Fylde coast artist's boat sails home 50 years later

Cleveleys artist Derek Littlewood with the painting he did as a 15-year-old
Cleveleys artist Derek Littlewood with the painting he did as a 15-year-old

A Fylde coast artist has been reunited with a painting he did as a boy – 50 years later.

Derek Littlewood, a graphic designer with Cleveleys creatives company The Rabbit Patch, got an email out of the blue from David Watson in Chesterfield asking if Derek Littlewood, aged 15, could be the same person currently creating the images on the Seaside Emporium website.

The Departure by Derek Littlewood

The Departure by Derek Littlewood

It set off a chain of correspondence which ended with the painting returning to its creator after half-a-century.

Derek has always painted as a hobby and sent in many creations to Adrian Hill’s Sketch Club – a BBC art programme in the late 50’s. David got the painting as part of a job lot and turned detective to see if he could find the owner.

Derek said: “Each week they gave out a theme and asked for submissions. My picture had The Departure written on the back.”

The TV programme spurred his love for art and he went on to Lancaster and Morecambe College. He then moved to Yorkshire to find work after leaving college. He’s now back on home turf in his native Red Rose County, painting and photographing the familiar scenes once again.

Derek said “My father worked at English Electric and was sure that I was going to be an engineer, but I had other ideas and defied him to go to college and train in art.

"Those four years were a wonderful time where I was taught a wide range of disciplines including not just illustration and photography, but a wide range of skills including things like silk screen printing and pottery which has been immensely useful throughout my career.”

He added: “I’ve always enjoyed painting and vividly remember spending a week sat on a rock at Morecambe seafront, just painting the waves!”

Having identified the owner and after sharing numerous emails, the painting arrived back in Cleveleys on Lancashire turf this week thanks to the generosity of the auction lot winner, much to the delight of Derek.

He said “Boats are still a particular favourite and it’s interesting to look back and see something that I’d painted at such a young age.

“It’s somewhat ironic that even as a young boy I’d already developed a love of the coast and for capturing boats and the sea. I seem to have stuck with the nautical theme!”

“I hope that people get as much enjoyment from looking at my new paintings as I get from painting them. We all love the seaside and the unique memories which it holds for each of us, and the Fylde Coast will always be special to me.”