Robert Lowe

Robert Lowe

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Robert Lowe was born in Bingham, Nottinghamshire in 1811. Educated at Winchester and University College, Oxford, he was called to the bar in 1842.

Lowe emigrated to Australia but after developing a successful law practice he returned to England in 1850. Two years later he took office under Lord Aberdeen. In 1859 Lord Palmerston appointed Robert Lowe as Vice President of the Education Board.

A Royal Commission chaired by the Duke of Newcastle, investigated the rising level of public expenditure on education. Newcastle's report, published in 1861, recommended that public money for education be continued, but suggested that such support should be dependent upon a system of "payment by results".

Lowe accepted the main points of Newcastle Commission and in 1862 announced a Revised Code for Education. In future schools could claim 4s a year for each pupil with a satisfactory attendance record. An additional 8s was paid if the pupil passed examinations in reading, writing and arithmetic. Lowe pointed out that this system would help protect the public money being spent on education. As he said in the House of Commons: "If it is not cheap, it shall be efficient, if it is not efficient, it shall be cheap."

Every year Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMIs) visited each school to test pupils in reading, writing and arithmetic. Teachers, whose salaries normally depended on the size of the grant, were tempted to change their approach to education. In many schools, teachers concentrated exclusively on preparing the children for the yearly HMI visit.

Following the 1868 General Election, the Prime Minister, William Gladstone, made Robert Lowe Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1873 Gladstone moved Lowe to the post of Home Secretary.

In 1880 Lowe was created Viscount Sherbrooke and served the Liberal Party in the House of Lords. Robert Lowe died in 1892.

Robert Lowe

Not the gospel singer, this Robert Lowe is a thumb playing jazz guitarist reminiscent of Wes Montgomery and George Benson with enough originality in the mix to create a unique, concise, clear self-identity.…
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Artist Biography by Andrew Hamilton

Not the gospel singer, this Robert Lowe is a thumb playing jazz guitarist reminiscent of Wes Montgomery and George Benson with enough originality in the mix to create a unique, concise, clear self-identity. His first public appearances occurred when he was seven years old with a bunch of similarly aged youngsters in front of a shoe parlor in Detroit and has been performing ever since, including stints with Lyman Woodard, Lonnie Liston Smith, Charles Earland, and many of jazz's greatest artists.

Robert Lowe Jr. was born July 2, 1948 at Henry Ford Hospital to Robert and Velma Lowe. Velma collected records and the music of all the prominent R&B artists of day: Fats Domino, Little Richard, Dinah Washington, Della Reese, and Little Sonny filled the Lowe household with sounds. Lowe became a fascinated with the guitar the first time he saw one up close at his father's friend house. He admired it every time his dad took him along to this friend's house who kept it on a wall by the fireplace one day Robert summoned the nerve to touch it, and it was as if he rubbed Genie's lamp, an overwhelming glow came over him and from that moment on the guitar became an obsession.

The bug bit a permanent plug when his mother took him to a kiddies party for four to seven year olds and a friend of the child's mother giving the party, who Robert only recalls as Willie, stopped by and played the guitar, a pretty white one with a black fretboard and ivory inlays. The party became secondary to Willie's captivating guitar playing who saw the youngster's intense interest. Willie asked Velma if he could give him some lessons and there was no way could she say no. He picked up fast and was soon begging his parents to buy him a guitar they acquiesced plunking down 26 dollars and 50 cents -- one fifth of Robert Sr.'s hourly wages for an instrument for their seven-year-old son.

From playing with a group of seven- to ten-year-olds in front of Smiley's Parlor, he went on to form jazz groups in Junior High and High School, i.e., the Royal Crusaders (named after the Jazz Crusaders), and the Bellhops they played weekends and the cash supplied him with enough funds to cover school supplies and clothes. In the 11th grade, he joined a band that backed Stereophonics, a popular local female vocal group that played hops and once at New York's fame Apollo Theater. After high school (1966), he joined a band that played nightclubs four nights a week, further enhancing Lowe's horizon. Around this time he discovered the lyrical, melodic beauty of Wes Montgomery and began listening to and playing more jazz. He then discovered the Jack McDuff Group and was similarly swept by McDuff's guitarist George Benson.

His jazz development took a back seat for nearly five years when he became the Precisions' musical director, participating on their acclaimed Drew Record's sides, contributing as co-writer on "Instant Heartbreak (Just Add Tears)," the outfits last significant record. These were fun sowing-wild-oats times they did D.C.'s Howard Theater, Harlem's Apollo, and toured with funny lady Moms Mabley performing on shows with the likes of Solomon Burke, Patti Labelle & the Blue Belles, Johnny Taylor, J. J. Jackson, and other soul luminaries.

An ongoing off and on relationship with the Lyman Woodard Band followed he was with the band for their Don't Stop the Groove album. He played on a live album at Detroit's Mozambique Club entitled The Real Thing, credited to Houston Pearson on Eastbound Records the set included a host of renowned musicians that include Motown's great bassist James Jamerson, Marcus Belgrave, Eli Fountain, Etta Jones, Jack McDuff, Grant Green, and many more.

He moved to the Big Apple to play with the Lonnie Smith Band, appearing on the organist's Mama Wailer album on Kudo Records. When that ran its course he returned to Detroit and became a music instructor for Metro Arts James Blood Ulmer was the other guitar instructor both played with their thumbs, Lowe played a little faster than Ulmer, so he taught Ulmer speed, while Ulmer taught him how the technique for the up and down stroke. Some of Detroit's finest up and coming jazz musicians came through Metro Arts unfortunately, the program ended when the government cut the arts budget.

