Russell Watson explores how his native Salford has changed since artist LS Lowry painted the industrial town. Russell also performs Jerusalem.
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Hello. It's Russell Watson in the city of Salford,
and I want to take you back to 1976.
I remember very clearly, even though I was just a boy, the death of a man
who, more than any other, shaped the popular image
of this part of the world.
He lived here for nearly 30 years. This is Station Road, Swinton,
and up there, in a tiny little attic, is where he created
all his beautiful paintings and drawings.
He was, of course, Laurence Stephen Lowry.
And he perfectly captured the industrial Salford of last century.
But I'm curious to know what is left of Lowry's world.
I'm off to find some of the landmarks
captured on canvas by Lowry, and meeting fellow Salfordians
who are making a difference in their community today.
And in an old cotton mill sketched by Lowry,
I'll be performing the classic hymn, Jerusalem.
Just a short walk from Lowry's home at the end of Station Road
is St Peter's Parish Church, the setting for our hymns tonight.
And amongst the congregation is someone that I'm really
looking forward to meeting.
She's been coming here for almost 65 years,
and she has a Lowry tale or two to tell.
But first, the hymn, Lord, Enthroned In Heavenly Splendour.
I've never been a chocolate eater.
Joan Etchells has been going to St Peter's since 1945.
She continues to be an active member of the congregation and has
fond memories of Lowry visiting the butcher shop owned by her in-laws.
Five to eight, he used to walk down on the other side of Station Road
till he saw them drop the blind, then he'd come in the shop.
He didn't like coming when there was a crowd of people.
So in many respects, he was quite shy.
Oh, very shy! A very, very, shy person.
When I first met him, he said, "Oh, you're the bride to be, are you?"
And I'd heard he didn't talk and so I said, "Yeah, I hope so."
And he started laughing, so he said, "Yeah, I've heard a lot about you."
-You made an impact.
My mother-in-law said she'd never known him
talk to anybody like that.
He was a wonderful, wonderful man.
He always had this trilby cap on and this long raincoat,
and in that pocket, he always had a pad and pencil.
That was his doodle pad, he called it,
and in this one, he always had a packet of sweets,
and if he saw a child, he would give it a sweet because he loved children.
We used to meet him once a month,
and we always met him outside the art gallery in Moseley Street,
and he used to say, "Let's see what they've pinned up for me this week."
And then we went in the cafe in St Peter's Square
and had a coffee with him, you see, before he toddled off to his club.
I didn't know, but he came to our wedding
and he sat at the back of the church.
2nd of April, 1945.
-We were married there.
-That would be...65 years, then, wouldn't it?
I couldn't live without the church.
God, he's helped me an awful, awful lot.
When I had my daughter, that was 1948, she was very poorly
and they didn't give us any hope for her at all.
And I went into church that morning, and as true as I sitting here,
I knelt down to pray and somebody touched my head to say,
"She's going to be all right." And I have never, ever forgotten that.
I had a similar sensation to that singing the Schubert Ave Maria,
and I walked onstage,
and it wasn't actually that long after my gran had passed away,
and I felt a little touch on my shoulder.
I looked back - nobody there -
and it was just one of those special little moments.
People, they think you're silly, they think you're barmy
-if you say anything like this.
-I don't think you're barmy.
I believe that there is life after. I do, really.
That is my belief.
Larry famously captured the industrial scenes around him.
Now those cotton mills and factories,
once the life blood of the city, are gone
and the old docks have been replaced by a new centre for media.
Salford-born Lisa Haywood was worried about
how the influx of newcomers would affect her community.
I knew a lot of people that did work there and that and it was sad.
It was really scary cos you thought, "They're going to take over.
"I'm not having it. This is Salford!"
Do you know what I mean?
-I certainly do know what you mean.
-And we weren't happy about it at all.
We just didn't like it, the thought of it.
When at church she met the chaplain of MediaCity, Lisa told her
what she thought.
"You talk funny, you've got a different accent to us
"and you're posh."
So you had preconceived ideas of it based on...
