Reservoir Art

From Field Magazine 29 Jan 1853

It is puzzling that we have no images (sketches, woodblock, etchings, paintings or photographs) of the reservoir prior to the 20th Century other than those used to promote “Hardy’s Subscription Waters”.[1]

While researching images of the Reservoir we also came across two intriguing references to artifacts we have been unable to trace:-

  • “There is a picture of the inn, with a bowling green, which he painted” in the Hardy Family genealogy and a book called "Mr. George". [2] The book goes on to explain that "the sketch was, in 1964, in the possession of Mr. C. Laywood whose home was built on the site of the old Inn". The inn would have been “The Golden Perch”. Obviously, a picture we’d love to see.

  • At the Wendover Branch Womens Institute Exhibition in 1934, Mrs. Brazier exhibited a steel engraving in Frame of "Golden Perch Inn".[9]

Photographers regularly toured Weston Turville, Halton and Wendover as evidenced by the large selection of postcards they produced. There were even professional photographers in Wendover and Halton. We’ve found no examples that included the reservoir. The earliest photographs we’ve found we believe to have been taken by Francis Paine in the 1920s. Frances Paine was the Water Bailiff and lived in Perch Cottage at the time.

In the mid 19th century, the Reverend Isham and his family, who lived in the rectory, were keen amateur artists and we can see that they exhibited at the Halton Industrial Exhibition in 1868. [3]

There were at least two professional artists living in Weston Turville in the early 20th Century Alexander Jamieson and William Todd-Brown who were friends and neighbours. Jamieson was a regular exhibitor at the RA (Royal Academy) with Weston Turville subjects. William Todd Brown had one painting displayed at the RA while he resided at Weston Turville (in 1914). Both offered residential art classes, surely, they and their students would have ventured out to the reservoir.

We are aware of one reservoir painting by Jamieson (which is now in possession of the Buckinghamshire County Museum and can be found on ARTUK) and one, after some investigation by Todd-Brown.

William Todd-Brown "St. Mary's Church from Weston Turville Reservoir" C1920. Photoshopped from Wotton's Catalogue. [5]

At the debut exhibition of the “County Art Club” in 1920 one of William Todd-Brown’s oil paintings was described as “The breeze-blown waters of Halton Reservoir that caught the wavelets”. [4] This proved hard to track down, until we found an auction catalogue with the description.

“An early 20th century oil painting on canvas by William Todd Brown showing a river scene with distant church tower”. When examining the painting, it is clear that Todd-Brown had his easel on the North West bank of the reservoir looking North to St. Mary’s church.

William Todd-Brown gave Weston Turville as his address on his 1914 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition entry, the year suffragette Mary Wood attacked John Singer Sargent's portrait with a meat cleaver. (Todd-Brown's ARTUK entry is under Brown, W.T.) [8]

"Bathers at Weston Turville Reservoir" by Frank Boothman 1951 [8]

In 1951, Frank Boothman had an oil painting with the title "Bathers at Weston Turville Reservoir" accepted for the Institute of Painters' Festival exhibition at their summer salon. 195, Piccadilly. The painting currently has the title "Bathing at Weston Turville Reservoir". [8] His painting of Lady Spencer College can be seen on ARTUK (which states that he was active 1953-1965). [6][7]

His vantage point seems to have been a little to the North of Todd-Brown's painting.

Currently it is the only image we have found of swimming in the reservoir.


  1. ^ Field magazine 29 Jan 1853

  2. ^ Biography of George H. Callcott by his son Frank (1891-1979), a professor at the University of South Carolina

  3. ^ 1868 Halton Industrial Exhibition An Account

  4. ^ Bucks Examiner 25 Jun 1920

  5. ^ Wotton Auction Rooms Catalogue November 2015

  6. ^ Bucks Advertiser 10 Aug 1951

  7. ^ ARTUK

  8. ^ "Shoulder of Mutton" Colchester, Essex

  9. ^ Bucks. Herald 27 Apr 1934

  10. ^ 1914 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; List of Exhibitors.