He returned to New York as part of Charles Earland's group for another eventful foray waxing the Odyssey (1976) album on Mercury Records with them. The homing pigeon returned to Detroit, formed another band and did jazz and soul gigs. An old friend Major Reynolds, who Lowe worked for in 1965-1966 at Reynolds' Tri-Sound Studio offered him work at his new studio, which Lowe accepted he worked on numerous projects for producer/writer Michael Stokes for Enchantment and other artists, including four compositions on Enchantment's Journey to Enchantment album. He also gleaned an honorary Masters Degree in studio technique and record businessology from the stint.

Robert worked with a rolodex of local and national recording artists in the early '80s, including Ronn Matlock, Marlena Shaw, Mary Wilson & the Supremes, Kim Weston, Richard Groove Homes and Spanky Wilson. And recorded as an artist on Westbound, along with appearing on sessions released on CTI and Fantasy Records. In 1985, he released Double Dip on his Lowe Down label the title track blew to Top 20 hit in the Detroit area.

In 1997 he auditioned for a contest BET On Jazz ran where contestants had to submit a video of a live performance. Lowe had plenty to pick from and chose a taping of a television program recorded a few years earlier. Lo and behold, the sucker salmoned through three panels of judges and earned Lowe first place in Jazz Discovery's instrumental category. BET sent for the group to do a live taping (four songs) all expenses paid -- return trip tickets for band, hotel, limousine service, catered breakfast in dressing room, the works.

44 years after playing in front of Smiley's Shoe Palace, Robert Lowe was on Jazz Discovery -- ironic, but that's the music biz. The drama inspired a second album, In My Life (1999), on Lowe Down Records with many more to come for the fluid guitarist who recognized his calling at such a tender age.

Lowe, Robert

Lowe, Robert (1811�). Liberal politician. An albino and a sharply sarcastic debater, Lowe cut a distinctive political figure. Of Anglican clerical family and educated at Winchester and Oxford, he went to New South Wales and made his name on the legislative council and money from legal practice and property transactions. Back as a Liberal MP (later London University's first member), he gained a reputation for free market and anti-democratic views, the latter apparently sharpened by Australian experience. As vice-president of the Privy Council and responsible for popular education, he introduced the 1862 ‘revised code’ linking government grants to examination results in basic subjects, antagonizing the religious denominations and the teachers. Out of office Lowe fronted the Whig �ullamite’ revolt against the 1866 Reform Bill, bringing down Russell's government and putting the Conservatives in office. When they passed a comparably �mocratic’ measure, Lowe concluded it was necessary ‘to compel our future masters to learn their letters’. Chancellor of the Exchequer in Gladstone's 1868 government, Lowe, after early success, had to withdraw his 1871 budget and was moved to the Home Office in 1873 under a cloud of departmental mismanagement. A public speech criticizing the queen in 1876 led to withdrawal and apology in the Commons, but failing eyesight and personal unpopularity also weakened Lowe's position. He was created Viscount Sherbrooke in 1880. A notable administrative and educational reformer, Lowe suffers in reputation from the sharpness of his anti-popular language.

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&aposSt. Elmo&aposs Fire,&apos &aposAbout Last Night&apos

Lowe rose to fame on the big screen in the early 1980s as a member of the Brat Pack, along with other young actors like Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson. He starred in The Outsiders and Class in 1983, St. Elmo&aposs Fire in 1985 and About Last Night. in 1986. These roles made him one of the hottest young heartthrobs of the 1980s.

&aposWayne&aposs World,&apos &aposAustin Powers&apos and &aposThe West Wing&apos

Working his way back into the public eye, Lowe made appearances in the feature films Wayne&aposs World (1992), Contact (1997), Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and The Specials (2000). However, his true comeback as an actor and star came in 1999, when he returned to the small screen to appear alongside Martin Sheen in the well-reviewed TV drama series The West Wing. Lowe was cast in the ongoing role of Sam Seaborn, Deputy Communications Director. In 2002, he announced he was leaving the hit show as a result of stalled salary negotiations.

In 2003, Lowe signed on to star in the short-lived drama The Lyon&aposs Den, playing an up-and-coming attorney struggling to distance himself from his well-known senator father. His subsequent headlining role in Dr. Vegas, about a casino doctor amid the temptations of Sin City, also quickly fizzled.

&aposBrothers & Sisters&apos and &aposParks and Recreation&apos

The actor regained his footing as Senator Robert McCallister on the drama Brothers & Sisters, progressing from a part-time to a featured role during the show&aposs five seasons. He enjoyed a similar run while flexing his comedic chops on the sitcom Parks and Recreation, initially appearing in a guest role in 2010 before becoming a regular cast member.

In the meantime, he churned out two memoirs, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography (2011) and Love Life (2014).

&aposThe Grinder&apos

Following his appearance in the finale of Parks and Recreation in 2015, Lowe began a new chapter of his career with a starring role on The Grinder. His performance as򠷪n Sanderson, an actor who takes advantage of his family-oriented younger brother, played by Fred Savage, was a hit with critics and garnered him a Golden Globe nomination. However, it never resonated with TV viewers and was canceled in 2016.

&aposCode Black&apos

Lowe returned to the small screen in fall 2016 with the season 2 debut of Code Black, injecting another dimension into the medical drama as a military transplant fresh off the battlefield. That same year he took on the voice role of Simba in the animated series The Lion Guard, which aired through late 2019. 

&aposThe Lowe Files&apos

In 2017, Lowe and his sons plunged into the world of reality TV in the A+E series The Lowe Files, which chronicles their cross-country travels and explorations into unsolved mysteries. The actor continued to push into new territory the following year, this time taking on the director&aposs chair for the first time in the television remake of the 1956 film The Bad Seed.