-Just the way she talked.
-Just the way she spoke.
And I thought, "She's one of them. She's got money.
"She's one of them."
Next time she come to church she went, "I'm back."
We went, "Didn't think you'd come back."
She went, "Well, you're not putting me off." We got talking to her.
She's great, she's absolutely great.
Hence the saying, "Never judge a book by it's cover."
That's what she's learnt us, and by God,
she's learnt us that statement, yeah.
Remarkably, with the help of Hayley, Lisa decided to become
a volunteer in the chaplaincy office,
which is based in what was once a pie factory.
I really enjoyed it.
She said, "One day, we'll do a big business breakfast." And I thought,
"Oh, no." And I went, "All right, then." I don't like letting her down.
So I went and I was nervous. My legs were shaking.
I'm thinking, "Oh, my God, please help me."
I could feel my face going redder and redder and thinking,
"Don't talk to me. Please, just go away." And this one man went,
"You all right, love?" I went, "Yeah, yeah, fine."
He went, "What you doing?"
"I'm dead nervous," I said, "I'm not like yous.
"I'm not clever. I don't even know half the words
"you're coming out with." He went, "Well, ask."
I said, "It don't matter." He went, "No, it does matter."
He said, "You are as good as us. Ask.
"If you don't understand something, ask."
And I thought, "Oh, right, well, I will."
Well, they couldn't shut me up.
They couldn't shut me up and then I started relaxing.
I do them now with her once a month and I love it.
I don't feel intimidated by lots of people in suits
walking in now cos I always think, "You're no different to me."
Lisa has been an absolute blessing to me, really. I do think of her
as a great gift. Lisa's a real bridge between the two communities,
and I think for me especially, the way her faith has grown,
she really has learned that God is there for her,
what ever she's going through.
OK, So I think we'll get these Julia meetings...
It's like someone's been sent to change my life, like, show me
what I'm actually worth.
I thought, "I'm just a person from Salford like everyone else,
"growing up and nothing's ever good going to happen to me."
And now I think, "No, something could happen good to me now,
"because I'm getting on with things."
God's listening to me and he does answer me, so it's good.
Now, as well as his industrial scenes,
Lowry drew and painted the parks of Salford and there were lots
to choose from, because over 60% of Salford is made up of green spaces.
Buile Park is the location of a project run by the charity
START in Salford, an arts project for people
with mental health problems.
The aim of the project, really, is to bring people together,
to allow people to mix and make new friends,
to feel good about themselves, to build up their self confidence
so they can get back into community life.
Gardening in particular can be very therapeutic,
and all these ways of expressing yourself
can help give focus and purpose and something to be proud of as well.
Stops me from getting depressed, suicidal.
I like meeting people, you know, having a chat.
You always find out about different things.
I think nowadays, mental health still has a stigma,
yet it affects us all, whether we're made redundant, whether our
relationships break up, or whether there's a bereavement in the family.
They're all mental health issues that can affect anybody.
Your mood is, you feel a little bit better, even if
it might only just be for a while. You know, it just helps.
Your mind is focused on something else other than yourself.
Suffering and despair
and sadness are very much common to human experience,
and Jesus, in the gospels we're told that he experienced that
despair on the cross as he cried out,
"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
Just the other day,
we were talking to some parents of some of our members,
and just in passing they said, "You've given us our son back,"
and that was really quite emotional.
I suppose that's what makes me so passionate about the project, really.
It's people who have problems the same as I have,
so we all pull together, we help each other much as we possibly can
and we all understand each other and that is the main thing.
Public buildings were another of Lowry's favourite subjects,
like this 1926 sketch of Salford Courthouse.
As a boy, it was Graham Jackson's ambition to work there.
My father was a foreman on the docks
and my mother used to be a seamstress for a friend of hers.
I was the first one in the whole of this very large family
to obtain a degree.
It was a real big deal, so to speak.
A proud day in 1978 when Graham qualified as a solicitor.
But at the beginning of last year,
after over 30 years in the profession,
Graham was made redundant.
I'd never had one day out of work.
