The Neatby Panels

I will always remember Vernon Humpage’s shoe shop, fabulous expensive shoes in a ‘posh’ shop next to the Winter Gardens entrance on St Johns Square.. little did I know as a young woman the treasure that was beneath the false wall coverings. When the refurbishment of the vaulted entrance to the Empress ballroom was completed in early March and The Theatre Bar opened I was excited to see the Neatby tiled panels but was unprepared for the beauty of what I found, nine ornate panels which date back to just before the turn of twentieth century .Topaz


The stunning art nouveau panels feature a range of ladies in exotic costumes set in groups of two on either side of the dining area.Peacocks

The 15 known names of the panels –originally a set of 28 – are those of semi-precious stones,birds or butterflies and were created on commission by Doulton, now Royal Doulton, and designed by their leading artist William James Neatby.


The arts and crafts ceramic sculptor and artist W. J. Neatby, native of the town of Barnsley, is best known for his designs of the tiles in Harrods food hall though his work is fairly widespread, as decorative tilework and architectural sculpture in terracotta for Doultons, with whom he had a long association as well as designs in metalwork, enamelling, painted murals stained glass and furniture.Hummingbirds

In London, apart from his work for Harrods there is also Orchard House on Great Smith Street/Abbey Orchard Street, with a terracotta frieze of peacocks and apple trees by Neatby.Serpentine

The beautiful panels in The Theatre Bar were originally surrounded by multi-coloured tiles and the vaulted ceiling was said to have featured varied designs in rich and harmonious colours, featuring mermaids, seaweed and fishes. However the increased footfall of the present Opera House, built in 1938-39, necessitated the removal of panels at the rear of the hall and then the vaulted ceiling was removed to create offices on the first floor. Now only 12 of the original 28 panels survive.


For many years, 11 of the panels could be seen in Brown & Mallalieu’s car showroom, but thankfully they were carefully covered over in 1972 when the premises became the shoe shop though now only 9 are on view. I did ask the staff if I could go in to the kitchen to search for the missing 2 but alas they politey refused.Topaz

So, if you are out and about in Blackpool town centre or at the Winter Gardens for a show this summer, drop in to the Theatre Bar and see these beautiful panels, another gem in the crown of a fabulous building.

9 - unnamed

Published by dmanderphoto

Dawn Mander, a Blackpool-based self taught photographer, exhibited worldwide,notably USA, Australia, Canada, Hamburg, Moscow Italy and U.K. and published internationally both in print and online. Dawn runs street photography walks in her hometown of Blackpool and gives talks at local colleges, schools and photography groups. In 2018 Dawn was nominated for the RPS Hundred Heroines campaign celebrating women in photography and in 2019 exhibited with over 80 female photographers in the RPS 'Representation on the Line:(Un)framing our Identities' held in Chelsea, Doncaster and Blackpool. For the latter she also executed the roles of organiser and co-curator. Dawn continues to work on her #DocumentingBlackpool & #PortraitofBlackpool series and is currently creating and co-curating exhibitions and community art projects at HIVE Blackpool. 2021 - Format Mass Isolation Project. The Peoples Picture at Quad in Derby 2021 - Double Trouble Festival, Women in Street/ Unexposed Collective exhibition at Bondi Beach and Brisbane Australia. 2020/21 Large Scale Images printed and exhibited in the HIVEArts Blackpool Tramstop Takeover. 2020 - Rankin 2020 book contributor 2020 - Grundy Art Gallery Blackpool contributor fro #worktownghosttown online documentary series, exploring the effects of pandemic and Covid lockdown on Blackpool. 2019 - RPS Chelsea, Doncaster and Blackpool 2019 - Women in Street Double Trouble collective exhibition in San Fransisco USA. 2019 - Works shown at Millepiani collective exhibitions In Rome Italy. 2019 - Stills photographer for Farrena Films - The Other Side with Valerie Hope. 2019 - Promotional images shown at Grauman's Chinese Theatre Los Angeles, California USA 2019 - HotBed Press 20/20 print collective shown at Cube in Moscow. part of the Arrested ReDevelopment Collective Blackpool. 2019 - Publicity shots for Virgin Trains promoting travel to Blackpool. 2018 - exhibited and sold works at Manchester Art Fair. 2018 - Seaside Special Postcards from the Edge. Book Cover pub: BlueMoose Books 2018 - works exhibited at Hebden Bridge Art Fair 2015-2017. Local exhibitions in Blackpool: HIVE Blackpool, The Grundy Art Gallery, The Grand Theatre, It's A Gallery, Shaws, The Solaris Centre, The Galleon, Barista. Publications: 2020 - Rankin 2020 June 2015 - BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine. July 2015 - BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine. November 2016 - BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine 2017 - The Guardian 2016 - The Guardian 2016 - Lancashire Life. 2015 - World Street Photography Book.

3 thoughts on “The Neatby Panels

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: