The Garrick’s Head

We moved to Flixton in December 2020, a small township in Greater Manchester on the Lancashire / Cheshire border and just inside the former. It meant Mrs N had finally moved back to the county in which she was born. That wasn’t the reason: we moved to be closer to daughter and her brood who live in Urmston, two miles away.

We often walk to daughter’s house observing a new-to-us townscape, which includes the Flixton Cricket and Sports club, the site of a Roman road, the tip of a granite glacial erratic, the first hospital of the NHS (Trafford General), and The Garrick’s Head. I’d heard of the surname Garrick: there are at least five theatres carrying the name in the UK but I thought it might be a local dignitary of local significance as so many street names are. I did some digging and was astounded.

There was a public house here of that name in 1830, demolished in 1928. The present rather grand Tudor-style building was opened in 1936. What amazes me is that David Garrick wasn’t a film star or someone generally famous these days except with scholars. He was an eighteenth-century actor born 19 February 1717 – died 20 January 1779. He was such a brilliant actor every theatre in Britain wanted him on their stage and his portrait on their walls. (This was before photography, which didn’t become common for nearly a century later). This one by Thomas Gainsborough shows, perhaps, why Garrick became famous, and still is by theatrical scholars and drinkers. It shows warmth, joviality and calmness. Quite different from so many stiff portraits in those times. He was an outstanding actor but also a Drury Lane, London manager devising many special effects for the stage. However, what made me sit up was that someone could be so good in their job that his name lives on today. Yes I know other names survive but they’re prominent politicians, academics, scientists, military, artists, writers or royalty. A long list I suppose but still, it would be like if I was such a good teacher my name would decorate pubs in 250 years – not!

Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough

This isn’t all. David Garrick heard a singer on the stage who was such a warbler that he fell in love and married Eva Veigel. When David died at age 62 of a bad cold, his wife lived on for a further 43 years!

David Garrick was a pupil of Dr Samuel Johnson – the inventor of the English Dictionary. Such a lot happened in his life.

An information board at the pub tells us that in 1944 The Glen Miller band and world Heavyweight boxer Joe Louis stayed at the pub while on a good will visit to the Trafford General Hospital then called 10th Station Medical Hospital.

I hope others who walk during lockdowns or not find pleasure in picking at these kind of historical facets of our towns.

References:

David Garrick – Wikipedia

His wife  Eva Marie Veigel – Wikipedia

The pub website The Garricks Head – Friendly pub in Flixton (business.site)

 

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