Then suddenly to be put in this situation
where your whole life is turned upside-down, you really then,
or I really then started to question my faith and saying,
well, am I getting anywhere with this?
Is God helping me?
I was really, really low in mind and spirit.
I don't think you can't feel guilty for being depressed.
It's sometimes, I think, difficult,
when you're in the situation yourself, to look outside of it.
It really was a difficult time.
One particular priest who came, he didn't know anything about me
but it was just his sermon.
He spoke so movingly about
you don't know what God has got in mind for you for the future,
but there is a plan.
I think I came to my senses and said, "No, God isn't abandoning me."
I think that I'm being given far more time now by God
to be able to do things to help other people.
The upshot being that you now feel like you have a new meaning to life?
-I've been fortunate enough to travel a lot into Africa.
-Oh, my word!
To see people living in the bush, in mud huts, walking miles for water,
being afraid to leave their children because of people coming
and either physically or sexually abusing children.
It puts your own difficulties into perspective.
Yes, I'm looking forward to the future
and I think there are opportunities.
Maybe I don't know what they're going to be
but God has something in mind for me.
I'm sure he's not just going to abandon me.
-The twists and turns of faith are continuous.
Sacred Trinity is Salford's oldest church.
Lowry sketched it in 1925 and it's one of his views of the city
that has remained unchanged.
Back then, no-one could possibly have imagined that Sacred Trinity
would hold a monthly Goth night.
Goth and Christian Kolyn Amor is one of its founders.
People have said to me, "You can't be a Goth and believe in God."
And I just start, "Well, I am a Goth and I do believe in God."
Goth night is based on Christian principles.
I'm trying to encourage a group of people that perhaps
might not ordinarily engage with church in any way,
just to get them across the threshold.
It's not quiet, believe me!
But people feel safe to be themselves here.
What do you say to people who are judgmental of you?
Because I think they're the ones that have an issue, not me.
My parents, for example, when I was a teenager.
I was going to ask, how did you... How, for instance...
They weren't big fans. They aren't big fans, still!
-No, they're lovely.
But I wouldn't feel like me if I didn't express myself like this.
I know it sounds a bit daft, it's just clothes, it's just hair styles,
but it's such an expression of what's inside me,
that I would feel crushed if I didn't express myself the way I do.
I'm wearing a Sophie Lancaster bracelet, who was a Goth,
and got beaten to death because she felt so strongly
that she wanted to look that way.
Some people took a violent response to that.
Obviously, some of the imagery and music
and stuff that goes along with Goth culture can seem quite dark.
Very occasionally, some people have not been happy with that
and have challenged me to say,
"You shouldn't be doing this," or, "You can't do this."
-Within the world of the Goths, or?
-So there's been conflicts from both ends?
But my perception of Jesus is
that he tried to reach those kinds of people
that everybody else didn't really want to hang around with.
Or was outside what was accepted in society at that time
and if we can do a tiny bit of that, then I think that's quite good.
# And did those feet in ancient time
# Walk upon England's mountains green
# And was the Holy Lamb of God
# On England's pleasant pastures seen
# And did the countenance divine
# Shine forth upon our clouded hills
# And was Jerusalem builded here
# Among those dark satanic mills
# Bring me my bow of burning gold
# Bring me my arrows of desire
# Bring me my spear O clouds unfold
# Bring me my chariot of fire
# I will not cease from mental fight
# Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
# Till we have built Jerusalem
# In England's green and pleasant land
# Jerusalem! #
Almighty God, may we live with hope in this, our earthly community,
and anticipate with joy, the heavenly city
and the communion of all the Saints
through Christ, our Lord, Amen.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you, this day and always.
Next week, Pam meets people who believe they've encountered angels,
including author Lorna Byrne
who says she's seen angels since she was a child.
The hymns will be angelic, of course,
and there's music from Sir Willard White.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Russell Watson explores how his native Salford has changed since artist LS Lowry painted the industrial town. Russell also performs Jerusalem and introduces other popular hymns from St Peter's Church in Swinton.