Alfred Daniels’ Murals In Hammersmith | Spitalfields Life

Source: Alfred Daniels’ Murals In Hammersmith | Spitalfields Life

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John Leech, Illustrator and caricaturist for Punch magazine

Many of the Hammersmith & Fulham archives are still in Lilla Huset in Talgarth Road where they were housed before we moved to Hammersmith Library.  I was looking through some of the old volumes and came across John Leech’s Pictures of Life & Character from the collection of ‘Mr Punch’.

John Leech’s Pictures of Life & Character from the collection of ‘Mr Punch’

John Leech’s Pictures of Life & Character from the collection of ‘Mr Punch’

John Leach (1817-1864) was a popular Victorian illustrator and caricaturist but I was not aware of any links to Hammersmith or Fulham.  He was born in the City of London in 1817 and rather than follow his father and uncle into the restaurant business he was determined to become an artist.  A little research, however, revealed that he had lived for some years in Brook Green.

John Leech

John Leech

Leech was a good friend of Charles Dickens and illustrated some of his novels.  In the winter of 1843 he produced four illustrations, etched on steel and coloured by hand, as well as wood text engravings for A Christmas Carol:

Frontispiece. “Mr Fizzywig’s Ball”, illustration for Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 1843

Frontispiece. “Mr Fizzywig’s Ball”, illustration for Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 1843

Another book he illustrated for Dickens was Cricket on the Hearth published two years later:

Text illustration from Charles Dickens’ Cricket on the Hearth, 1845

Text illustration from Charles Dickens’ Cricket on the Hearth, 1845

Another author he worked with was Gilbert à Beckett whom he had met in 1832 when they were both medical students and who later became a writer at Punch. He wrote A Comic History of Britain for which Leech provided both colour prints and text illustrations:

“Henry VIII monk hunting”, illustration for A Comic History of Britain

“Henry VIII monk hunting”, illustration for A Comic History of Britain

Early in 1845, John Leech and his wife, Annie, moved from Bloomsbury to 10 Brook Green, next door to their friend, Mark Lemon, at no 12 in “the quiet suburb” of Hammersmith. He obviously enjoyed being a “villa dweller” as is described in the following letter to Hohn Foster:

Letter and drawing of Leech’s house in Brook Green (reproduced from Houfe’s biography)

Letter and drawing of Leech’s house in Brook Green (reproduced from Houfe’s biography)

Leech’s move to Hammersmith coincided with the order to call out the militia in early 1846.  Leech joined and had fun with the over-domesticated, amateur soldiers in “The Brook Green Militia Man”.  In the drawing of Militia Man being presented with colours (an old shirt tied to a stick) can be seen Leech’s house in the background.

Presentation of Colours to the Brook Green Volunteers

Presentation of Colours to the Brook Green Volunteers

John Leech is best known for are his illustrations for Punch magazine, a connection that started in 1841 and continued until his death. He was not one for the original engravers but he was asked to do some work a few weeks later.  Unfortunately, he sent in his drawings on wood block so late that the magazine could not appear in time, distribution failed and there was a serious fall in the week’s circulation.  Not surprisingly, it was some time before he was offered more work and he was much helped in this by his old school friend, W M Thackeray, joining the staff.

Leech contributed more than 3000 illustrations to the magazine and was soon a popular illustrator. It was felt he reflected the views and attitudes of much of the magazine’s readership.  He was seen as a family man, unpretentious, patriotic, championing the underdog and standing up for the common sense view.  His social observations often highlighted the plight of the poor and forgotten or concerned the daily humour of family life and leisure in Victorian England.

Much of his drawing is considered autobiographical.  During his early marriage when he was living in Brook Green he produced the series ‘Domestic Bliss’:

In 1948, he moved to the more affluent Notting Hill Terrace, Kensington and this was reflected in his drawings:

'Servantgalism, or, what's to become of the missuses' by John Leech

‘Servantgalism, or, what’s to become of the missuses’ by John Leech

Later Leech discovered the country and a new series was developed about Mr Briggs and the pleasures of horse-keeping.  He became a well known sporting illustrator and in the 1850s he contributed numerous etchings of sporting scenes, together with woodcuts, to the novels of by Robert Smith Surtees, including to the Handley Cross novels featuring the character of Mr Jorrocks.  Hopefully this later material will be in a future blog.

