Victorian artist hanging around in Newcastle-under-Lyme

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(L-R) Daniel Turner and Ed Emery.

Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Victorian artist, Sam Gallimore, who passed away in 1898, has been found hanging around in the town’s Belong Heritage Gallery…

But before anyone dials ‘Ghostbusters’, the presence is purely on canvas, courtesy of the celebrated artist’s descendants, who lived in the building during the 1920s and have loaned two of his most important family works to the Lower Street gallery, to mark their ancestral links to the famous site.

A self portrait of Sam now hangs in the Heritage Gallery opposite a portrait of brother, John Gallimore, who became Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1879. They are a celebration of Gallimore’s work, which specialised in portraiture of the prominent social and political figures of Queen Victoria’s reign, several examples of which can still be seen adorning the walls of the Houses of Parliament.

Both works of art have been loaned by Sam Gallimore’s great great nephew, Ed Emery, and wife, Cynthia, after hearing of the work of the gallery, and its significance to Newcastle. Ed’s grandfather, Frank Emery, and his father, Robert, lived in the building housing the heritage gallery during the 1920s, when it operated as a pub with an adjacent wood yard. It later went on to become home to the iconic Maxims nightclub, which also earned it a prominent chapter in Newcastle’s modern social history.

Part of the state-of-the-art, Belong care village, the Heritage Gallery is open to the general public and also boasts room recreations depicting the building’s life as the town’s first working pottery; its role as a coaching house and the more recent incarnations as Sammi Belles, The Placemate and Maxims nightclubs. It was developed with the valuable support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and as an integral part of the not-for-profit Belong care village, it has helped to breathe new life into Newcastle town centre.

Commenting on the loan arrangement, Belong’s heritage coordinator, Daniel Turner said: “We’re indebted to Ed and Cynthia, on behalf of the Emery family, for enabling us to show these works from one of the area’s most influential artists, which have been under wraps for many decades. Now a new generation of people can not only enjoy them as works of art in their own right but also understand the cultural role Sam Gallimore played in Victorian era Staffordshire and the significant part this building has played in Newcastle’s history since Georgian times. We hope the public will be keen to see them in situ.”