Research Notes into the artist – Mr Alan Durman

This research started in trying to establish the identity of the Artist who painted the picture of the Recreation Ground in Bath shown below.

Painted in the late 1940s/early 1950s. (Note – No Hampton Stand or Leisure Centre) this picture is owned by the Somerset Cricket Museum, and was on temporary loan to the Bath & Wilts Area Committee, before being returned to the Museum.

The signature (bottom right) is a little blurred but with a little guess work and a spot by Michael Tarr in a book containing one of his paintings, one can just about make out the name Durman. Plus the date and location and it all seemed to add up.

Many internet searches later I found that an Alan Durman lived in Saltford until his death in 1963. Further research found other oil paintings and the 1950s/1960s Railway travel posters bearing the same signature. (Google alan durman travel pictures for more information).

According to the Saltford News, after his death, his wife, Kathleen, moved away to Essex to be with her family and there the trail ran dry, However there was a reference in the Keynsham News of his two children Mark and Shelly.

In addition to Shelley, Mark Durman lived in Saltford in 1945 according to “A Wartime Childhood in Saltford” by Elizabeth Sabin published by Keynsham and Saltford Local History Society in 2003.

Now other things of Somerset Cricket interest began to emerge. From the Saltford online Museum “ To commemorate the death in March 1751 of Prince Frederick of Wales, who had visited Saltford for a village royal picnic with his eldest daughter Lady Augusta in 1750 during a visit to Bath (see above), a cricket match was organised in his honour.

This match is the first recorded cricket match in Somerset and was repeated annually for a few years thereafter. According to ‘A History of Saltford Village’ by Percy Sims (1976) the cricket match was held in the same Saltford Meadow where Prince Frederick had dined.”

Also in 1995, Somerset CCC played a charity / testimonial match against Saltford as seen in the Match Programme.

Also of importance to the village was that Alan Durman, spent most of one summer (1963?) painting a mural on the rear wall of Saltford Hall. Each person representing his or her’s organisation. 1.xxxxxx, 2.xxxxxx, 3.xxxxxx, 4.Roger Evans, 5.Joy Brignall, 6. John Brice, 7.Shelley Durman, 8.xxxxxx

Note that No. 7 is Shelley Durman, his daughter, who followed a modelling career and it is believed featured in many of the Railway / Travel posters. However I was unable to find any more information or contact details.

Then the final piece of the jigsaw, searching through LinkedIn and Facebook I did find a fiction writer, Mark Durman, living in Spain and somewhat apologetically inquired if indeed he was Alan’s son and had any recollection of the picture? To which he replied.

“You correctly found the right person concerning the picture of cricket on the Bath Recreation Ground circa 1950! I recognise the distinctive style of my father, Alan Durman, and indeed I have a hazy memory of the day he painted it. At that age, about ten, I was a dedicated cricket fan (still am!) and always tried to watch county games played on the Bath rec. My father did not share my sports enthusiasm but came with me one day and painted that scene while I was enthralled watching the match. Those were the days of the excellent Somerset team where Harold Gimblett would set the innings going leading to swashbuckling cameos from the likes of Maurice Tremlett and Arthur Wellard! Amazing when Somerset played Gloucestershire and we young fans got to watch the outstanding Tom Graveney.

Regarding the painting. The attachment you sent from the Somerset Cricket Museum is the first time I’ve seen it since soon after my father painted it. At that time he frequently painted in the centre of Bath usually around the area of Pulteney  bridge. I would very much like to have a copy of this cricket painting for my family. Could I ask you to send a good quality photo that I can print out?

Art skipped a generation in my family. I inherited no artistic talent but my two sons did. Anthony is currently Head of Art at the prestigious Denia British School in Bangkok and William is a talented photographer currently living in Bali, Indonesia. I know they will both be very interested in your mail which I will copy to them.

I would like to thank the kind folk of the Saltford Parish Council and the Saltford Environmental Group for the help that they gave me.

Mike Unwin (February 2024)