&aposMental Samurai,&apos &apos9-1-1: Lone Star&apos

A busy 2019 had Lowe hosting the game show Mental Samurai and starring in the short-lived Wild Bill, as an American transplant hired as chief constable of a town in Lincolnshire, England. He closed out the year by co-starring with Kristin Davis in the Netflix romantic comedy Holiday in the Wild, before opening 2020 with the lead role in the Fox procedural series 9-1-1: Lone Star


Sheree rode her bicycle to a nearby milk bar, where she was abducted by Robert Lowe, a Sunday school teacher, church elder and travelling salesman. [5] [6]

Lowe had apparently targeted Sheree because he had seen her alone on several previous occasions. A possible explanation for the lack of supervision was that Sheree had been transferred several times between the custody of her mother and the custody of her maternal and paternal grandparents. [3]

After the abduction, several witnesses said that they had seen a middle-aged man driving a car containing a "distressed child". [4] [1]

Lowe had a history of crimes involving children. Before Sheree's murder, he had had multiple offences for indecent exposure, which had been aimed at young girls. [4]

Months after the murder, he was seeing a psychotherapist because he was having marital problems. His therapist, Margaret Hobbs, eventually began to suspect that he was involved in the murder of Sheree. Lowe had given suspicious statements, saying that he did not remember where he was on the day Sheree died and that he felt police were closing in on him.

The police had interviewed Lowe after the abduction, and they later tape-recorded some of his sessions with Hobbs (initially without her knowledge). After being informed of the recording, Hobbs gave her permission for more taping, as she was disturbed by Lowe's statements. [4]

Those representing Lowe during his trial objected to the manner in which recorded evidence was obtained from his therapy sessions with Hobbs. They asserted that the recordings were a violation of a confidentiality policy. The court dismissed this and came to the consensus that the evidence was appropriate for the protection of the public. [4]

Hobbs stated that Lowe had discussed several suspicious details related to Sheree's murder. Such statements were concerned with a desire to "build an alibi" and with the consequences of pleading guilty to manslaughter. Lowe eventually stated in April 1992 that he had given Sheree a ride in his car and had manually strangled her. [4] During his trial, he admitted his guilt. He said that he had "choked the girl". [5] Lowe was subsequently convicted of kidnapping and murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 15 years without parole. [7] [8]

After Lowe was sent to prison for murdering Sheree, he stated that he was innocent. In August 2014, he wrote that he believed law enforcement was using him as a scapegoat because of their failure to find those who were responsible for the crime. The police and the family of the victim did not believe this, and said they were "sickened" by his assertions. [5] [9]

After Lowe's conviction, his psychotherapist Margaret Hobbs began writing a book based on her experience. She died in a vehicle accident in 1996 her book was later completed and published by Andrew Rule. [3] [10]

Lowe is believed to have been involved with a large amount of child pornography that had been smuggled into the prison in which he was incarcerated. It is believed that persons who were visiting inmates were the source of this material. [11]

Rob Lowe reflects on the infamous scandal that changed his life: 'It got me sober'

Rob Lowe's 1988 sex tape scandal nearly ended his career, but he still calls it "the best thing that ever happened to me." USA TODAY

Rob Lowe has found a silver lining in his career-threatening scandal from the late '80s.

The filmed sexual encounter made during the 1988 Democratic National Convention was brought up during the 55-year-old star's appearance on SiriusXM's "The Jess Cagle Show." In 1989, the "St. Elmo's Fire" actor faced a lawsuit from the mother of a 16-year-old girl involved in the tape. Lowe denied knowing the girl was underage, according to CBS News and Yahoo.

Today, Lowe speaks about the incident with a lighthearted tone.

"The problem was, I didn't make any money off of it like everybody does now. I was too stupid," he said with a smile.

Kim Kardashian got married the first time, made sex tape on ecstasy

Rob Lowe at a photocall for the TV show "Wild Bill" during the Monte-Carlo Television Festival on June 17, 2019. (Photo: VALERY HACHE, AFP/Getty Images)

Lowe says he owes his life today, in part, to the ordeal.

"It's one of the reasons why I got sober," he said. "I, like, woke up one day and was like, 'What am I doing with my life?'

"People talk about it, I go, 'I think it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,'" he continued. "Honestly, I do, 'cause it got me sober. Sober got me married. I’ve been married 29 years, and I have two great sons. I don’t think any of that happens without going through that scandal. I really don't."

Lowe got sober in 1990 and celebrated 29 years on Instagram in May.

"Thank you to all those who have inspired me on this wonderful, challenging and life-changing journey," he captioned a photo of his younger self. "If you, or someone you know, are struggling with alcohol or addiction, there CAN be a future of hope, health and happiness. And it comes one day at a time. #recovery #ItWorks."

Reflecting on his early triumphs, Lowe told Cagle, "It's not a great recipe for success to give an 18-year-old male fame, money, drugs and expect there not to be something that goes wrong."

Rob Lowe's sons 'live to troll' him on Instagram and he takes it like a 'dad'

Rob Lowe calls Prince William's hair loss 'traumatic experience,' gets king-size backlash

History of Lowe's Companies, Inc.

Lowe's Companies, Inc., is the second largest home improvement retailer in the United States (trailing The Home Depot, Inc.) holding about 6 percent of the $700 billion home improvement market, and also ranks as the seventh largest U.S. retailer overall. More than 1,250 Lowe's stores in 49 states (the exception being Vermont) serve do-it-yourself customers, so-called do-it-for-me customers using the stores' installation services, and commercial customers, including professional contractors, electricians, landscapers, painters, and plumbers. Lowe's relies on two prototype stores, a 117,000-square-foot version designed for larger metropolitan markets and a 94,000-square-foot model suitable for small and midsized markets. The average Lowe's carries 40,000 products for home decorating, maintenance, repair, remodeling, and construction. Hundreds of thousands more are available through special orders. Lowe's offers installation services in more than 40 product categories, with the greatest sales coming in flooring, millwork, and kitchen cabinets and countertops. Such services generate approximately 6 percent of the corporation's total revenues.

