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.
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.
Sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, looking up Queen Street, I’m attempting to draw the spire of St Peter and St Leonard’s Church, Horbury.
The proportions are so subtle; the tower’s structure reminds me of a four-stage Saturn rocket, about to soar skywards but it might so easily, with the addition of an extra foot or so of girth, start to appear crushingly earthbound or, conversely, if too slender, become too spindly and emaciated to inspire confidence.
It’s the same with the individual pillars: there’s such a slim ‘Goldilocks zone’ between undernourished and elephantine. I think that he got it just right.
The architect, John Carr, (1723-1807), started his career working the stone in local quarries. As far as I know, he never had any formal training in architecture, nor did he ever make the Grand Tour, to absorb the classical influence of Italy but as bridge surveyor to the West Riding of Yorkshire, he had an eye for structure.
I walked past the church every day when I attended St Peter’s Junior School, which in those days stood close to where the dentist’s stands today. As I looked up at that wedding cake of a spire, so unlike anything else in Horbury, I’d imagine the kind of character that might be living in there, in the pilastered penthouse apartment above the rusticated clock section. Shutters and a the mini-balcony made me think of Spain or Mexico, so a mantillared señorita or a caballero.
The rotunda of columns could be a home for a minor Greek deity.
I’m feeling relaxed enough, as we wait for our bagels in the Caffé Capri, to draw a high-speed sketch of the view up Horbury High Street. After all, if it doesn’t turn out to be precisely in the correct perspective, what does it matter? It’s not like me to say that, is it?!
No vase of flowers to draw in the hairdressers today, so it’s back to hands.
Hands, yes my perennial subject but not a bad one to mug up on with my Waterton comic strip project looming. Twelve pages, eight frames per page, and average of, say two people in each frame, that’s 12 x 8 x 2 figures, about 192 figures, each with two hands so that could be a total of 384 hands to draw!
I enjoy drawing bits of buildings, often the side that the architect didn’t intend us to see. This window showroom at the top end of Cluntergate, Horbury, was drawn with a fine Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen as we sat in the Caffe Capri opposite.
The watercolour was added later using a photograph I took on my Olympus Tough as reference.
While researching the life of composer William Baines for a college project in 1972, I was lucky to be able to interview a number of his contemporaries including a friend of the family, Nora Naylor.
Mrs Naylor who lived at 45 Cooperative Street, Horbury gave me this photograph of the Baines family, sent as Christmas card c. 1912.
It looks to me as if William has written the Christmas message as I’m sure that I recognise that handwriting from his early manuscripts and possibly the ‘To Nora Radley’ (her maiden name) in pencil.
Born in 1908, Nora told me that she remembered William and his tragically early death on 6 November 1922. Just as she was telling me this, her aunt, then aged 96 walked in and said ‘I remember when his parents were married.’
In the 1911 census, Nora’s aunt, then 35, is listed as a yarn reeler at a worsted manufacturer. Nora’s father, a widower aged 34, was an iron turner at the railway wagon works.
I didn’t keep meticulous records but I’m pretty sure that this photograph of Alice and George William was also given to me by Nora. It might have been taken at a roadside or railway cutting somewhere near Horbury – or perhaps on an excursion to the coast?
In the 1911 census the Baines family were living at 16 Church Street, Horbury, since demolished. He described his occupation as ‘Grocer and Music Teacher’. Considering their modest circumstances, I was surprised that the family employed a domestic servant; Annie Elizabeth Bradbury, 17, who was born at New Whittington, Derbyshire.
William evidently learnt his musical skills from his father but I get the impression that his creative side owed a lot to his mum.
From these photographs you can also see that William inherited a certain sense of style from his father. In the earlier photograph George William reminds me of Pagget’s illustrations of Doctor Watson in the Strand Magazine.
IT’S RARE for me to have a whole hour free so to make the most of it, while I wait for Barbara to finish work, I draw the bookshop, starting with the door frame and working across the double-page spread, running out of ink halfway and borrowing a pen from Barbara to finish.
With any complicated subject I have to establish an anchor point before I can start mapping everything in its place. Those long verticals of the door frame that I started with on the left weren’t much help and it was only when I established the leaded window above the door that I was able to get a grip on proportions. The 45° pattern made a useful grid.
You can see where this went slightly wrong as the window started going into perspective on the right, my drawing equivalent to the distortions you’d get if you were photographing the scene with a wide-angle lens.
THAT’S JUST what you need; a cat wondering around your gallery, knocking the paintings over. The lady who exhibits in the window of her house on Horbury High Street tells me that the cat insisted that she leave a space for him to sit in the windowsill so she had to remove one of the paintings.
Nuzzling the edges of the paintings as he wove its way through the exhibits, the cat succeeded in knocking over the watercolour of badgers. Other subjects in this unique little cottage window gallery include sketches of the characters who can often be seen sitting on the benches opposite.
Across the road, Mackay and Pearson, jewellery makers, have installed a suitably summery seaside window based on a 1970s public information film about HM Coastguards. This film was shown so often on television that I can almost remember the dialogue:
‘Ooh look Doris! That man in the dinge-y is waving to us!’
I HAVE A HABIT of editing out the buses, vans and cars as I draw and I realise that for Horbury High Street I’m giving the wrong impression so, as I draw the Beauty Spa (originally a butcher’s shop) on the right, I add whatever figures happen to be passing at the time. The lad standing with his scooter adds a useful spot of contrast with his red T-shirt.
This is the view from Horbury’s newest café, the Caffé Capri, which the only one where you can sit out watching the world go by. It might just be Horbury on our weekly date with my mum’s shopping but in this weather it feels like being on holiday. Especially when accompanied by a small potato tortilla and a glass of chilled pinot grigio.
THE NAME of Cluntergate is thought to come from the Viking klunter meaning logs or blocks and gata meaning a path or road.
The dialect word clunter is either a big lump or a clattering noise. I can picture Cluntergate being a muddy thoroughfare up the slope into Horbury with logs laid down along the boggier parts. Any cart approaching this way would clatter as it negotiated the logs.
This little Jack Russel terrier was tethered outside a shoe shop on Horbury High Street. It gave such a friendly greeting to each passer by that I wondered if one of them was going to prove to be its owner, but as we went off to our next port of call it was still there, patiently waiting.