This weeks Friday Find is more of a hunt. We have a large collection of drawings by Frank Wightman stored at the Greater Manchester County Record Office – some of them were commissioned by GMCRO around 1980 and are large mounted pieces like this one showing a typical Manchester hydraulic packing cellar
We also have a large number of sketches which were left to GMCRO when Frank died in 1989 and this is why we are on the hunt. We’d like to trace relatives of Frank Wightman to see if they would be happy for us to share his sketches publicly.
Many of Frank’s drawings are of mills and the machinery used within them, much of them drawn from memory and in some cases is the only remaining record. The level of detail in some of the pictures is incredible – the Ancoats picture above is an example of his meticulous attention to detail.
The feeling I get most of all from these pictures is affection. In 1968 Frank became one of the first Technicians of what was to become Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, and his talents as a millwright were put to good use in dismantling, moving and reassembling huge pieces of machinery. Ensuring these mighty machines were preserved for us to learn from would have been legacy enough for many men, but not Frank Wightman. He not only helped to save some of the machinery, but he tried to record the others in detail so that we could all marvel at the beauty and ingenuity of the late 19th and early 20th century engineers.
Frank Wightman was a talented artist who loved his subject. If you are a relative, or know how we could get in touch with any remaining family, please contact us.
We’ve digitised some of our commissions and have more to come soon – keep your eyes on the set on our Flickr page