In 1921 L. S. Lowe opened a hardware store in the small town of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, under the name Mr. L. S. Lowe's North Wilkesboro Hardware. Following his death, his son, James Lowe, took over the business. James Lowe and his brother-in-law, Carl Buchan, served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and during this period Lowe's sister and mother ran the business.

When Buchan was wounded and discharged from the army in 1943, he returned to North Wilkesboro to help operate Lowe's hardware business. In 1946 Buchan took a 50 percent interest in the store. Buchan quickly sold out much of the store's inventory. He then reorganized the store, which became a wholesale-style seller of hardware and building supplies.

When Lowe was discharged from the army, he returned to aid Buchan in operating the business. The two opened a second store and used profits to buy an automobile dealership and a cattle farm. In 1952 Buchan traded his interests in these two businesses for Lowe's interest in their two stores. Three months later, Buchan opened a third store, in Asheville, North Carolina. Also in 1952 the company was incorporated as Lowe's North Wilkesboro Hardware, Inc. According to company lore, Buchan retained the Lowe's name so he could use the slogan "Lowe's low prices." From 1952 to 1959, Buchan expanded operations, and sales increased from $4.1 million to $27 million. The post-World War II construction boom made the hardware business very profitable. The frenzied demand for supplies meant that sales often were made directly from a freight car on the railway siding that ran by the store. By purchasing stock directly from the manufacturer, Lowe's was able to avoid paying the higher prices set by wholesalers, which meant lower prices for customers. By 1960 Buchan had 15 stores.

The big push to become a major force in the home-building market came in 1960 when Buchan died and an office of the president was created. The company went public in 1961 and was renamed Lowe's Companies, Inc. Even though the company grew and new locations were added, the layout of the stores remained basically the same: a small retail floor with limited inventory and a lumberyard out back near the railroad tracks. The bulk of Lowe's customers were contractors and construction companies. By the late 1960s, Lowe's had more than 50 stores, and sales figures hovered around the $100 million mark.

About this time, the burgeoning do-it-yourself market was beginning to change the face of the construction industry. The rising cost of buying a home or having one remodeled by a professional led more homeowners to take on construction projects themselves. Home centers were becoming the modern version of the neighborhood hardware store. At the same time, the home building market was experiencing periodic slumps, and Lowe's management began to notice that their sales figures were moving up and down in tandem with housing trends.

In spite of the fluctuations in the housing market, however, Lowe's revenues rose from $170 million in 1971 to more than $900 million by 1979 (when there were more than 200 stores in the chain). This was due in large part to Lowe's financing program that helped local builders get loans, coordinated building plans with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and then helped contractors fill out the government forms and trained construction companies to build FHA-approved homes.

When new home construction virtually came to a standstill in the later part of the 1970s, Lowe's made the decision to target consumers. The management team believed that increasing consumer sales would reduce the company's vulnerability during economic and seasonal downswings. In 1980 housing starts decreased, and Lowe's net income fell 24 percent. While studying the track records of do-it-yourself stores that sold solely to consumers, Lowe's found that these stores were recording strong sales even during the home-building slumps.

Robert Strickland came to Lowe's fresh from the Harvard Business School. Rising steadily through the ranks, Strickland had reached the position of chairman of the board in 1978 and, with newly appointed Lowe's President Leonard Herring, spearheaded the decision to attract consumers in a big way. Using the easily recognizable acronym RSVP (standing for retail sales, volume, and profit), Lowe's embarked on the new marketing strategy. A consultant was hired to remodel the showrooms, and the resulting layout was similar to that of a supermarket. Seasonal items, such as lawn mowers, were placed in the front of the store. The traffic pattern drew customers to the interior decorating section, then moved on to the back of the store where traditional hardware materials were displayed. The theory behind this traffic pattern said that most consumers may come for the basics but, by walking through the other departments, end up purchasing more. The store in Morganton, North Carolina, was the first location remodeled under the RVSP plan.

In another aspect of the redesign, poster-sized photographs depicting Lowe's merchandise as it would look in the consumer's home were used to identify departments rather than lettered signs. Product lines were updated, hours were extended, and advertising was increased. The strategy worked by 1982 sales had reached $1 billion, and when the figure reached $1.43 billion in 1983, it marked the first time that Lowe's had made more money selling to consumers than to contractors.

One aspect of the RSVP plan that did not work was Wood World, an extension of the retail floor into one long bay of the lumber warehouse. Fire code regulations required the installation of expensive fire walls and doors, and the idea was soon scrapped. Paneling and other wood products were then put out on the sales floor with the rest of the merchandise.

Shift to Warehouse-Style Stores

By the late 1980s the retail scene in the United States had once again been transformed, and the era of the "big-box" warehouses had begun. Home Depot, Inc. led the way in the home improvement sector and its aggressive expansion of its 105,000-square-foot home improvement superstores quickly moved the upstart past Lowe's and other competitors into the number one position. Lowe's, meanwhile, had surpassed the 300-store mark in fiscal 1989 but those stores averaged barely more than 20,000 square feet. The company had opened some larger units in 1988, including a 60,000-square-foot store in Knoxville, Tennessee, a 40,320-square-foot unit in Boone, North Carolina, and a 60,480-square-foot store in North Chattanooga, Tennessee, but none approached the size of a Home Depot. Lowe's also made some adjustments to its product lines as core consumer goods areas--hardware, tools, paint, plumbing, home decor, and stereo equipment--were expanded, while such fringe items as exercise equipment, bicycles, and bath linens that had crept in over the previous decade were phased out.