[Fiona Fowler, volunteer Local History Room and Archives]


[Except for the first book which you need to request, the books are available on the shelves in the Local History Room].

Leech, John Pictures of Life & Character from the collection of ‘Mr Punch’ 1887, H927.4 LEE

à Beckett, G A  A Comic History of Britain, 1st ed 1850, H&F Library ed 1897,  H928.7 ABE

Brown, John  John Leech & other papers, 1882, H920 LEE

Houfe, Simon  John Leech & the Victorian Scene 1984, H920 LEE

Speilmann, M H  History of Punch, 1895, H920.08 PUN

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Owl craft fun in Shepherds Bush Library

We had lots of fun creating these cute baby owl pictures at the Shepherds Bush Library Tuesday Craft Club. The children used cotton wool balls for the fluffy little baby owls and added lots of details to make a night time owl picture.

Shepherds Bush Library craft Club runs every Tuesday (term-time) 3.45 to 4.45pm and is aimed at children aged 3-11. There is a small voluntary fee of 50p towards craft materials. come and join in!

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Creative writing with Joy Rhoades

Joy Rhoades writing workshop at Hammersmith Library 2017

Have you always wanted to write but are not sure where to start?
Have stories that you want to tell on paper but don’t know how?

Joy Rhoades’ recent creative writing workshop at Hammersmith Library helped 25 budding writers with these questions and more.

A graduate of the Creative Writing Master’s program at the New School University in New York, Joy has published a number of short stories in the United States. Her debut novel, The Woolgrower’s Companion, is forthcoming from Penguin in early 2017 in Australia and the UK.

Joy began the session by introducing the basics of fiction-writing, including:

  • What to write about?
  • Why ‘write what you know’?
  • Why writers are readers
  • The writing process: writing, reading, editing, sharing
  • When you have something polished, what then?

Attendees also had some fun putting words on paper, and were given a chance to read out and discuss their work in a supportive and inclusive atmosphere.

Don’t worry if you missed out; Joy will be repeating this FREE workshop on Thursday 28 February, 6pm at Shepherds Bush Library. Please contact the library on 020 8753 3842 or email to reserve a place.

Joy Rhoades writing workshop at Hammersmith Library 2017

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Would you Adam and Eve it?*

xmasAround this time of year newspapers and the radio repeat stories such as the urban myth about changing the name Christmas to Winterval. Also you see references to Xmas and Seasons Greetings rather than Christmas and Merry Christmas.



The computer age has also created new words such as Twitter, Cloud, Snapchat, etc. And now a cookie is more commonly known as a small piece of computer data rather than something you eat.

crsI was born in the ‘Baby Boomer’ age – an invented word for the period after the Second World War when the birth rate increased dramatically. A large part of my family originated from the south east of London and as a child I didn’t realise that some of my everyday language was a mixture of cockney rhyming slang and old sayings.

When someone was flabbergasted they would say ‘Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs’ – which made no sense. When it was time for bed you went up the wooden hill – up the stairs. And when it was cold you put the wood in the hole – closed the door. I accepted that if I came home dirty after a hard day playing in the street I was as ‘black as old noogits’. It was many years later that I discovered this meant I was as black as the large black knocker on the door of the old Newgate prison.

To confuse things even more a lot of the cockney rhyming slang would be shortened to one word making it even more difficult to understand. For example ‘tom’ was short for ‘tom foolery’ which meant jewellery. And the ‘currant’ was the ‘currant bun’ which meant the sun. Some rhyming slang was in part descriptive too, such as ‘trouble and strife’ for wife. This could be rather apt for a lazy or hen-pecked husband referring to his nagging wife.

crs1Some rhyming slang was created to keep up with modern trends, for example when flared trousers became fashionable they were known as ‘Lionel Blairs’. But now I often hear references or quiz questions about rhyming slang created by over-imaginative people who have no idea about original rhyming slang. Someone recently decided a nose would be a ‘fireman’s hose’ just because it rhymed, but the original rhyme was in fact an ‘I suppose’. I’ve even heard Santa’s Grotto referred to as Blotto just because it rhymes, but every true Londoner will know that being blotto means being drunk!

