Carriage Print Update – BLOG 9th March 2011
Thanks for all the kind enquiries about my physical condition. Leg still improving slowly and attempts at playing table tennis again going well! My business address has now changed and details are on the www.travellingartgallery.com website.
I intend writing a series of articles with my friend Richard Furness, on the commercial artists responsible for producing much of the fine poster and carriage print artwork in the 20th century. As you will no doubt be aware, Richard is currently producing a superb series of books on railway posters, Poster to Poster, and has recently published his third volume on the Midlands and North Wales – see http://www.railway-posters.com/
I hope to incorporate these articles on commercial art in this blog.
I’m gradually getting to the bottom of some of the exact locations of the carriage prints. Most are obvious from the titles, but some are more obscure. Atlantic Coast by Langhammer and North Cornwall by Adrian Allinson both feature rocky coastal bays. I was pretty certain Atlantic Coast was Bedruthan Steps with its granite stacks on the beach between Padstow and Newquay and verified this using Google images on the internet – a very useful resource in identifying landscapes through pictures of locations on websites. This late carriage print from the early/mid 1960s was a last gasp effort by the Southern Region in claiming the coast as their territory which, sadly and savagely, came to naught. Locating North Cornwall proved much more difficult. Despite looking at numerous images of the coast, I was still struggling to identify it. Out of the blue, a very helpful correspondent strongly suggested Porthcothan (or Porthcovan) Beach as he thought he recognised the cliffs in the print as the place where his mother’s ashes were scattered and a location where he stayed as a boy. The beach is in the middle right of the picture and extends a long way inland to the right. The rock stack on the golden burn beach is called ‘Arch Rock’ although not much exists of it now as the arch collapsed recently – not surprisingly the major problem in me identifying it from current photos compared to the print issued around 1947! The stack at the end of Porthcothan beach is called ‘Wills Rock’. The Headland in the background top left is Trevose Head. Porthcothan is just north of Bedruthan steps and only a few miles from Padstow, the westernmost terminus of the Southern Railway at the time.
East Devon by Allinson turns out to be Otterton, identified by its singular church tower. Red Devon is Ladram Bay in the parish of Otterton. Adrian Allinson, the artist behind this, and a poster artist for the SR, GWR and BR, has ‘copied’ the composition of his painting almost exactly from a previous SR sepia panel – even down to the figures in the foreground! I wonder how many other photograph carriage panels were used in a similar way? Cornish Vale, the last of the four West Country views by the SR, painted by Allinson still needs identifying, so readers please help if you can. Yorkshire Dales by Rowland Hilder turns out to be of Burnsall in Wharfedale. Norfolk Broads by Frank Mason is almost certainly an amalgamation of different Broads scenes to give an overall impression rather than a specific location. The mill looks either like Horsey or Herringfleet and was also featured in Mason’s similar double royal poster of the Broads.
John Worsdale, a member of the Wapping Group of Artists (first president Jack Merriott), kindly wrote and told me of another case of carriage print ‘copying’. Frederick Donald Blake, another Wapping member, told John that he had spent five days at Fort William for sketching and painting Ben Nevis from Corpach. The clouds were so low during all five days that he never saw the mountain at all! He ended up buying a postcard of the subject and painting the view with the station in the foreground when he got home. Coincidentally, I have his initial ‘rough’ artwork here, and there is no station in the foreground so he has amalgamated the two images. P.S. To find out more about Wapping Members go to www.thewappinggroupofartists.co.uk
One other interesting set of ‘coincidences’ noted recently which confirms a suspicion I’ve had for some time is the part played by local councils in the choice of early pre-war carriage print views. It was certainly quite common before the war for local authorities to dictate in large measure what they wanted their railway poster views to depict, and a council representative would often meet the artist and take them to the viewpoint they had planned – an artistic subject the artists were not always too happy about! In this era, councils and railways would often work together on holiday guides, so some joint venture was often understandable. Recently, on my travels, I have been to Peterborough to photograph the locations as they are now. Both the Henry Rushbury and Cyril Barraud views turned out to be from the riverside council buildings, and we were kindly given permission for access and let in through the offices on to their disused wharf behind the building to take the photos. The offices are planned for demolition in a year or two. Next stop was Fred Taylor’s view from the south east of the cathedral. This, again, turned out to be from about the 2nd floor of a completely different set of council and passport offices. Taylor has completely omitted the buildings in the forefront (built at the same time as the cathedral, so can’t blame post-1937 new structures!) to help his composition. A couple of weeks later we were at Harrogate to photo Rushbury’s Royal Baths, Harrogate. The exact vantage point is about the 2nd floor up in the council offices facing the baths. I didn’t have time to seek permission for photography on this one. After the war the railways seemed to have a completely free hand in which views they wanted.
Feedback on the ability to see all the images of carriage prints with details of artists on the new website www.travellingartgallery.com
has been excellent, so many thanks for your comments to me at recent auction stalls we have had. Following collector’s requests, I have just added a selection of original prints and paintings for sale and more information on artists and the locations.
Kind regards to all readers,