In 1989 Lowe's began a formal shift from being a chain of small stores to being a chain of large, warehouse-style stores, with the company fully committing itself to this change in 1991. During that year, the company took a $71.3 million restructuring charge in order to accelerate the chain conversion. The charge covered the costs of closing, relocating, and remodeling about half of the company's stores, during the period from 1991 to 1995. Over the course of the four-year restructuring, the size of the new or remodeled stores crept upward from 45,000 square feet to 85,000 to 115,000. The largest size was to be reserved for Lowe's stores built in larger markets, such as Greensboro, North Carolina, while in the smaller markets the company traditionally served Lowe's eventually aimed to build 100,000-square-foot units. All of the larger stores featured huge garden centers, as big as 30,000 square feet in size. Overall, Lowe's aimed to generate more of its sales from consumers, while at the same time continuing to serve contractors. It also continued to sell major appliances and home electronics (including home office equipment, which was added to the mix in 1994), two categories usually absent from Home Depot stores.

From 1991 to 1993, the company concentrated almost exclusively on the restructuring and made only modest expansion moves, gaining toeholds in Maryland, Indiana, and Illinois for the first time. Although the chain added only five stores overall during this period, total square footage increased from 8.02 million in 1991 to 14.17 million in 1993, translating into an increase from 26,000 in average square footage to 45,500. In 1994 and 1995 Lowe's added 54 more stores, bringing the total to 365, and adding the states of Iowa, Michigan, and Oklahoma to its territory. Also in 1995, the company began to aggressively expand in Texas, going from two stores in 1994 to 23 stores in 1996. Lowe's also expanded into the state of New York in 1996 and into Kansas in 1997. Meanwhile, in August 1996 Herring retired and was succeeded as president and CEO by Robert L. Tillman, who had served as chief operating officer. Tillman was named chairman as well in January 1998.

By 1996 there were more than 400 Lowe's stores, averaging more than 75,000 square feet per unit. Sales had nearly tripled since the restructuring was announced in 1991, increasing from $3.1 billion to $8.6 billion. Net earnings reached a record $292.2 million in 1996. With more than 70 percent of its stores now "big boxes," Lowe's began to concentrate more on expanding into new territory in the mid-1990s, aiming to reach the 600-store mark by century-end. During 1997 Lowe's opened 42 more stores. Among these, Lowe's included a test of its first stores in an urban market, Dallas, one in which Home Depot was already entrenched. Despite the competition, the Dallas stores exceeded initial expectations by 20 percent, and from then on, Lowe's began targeting both large metropolitan areas and its more traditional small and medium-sized markets for growth.

To aid its expansion, Lowe's built six new, one-million-square-foot distribution centers located around the country. These centers supported further geographic expansion, including a $1.5 billion plan launched in 1998 to build more than 100 new stores in the western United States. Among the initial markets targeted were Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson, Arizona. Lowe's westward expansion was accelerated through the April 1999 acquisition of Eagle Hardware & Garden, Inc. in a stock swap valued at about $1.34 billion. Eagle, based in Renton, Washington, operated 38 big box home improvement stores in ten western states and had revenues of nearly $1 billion. The Eagle outlets were gradually rebranded under the Lowe's name.

By the end of 1999 the Lowe's store count had reached 550, and its revenues of $15.45 billion made it the 15th largest retailer in the country. In 2000 another 75 stores were added, and the company revamped its web site into a major e-commerce site. Early the following year, Lowe's rolled out its first national television advertising campaign, using the tag line, "Improving Home Improvement," and touting itself as cleaner, better organized, and better lit than the warehouse competition (implying, without naming, Home Depot). The campaign's themes were consistent with Lowe's push to attract female consumers, a strategy that a number of analysts considered a key to the company's success Lowe's catered to women because company research found that females made the vast majority of home improvement decisions. The drive to create a nationwide chain also continued with the launch of a $1.3 billion, five-year move into the Northeast, where Lowe's aimed to open more than 75 stores ranging from Philadelphia to Maine, with 25 alone in the Boston area. The first New York City store opened in the spring of 2001. Late in 2002 Lowe's announced further plans to open more than 60 stores in the New York metropolitan area and northern New Jersey. In 2003 the company introduced a smaller prototype format measuring 94,000 square feet that was designed for smaller, mainly rural markets. A 116,000-square-foot store continued to be the prototype for larger markets.

During the fiscal year ending in January 2005, Lowe's store count passed the 1,000 mark. At the end of the fiscal year, Tillman stepped down from his position as chairman and CEO, having led the company through an amazing period of growth. Between 1996 and 2004, revenues quadrupled, from $9.06 billion to $36.46 billion, while profits jumped sevenfold, from $310 million to $2.18 billion. Lowe's was the 11th largest retailer in the country. Taking on the daunting task of filling Tillman's shoes was Robert Niblock, who had joined Lowe's in 1993 and served as company president since 2003.

Rather than slowing, growth accelerated under the new leader, as no fewer than 150 new Lowe's opened during fiscal 2005, including the first stores in New Hampshire, the 49th state to join the company ranks. A like number or slightly more units were planned to be added over the next two years, toward an eventual total of between 1,800 and 2,000. At the same time, Lowe's was seeking to spur growth by increasing revenues derived from three areas: special orders, installation services, and commercial customers such as contractors, professional tradespeople, and property management professionals. In June 2005 the company announced plans to move into the Canadian market, aiming to open as many as ten stores in the Toronto area during 2007. Expansion into other international markets was under study. As Lowe's posted another record year in fiscal 2005, profits of $2.77 billion on revenues of $43.24 billion, one possible cloud on the horizon was a cooling of what had been a red-hot housing market, which had the potential to precipitate a concomitant downturn in the home improvement industry.

Lowe's Home Centers, Inc. Lowe's HIW, Inc.

The Home Depot, Inc. Menard, Inc. True Value Company Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Ace Hardware Corporation Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Ahead of tonight’s IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar we hear from Professor Jon Parry of Cambridge University who spoke at our special Parliaments, Politics and People seminar marking UK Parliament Week (‘One person, multiple votes: university constituencies and the electoral system, 1868-1950’). He discusses the history of the University of London and its first MP, Robert Lowe, who represented the constituency between 1868 and 1880.

