Hoots from the Archive - Item from the Archive: The J.L. Paton Bronze

Posted by Rachel Kneale on 21 Apr 2022

Paton bronze

We hold a number of these small bronzes in the archive, depicting legendary MGS High Master, J.L. Paton. Old Mancunians will remember the large original bronze upon which these miniatures were based.

When Paton resigned as High Master in 1924, he had been at the helm of the School for twenty three years, including the difficult period of the First World War and the Spanish flu pandemic. The Governors wanted to create something in memory of a High Master who had brought in significant and transformational changes to the School, including the introduction of treks and camps and much of the groundwork to move MGS out to Rusholme. Boys and staff were also keen to remember Paton, as were Old Mancunians, many of whom were still in touch with their old headmaster. Paton himself refused to sit for a painting - it seems that the bronze was created from a photograph.

The money for the creation of the plaque came from the fundraising of the Old Mancunians Association, and they presented the bronze to the School in 1925 with the intention of it being displayed in the new buildings.

"The bronze portrait medallion of Mr. Paton was officially presented to the School on February 20th, on behalf of the Old Mancunians Association by the President, Mr. Miller. In the absence of Sir Arthur Haworth (Chairman of the Governors), Colonel Westmacott accepted it as a fitting tribute to one who
had given so much of himself to the service of the School. In becoming, as High Master, “custodian” of the portrait, Mr. Miller said that although Mr. Paton’s memory was deeply engraved in the hearts of all those who knew him, we welcomed a visible memento such as Mr. Cassidy’s medallion, which would be a source of inspiration to future generations."

The artist who created the piece was John Cassidy, a notable sculptor who produced a number of other pieces of public sculpture in Manchester and further afield, including the now controversial statue of Edward Colston in Bristol. While the School waited for the big move to Rusholme, the piece was exhibited in Manchester Art Gallery. Ulula reported that

"Small bronze copies of Mr. Cassidy’s plaque of Mr. Paton, recently exhibited in the Manchester Art Gallery, can now be obtained from the Receiver’s office for one guinea each."

The archive now holds six of these copies and of course the original bronze remains in its original position keeping a watchful eye over the Paton Library.

                                                                        The bronze in its setting in a modernised Paton Library



Stephen Jones

1 Like Posted 2 years ago

Is that the original setting?  I remember it being in the corridor outside the library.

Rachel Kneale

0 Likes Posted 2 years ago

Thanks Stephen, that's interesting - I'll do some digging


Post your own comment

Subscribe for updates

Subscribe to receive update emails whenever new Hoots from the Archive articles are posted.