transatlantic liners, although he must not be confused with another
Martin, later Lord, Hawke who was a famous cricketer of the day.
After several mergers and changes of ownership, the company changed its
name in 1997 to Carbo PLC, and in 2004 the Manchester factory was
closed down, and later demolished, production being transferred to
'The Glorious Dead'
The Glorious Dead, a
new, and very exhaustive book on the figurative sculptures on British
war memorials, written by Geoff Archer,
Publishing of Norfolk. Mr Archer is himself an artist as well as a
historian: his website
gives examples of his paintings. The book has developed from an
interest in his local memorial, leading to travel over the UK visiting
Cassidy's large memorials are listed and illustrated, as well as those
of many other sculptors of the time who created figures for memorials,
mostly in the 1920s. The book has 416 pages, and 260 black-and-white
pictures, nearly all taken by the author himself. The book costs
A 70th anniversary tribute
Notes and pictures by Charlie Hulme
Aware that the 70th anniversary of Cassidy's death was approaching, on
15 July I made a visit the man's grave, in Manchester Southern
Cemetery, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, three miles south of the City Centre. The
picture shows the main entrance on Barlow Moor Road.
Opened in 1879, the burial grounds and associated chapels cover a wide
area - 168 acres (68 Hectares) according to one source - divided into
sections according to religion: Cassidy lies in the Roman Catholic
section (see out Last Days feature for
details) where understandably there is a preponderance of Irish
surnames, with some Polish ones, especially from more recent years. The
upkeep of the place is a credit to Manchester City Council: it is a
pleasure to walk through its wooded glades. Cassidy's simple headstone
is shown above. Unfortunately, in recently years the authorities have
ordered some of the stones to be laid down on the ground in case they
fall on someone, but John's stone has happily not suffered in this way.
A walk to one of the flower shops in the nearby streets produced some
flowers to brighten up the scene for the anniversary, and also
something extra to hold them, as the cast-iron urn on the right is
sadly rusted through. When I visited at 3pm, the sun was shining full
on the stone.
A crcular area in the centre of the Cemetery has the memorials of some
of the more 'notable' occupants: the impressive celtic cross
above is for Sir John W. Alcock, pioneer transatlantic flyer and
subject of a Cassidy memorial in the Town Hall - see our feature Down in Albert
Fountain conservation completed
Manchester City council are doing a fine job conserving Cassidy's work
in the City centre. Following the restoration of King Edward (below)
and the re-appearance of 'Adrift' (see special page)
... and here it is completed in May 2009. (The aircraft is part of a
Royal Air Force recruiting event.) Our
special thanks are due to Mr Strittmatter, Programme Manager for Public
Arts and War Memorials, for his enthusiastic support for John Cassidy's
'Adrift' in the news
We are no the only ones who have been photographing 'Adrift' - here are
Flickr by Joseph McCarraghy.
An item about the revival of the work appeared
News on 2 April, thanks to Tony
Frankland, a volunteer at the Museum of Science and Industry, who
has been 'quietly campaigning' for 'Adrift' to be re-instated and wrote
to the M.E.N's postbag in February. Note, however, that the
unveiling of the plaque on the sculpture will not take place in April
as suggested by the article: it will be a little later this year.
Neither are we aware of the 'John Cassidy Appreciation Society'
mentioned in the item. If anyone knows of such a body, please let us
Another, very interesting and accurate, article (by Jonathan Schofield)
can be found on the Property
Is it any good do you think?
Yes, it shows Cassidy was a competent sculptor who could handle
emotion. He’s not a Rodin (his contemporary) but he can still sculpt
powerfully. The mother and baby are handled very well, the body and
features of the mother tight with devotion, misery and worry for her
child, despite her own tenuous hold on life. I’m not sure that the new
siting is any good at all, the work is surrounded by street furniture
and too close to the road and the buses. It could do with more room to
breathe but then it is occupying the site of another sculpture. Perhaps
it should be facing the Midland as well, rather than the 84 from
Chorlton and the trams to Altrincham.
Well, yes, it does rather look as though the father is trying to flag
down a passing bus...
Spruce-up for King Edward
|This picture, taken by
John Lynch on 27 February 2008, shows Cassidy's King Edward VII in Whitworth
Park, Manchester shrouded in scaffolding and plastic
Planned conservation work includes cleaning, repatination, and, we are
very pleased to hear, replacement of the King's lost sceptre and the
cross from his orb. Expected date of completion is the end of April
Our King Edward
VII page has been updated with new pictures, quotes and background
Cassidy and Hallé 150
The exhibition commemorating 150 years of the Hallé Orchestra,
in the Local Studies Library of Manchester Central Library, St Peters
Square in 2008 included, as well as various
Hallé memorabilia and displays on the history of the orchestra,
the small Cassidy bronze by (approx. 70cm high) statue of the founder,
Joseph Hallé, which is normally kept in the Principal's Office
of the Royal Northern College of Music.
This was, according to the caption, presented to the College of Music
by Mrs Walter Beer. Mrs Walter Beer was formerly Lucy Huckett, who with
her sister Fanny had lived at Longford Hall with Mrs Rylands as
'adopted nieces.' Water Beer was a Manchester cotton merchant.
There is a bust of Hallé, also by Cassidy, on permanent display
in the foyer of the nearby Bridgwater concert hall, the home of the