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Featured objects

'Superb' by Arthur Bradbury

User AvatarPosted by Joe Raine at 06/09/2021 09:16:48
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This week’s featured object is a watercolour sketch of the ship ‘Superb’, by Arthur Royce Bradbury. Locally, he is well known for his maritime themed designs, used by Poole Pottery for a series of Ship Plates during the 1930s and 1940s. The designs were used again for further sets during the 60s, 70s and 80s. 

Arthur Bradbury was born in Preston, Lancashire, in 1892, but he found himself living in Dorset by age 10. Initially living in Bournemouth, he moved to Parkstone in 1915 before settling in Poole. He trained as a Mercantile Marine cadet and also served on board the ‘Waterwitch’, transporting clay and coal. The ‘Waterwitch’ would later become the subject for a Poole Pottery plate, an example of which can be seen on our third floor. 

This sketch may have been an original concept for a Poole Pottery piece, one that was never taken up. Bradbury’s own annotations can be seen around the sketch, including the date 1805 and the names of two captains: Captain White and Captain Baxter. The ship in question, which according to Bradbury’s notes was lost in Newfoundland, is not to be confused with the later ‘Superb’ in one of our other ship’s portraits. 

However, it is on the reverse side that the true masterpiece can be found. The delightful pencil sketch of a knitted jumper crafter by Mrs Bond for her husband Francis is an absolute gem. It raises a myriad of questions and could be the starting point of a real quest. The sketch annotation reads: 

“FRANCIS BOND. SKIPPER SEAPLANE (16 YEARS) GUERNSEY Knitted BY MRS F.BOND (4 PLY)” 

Were Mr and Mrs Bond from Poole? Was Francis the skipper of a boat called ‘Seaplane’, or the skipper of a seaplane? Was the boat or seaplane called ‘Guernsey’, or is the jumper a Guernsey jumper?  

There are enough unanswered questions here for a TV drama or blockbuster movie. What other mysteries did Bradbury feature on the back of his paintings? 

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