Paintings give a glimpse of Fleetwood’s past

25 November 2014

The three original paintings are by artist William Gawin Herdman (1805-1882), known mainly for his many pictures of Liverpool and the surrounding area.

In the 1830s it is believed he was invited by Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood, the town's founder, to paint a series of eight views showing the early days of development in the port.

Three of the eight pictures are being donated by Henry Bee, whose father bought them in the 1920s and hung them in the boardroom of the family business. Henry and his wife Sue wanted the paintings to be seen and enjoyed by a wider audience and decided to give them to the museum to make this possible.

The paintings were unveiled by County Councillor Kevin Ellard, chairman of the county council, at a special ceremony. He said: "These paintings are a wonderful addition to the museum's collection and we are extremely grateful to Mr and Mrs Bee for kindly donating them. It's particularly fitting that the paintings should be displayed here as one of them shows the Custom House which is now the museum, of course.

"As a group, the paintings give us a fascinating picture of Fleetwood's earliest days. We will never know how much artistic licence William Herdman may have used in composing the landscapes so he could create pleasing images, but they provide a very welcome glimpse into the past.

"They will have pride of place in the History of Fleetwood gallery and I am sure local people will enjoy both the beauty of the paintings and seeing how their local landscape looked in Victorian times."
William Gawin Herdman was an active member of the Liverpool Academy before becoming a founder member of the Institution of Fine Art in the late 1850s.

The three paintings show:

– Fleetwood from Burn Naze, showing the construction of a wooden trestle railway track which brought people to Fleetwood across an embankment. This was often covered with water as the train trundled through. It was replaced in 1851 with a new embankment and track, closer to the shore.
– Fleetwood-on-Wyre looking south, giving a view towards Thornton. The artist may have been standing close to the side of The Mount. A windmill can be seen on the far left which is thought to be Preesall Mill. The white buildings shown nearby are Sea Dyke Cottages.
– Fleetwood from Sea Dyke near Knott End, showing many of the newly laid-out buildings of early Fleetwood. The Custom House – now Fleetwood Museum – is in clear view. The Mount, with its Chinese pagoda-style pavilion , can be seen towards the centre of the painting.


Notes for Editors: Picture shows County Councillor Ron Shewan, mayor of Fleetwood, County Councillor Kevin Ellard, chairman of Lancashire County Council, with Sue and Henry Bee who donated the pictures.

For further information please contact: Sue Becker on 01772 533679

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