Robert Goldthorpe Brook
The Remarkable Life of RGB
There can be no doubt that R.G. Brook was a successful and respected man in St. Helens. It was to this community that he would dedicate considerable time and energy on elected council for Bradshaw Ward. His informational and monetary wealth was also shared in the promotion of St. Helen's progress. He was a hobbyist photographer turned professional. He was an inventor, and he was a science enthusiast being an active member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and as President of the town's Association for the Pursuit of Science. Between 1883-1885 the association would meet in a Salisbury Street house provided by R.G. Brook and later in Wolverhampton House, his hardware business and one-time home.
These photographs are circa 1880. The above left photograph shows the town's Association for the Pursuit of Science. R.G. Brook is seated in the front row with his arms crossed on his lap (second from the right). Another gentleman Identified only as 'Brook' sits in the front row on the left with his legs crossed. He sports a beard, is wearing glasses, and may likely be Charles Herbert Brook, the Son of R.G. Brook. In the picture to the right (above), R.G. Brook can be seen once again in the front row holding his hat. Charles Herbert Brook is the taller gentleman with the beard in the back row. The photographers of these pictures are unknown.
One of RGBrook's campaign posters for re-election to town council representing Bradshaw Ward asks 'Who gave the useful and ORNAMENTAL LAMP in Church St.?' Also known as the Market fountain, the lamp appears above originally as a gas burning lamp (left) and after conversion to electricity (right). This gift to St. Helen's is a fine example of R.G. Brook's dedication to community, his stature and recognized wealth. The lamp was taken down and the area where it stood has undergone a modern revitalization. The women at the St. Helens Local History & Archives Library told me they believed the lamp still existed, remembering some sort sort of article on its whereabouts, but that was all they could provide. Let's hope it does exist somewhere. Photographs possibly taken by R.G. Brook, but this has not been confirmed.
On the left is an election poster by R.G. Brook in St. Helens. This was obtained in the book shown above which is an absolutely fascinating publication. There is no doubt that aside from the few photos in the book credited to R.G. Brook, that many more were taken by him. This is one book I would recommend to any member of the Brook family interested in our heritage. Click here for the publisher's information.