Every part of the body was included in rhyming slang, from ‘plates of meat’ for feet to ‘Barnet fair’ for hair. Some were slightly risqué such as ‘Bristol City’ and ‘bottle and glass’ which I will leave for you to interpret.

So this Christmas if you are going out for a knees up put on your whistle, titfer and daisies. Put your greens in your sky and go down the frog to the ruba. Have a few tiddlies but don’t get Brahms.

wineIn other words this Christmas if you are going out to celebrate put on your suit, hat and boots. Put your wages in your pocket and go down the road to the pub. Have a few drinks but don’t get drunk.




Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.




*Would you believe it?

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The Father of Modern Calligraphy

Edward Johnston was born on 11 February 1872 and is often regarded, with Rudolf Koch, as the father of modern calligraphy.


Johnston has been credited with reviving the art of modern penmanship and lettering through his books and teachings. His book Writing & Illuminating & Lettering, 1906, sparked a renewed interest in the art of calligraphy. Inspired by William Morris’s admiration of medieval manuscripts, he studied historic calligraphic scripts and devised the simply crafted round calligraphic handwriting style, written with a broad pen, known today as the foundational hand.



He is probably most famous for designing the London Underground typeface. In 1913, Frank Pick commissioned him to design a typeface for the Underground, and the simple and clear sans-serif Johnston typeface was the result. It was used throughout the London Underground system until it was re-designed in the 1980s.


Not all his students were happy with his decision to create a sans-serif design for the Underground, in a style thought of as modernist and industrial. His pupil Graily Hewitt privately wrote to a friend:

In Johnston I have lost confidence. Despite all he did for us…he has undone too much by forsaking his standard of the Roman alphabet, giving the world, without safeguard or explanation, his block letters which disfigure our modern life. His prestige has obscured their vulgarity and commercialism.

As well as the typeface, Edward Johnston also designed the famous roundel symbol used throughout the system:


Both practitioner and teacher, Johnston mentored many famous calligraphers and type designers including Eric Gill and Anna Simons. His link with Hammersmith and why he is included in the Hammersmith & Fulham Archives is that he lived at 3 Hammersmith Terrace from 1905 to 1912. Near neighbours were Emery Walker and Douglas Pepler.


Note that the font used on this plaque is not “English Heritage’s own unique font” to quote English Heritage but London Underground’s New Johnston sans serif, the 1979 version of the font designed by Johnston and introduced in 1916. Three other Underground-related blue plaques use this font: Frank Pick, Lord Ashfield and Harry Beck.




Fiona Fowler

Volunteer, Archives & Local History Room





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Ben Aaronovitch at Hammersmith Library

Hammersmith Library was very lucky to host a visit from author Ben Aaronovitch, part of his tour to promote the latest novel featuring Peter Grant, “The Hanging Tree.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Ben’s books, the “Rivers of London” series has been described as “a unique blend of police procedural, supernatural mayhem and threads of fascinating hidden history woven through the very fabric of the plot” and “fast-moving, funny, full of warmth and features one of the greatest and most historically rich cites in the world: London.”

A very active supporter of public libraries, Ben is quite happy to give a talk for free (in return for coffee and cake).

Ben delivered a characteristically energetic Q & A session, to an audience of thirty people. He covered subjects such as story arcs, finding the right voices for his audio books; and how some characters who he brings to life for one scene then refuse to go away!

He also spoke about his adventures as a bookseller, including the practice of “Meerkatting” or in other words looking around expectantly for customers to help/pounce on (Ben does a very convincing Meerkat impression).

As a bonus Ben also treated us to an impromptu dance routine!
Thanks to Ben from all at Hammersmith Library for a most entertaining talk.

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