Notes from the artist...
It's not very often that you can really 'get into' one of your paintings. Not in the most literal sense, I mean. But, this time, I did ! That's me ! .... the little feller on the right... !
I may well be corrected, but I think that the year is 1951 or 1952. It was my first, and one of my few, face to face confrontations with a submarine. H.M.S/M. Sidon - a Royal Navy "S" Class boat.
She was in the Cammel Laird shipyard in Birkenhead for a refit, and it just so happened that I was visiting my father on a ship at the same time. Dad just had to show her to me, and on one quiet Sunday afternoon ... as we see... he did ...
I remember very well being struck by her appearance. Not too impressive ! Sitting in one of the older, smaller docks, she was filthy, rusty, rather well used in appearance, half her casing was stripped off and equipment, tools and parts lay all around. Frankly, I was disappointed !
But totally fascinated, nevertheless.
So .... over half a century later .... I finally did the painting ! Mostly from memory, I might add, so there may well be a lot of inaccuracies .... but - who cares !
First and foremost, I must apologise to everybody in Liverpool, for having shoved their wonderful city about a half-mile upriver ! Sorry folks, but I wanted to get the Liver Building and Pierhead in to make the location look "right". Secondly, the lamp standard - I seem to remember a few - but what they looked like - I'm damned if I know !
So I pinched one from Harland and Wolff .... !
Curiously, I can remember quite clearly what I was wearing (Dark blue "Bomber" jacket and short pants ! ) and the fact that it was a rather light, but overcast day. The kind of thin, miserable light that England seems to excel at producing !
Of course, what I didn't realise at the time, was that Sidon was soon to become a rather famous- or, sadly, infamous submarine...
In 1955 whilst on exercises, and moored at Portland Bill in Southern England, she suffered a disasterous accident. Equipped with experimental Hydrogen Peroxide torpedoes, she suffered a "hot run" of one of her weapons. The torpedo's motor exploded violently, resulting in the deaths of no less than thirteen unfortunate souls in her forward torpedo room, and the sinking of the boat.
Unfortunately, it is for this that she is remembered.