Finding Original Artwork for Carriage Prints; Alan Gray, Artist; Old Bishopsgate Station

I’m sitting writing this latest epistle from a model railway exhibition at Peterborough. One of my targets this year has been to try exhibiting at several new and different events to bring the world of railway and commercial art into a wider sphere of influence, outside the usual railwayana marketplace. It’s quite interesting to meet the many people who are unaware of the existence of the world of carriage prints and railway posters – even people from a railway background. The next event will be our first attempt at the National (Warley) model railway exhibition at the N.E.C. in November, which promises to be a busy affair. We hope to venture into some art exhibitions next year.
I was very sorry to hear of ‘the clock man’, Ian Lyman’s passing away recently. He was local to me in Northants, living not far away in Kettering, although I only got to know him in the last few years. He was more than helpful in putting me in contact with collectors and finding local items of interest and struck me as being a very genuine man.
A few original carriage print artworks have turned up recently. I have been notified of the River Thames, Kings Reach by Frank Mason, Hitchin, Herts by John Moody, Cley, Norfolk by R E Jordan, King’s Lynn by Gyrth Russell, Blythburgh, Suffolk by Henry Denham, all in private collections and Norwich, Pull’s Ferry by Kenneth Steel appeared in auction in Norfolk recently and was purchased by an aging and eccentric enthusiast – many thanks to that most helpful of Norfolk collectors, Paul Thurtell, for collecting it for me!
An interesting development recently has been hearing about the possibility of one of the 60+ carriage print artists still being with us. I am currently trying to ascertain if Alan Gray (the artist responsible for Arundel, Sussex and Eynsford, Kent from the Southern Region ‘B’ series prints) is still alive. A customer contacted me recently and sent me an article by Alan from a local Walthamstow art magazine, dated 2010, giving a potted biography of himself and his work. I have just started to make an attempt to trace him. He was born in 1927 and I believe he still lives in the Walthamstow area. Any information from local readers on Alan would be much appreciated. Gray had an unusual style using strong dark lines of body colour or charcoal, differing from many of the other carriage print artists who used a more traditional watercolour approach. I have the original painting of Arundel here and a couple of other artworks by him – one (Abridge, Essex) is on sale on my website www.travellingartgallery.com
I know of only two other living carriage print artists – David Cobb, the former President of the Royal Society of Marine Artists (R.S.M.A.) and Ronald Maddox, President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (R.I.).
Much of my time in the past month or two has been spent sorting a large deceased estate. It has been a sobering (and pretty exhausting) exercise going through countless boxes of railway ephemera, hardware, books, clocks, cutlery, chinaware etc. amassed over many years. Many of the boxes look as if they had been brought home over 50 years ago and never or rarely sorted or looked at. It has been with somewhat mixed emotions as I’ve gone through each box – a sense of real gladness that someone had bothered to save so many items that would have otherwise been destroyed; feelings of sadness that the owner never saw or enjoyed the fruit of many of their labours; and the excitement and sense of privilege in sorting an historical treasure trove of railway history. The phrase “You can’t take it with you” is an oft used and, sometimes, trite expression but, nevertheless, a simple fact that often gets neglected in its implications.
Much of the material I sorted probably originated in the early 1960s from the old Bishopsgate Stores – a massive archive of GER, GNR, GC, LNER, BTC and early BR ephemera and documents housed in the old former Eastern Counties Railway, London terminus at Shoreditch. It was latterly a goods and stores depot and was destroyed by a massive fire on 5 December, 1964. 40 fire engines were unable to save the buildings and the stores and archives were destroyed with it. I have many official railway press photographs of the fire which give some idea of the size of the area, which later lay derelict until 2003 when cleared for building work, including a new station.
Having re-read this month’s BLOG – it seems a little on the serious side, so how about finishing with a brain teaser. I have explained above what R.S.M.A. and R.I. stand for, but
Q) do readers know what the letters D.N.A. stand for?…….
A) National Dyslexic Association
Regards to all readers,
Greg Norden

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