L. S. Lowry is well-known for painting his matchstick men, against the back-drop of industrial buildings and back-to-back terraces, in scenes from the North-West of England. So, what is Lowry's connection with Berwick-upon-Tweed, England's most northerly town?
Berwick was a very popular seaside holiday destination with families in the 1930's, with bracing sea-air and bathing pools in Berwick and Spittal. Lowry visited Berwick as a solitary soul, drawn to the sea and the beautiful architecture of the town, for the first time in the mid-1930's. He continued to holiday here frequently until the year before his death in 1976.
While visiting the town, Lowry would stay at the Castle Hotel on Castlegate. Having travelled by steam train to the Railway station, he had a very short walk to the hotel and could from there spend his days exploring the Elizabethan Walls, the back lanes of Berwick (most famously - Dewar's Lane) and venturing across the River to Tweedmouth and Spittal.
Lowry found the architecture of the town fascinating. The imposing Georgian Town Hall features in a number of Lowry's sketches and paintings as a central figure looming over the town, its streets littered with matchstick characters creating a busy and vibrant centre. It is said that he was so taken with one building in Berwick, that he enquired about buying 'The Lions House', but finding the house was damp, he unfortunately did not pursue this any further.
Lowry also had trips out to local attractions in the North which are still popular with today's visitors, including Bamburgh Castle, another beautiful, imposing and solitary building.
Escaping from the city, Lowry created some impressionistic beach scenes and seascapes from Spittal beach, sketching from the promenade. On wet days, Lowry would sketch from the lounge of the Castle Hotel - reliving his previous strolls around the town.
Today, visitors to Berwick can follow in the footsteps of this great artist, by following 'The Lowry Trail'. This excellent town trail (created and maintained by Berwick Preservation Trust) consists of 18 panels with Lowry's work reproduced on them. You can view the same scenes that Lowry enjoyed and compare today's landscape with Lowry's interpretations.