Lowry was equally at ease working with pencil or oil, indeed he took a certain enjoyment in drawing, 'I'm immensely fond of pencil. I like pencil to hang up in my house. I think there's something wonderful about a pencil drawing. I just draw, and rub it with my finger or anything else, and then fiddle with it - I think 'fiddle with it' is the right term - until I get it right. Draw, then start getting tone by your finger, your pencil, india rubber of course, until it has eased up and you get it right' (see A. Andrews, The Life of L.S. Lowry, London, 1977, p. 56).
Lowry's pencil drawings of the 1930s provide a social catalogue, he was always intrigued and attracted by the most normal of incidents, wherever people gathered to form a crowd or a queue he saw the subject for a drawing. A similar composition to the present work Outside the Lodging House 1938 (City of Manchester Art Galleries), features a brawl in the street, with onlookers watching two men fight.