A grant of £3000 has been awarded to Bridport Town Council by the Charles Hayward Foundation, for the restoration of a number of paintings in Bridport Town Hall. The application for this funding was made on behalf of the Town Council by the Bridport Area Development Trust. The paintings are the work of Francis H Newbery who was brought up in Bridport and later went on to become the Director of Glasgow School of Art and responsible for the international promotion of Charles Rennie Macintosh.
Following an illustrious career which saw him exhibiting not only in Britain but across Europe and in the USA, Newbery retired to Corfe Castle in Dorset in 1919. He began to paint local scenes and use local people as models for his major paintings. These paintings celebrated the history of the county and were designed for its public spaces and buildings. They were Newbery’s attempt to bring art to the whole community, based on the belief that art was an activity in which everyone should have the opportunity to participate. In 1925 Newbery designed and supervised the redecoration of the main Council Chamber of Bridport Town Hall. He painted and presented to the town a series of panels and paintings depicting key elements of our local history, which is probably the largest single collection of his paintings for public places.
Until now these impressive paintings have be behind closed doors but with the Heritage Lottery funded Town Hall Conservation Project about to start, soon everyone will be able to see this valuable and fascinating legacy. Crystal Johnson, Activities Coordinator for the project said, “Generally the Newbery designed interior is in a reasonable state of repair. However, some of the larger paintings have suffered damage due to environmental conditions in the building. We are delighted that this grant from the Charles Hayward Foundation will enable us to have the paintings properly conserved and that the Town Hall project will not only ensure the protection of these important historic artworks for the future but enable everyone to really appreciate and enjoy them.”
During the building works the paintings and murals not needing restoration and repair will be securely stored.
Bridport Town Hall Heritage and Conservation Project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bridport Town Council, Dorset County Council and West Dorset County Council.