The Reverend Geoffrey Bennett was a lifelong friend of the artist. As a young married couple, the Bennetts were keen to buy a Lowry painting for their new home. They saw A Removal (1928) on show at the Manchester Academy but were unable to afford to buy the picture. Lowry asked what they could afford to pay and then offered to paint them a picture for £5. Bennett requested, 'I'd like a street, and I'd want a barrel organ, and a lot of people and a mill and some dogs'. Six months later Lowry presented the Bennetts with The Organ Grinder.
There was an old-fashioned formality about their relationship, they always referred to each other as 'Mr Lowry' and 'The Reverend Gentleman' (after his ordination as an Anglican clergyman in 1962) and when Lowry died in February 1976, Reverend Bennett conducted the funeral service.
The sale of the Reverend Bennett's collection at Christie's was a record-breaking auction which changed the Lowry market. The proceeds from the sale were divided equally to go to the impoverished clergy and the restoration of Carlisle Cathedral.
The location of the present work is Wesley Street, Ancoats, Manchester which was demolished in 1932.