| Davenport History
James Patchell Chettle, portrait by fellow Manchester Academy member
Mary McNicoll Wroe (1861-1955).
This feature came into being during research for another web project
entirely: the life and times of John Cassidy (1860-1939),
Manchester sculptor. In 1922-3 Cassidy created a bronze statue
and two plaques for the war memorial in the town of Stourbridge,
Worcestershire, the overall design of which was by Ernest Pickford of
the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts. The resulting article can be
read on the John
Looking further into the life of Ernest Pickford, I discovered that he
had lived for many years in the Davenport area at 19 Hazelwood Road,
Woodsmoor, and while reading
his December 1944 obituary I found, by sheer coincidence, on the same
page of the Stockport Advertiser,
had a significant reputation in his day.
This article is the result. A passing thought - Stockport makes much of
tennis player Fred Perry, having already named a walking route (the
Fred Perry Way) after him, and now a new council office building, Fred
Perry House, giving free publicity to a clothing company based many
miles away. Although born here, Perry left the town with his family
still a small child, and never returned except for occasional
Maybe it is time that some recognition was given to people who,
not born in Stockport, chose to make the town their home for the prime
of their lives. Here is one of them.
- Charlie Hulme, July 2011.
James Chettle: an Appreciation.
by 'W.M.R.' from the Manchester
[William Maxwell Reekie (1869-1948) was a fellow member of the Academy,
also a businessman in the textile industry.]
His subjects were mainly landscapes, both in oil and watercolour, and
his favourite subjects were the uplands of Derbyshire and the low-lying
marshes of Suffolk. No fewer than fifteen public galleries have bought
examples of his work. They include Manchester, Salford and Stockport.
He had several one-man shows, notable one of watercolours at Salford
Art Gallery two years ago.
There was no art institution in the the district which had not his
support, and he was chairman and later president of the Royal
Manchester Institution. He was in 1934 President of the Manchester
Academy of Fine Arts.
He was a man of kindly and sympathetic nature, especially towards his
brother painters. All that he asked for was sincerity, and I remember
him telling a young artist, who had described to him the subject he had
chosen for his next work, "Yes, that should make a good picture,
especially if you can put into it something of the pleasure you felt
when you selected it."
Some paintings by Chettle owned by local galleries (not normally on
Manchester Art Gallery:
'The Grain Warehouse' (1931)
'Early Morning, Poole Harbour' (1937)
'Pulteney Bridge, Bath' (1938)
'Green Door, Wareham, Dorset' (1940)
'War Memorial, Manchester' (1941)
'Bloody but Unbowed (Portland Street, Manchester)' (1941)
'Derbyshire Farm' (1941)
'Green Pathway' (1942)
Stockport Art Gallery
Valley (1943). This large oil painting (above), which was presented
by Stockport native and cotton agency owner Fred Beech, is included in
an exhibition of landscape paintings entitled 'This
Green and Pleasant Land' at Stockport Art Gallery which ran from
October 2011 to 1 June 2012; a rare chance to view a Chettle painting
in Stockport, along with works by other Manchester Academy members
including J.Anderson Hague (The Coast near Deganwy) and R.G. Somerset
If you know of Chettle paitings in other galleries or collections,
please contact us.
Davenport in 1944
December 1944 was a traumatic time for Davenport, as well as for the
Chettle and Pickford families On Christmas Eve, just a few days after
James's death, the horror of airborne warfare reached our quiet
suburb. A V-1 flying bomb launched from a Heinkel bomber over the North
Sea landed in Garner's Lane, destroying two houses and damaging many
others; one man died following the attack and many people were injured.
At the time, the garages on Oakfield Road were in use for the the
maintenance of US Army vehicles, and American soldiers were among
those who were soon on the scene to help.
One man who lived nearby and died some time after the attack (although
it was reported that he was already ill) was 75-year-old Joseph
Briscoe, who back in 1907 had
listed in a
Stockport street directory as a 'contractor' and tenant of 'The
Sheila Dewsbury: The
Story So Far: The Manchester Academy of Fine Arts from 1859 to 2003.
Obituary. Stockport Advertiser,
Obituary. Manchester Guardian,
Manchester Academy of Fine Arts
Census records at www.ancestry.co.uk
Shelley Rohde, L.S. Lowry, a biography. Salford, Lowry Press,
Peter Davies, A Northern School: Lancashire
Artists of the Twentieth Century. Bristol: Redclife Press,
Contributions are very welcome at at firstname.lastname@example.org
James Patchell Chettle: Davenport Artist
'Solitude' (1932). © Atkinson Gallery, Southport.
James Patchell Chettle
was born in 1871 in Sale, Cheshire, the son of Arthur Beecham Chettle
and his Liverpool-born wife Esther. In
1881 the family was living in Moss Side, and Arthur was working as a
Chandler. By 1891 Arthur had a new profession, traveller [salesman] in
woollen cloth, and the family home was 137 Didsbury Road, Heaton Norris
on the outskirts of Stockport. James was an apprentice in a warehouse.
The 1901 census tells us that James, now a time-served warehouseman,
had just found himself a wife, listed as Nellie H Chettle, just 18
years old, and the couple had made their home with a domestic servant,
Annie Clayton in 'Tor Top', a house in the remote hamlet
known as The Banks, just across the border in Derbyshire on the slopes
of Cobden Edge. Perhaps it was here that he took up painting as a
hobby, inspired by the views of the Peak District hills. Perhaps he
travelled to work by walking the couple of miles down to Strines
Railway station. His wife 'Nellie' was born Eleanor Hewson
Beck in West Derby, Liverpool, daughter of a Scottish-born draper,
Thomas Beck, and his wife Susan.
James flourished in the busy Manchester cotton trading market of
the time; by 1911 he was employed as 'Manager of White Cotton Merchant'
living at 'Craigside', a large house in the picturesque setting of
Reservoir Road in the village of Whaley Bridge, again on the edge of
Peak District, with its one-acre garden and sought-after view across
Toddbrook Reservoir, and for James an easy walk to Whaley Bridge
station. An extended family lived with James and Eleanor in the
house: two daughters, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece. According
to his obituary, it was around this time, aged 42, that he began to
'take the work [of painting] seriously.'
The Peak District (1927). Private Collection, USA
Despite the disruption caused by the World War, the Chettle family
continued to flourish. By 1921 the family had re-located to Davenport,
living in 'Wythburn', Davenport Park Road, and by 1923 James had set up
in business on his own at 29 Major Street, Manchester as a 'buying
agent.' Soon afterwards the family moved again, this time to 'The
Cottage' (a detached house with a large garden) in nearby Clifton Road
(known today as Clifton Park Road) where they were to remain for many
years. His office address became 52 Mosley Street (the building which
houses on its upper floor the Portico Library), and by the
1930s, 1 Brazil Street, Manchester. After the War, he served on the
committee which created the Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, where
he later exhibited paintings on many occasions.
His only son, born in 1915, was also named James Patchell Chettle
(possibly so the firm would be able to keep the same name?) and
- presumably to
avoid confusion - became known in the family as Peter.
In 1927 James (senior) joined the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts,
which had been founded in 1859 as an association of professional
artists, but has recently begun to admit non-professional artists. He
was elected a full member of the Academy in 1930 and, the Stockport Advertiser obituary
records, 'his rise to fame as an artist was 'meteoric.' In 1933 he was
elected as vice-president of the Academy, and in 1934 became the first
non-professional artist to be President. No doubt his business acumen
was as welcome to
the members as the quality of his paintings, in the difficult years
that followed; he remained president until his death. He also served as
President of the Manchester Athenaeum Graphic Club, where he
himself had learned his art.
Place Verdun, La Rochelle (1929). © Blackburn Art
He sold many paintings to private collectors and public galleries:
Manchester Galleries own several, although you'll be lucky to see
one on display. His regime at The Academy was the subject of some
controversy, as professional painters with 'modern' ideas felt that
their work was being given second place to traditional figurative work
such as Chettle's landscapes. In 1938, at the Academy's studios in
Street, Rusholme, he exhibitied 50 of his paintings.
During World War II, he took to
painting the devastation in Manchester brought about in 1940 by German
bombing. Of his stark landscape 'War Memorial' showing the ruins of
Major Street, site of his former workplace, he wrote 'I have tried to
express more than a mere record ... is it too much to hope that no
further subjects of this kind will be presented to us?'
Meanwhile, in 1937, the firm of J.P.Chettle Ltd, wholesalers of
textiles, was incorporated, based at the 1 Brazil Street headquarters
(the building on the right of the present-day picture above) although
at some time an additional London office was opened. During
World War II, when their son, who married Molly Robinson, of Dial
House, Bramhall in 1939 and lived at 5 Elswick Avenue, Bramhall, was in
the army, James
and Eleanor moved to a smaller home at 1 Ramsdale Road, Bramhall, where
in December 1944 James died. Eleanor remained at Ramsdale Road,
outliving her husband by many years, later moving to 17 Hartington
Road, Bramhall. She died in 1976 in Horsham, Surrey. James P. Chettle
Ltd continued to operate at Brazil Street into the 1970s, and as
a London-based company, under different management,
until it was finally wound up in 1996.
'The Cottage', where James Chettle made many of his paintings, is shown
in red on the 1930 map above. The house was previously occupied by
William Henry Lees, Felt Hat Manufacturer, whose father, William Lees,
his brother Thomas, is said to have begun making hats at their home in
Reddish at the age of eight. The brothers later developed one of
Stockport's largest hat factories in Adcroft Street, off Hillgate.
'The Cottage' no longer exists, having met the fate of many of the
largest houses built in
Davenport in Victorian and Edwardian times and unwanted by later
generations. It was demolished in the 1960s, long
before Davenport Park was designated a 'Conservation Area' - replaced
by 'Clifton Lodge', the grey 'H-block' seen in centre of the the
current aerial view above, which contains eighteen separate apartments.
Of the seven houses which once stood on the south side of the road,
all have disappeared, although the smaller ones on the north side are
all still intact.
Chettle and Lowry
One of the first artists to be invited to become members of the Academy
under Chettle's presidency became one of its most famous members:
Laurence S. Lowry. Like Chettle, Lowry also had a full-time job in the
business world, but unlike Chettle, this fact was not generally known
for many years. Chettle, and his friend Maxwell Reekie, however, were
artistically very different from Lowry.
In her biography of Lowry, Shelley Rhode relates:
James Chettle, a man with inordinately large red ears
who painted pleasant watercolours, came eventually to be regarded by
Lowry with some affection despite his unhappy knack of the saying the
wrong thing at thr wrong time ... there was a tale, told by Lowry ...
that at the opening of an exhibition at Salford City Art Gallery,
Chettle was heard to remark that he had in his breakfast room a drawing
of Lowry's ('which I gave him', Lowry interjected) with a cat in it
that looked like no cat on earth. Lowry, seated just in front of the
speaker, barely turned his head to observe, quite distinctly: 'It's a
Note on copyright: Rights
in the works reproduced here remain with the owners. If any owner
objects to their inclusion on this wholly non-commercial website,
please contact me and they will be removed,
Written by Charlie
July 2011. Last updated January 2012.