'Very talented' Wigan artist who ran classes is remembered after his death

Tributes have been paid to an accomplished artist and musician who is reported to have died with coronavirus.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 7:00 am

Nolan Abbott was well-known for his paintings, which were regularly exhibited in Standish, including in the library and at the former Dog and Partridge pub.

He was artist-in-residence at Standish Arts Festival, a founder member of Standish Art Group and shared his skills by teaching art classes over the years.

Mr Abbott, who was in his late 80s and lived in Standish, was said to have died on Saturday.

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Nolan Abbott
Nolan Abbott

Tributes were paid to him on Facebook group Standish Then and Now, where his death was announced by Louise Kay.

Garry Jones said: “Very sad indeed, a true gentleman. RIP Nolan.”

Ree Payne said: “So sorry to hear this. We went to his night school classes many years ago, we always enjoyed them and he was such a character.”

Lesley Smith said: “I have a painting he did for my mum, lovely man, regular at The Globe many years ago.”

Mary Ogden said: “RIP Nolan, a very talented man. I enjoyed his classes at the library in Standish.”

Ken Rees said: “How sad. I learned so much about using water colour from him when I retired. Loved his style.”

Marie Garner said: “He was a lovely man who was very encouraging to novice painters.”

Janet Kenny said: “He used to come in the Dog and Partridge every afternoon with Christel and their sausage dog. We have a few of his paintings. RIP Nolan.”

Dee Mc said: “I remember when I was younger, he often held an art exhibition at Standish Library. Maybe another exhibition held in his name at the library (when it reopens) would be nice.”

Before making a name as a painter, Mr Abbott was a member of the acclaimed Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang, which appeared on variety programmes with many of Britain’s biggest stars during the 1950s and ‘60s.

One of the first he met was fellow Wiganer George Formby who was topping the bill at the prestigious Windmill Theatre, Great Yarmouth.

Speaking to the Observer in 2006, Mr Abbott said: “It was 1959, my first summer season and I must admit that when I found that George Formby was topping the bill at the Windmill I was not looking forward to it because I thought he was long gone.

“But on seeing him on the stage he was absolutely brilliant. He had the audience in the palm of his hand.

“In subsequent seasons around the country we played alongside Bruce Forsyth and Bob Monkhouse, did panto with Norman Wisdom and appeared at both the Albert Hall and on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Those appearances with George Formby were something special to treasure.”

He eventually left the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang to join a vocal-instrumental act called The Chessmen.

His career also saw two stints as a newspaper printer including the Wigan Observer and the stewardship of a golf club.

After retiring from printing he formed an act with trumpeter John Kelly called The Pagefields and flourished as a respected artist.

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