The Antique Architect

My iPad copy of the 1773 etching by M Darly. There’s no indication of colour in the original, so I’ve loosely based that on the Willison portrait, see below.

I was determined not to do any research for my comic strip, working title Adam and the Gargoyle, but here I go again . . .

My characters might have been reasonably convincing in the pencil roughs but, when it came to inking and resolving the details, it didn’t seem to be working. I realised that, for instance, I don’t know what kind of tailcoat my architect character, Robert Adam, might have been wearing c. 1770, when he was busy with improvements and decorative schemes for Nostell Priory.

Of course, I’m creating a pantomime version of Adam but it needs to relate the historical character so I was delighted when Google turned up a caricature, an etching dated 11th October 1773, by the prolific satirist Matthew Darly (fl. 1741-1778), now in the collections of the British Museum. It occurs to me that this might be the work of his wife Mary Darly (fl. 1756-1779), who was was also a publisher, satirist, teacher and caricaturist.

The ‘Antique Architect’, one of a series of Characters, Macaronies & Caricatures that Darly published, most probably depicts Robert Adam (1741-1797) as Robert and his brother James had recently published their first volume of Works in Architecture.

Porte Crayon

As I copied the etching on my iPad (in Clip Studio Paint, as usual), one detail that I found odd was the writing implement. It looks like a double-ended pen, topped and tailed with steel nibs, which I imagine would have been impractical to use.

Again, thanks to good old Google, I’m able to identify it as a porte crayon, a travel pencil: a piece of bamboo split at both ends to accommodate two crayon leads, with two brass rings to keep the leads in place. In the one that I’ve drawn from a photograph on an auction site, there’s red at one end and graphite at the other.

Robert Adam portrait

Image re-used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence

Robert Adam
George Willison (1741–1797) (attributed to)
National Portrait Gallery, London


The Antique Architect, etching by M Darly at the British Museum

Nostell Priory and Parkland, National Trust

Getting to know the Gargoyle

I called in at the Stables at Nostell Priory this morning to take a another look at the gargoyle. He’s bigger than I imagined – about half as big again – that’s one of the disadvantages of drawing from a photograph.

I photographed him from an angle this time, to get a three-quarters view, which brings out different facets of his character, so, whereas before I thought that he was rough around the edges, cracked and crazy-looking with dinky little ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’ style horns, I now see that he’s rough, yes, crazy and cracked, yes, but with the rather stylish, swept-back horns of a young goat.

A good-looking guy, for a gargoyle, that is.

The Menagerie Lion

This stone lion, reclining on the lawn, always takes me by surprise as we walk past a large evergreen oak and it springs into view. Surprisingly, a real lion was once kept here in the Menagerie at Nostell Priory, just yards from the Doncaster to Wakefield turnpike road, behind a high stone wall in an old quarry. There’s a story that it once escaped and roamed around the area.

Once again it’s an iPad drawing, which has the advantage that, even after I’ve added the colour, I can hide the paint layer and turn it back into a line drawing with one tap of my Apple Pencil.

Nostell Gargoyle

This gargoyle guards a collection of medieval finials, pillar fragments and a battered font housed in one of the stalls in the stable block at Nostell Priory.

Drawn – closely following a photograph I’d taken – in Clip Art Studio with an Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro.


Nostell Priory, National Trust

Roman Villa at Lupset

In my art college days, back in the late 1960s and early 70s, if you looked down Manor Road, Ossett, towards the newly constructed M1 motorway (this section opened in 1968), you’d see, not the tree-fringed grassy slope Lupset Hill that I sketched last week (left), but the spoil heaps of Roundwood Colliery.

The name Lupset might be from the Norse ‘Lufa’s, or Luppa’s Headland’.

Mosaics, presumably from a Roman villa, were reported from Lupset in the nineteenth century, but they have since disappeared. As a boy, William Briggs, a market gardener from Thornes, saw:

‘Some Roman tessellated pavements just beneath the surface in the field between Snapethorpe Hall and the road leading to Ossett (Ossett Street-side) . . . he had bared them with his cap in order to look more particularly at the pattern.’

Wakefield, Its History and People, J W Walker, Chapter II

So, if you live between the A638, which follows the course of a Roman road, the Via Vicinalis, and the site of Snapethorpe Primary School (the site of the old Hall) and you keep finding small square tesserae when you’re digging the garden, you might be on the site of a long lost Roman villa.

Newsagents in Colour

Here’s the coloured version of Kershaw’s Newsagents, now no. 7, Queen Street, Horbury.

I’ve been able to narrow down the dates of the postcard that I drew this detail from to 1938-1939, so immediately before World War II.

The Savoy Cinema

It was the cinema poster than gave me my first clue. The Savoy was an out-of-town cinema, latterly a bingo hall, next to the Whinney Moor Hotel on Horbury Road, Wakefield.

