About George Mainwaring
Artist George Mainwaring, born 1907 in Rochdale UK. Illustrator of local vignettes, filled with local characters, customs and remembered detail.
George Mainwaring was a mill worker, policeman, Ministry of Food Enforcement Officer, transport manager, writer, an award-winning scout leader, husband, father, grand and great grandfather, and an artist.
Born in 1907 to working class parents in Rochdale, as one of 14 children, money, food and opportunities were hard to come by. As a result, at the age of 12, George went to work as a “half timer” at John Bright’s cotton mill. A year later his education ended and he became a full-time working man.
George’s escape from a tough working life was his Saturday morning class at Rochdale School of Art. At 16 he could easily have progressed to be a full time student in the school, but the family could ill afford the loss of his income, and so the opportunity slipped by.
In 1933 George married Ethel Lee. They were to have two children, Dorothy and then John, and would be happily married for 60 years, until Ethel died.
In the 1960s, George was given the opportunity to combine his artistic talent with the love of local history he shared with Ethel. He wrote and illustrated for the local newspaper, the Rochdale Observer, a series of historical vignettes, filled with local characters, customs and remembered detail.
His much loved contribution to the Observer ran for many years until, in 1975, George’s artistic interests developed further. Dorothy, now a primary school teacher, asked her dad to do a drawing to illustrate a subject that cropped up in one of her lessons, a dancing bear that would provide entertainment in the streets of George’s childhood.
Dorothy liked the picture so much George set about reproducing it in oils, as a surprise birthday present for his daughter. This was his first oil on canvas.
The next twenty years of his artistic life gave him great pleasure, producing a series of oils and numerous ink drawings, allowing him to share the stories of his early life with great skill and character.
George deeply regretted how little formal education he had received and spent an interesting and productive life acquiring and sharing fascinating facts and stories.
George stopped painting when Ethel died. He died three years later aged 89.
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