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John Taylor Allerston

One of Bridlington's foremost artists, Mr John Taylor Allerston died in 1914. Mr Allerston's name lives on in Bridlington for his pictures of The Great Gale, many of which have become synonymous with that event.

He died at 86 years of age, the son of a draper from Old Town. He had been an apprentice to his father.

The Bridlington Chronicle of February 6, 1914, records that he enjoyed drawing when a boy and was often punished at school for drawing ships on scraps of cardboard.

Later in life, he left the drapery business and took an interest in photography. He had a wooden studio on the site of Wellington Gardens, near Christ Church. When Wellington Road was built, Mr Allerston constructed Wellington House, the first house on that road.

When photography advanced too quickly for him, he made a name for himself as a nautical artist, recording The Great Gale. The drawings he made of the storm were photographed by him and, although only "carte de visite" size, they sold readily at 1s. (5p) each.

He left photography and took to painting watercolour and oil marine paintings, which sold from 2s.6d. (25p) to 30. He pictures ranged in size from small postcard size to 36in x 24in, but he painted even larger views. Very methodical, Mr Allerston carefully numbered each picture he created, which eventually totalled over 2,400.

Many of the larger paintings were often on view in the town, especially in Lowson's jewellers in Prince Street and Cliff Street.

He also painted views from all along the East Yorkshire coast, many of Flamborough Headland, the bays and caves. His pictures of The Great Gale became regarded as true representations of the events of that dreadful day. Many of the shipwrecks and storms of the following years were painted by Mr Allerston.

Mr Allerston's only son, Mr W. P. Allerston, was in Australia at the time of his father's funeral. Mr Allerston's wife had died some time before his death. He is interred in Bridlington Cemetery. It was announced that his estate was valued at 593.

The pictures below show some of Mr Allerston's paintings of The Great Gale of 1871.

I bought this painting of The Great Gale by J. T. Allerston in September 2009 for 150. I feel quite privileged to own one of his paintings. It's a water colour, 200mm by 115mm.


Mike Wilson