I walked past it on what turned out to be its last night, walking back from an evening class in Wakefield. It burnt down that night and was eventually replaced by the Lupset Medical Centre. My evening class ran from September 1990 to June 1991, but I can’t remember the date of the fire.

Anyway, getting back to dating that poster:

Bank Holiday was a British drama film directed by Carol Reed and starring John Lodge and Margaret Lockwood. It was released 27 January, 1938. Being out-of-town, I suspect that the Savoy showed movies a week or two after their initial release.

Love Under Fire must have been showing well after its first screening on 20 August, 1937. An American drama, set during the Spanish Civil War, it starred Loretta Young and Don Ameche. Don Ameche had a long film career; he starred in Cocoon: The Return in 1988.

Radio Times

Despite being able to browse through every copy of The Radio Times for that period (see link below), I haven’t been able to spot a specific issue which featured the first broadcast of Elizabeth, the Queen Consort, (better remembered by my generation as The Queen Mother).

There was a lot of coverage of various royal visits in the Radio Times during 1938. This was probably due to the Government and Buckingham Palace trying to undo the potential damage caused by the recently abdicated Edward VIII and his wife (Wallis Simpson, as was), visiting the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, and his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, in October 1937.

If you do take a look through the Radio Times for that period and you spot a broadcast billed as Elizabeth’s first, please let me know.

Pearson’s Magazine

I can only decipher the title of one of the periodicals on display, Pearson’s, a magazine of speculative fiction and predominantly left wing political comment, which at that time was edited by John Reed Wade, who had been in charge since 1920. W.E. Johns, author of the Biggles stories, took over as editor in May the following year but the magazine ceased publication in November, which confirms that the photograph must have been taken pre-war.

The magazine or poster to the left of the news-rack, in the doorway, which is also visible in the window, shows a large ship with a crane in the background, so I’d guess that this is a feature about the building of the liner RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by Elizabeth, the Queen Consort, at Clydebank, Scotland, on 27 September, 1938.

There’s what could be a comic in the middle of window. The Beano was already established at the time (although Leo Baxendale’s Bash Street Kids wouldn’t appear for another fifteen years, so probably not worth bothering with).

Queen Street Today

The Kershaw’s Newsagents is now Bike Medic, but there’s still a barber’s, Mister Lister’s next door. The shop fronts have changed a little but the drain pipe – and its top funnel – is still the original!

Before taking the photograph, Barbara and I had called for coffee and freshly baked scones (cherry, this morning) at the Rich & Fancy cafe, three doors up from the bike repair shop.

Local Colour

I couldn’t find any colour reference so I decided to try a bottle green for the newsagent’s, which I believe was a popular colour at that time.

For me it doesn’t ring true, even though I’ve faded it out a bit in my colour image (top), however the advantage of having drawn it as a digital image is that I could change the colours on the paint layer if I wished, without damaging my line drawing in any way.

I can also easily output the drawing in line, black and white half-tone or sepia.

I like the sepia but it does make the scene look too cosily Victorian, rather than Britain on the eve of war.


Savoy Cinema

Bank Holiday, film, 1938.

Love Under Fire, film, 1937

Radio Times, the 1930s

Pearson’s Magazine

Newsagents in Pen

I’ve used the pen tool with the G-pen nib in Clip Studio Paint in this drawing of  Kershaw’s Newsagents, Horbury, in 1938. The effect is very similar to my regular pen and ink drawings, although bringing the whole drawing together wasn’t so straightforward; although I appreciated being able to zoom in on the different sections of the drawing as I worked, this did mean that it felt a bit like working on a jigsaw: I’d concentrate on one area, such as an edge, but I’d lose sight of the picture of a whole as I did that.

Adding colour was also unfamiliar to me, compared with using my watercolours. I’ve stuck to one brush to get the feel for that particular setting, but the result feels like colouring using a felt-tip pen.

The whole exercise has been useful for getting used to the range of marks that I can produce with pen and brush in the program. I’m sure that I’ll find it useful.

Newsagents, 1938

Tracing from a vintage postcard in Clip Studio Paint.

I recently joined a local history group on Facebook, focussing on Horbury and neighbouring Sitlington. This newsagents caught my attention; it appears in the left-hand corner of a postcard of Queen Street, Horbury, one of series which Helen Bickerdike, administrator of the group, has been posting.

I’ve been doing a bit or research into the film titles on the poster for the Savoy Cinema and into what I can decipher of the newspapers and journals. I’ll explain more when I finish the picture and can pick out some of the details but it must have been taken a year or two before the outbreak of World War II, perhaps in January, 1938.

The shop, which was Noble’s Newsagents in until the late 1960s, appears, second from the left, on the cover of my booklet.

