Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Town, possibly Manchester; ?a Train on the Irwell Bridge on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway; a Figure Study; Chester and the River Dee from the East; the Crescent, Buxton, with St John’s Church Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 191 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 58 a

Catalogue entry

This page comprised a miscellaneous range of views. With the page turned vertically, at the top is a prospect of a town beyond a low, single-arched bridge with church towers to the left and what appear to be industrial chimneys to the right. The subject is uncertain, although industrial Manchester, through which Turner passed on his way to Scotland in 1831, has been suggested;1 for other views in this sketchbook see under folio 12 recto (D22171).
Below, framed by horizontal pencil lines, is a view of a bridge with two large arches, with what may be buildings to the left, above which the sun is seen through the smoke which Turner notes at this point. The view is unidentified, but might again be Manchester. Thomas Ardill has suggested that Turner rode on the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway as he approached Scotland in 1831; see his Introduction to the ‘Scotland 1831’ section of the present catalogue.2 It is possible that Turner’s inscription reads ‘Smoke of the | Engine’, and that the emphatic upright form is the smoke-stack of a locomotive. If so, the two-arched bridge may be that carrying the track over the River Irwell, just west of the original Manchester terminus on Liverpool Road (now part of Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry);3 the original bridge survives, now closely flanked by two others. An anonymous painting of about 1830 of The ‘Rocket’ (Liverpool and Manchester Railway Train) Crossing the Bridge over the River Irwell shows the structure in its original setting (National Trust, Greenway, Devon). Less certain still, there appear to be the capital letters ‘LM’ in a position which could correspond to a carriage, which might be abbreviations of signage of a carriage’s livery. In all, the evidence is too slight to enable a definite conclusion. What might be the same bridge appears on folio 16 recto (D22179). For another locomotive-like form, see folio 25 recto (D22194); another slight sketch, on folio 85 recto (D22307; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 84) might also show the railway.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

MS amendment to Ian Warrell’s notes from 1993 and later in Tate catalogue files.
See also Thomas Ardill, ‘Turner in Liverpool, 1831’, Turner Society News, no.112, August 2009, p.13.
See ‘Liverpool Road Station’, MOSI Museum of Science & Industry, accessed 14 April 2014,

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