Horace was born in Waterfall Lane, Old Hill on 11th October 1911. He began his education at Wright’s Lane infant’s school in 1916. He remembered drawing a dog in chalk on grey paper, for his first teacher Miss Cox, and he never stopped drawing after that.
He had piano lessons at a very early age, and he recalled playing for the assembly at Beeches Road School at the age of 8! (He was later to return to teach at Beeches Road in the 1960s until he retired).
A career in theology was thwarted, when he had to turn down a place at Durham University when his mother Tilley Wilson became ill. She recovered and lived to exactly the same age as Horace.
As a young man he painted local scenes and buildings such as Dudley Castle and St Kenelms church. On his travels around Wales and Herefordshire he painted watercolours of everything that took his eye.
Horace began his teaching career after training at Dudley College. His first post was at Kingswinford Church of England School. He continued to study at Stourbridge Art School and passed with honours.
Next he taught Art and Design along with mathematics and geography at Rowley Regis Secondary/Grammar School. He recalled working with Mr Webb at Stourbridge Glass on some designs. At around this time his paintings of for example Rowley Tunnel, Corfe Castle or Wookey Hole were sold for the princely sum of 5 guineas.
In 1939 ‘Tug’, his naval nickname joined the Royal Navy. His training was aboard H.M.S. Pembroke and the H.M.S. Cabbala.
When transferred to H.M.S. Volunteer in 1941 he was the “Coder”, he did convoy duties attached to the wireless office, and was also put in charge of the library. He made sketches of engagements and other shipping etc. seen in the convoys. Many were censored, kept by the Navy or passed on to crewmembers of the ship.
H.M.S. Volunteer patrolled the North Sea, The Baltic and Norwegian waters protecting convoys to Russia. Around Iceland he witnessed the Aurora Borealis and other wonderful icescapes. These were inspirational scenes for watercolours helping to combat the fear.
In 1946 although still on active service Tug returned home to exhibit some of his wartime paintings and sketches. He held a one-man show at Dudley Art Gallery in 1947. He returned to Rowley Regis as special master for craftwork and design and being short of qualified staff, needlework and cookery as well.
In 1947 he was elected chairman of the Dudley & District Art Circle, a post he held until 1953, as well as organising, he gave well attended lectures and demonstrations, whilst continuing to study “Life Drawing” at Stourbridge Art School.
In 1959 he began to discover local hitherto unknown artists who were contemporise of Turner. For over 30 years he carefully catalogued work mainly by David Parkes, Peter De Wint, A. E. Everitt and David Cox.
He retired from teaching at the age of 67 but continued to fill his days with drawing and writing. For the last 30 years of his life, he found great pleasure in helping local societies and like-minded people with their interests. For example having complete memory recall of the farms and families of Quinton and Hurst Green, he helped the Quinton local History Society and its predecessor the Quinton Historical Society with many of their projects. He also furthered his research into the life and works of William Shenstone.
He welcomed fellow artists and writers into his home and would research with them such diverse subjects as Madeleine Carole (the actress born in Smethwick) and Jack Judge, the writer of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”.
Horace died peacefully on 12th June 2006 at the Oaklands Lodge, Kingswinford. The funeral took place at St Mary’s, Kingswinford on 22nd June 2006.
Horace’s granddaughter wrote this obituary.
Horace Wilson was a special person and a ‘gentleman’ in the true sense of the word. He was a kind, friendly and eloquent person who lived a full and rewarding life. All that is left for me to say is that it was an honour and a privilege to have met and known Horace. His memory will live on in his works and his paintings.
God Bless You.
Ed’s comment- Horace was the society’s first speaker at its inaugural meeting in 1999. I also had the pleasure of interviewing him on 10th March 2003, which fortunately the society placed on disc. As a fitting tribute to Horace the article that follows is a transcript of that interview, I hope you enjoy it please forgive any duplications with the above article.
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