bronze statue of Brotherton dressed in modern clothes, holding a speech in his right hand, his left hand placed on a small column draped by a cloth. It surmounts a pedestal of red brick, at the side of which is the front panel of the original pedestal. [The original pedestal has not survived]
Following Joseph Brotherton's unexpected death the need to erect an 'enduring memorial' to mark his public works was recognised at a public meeting chaired by Stephen Heelis, the Mayor of Salford. The public subscription launched at the meeting quickly raised over £2,550. Although donations came from the Operative Fine Spinners' Association and two workplace collections, the majority of the 198 subscribers were solid middle-class citizens of Salford and Manchester. The committee decided to provide two memorials: a statue to be located in Peel Park and a memorial to be placed above Brotherton's grave in Weaste Cemetery. Later, a third memorial - a marble bust to be placed in Manchester Town Hall - was also agreed upon.
It was, once again, the reliable Matthew Noble who received the commission to provide a statue in Peel Park. Noble depicted a confident and purposeful public man, the lapel of his frock coat adorned with the buttonhole that Brotherton replaced each day. The commission proceeded smoothly and the bronze statue was cast by Robinson and Cottam at their foundry in Pimlico. It cost £1,050. The speakers at the inauguration in Peel Park, Salford, in August 1858 offered generous tributes to Brotherton's character and public life. Sir Thomas Potter, who had been with Brotherton when he died, praised the causes Brotherton had take up on behalf of all classes, concluding that he hoped that the statue 'would remain under the good care of the present mayor, and the future authorities in Salford, and that it might ever stand to remind them of the good deeds of him to whose memory it was raised.' The Bishop of Manchester, James Prince Lee, congratulated the memorial committee in placing the statue in the beautiful park which Brotherton had helped to establish rather than in a busy street or in the town hall. The memorialisation of Brotherton was on an unprecedented scale for a local public figure. Even so, it did not exhaust the money raised, and the memorial committee found itself with a surplus of £400 which it used to establish a fund to purchase books for local public libraries and mechanics' institutions.
Situated near the entrance of Peel Park and close to the borough's library and museum, all institutions that Brotherton had supported, the statue could hardly have had a more appropriate setting. The Brotherton statue was to remain a landmark of Salford for almost a century. In 1954 it and the nearby statues of Sir Robert Peel and Richard Cobden were taken down to make way for an extension to the city's technical college. The statues were placed in storage and remained there until 1969 when the Brotherton and Peel statues were sold to Christopher Richards of Gawsworth Hall, Macclesfield. Brotherton was placed in the grounds of the hall, (close to a public car park) but not on the original pedestal.
The statue remained there for some fifteen years. It was then purchased by Manchester City Council from a member of the family for £5,000. The council decided to locate the statue in the city-centre, and, in a decision that might be seen as an attempt to blow life into the cold ashes of civic rivalry, it was located on the recently-created Riverside Walk, close to the Albert Bridge, with Brotherton looking across the River Irwell towards Salford. The five-ton statue was placed on a new redbrick pedestal, on which was displayed one of the panels from the original pedestal.
Joseph Brotherton (1783-1857) was the son of John Brotherton, a schoolmaster and exciseman, who established a cotton spinning mill in Manchester in 1789. Joseph Brotherton became a partner in the firm which proved sufficiently successful for him to retire from the business in 1819. He then devoted himself to the public affairs of Salford. Brotherton was an active and reforming local politician whose criticisms and exposures of existing local government bodies contributed towards the establishment of the new borough in 1844, and its extension in 1853. In 1832 he was returned as the borough's first MP, representing Salford until his death. Brotherton acquired a reputation for integrity and in parliament he championed a number of advanced causes including the establishment of public museums, parks and libraries. He was an early and committed free trader. Brotherton also supported legislation for improving working conditions in factories. It was in response to a personal attack made on him during a parliamentary debate on children's employment in the cotton factories that he made one of his most famous remarks, declaring that his 'riches consisted not so much in the largeness of his means as in the fewness of his wants.' Brotherton's religious beliefs were central to his life. He was a member of the Bible Christian Church, a small but influential local dissenting sect which was remembered by outsiders for its belief in teetotalism and vegetarianism. He later served as pastor to the church. Brotherton died suddenly on 7 January 1857 whilst travelling in an omnibus from Pendleton to Manchester, in the company of Sir Thomas Potter and Elkanah Armitage.
Placed by the side of statue is the original inscribed:
THE FIRST AND FOR UPWARDS OF TWENTY FOUR
SUCCESSIVE YEARS (FROM 1832 TO 1857)
THE FAITHFUL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE
BOROUGH OF SALFORD IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
BORN MAY XXII MDCCLXXXIII
DIED JANUARY VII MDCCCLVII
Related works : Bust in Manchester Toewn Hall
PMSA recording information