Early Life in Bolton
Scoper Lane (Scope ‘oth Lane)
Thomas Mewburn Crook was born at Tonge Moor, Bolton in 1869. He was the third son of James Crook, a Cotton Waste Maker and his wife, Dinah(nee Hamilton). The middle of five children, he had two older brothers, Joseph Hamilton and Charles Mason and two sisters, both younger than him, Frances Mary and Theresa Mary. There were also two other children who died as 11 month old infants, Francis Fletcher and Anne Elizabeth.
His early life was spent at Tonge Moor; in the 1871 census, he is shown as a
1 year old with his brothers and parents in Scope ‘oth Lane.
101, St Mark’s Street
Sometime in the late 1870’s the family moved to St Mark’s Street, Bolton.
He must have attended a local school initially, but by 1881 he was a boarder at the Xavierian Collegiate College in Chorlton upon Medlock, with his older brother Charles. The rest of his family do seem to appear in this census.
The first indication of his desire to become an Artist is found in the 1891 Census, when he is shown as an Art Student, living with his parents, brother and sisters at 101, St. Mark’s Street, Bolton. However, by this
stage, Thomas had already attended evening classes at
Bolton Art School and full time study at the Manchester School of Art under Richard Glazier.
Royal College of Arts, South Kensington
In 1890, he graduated with his Art Master’s Certificate, which enabled him, shortly after the 1891 Census, to move to the Royal College of Arts in South Kensington. There he underwent more intense study of design, drawing, painting and especially modelling under Professor Lanteri. He remained there for the next five years, making full use of the rich artistic heritage in London’s museums and Art Galleries.
His desire to extend his knowledge of Art was not confined to England, but these ‘London years’, allowed him the opportunity to travel to France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Germany. Indeed the Art department at South Kensington
actively encouraged such trips and saw them as an integral part of an Artist’s training. The training he received was rigorous and exacting, following a 23 point system requiring the student to master skills in all areas related
to Art, sketching, painting, anatomical drawings, design, architectural and
engineering drawings. It demanded hard work from its students and
Thomas did not disappoint, often winning first class honours. Early on, it
was evident that he was a very talented artist, with a particular interest
and aptitude in Sculpture. This certainly did not escape Professor Lanteri’s
notice; in Thomas’ last year there, Lanteri chose Thomas to be his
Assistant. An honour indeed!