12 May 1960: Guardian photographer Robert Smithies drives LS Lowry around the Lancashire town of Middleton in search of scenes to paint. The artist eventually settles on the ‘24 steps’
Lowry came to the door as we drove up. The house was sombre behind him. “My word, you are prompt; shall we go?” he said. We left the grey stone of Mottram and headed for the haze that was Lancashire. We waited nervously for him to speak.
“Now then. You want me to paint a picture of Middleton for you? Well you just take me to the places you have in mind. I’ve never done Middleton.” We suggested that perhaps he would prefer to find his own spot.