150 years ago, at the general election of 1868, the graduates of the University of London were grouped into a parliamentary constituency and elected their first MP, Robert Lowe. This University seat had been created by the 1867 Reform Act. The main aim of that Act was to enfranchise the bulk of urban working men it more than doubled the number of people able to vote in Great Britain, and heightened fears of democracy. The creation of an additional seat to represent one of the major Universities of the country was a small measure to offset this democratic trend. It was a gesture to signify that graduates – men of learning and wisdom – should have a specific voice in the House of Commons. The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin had returned their own MPs since the seventeenth century, but they all had close links to the Established Church. The University of London was much more in tune with the spirit of the mid-Victorian age.

The University had been set up by the government in 1836 as a degree-giving body. It was funded by the state through an annual parliamentary grant, and run by a Senate appointed by the Home Office. For the improvement-minded whigs and utilitarians who ran the governments of the 1830s, it was a model for how higher education might develop in the future. It had three great principles:

  • Intellectual excellence and breadth
  • A lack of religious exclusions and distinctions
  • National and potentially global reach

Intellectual excellence was to be achieved through rigorous exams. The University ran bachelors’ degrees in Arts, Law, Medicine and, starting in 1860, Science, plus higher degrees in Law and Medicine. However it was not a teaching body at all it was an examining board of ‘persons eminent in literature and science’. Colleges outside of London could also apply for affiliation so that their students could take its degrees, and from 1858 students (except in medicine) could enter for degrees without being at an approved college at all. Degree exams were deliberately designed to set a high intellectual bar that would raise the standards of all the institutions that taught the students, many of which were provincial colleges run by Dissenters and Roman Catholics.

The examinations were open to anyone, irrespective of religion. This marked London out from its three rivals in England, Oxford, Cambridge and Durham their degrees were only open to those willing to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. The exclusiveness, expense and complacency of Oxbridge was widely criticised by reformers in the 1830s, and though the government did not feel able to tamper with it, it hoped by example to create a new norm for higher education. In its petition of 1853 to be granted a seat in parliament, the Senate of the University boasted of its connections with all the theological, medical and general collegiate institutions in the country, except those associated with the Established Church. It also claimed that its tough exams had had the effect of broadening the narrow theological curricula of the Dissenting and Catholic colleges affiliated to it, implying that the same had not necessarily happened at Oxbridge.

The London based University College, King’s College, and Highbury College, and Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, were some of the many institutions affiliated with the University of London (University of London Almanac, 1846, from N. Harte, The University of London, 1836-1986: An Illustrated History (1986))

Many of these affiliated colleges eventually developed into the civic universities of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester. Moreover in 1865, 1866 and 1867 the University started to offer its degree courses to candidates sitting them abroad, in Mauritius, Gibraltar and Canada. In addition, the idea of one central and tough examining board, setting standards for affiliated colleges of all types and religious persuasions, seemed an attractive liberal model for other pluralistic societies. It was exported to Ireland in 1850, with the foundation of the Queen’s University, and to India in 1857 when Universities were established on this basis in each of the old Presidencies of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. In the House of Commons in 1867 Robert Lowe, its future MP, pointed out that London was ‘metropolitan and cosmopolitan, extending its influence more and more every day all over the world’.

Lowe was elected unopposed as the first representative of the University at the 1868 election. Though some others had originally sought the nomination, including the journalist Walter Bagehot (a London graduate), Lowe emerged as the clear front-runner because he was a politician of national standing, known for his defence of intellectual excellence, and of the value of examinations. He appealed to Liberals for his anti-clerical views, and to the more conservative elements of the constituency (mainly the medical graduates) for his high-profile opposition to democracy. Through his outspoken speeches in the Commons in 1866 and 1867 opposing the extension of the franchise to working-men, Lowe had become a celebrity – and had also made himself unelectable for a populous constituency. He and the new University seat were thus made for each other.

Robert Lowe, ‘Statesmen, No. 4’, by Carlo Pellegrini, Vanity Fair, 27 February 1869, (c) NPG

Lowe was committed to all the defining principles of the University, particularly the lack of tests and the separation of teaching from examining. After he graduated from Oxford and made an impulsive marriage he could not get a college fellowship and became very critical of its complacent culture. His most famous policy initiatives featured examinations. In 1862 as education minister, in what was seen as an attack on Church schools, he brought in the rule that examinations in the ‘3 Rs’ (reading, writing and arithmetic) should be used to measure the quality of teaching in elementary schools for funding purposes. In 1870 he was responsible for the introduction of competitive examinations into most of the civil service. In 1873 he was among the strongest advocates of the principle of a national examining board in Ireland, as created by the Gladstone government’s ill-fated Irish University bill, believing that it would improve and liberalise the teaching obtained by the Catholic middle classes.

Lowe was one of the major advocates of the idea of an enlightened, disinterested civil service. ‘The cause of true progress’, he wrote, could only be promoted ‘by pure and clear intelligence’. In his acceptance speech as the University’s MP in 1868 he urged the introduction into newly democratised Britain of some constitutional ‘safety valves’ – including allowing some civil servants the right to be life senators with seats in the House of Lords. One other reason why he was such a strong candidate for the University constituency was because of his popularity in the London medical colleges. This was the result of his work as health minister after 1859 in strengthening the powers of the medical department of the Privy Council and its secretary John Simon, who then built up a powerful and subsidised vaccination inspectorate.

