Here Lived T A Coward

Hi Everyone,  This is my first post so I thought that I would just reflect on the varied and interesting work that I am lucky enough to provide for my customers.

As you can imagine, I have had some wonderful jobs over the years that I have been making and repairing stained glass panels but there was one job recently which really caught my imagination.  It wasn’t the actual repair which was fairly straightforward, it was the fact that the house had a ‘blue plaque’ outside.

Blue Plaque for Thomas Alfred Coward

As you can see from the photo, the house had once been occupied by a Mr T. A . Coward from 1902 to 1933 and his occupation is listed as ‘naturalist’.  It is not very often that you get to work on a house that had someone famous living there so I decided to try to find out more about him.

According to my research, Thomas Alfred Coward was actually born in Bowdon in January 1867 and died in the house I worked on in March 1933 so he was relatively young –just 66. For over thirty years, he was fortunate enough to follow his own bent in studying animals, particularly vertebrates.  He contributed many books and articles on the subject but possible his best known work was on his study of Birds and their eggs which was issued as a book in 1919 and did more to promote and encourage the intelligent study of birds in Great Britain than any other work of his time. This seems so improbable for an occupier of a relatively modest house in a Cheshire suburb. You expect to find naturalists in some deep rural setting , miles from anywhere.

During the First World War, he was acting keeper of the Manchester Museum and spent his life studying ornithology not just in the UK from the Shetland Isles to Cornwall but also overseas. With his wife, who shared his passion for nature, they visited Holland, the Camargue, the Pyrenees, and Hungary in order to find birds he could not see at home.

As I worked on his stained glass panel, which had been broken by a careless builder, I contemplated how such a husband and wife team had become famous enough to justify a ‘blue plaque’ and what other famous people might have visited this house. He was probably visited by Percy Edwards who people may remember was a voice artist and did impressions of birds on the radio. He probably also inspired Bill Oddie to become an ornithologist before he become one of the “Goodies”. I also reflected on the fact that in a very small way, I had contributed to keeping his name alive by restoring the original panel in the door that he and his wife must have used many, many times. Oh the joys of being a stained glass artist.

So I repaired the window with my thoughts straying on to who must have knocked on they door over the years. Thankfully I did a good job and restored the door to its original splendour.

Image of a Victorian panel door

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