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Plymouth, the Samuel Plimsoll and a big surprise

I am flat out working on new marine art, the largest marine painting will be  a view of Plymouth Sound, the Cattewater including Commercial and Pheonix Wharves , by moon light and intended as a major exhibition piece to be shown at my coming exhibition at the European Parliament then later an exhibition at Plymouth.

This Plymouth scene is not a long story but goes back a long way. Cattewater_IMG_4315_d.jpg

Here is a progress report including sketches to date.

The painting was inspired by often seeing this view by moonlight, on many occasions after supper at the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club following an evening dinghy racing.

This marine painting is being produced “on speculation” intended as a major exhibition piece, a demonstration of my skills.

Make no mistake though, the painting is for sale and could be pre bought as shipwrights might have put it, “off the building stocks”, or in this case wet off the easel!


As ideas developed, I researched extensively in Plymouth including at the Local and Naval Studies Department, Plymouth Central Library and made several special visits to the location.

More recently, my good friend the musician Bob Brennan has joined in the fun and been hugely helpful as have several of his friends around Plymouth, in helping find historic information and rare pictures relating to the view I have in mind.


Now the idea of the painting has grown.

This painting will at face value be a fine large port scene by a warm summer full moon.

There will be many layers under the face of this new marine painting:

emigration from the British Isles,

the story of the Plimsoll line and Samuel Plimsoll,

the ship Samuel Plimsoll,

the history of this now derelict location,

and the fact that it is up for redevelopment and I intend to remind Plymouth City of the site in it’s hay day hoping they will be encouraged to develop sympathertically, imaginatively and not just “build a hotel2 as is rumoured… (as I did most successfully at and for the City of Chester with the marine painting “The Port of Chester (1863)” ~ A civic reception, the ghost of Salty Cyril and a coat of arms.

See http://www.frickers.co.uk/marine-art/chester.html and follow the further reading links to discover how and why.


The original thoughts evolved to include a large sailing ship on the Cattewater, ready to sail.

Sketches attached here and below:   CW_sketches_IMG_6476_d.jpg

You may recall, “Catte” refers to catting an anchour?

The ship I would chose had to be a big square rigger, ideally with an interesting history.

I settled for ship the Samuel Plimsoll, built by Walter Hood at Aberdeen in 1873.

Walter Hood famed for his fast clippers which included Salamis and Cutty Sark’s great rival, the glorious Thermopylae

Samuel Plimsoll was named for and launched by Mr. Samuel Plimsoll.

You may have heard of the “Plimsoll Line”, maybe seen Plimsoll lines on ships?

I gradually discovered I could not have made a better choice.

I’ll tell you more of the illustrious ship Samuel Plimsoll in progress reports as the painting develops over the next few months.  CW_sketch_IMG_6474_d.jpg


Imagine my surprise?

We have been working on and off on  researching this painting for 3 years when yesterday Bob Brennan emailed me about

Nicolette Jones who is trying to raise money (£1 or two) for water for Africa at JustGiving.com.


Nicolette Jones is only the author of The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to Save Lives at Sea, published in paperback on 3 May 2007 (Abacus).

The Plimsoll Sensation was the Radio 4 Book of the Week for 3-7 July 2006, and won the 2006 Mountbatten Maritime Prize and the International Division of the 2007 US Maritime Literature Awards. See the citation and photos.

I was totally unaware of Nicolette Jones and her book…

Wow, what splendid reviews Nicolette Jones and The Plimsoll Sensation have!

I wonder if she and I will ever correspond?


This is the same piece of water, Plymouth Cattewater,  where Drake, Hawkins and numerous famous sailors formerly anchoured their ships.

This is the anchorage where the battle fleet of Queen Elizabeth 1 waited for the Spanish Armada and would later witness the departures of the Pilgrim Fathers followed by tens of thousands of other emigrants.

Then I became interested in the buildings on the derelict sites, a disgrace for 50 years and significantly up for re development, of the wharves under the East side of Citadel.

I was looking for a suitable fore ground for the design.

I found one plus!

This is the site where my family, friends and I  so often launched our dinghies so more personal, and the only remaining building of note is in a shabby state because the city dispute who is responsible for it’s upkeep as it is  the now the Mayflower Sailing Club.

I expected a long history, I found one.

I was most surprised though to discover the quay had been the most popular point of departure for emigrants leaving the British Isles, preferred over London and Liverpool.