For all his dislike of popular pressure on government, Lowe remained a Liberal throughout the twelve years that he represented the University – before getting a peerage in 1880. At the 1874 election the Conservative leader Benjamin Disraeli criticised Lowe and his fellow cabinet ministers in Gladstone’s retiring government for ‘harassing’ the country, which he claimed wanted peace and rest, not endless reforming legislation. Lowe responded by declaring his support for ‘harassing’ legislation: it had created the University of London and had attacked vested interests like Oxbridge and all other ‘persons and institutions which held privileges adverse to the general welfare’. He prophesied that the institution that he represented, which had ‘had to fight so hard a battle against obstruction, custom, and prejudice’, would never approve of Disraeli’s ‘inert and sluggish principles’. This was a safe bet – he was re-elected unopposed.

Our next seminar takes place at the IHR on 27 November at 17:15 in N202, when Dr Glen McKee, University of Buckingham, will be speaking on Standing orders and precedents in the Irish House of Commons in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Lowe, Robert (1811–1892)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Robert Lowe (1811-1892), politician, was born on 4 December 1811 at Bingham, Nottinghamshire, England, the second son of Rev. Robert Lowe, prebendary of Southwell and rector of Bingham, and his wife Ellen, née Pyndar. An albino with defective vision, he led a sheltered childhood. When at 14 he was sent to Winchester, he suffered deeply from boyish ridicule of his physical peculiarities. In June 1829 he matriculated at University College, Oxford (B.A., 1833 M.A., 1836), where he made a name for himself as a scholar and as a speaker in Union debates. In 1835 he was awarded a fellowship at Magdalen, and enrolled at Lincoln's Inn. On 26 March 1836 he married Georgiana, second daughter of George Orred of Tranmere, Cheshire, and Aigburth Hall, Lancashire, and relinquished both his fellowship and plans for a legal career. In the years that followed he became one of Oxford's most successful private tutors, but he willingly left the drudgery of teaching in 1840 to return to Lincoln's Inn. In January 1842, when at the Bar, his eyesight had become so poor that doctors warned he would go blind within seven years. He resolved thereupon that in the seven allotted years of light he would seek his fortune in Australia.

Lowe arrived in Sydney on 8 October 1842 and nine days later was admitted to practise in the New South Wales Supreme Court. During the court recess in December and January severe headaches and a painful nervous tic of the eyes caused him again to seek the advice of doctors, who told him to give his eyes absolute rest otherwise he might not only go blind but endanger his life. For the next nine months Lowe restlessly toured country districts with his wife. In October 1843 he decided to risk his eyes by resuming practice, but in those days of deep economic depression briefs were few. Governor Sir George Gipps lent a sympathetic ear and early in November, when he needed support in the Legislative Council, named Lowe as an unofficial nominee. From that vantage point Lowe was able to defend the government's position by voicing his deepest convictions: his belief in a policy of laissez faire and his faith in the utilitarian tenet that the only innovations desirable were those that would bring about better government. His first speeches electrified the chamber as he attacked radical measures which Richard Windeyer and William Charles Wentworth had proposed to meet the economic crisis. Lowe himself proposed that imprisonment for debt be abolished, a suggestion that was adopted by the council in diluted form in December 1843.

His brief success in the council bore fruit and, although the depression had worsened, his voice was heard regularly in the courts. In February 1844 he undertook the defence of John Knatchbull, a convict who had senselessly murdered a young woman shopkeeper. Lowe's plea was novel for his time: that insanity of the will could exist apart from insanity of the intellect. He argued that Knatchbull had yielded to an irresistible impulse and could not be held responsible for his crime. The court, however, ruled otherwise. The Lowes subsequently adopted the murdered woman's two young children, Bobby and Polly Jamieson.

In March 1844 Gipps, confronted with large expenses for immigration, presented the Executive Council with a draft of squatting regulations that would raise the needed revenue. To Lowe, Gipps's move seemed incompatible with constitutional government. 'The power over the purse vested in the Legislature was perfectly useless', he was to declare, 'if the Government had at its entire command another resource derivable from the people, which it could raise without limit, and without reference to the assent or dissent of their representatives'. Simultaneous with his first major difference with the governor on public policy, there sprang up between them a private misunderstanding over the guest list at Government House, a dispute that contributed to the rupture of their friendship. In mid-March Lowe cast about for a constituency in Port Phillip, only to be rebuffed because, ironically, he was considered likely to support Gipps even from an elective seat.

Towards the end of April Lowe joined the Pastoral Association of New South Wales, which had been formed to combat the new squatting regulations. Gipps, angered by Lowe's desertion, sought to remove him from the council, but Lowe refused to relinquish his seat until he had completed a report on popular education, which recommended a state-supported, non-denominational system of schools. The council agreed to this suggestion, but Gipps, influenced by the strong protests of the Anglican bishop, by increasing ill health, and by personal bitterness towards his recalcitrant council, refused to carry out the council's recommendations. In the years that followed Lowe pursued the matter until, in 1847, Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy sanctioned the beginnings of a National school system.

After his resignation from the council in August 1844 Lowe, with the backing of the Pastoral Association, launched on 30 November a weekly journal, the Atlas, the declared purpose of which was to lobby for responsible government and for colonial control of colonial waste lands. 'This is the colony', Lowe wrote, 'that's under the Governor, that's under the Clerk, that's under the Lord, that's under the Commons, who are under the people, who know and care nothing about it'. During the first half year of publication he filled the pages of the Atlas with scathing articles and poems as public duties came to occupy more of his time, he gradually relinquished control of the paper, until in 1847 he severed all connexion with it.

In April 1845 he returned to the Legislative Council. When news of the new land orders arrived in 1847, Lowe delivered five major speeches in which, with passionate sincerity, he disparaged the squatters' aims. In 1847 and 1849 he produced two masterful committee reports refuting the Wakefieldian theory of a high minimum price of land and advocating colonial control of colonial waste lands.

