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LS Lowry sits down at Sam’s Chop House

Big bronze bar hog takes over in Manchester institution

Published on February 23rd 2011.

LS Lowry sits down at Sam’s Chop House

Back in 2000, Roger Ward of Sam’s Chop House, drank with Ernest Hemingway in a bar in Havana.

People are already coming in having their pictures taken with it. I wanted a focal point with a bit of history behind it and that’s what it’s become.”

Describing his drinking companion as ‘damned good company’, the encounter inspired Ward’s latest project. For Ward wasn’t sat next to the renowned American author and journalist – he’d died forty years previously - instead he was perched next to a life-sized bronze statue of him.

Fast forward ten years and Ward spotted a sketch by Harold Riley in the lobby of a King Street office. The image saw LS Lowry slumped over the bar at Sam’s Chop House, asleep after his Christmas dinner. Taking inspiration from both, Ward decided that Lowry should return to his regular haunt in the form of a bronze statue.

Commissioning Peter Hodgkinson, the sculptor behind the Tom Finney statue at Preston North End Football ground, to create a 300kg statue for the Chop House, Ward’s idea began to take shape.

Hodgkinson worked with wire and polyester to create the initial mould that would eventually be transformed into the bronze work that today sits at the bar in the Chop House. The statue took a year to produce. Hodgkinson’s pleased to be part of something that will be around for “hundreds of years, if not thousands”. (Thousands? Had the artist had a drink? Ed)

Ward, meanwhile, is brimming over with enthusiasm for project, saying he feels: “like a proud dad. I wanted something that was the right scale for the bar, so I thought why not life sized. People are already coming in having their pictures taken with it. I wanted a focal point with a bit of history behind it and that’s what it’s become.”

The statue also emphasises Sam’s place in the city as THE classic British restaurant. It’s a clever marketing ploy too, of course, given Lowry’s enduring popularity as a Northern artist.

Ward has a stack of stories about the man drinking and eating at Sam’s. If you see him in the pub, call him over and he’ll be happy to tell you them. Go next week and the man who created the sketch that led to the sculpture, Harold Riley, will be having lunch. Riley has only seen the project in photographs and is eager to see the work in its finished form and location.

He’s going to be impressed.

The statue of LS Lowry can be found in Sam’s Chop House off Cross Street towards....well you can’t blooming miss him.

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