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 Alfred Towers  (1874 - 1961)

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Lived/Active: England/Wales      Known for: Egyptian scene painting, lithography

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Ad Code: 4
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WHITE GEESE IN A STREAM
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following information is from Val Johns, great niece of the artist.

My great uncle, Alfred Towers, was a professional artist, known for his Egyptian scenes. He was born in Aston Manor, Birmingham in 1874 (census 1881 NA ref RG11 piece 2959 folio 9 page 16) and lived in Bull Street, Harbourne Worcestershire (very close to Birmingham) in 1881. His father, also Alfred, was a commercial traveller, born in Birmingham 1842 and his mother Elizabeth (née Richardson) was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham in 1849. Alfred junior had a younger brother Walter (b. 1878).
 
The 1891 census (NA ref: RG12 piece 2361 folio 75 page 32) shows that his father had died and his mother had gone to live with her parents but was wealthy enough to be living on her own means.  Her son, Alfred at 17 was a litho artist. They lived at 41, Serpentine Road, Harbourne, Worcestershire. They had one domestic servant.
 
By the 1901 census (NA ref: RG13 piece 2926 folio 44 page 5) aged 27 Alfred had turned his hand to farming.  He shared his home with his mother and brother who was an insurance agent official. They lived in Baker’s Lane, Knowle, Warwickshire, where he may have met his future wife.  They had two servants, one a Welsh cowman, the other a domestic.
 
Ten years later the 1911 census (NA ref RG14PN22749 RG78PN1332 RD456 SD4 ED15 SN95) shows him, at 37, a visitor in the house of a 76 year old widower still listed as a manufacturer’s agent, called Thomas Champion (he may well have been the father of the visitor in the house where Alfred lived ten years earlier). The address was Hawthorndale, Tarbock Road, Huyton, Lancashire (near Liverpool).  Crucially he described his occupation at this time as “Artist, painter in oil and water colour pictures”.
 
Only two years after this my family becomes related to him.  My great aunt Margaret (née Sutton), my grandfather’s oldest sister, married him in January 1913, soon after the death of her aunt (Fanny Sutton) to whom she had been companion for some 20 years. (Civil registration event: marriage, Reg district: Solihull, County Warwickshire, year of registration 1913, month of quarter Jan-Feb-Mar, vol 6D page 1193). 

Margaret was 41 and Alfred, 39.  I suspect they had met some years before but were unable to marry at that time. Margaret was also an artist of some accomplishment and had become a woman of independent means. Their honeymoon took them to Egypt traveling 1st class on the P&O steamship, Egypt bound for Bombay, which sailed from London on 17 January 1913 according to the embarkation list.  How long they were away and how much further than Egypt they may have travelled I don’t know, but I do remember quite a number of paintings of desert scenes, camels etc on the walls of their house in the early 1950’s.
 
The only other journey I have found so far is one on the Booth steamship Hildebrand sailing out of Liverpool bound for the river Amazon, Brazil, but their destination was Lisbon (it was also due to dock in Madeira, Pala and Manaus). Traveling with them as companion to Margaret was my 23 year old aunt, Irene Sutton, my father’s oldest sister. 

Both Alfred and Margaret were described as being Artists.  Their home address was Llwyn, Llanbedr, Merioneth in North Wales. It is a house I believe they had built for themselves and where they were living when I stayed there on holiday as a small child. It was a wonderful house filled with pictures and memorabilia suggesting they ventured further than just those two destinations. They had an extensive collection of exotic seashells and I seem to recall birds’ eggs too in a studio above the garage.
 
My aunt remained with them throughout their lives and became their caregiver until their deaths. My great aunt Margaret died in 1956 aged 84 and great uncle Alfred died at the age of 87 in 1961 (I was 12).  Of course I remember only a very old man.  He usually wore plus fours as part of his brown tweed suit.  I remember a slightly built man of no great stature, much shorter than my 6 foot tall father.
 


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