During his philippics on the land question in 1847 Lowe made his first direct appeal for popular support. In January 1848 when a Constitution involving indirect elections was proposed, he enhanced his popularity by an eloquent plea at a public meeting for passive resistance to any departure from the time-honoured principles of the British Constitution. At the general elections in June 1848 he was nominated by a committee of tradesmen for one of Sydney's two seats in the Legislative Council, and on 30 July was returned a close second to Wentworth in what the secretary of his election committee, (Sir) Henry Parkes, termed 'the birthday of Australian democracy'. In the following year, having come to believe that without convict labour the squatters could not succeed in their designs for land aggrandizement, Lowe was one of the leaders of popular resistance to an attempt of the British government to renew transportation. In June 1849, standing on the roof of an omnibus at Circular Quay, with the convict ship Hashemy anchored near by, he told the crowd: 'The injustice forced upon the Americans is not half so great as that forced upon this colony'. The British government made no further attempt to renew transportation to Sydney.

At the hustings in 1848 Lowe had expressed faith in the common people, provided they were educated, but he remained inalterably opposed either to class legislation or to manhood suffrage. He refused to join the Constitutional Association, a working class political organization which had grown out of the committee that had engineered his election. He also refused to help Sydney's unemployed to obtain relief from the government. But perhaps his crowning apostasy in the eyes of the working class was his support of the bounty immigration bill, which would have required assisted immigrants who subsequently left the colony to repay to the government the cost of their passage from Britain. When Lowe in November 1849, on account of his wife's increasing homesickness and ill health, unexpectedly announced his intended departure for England, there were few regrets, although his political supporters expressed annoyance at having to undergo the expense of another election. On 27 January 1850 the Lowes and the two Jamieson children sailed for home.

After a brief tour of the northern circuit Lowe, in August 1850, accepted an offer from a former pupil of his at Oxford, John Delane, editor of The Times, to join the paper's staff as a leader writer. For the next seventeen years, Lowe contributed an average of three leading articles a week, his last appearing in January 1868.

In July 1852 he entered parliament for the borough of Kidderminster. A series of appointments of increasing importance followed: joint secretary of the Board of Control, December 1852–January 1855 vice-president of the Board of Trade and paymaster-general August 1855–March 1858 vice-president of the committee of the Council on Education, June 1859–April 1864 chancellor of the Exchequer, December 1869–August 1873 Home secretary, August 1873–February 1874. While out of office in 1855, he strongly opposed the passing of the Australian Constitution bills as measures designed to help the squatters keep their monopoly of land. At the Board of Trade he brought in legislation that allowed joint stock companies to adopt the principle of limited liability. On the Education Committee, he introduced the revised code regulations in 1862 which provided for 'payment by results'. In 1864 he resigned office after charges that inspectors' reports had been unduly censored, charges of which the House subsequently exonerated him. Again out of office, in 1865 he led the opposition to extension of the borough franchise and next year to Lord John Russell's mild reform bill over which he managed to split his party and cause the fall of the government. As leader of what Bright called the political 'cave of Adullam', he was offered a post in the new Derby ministry, but refused. In 1867 he fought desperately to defeat the Tories' far-reaching reform bill. Although he failed, he so dominated the House of Commons by force of intellect, eloquence and conviction that he was spoken of as a future prime minister. After the passage of the 1867 Reform Act, he urged that greater attention be paid to the question of popular education. 'We must educate our masters' is a phrase attributed to him at this time. In 1868 he gave strenuous support towards the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and on 9 December 1868 entered Gladstone's cabinet as chancellor of the Exchequer. His first budgets were considered brilliant in four years he took £12,000,000 off taxation and removed the last vestige of duty on corn, but after 1871 his finance came increasingly under criticism. In 1873 he was transferred to the Home Office where he remained until the Gladstone ministry fell in 1874. In 1876 in a speech at East Retford attacking the royal titles bill, Lowe tactlessly intimated that the Queen herself had been responsible for the bill's introduction. When the Liberals returned to power in 1880, Victoria made it clear that any ministry that included Lowe would be unacceptable to her. Lowe's active political life ended with his elevation to the House of Lords as Viscount Sherbrooke on 25 May 1880. Failing memory and near-blindness contributed to his political eclipse.

Georgiana Lowe, who had been ill for many years, died in November 1884 in February 1885, Lowe married Caroline, daughter of Thomas Sneyd of Ashcombe Park, Staffordshire. There were no children of either marriage. Lowe died at Warlingham, Surrey, on 27 July 1892. Among the honours he received were: Hon. LL.D. Edinburgh, 1867 Hon. D.C.L. Oxford, 1870 member of the senate of London University trustee of the British Museum fellow of the Royal Society G.C.B., 30 June 1885.

A man of great intellect and integrity with a commanding power of eloquence, he was impatient of the lack of these qualities in others. Arrogant and inflexible, he did not bend to meet changing circumstances nor would he compromise with principle conciliation was a word unknown to him. The effect of his efforts on the course of Australian political development was to broaden the base of its democracy, whereas in England he strove to maintain the narrow base of the reformed parliament of 1832. The seeming contradiction lay not in his attitude but in the differences in circumstances in the colony and the mother country. In the crucial decade of the 1840s in New South Wales no other single figure stands out more vividly both as antagonist to Gipps and the British government and as protagonist in the struggle for responsible government.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Lowe (Viscount Sherbrooke), Speeches and Letters on Reform (Lond, 1867)
  • A. P. Martin, Life and Letters of the Right Honourable Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke, vols 1-2 (Lond, 1892)
  • W. A. Gardner (Baroness Burghclere) ed., A Great Lady's Friendships (Lond, 1933)
  • The History of The Times, vol 2 (Lond, 1939)
  • A. Briggs, Victorian People (Lond, 1954)
  • R. L. Knight, Illiberal Liberal: Robert Lowe in New South Wales, 1842-1850 (Melb, 1966).

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