IT’S a sob story with a happy ending. More than 50 years ago , John Waldie, then aged six, put a brave face on things after an accident in a hotel in Berwick in Northumberland.Related content
John, now 57 and living near Hexham in Northumberland, held a heavy door open for two ladies and saw stars when it swung back in his face.
But John didn’t cry – and that impressed a fellow guest at the Castle Hotel.
That guest in August 1958 turned out to be the artist LS Lowry, who said: “That’s a brave boy for not crying.”
As a reward, Lowry sketched a street scene on a sheet of hotel notepaper, signed and dated it, and gave it to young John.
Now another reward is on the way for John on Tuesday when the Lowry gift will be sold by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson & Garland. It is expected to fetch more than £4,500.
John had been on holiday in the Berwick hotel with his parents, who lived in Sunderland.
John’s father had fallen into conversation with Lowry, who had a fondness for staying at the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland, and they chatted about Wearside.
John’s father had also been on holiday frequently as a boy in Southport, where Lowry had worked as a rent collector.
“Lowry was staying at the Castle Hotel on his own and he and my father got on quite well,” said John.
So when John had his accident, Lowry was quick to respond. John said that the Lowry artwork, in fountain pen over pencil, had lain in a family drawer for years.
“It was a very nice gesture by Lowry, and I suppose it is a piece of local history,” said John, who worked as a solicitor and now builds and sells model locomotives. Lowry seemed to be very keen on the seaside and we had travelled to Berwick by train because we didn’t have a car.”
John Anderson, of Anderson & Garland, said last night: “There were many myths surrounding Lowry, including the belief that he was a solitary and misanthropic individual.
“But this incident throws a spotlight on a Lowry as a very different and well-rounded person.
“There has been massive interest in this artwork and people from across the country have been booking telephone bids.”
Berwick and Seaburn were favourite holiday haunts for Lowry.
Earlier this year a study of Berwick Market Place was put up for auction at around £500,000 by Christies in London.