Historic original paintings of Jolly Fisherman go on display in Skegness

Customers visiting the cafe in Tower Gardens were treated to a slice of history as well as cake when the facility reopened in the next stage of the lifting of Covid-19 restions.

The unveiling of the original paintings of the Jolly Fisherman by Mayor of Skegness Coun John Byford, with Mayoress Jane Byford and Deputy Mayor Coun Billy Brookes.
The unveiling of the original paintings of the Jolly Fisherman by Mayor of Skegness Coun John Byford, with Mayoress Jane Byford and Deputy Mayor Coun Billy Brookes.

Earlier, two renovated original paintings of the Jolly Fisherman had been unveiled during a presentations ceremony in Café Dansant in the Tower Gardens Pavilion.

Famous as the backdrop of the iconic 'Skegness is so Bracing' posters by John Hassall, they had been 'hidden away' in the Mayor's Parlour at the Town Hall before being boxed for the council's move to its current home in the Tower Gardens Pavilion.

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A small number of guests due to Covid-19 restrictions gathered for the unveiling ceremony ion Monday.

Mayor of Skegness Coun Trevor Burnham unveiled the paintings and explained: "More than a year ago with financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund we sent the original Jolly Fisherman Paintings, by John Hassall, away for professional restoration after they had spent many years hidden and locked away in the Mayor’s Parlour at the Town Hall.

"Shortly after the paintings left us, the country went into lockdown and as a result the whole restoration project was delayed.

"Eventually as the first lockdown started to lift, we got news that restoration work had started.

"When the paintings finally arrived back, we were in lockdown again and had to organise for the paintings to be hung.

"We had hoped that the unveiling would be a much larger affair than is currently permissible, but we felt that it was important to officially unveil the paintings before Café

Dansant reopens later this morning.

"We will be celebrating properly when we are fully back to normal by holding a Community Heritage Day.

"Planning for this will start soon with a view to holding this next year.

"I would like to say a big thank you to Heritage Lottery, for providing us with a grant to restore the paintings and to Nicholas Burnett at Museum Conservation Services,Duxford for doing a wonderful job of restoring the paintings.

"Also to staff for organising the grant application, restoration and hanging of the paintings, to everyone who has come to help us celebrate and, finally, to John Hassall, whose artwork is very much at the centre of Skegness as a family holiday resort."

As the project got underway some unexpected costs for the restoration work were identified. It was feared the alarmed Perspex chosen to protect the paintings might create a microclimate that could cause damage to the artworks and it was decided to use contact alarms. The savings made on the Perspex helped to mitigate the additional spend on the restoration and alarm system.

Steve Larner, town clerk, said: “I have known the historic Jolly Fisherman paintings since I became Town Clerk 10 years ago.

"For many years they had been locked away in the Mayor’s Parlour and only occasionally available for a few people to see.

"I must convey a big thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the cleaning and restoration of the paintings and allowing them to be seen in vibrant colours that the artist John Hassall intended."

Susie Crowe, Administrative Assistant at the Town Council, said. “As a lifelong Skegness resident, it has been an interesting and rewarding opportunity to help with the project to restore the original Jolly Fisherman paintings.

"I was able to spend several hours with a restoration expert, while he examined the paintings,this was fascinating and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I am overjoyed at the result of the restoration."

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