Like the digital painting of Coxley Beck which I posted the other day, I’m doing this as a way of getting thoroughly familiar with the program Clip Studio Paint.

When I was writing my local history booklets, such as Around Old Horbury (1998), I did a lot of drawings like this, initially by sitting on street corners with my sketchbook, but later using my own photographs as reference.

I had a unique opportunity when I redrew the cover illustration as a wrap-around design for a china mug. When I arrived in Horbury, one Sunday morning, I discovered that they’d closed the High Street for resurfacing and I was able to sit on my fishing stool in the middle of the road, to get a perfect view of the sweeping curve at the lower end of Queen Street.


Around Old Horbury on my Willow Island Editions website (£2.95, post free in the U.K.)

Masons’ Marks at Westgate, Wakefield

Victorian stone masons left their marks on this embankment wall, south of Wakefield Westgate Station.

The Roman numeral ‘IV’ carved on this sandstone block appears to relate to the iron bracket that has been added to brace the wall but it’s the mark below that intrigues me: it looks like a flag, a key or a crossed out semiquaver. It has weathered more than the numeral, which suggests that the ironwork is a later addition.

The sun was at a perfect angle this morning for picking out the marks and we spotted dozens of them.

They’re carved at the centre of the facing side of each block. Some masons used letters of the alphabet. You can see that the quality of the sandstone varied because the ‘H’ in the top right of my photograph has faded away more than the one on the left.

There are crosses, arrows and triangles but my favourite marks are the fish-like hieroglyphs and that rabbit’s head (or perhaps it’s an upside-down ‘R’) in the bottom right-hand corner.

This embankment wall, between Westgate Wakefield and the first arch of the Ninety-nine Arches railway viaduct over Ings Road, was constructed in the mid-1860s.

The Great Snowstorm, Christmas 1906

Leeds Mercury, 27 December, 1906, British Newspaper Archive.

People were tobogganing at Ilkley, skating on the Mere at Scarborough and photographing snow-covered trees in the Gorge at Roundhay Park after the Great Snowstorm of Christmas 1906.

Despite the snow, a large crowd turned out to watch the annual Fishermen versus Firemen football match on the beach at South Bay, Scarborough.

My thanks to Gordon Berry of Chicago for sending me this photograph of work to clear the tram tracks between Wakefield and Horbury. I’ve seen another photograph, presumably taken at the same time, of an electric tram making progress through the drifts.

Gordon’s grandparents and their family lived at  Smeath House, Horbury, in the early 1900s (later, in the 1950s and 1960s, Smeath House was my childhood home).

Leeds Mercury, 27 December, 1906, British Newspaper Archive.

Gordon tells me:

My grandfather’s family (Alfred Edward Berry and Fanny Albiia Murgatroyd) lived at Smeath House from at least 1906 till 1909. My father was the third son, Henry Vernon, born in Huddersfield in 1901.  The fourth and youngest child was Cynthia Berry born at Smeath House in 1909.

My brother John Berry was a medical doctor as a GP  in Horbury and Ossett (he retired about 15 years ago and died 2 years ago) – his practice went all the way through to Netherton.  He said when he first got there , some old people remembered the Berry family.

Alfred Edward Berry (right), with his sons Henry (in front of Alfred) and Rex (centre, behind the dog’s tail).

I am pretty sure that some of the boys in the photo are my father Henry Vernon Berry, his older brother Rex (Reginald), and their father Alfred Edward Berry.

The man leaning on his shovel behind Rex might have been part of the team clearing snow from the tram tracks.

I am sure they were in Kristiania (now Oslo) in Norway from 1910 to 1914. I have a record of Rex being at Pannal Ash school Harrogate in the school year 1910-11, recorded as a boarder in the 1911 census, plus a letter to the family in Kristiania in February 1914. Since I cannot find the family anywhere in the 1910 census, they must have gone to Norway then. They certainly returned before the outbreak of World War I.  

Has this young man on the far left been marking the route with flags?

Presumably, Alfred Edward was a mill or brewery manager in Horbury. 

 In later years, Daddy still knew a few phrases of Norwegian, and he also learned to ski and to ice-skate in Norway (occasionally there was enough ice on Bretton Park Lake for us to watch him to skate). There was also a Norwegian plaque on the wall of our parents’ bedroom in Louisville.

 There is a family story that Alfred Edward was a golf-pro at Filey Golf Club when they returned from Norway – he apparently had an excellent golf handicap of 1.

Wakefield Road, Horbury

I believe the photograph shows what today is the Horbury Road, looking southwest towards Horbury. Just visible in the background are two tall chimneys which might belong to Richard Sutcliffe’s Universal Works. Sutcliffe patented the first conveyor belt for use in coal mines in  1905. He bought a former dyehouse here and in that year produced his first six belt conveyors here for Glass Houghton Colliery.

The present day Horbury Road dips under the M1 motorway here.