Walter E. Spradbery : A True Icon


Sprabery 1Spreadbery 1

Its obvious in hindsight but I really never realised that Spradbery was so influenced by trees and his home in Epping Forrest.

Apart from being a war artist he was also a pacifist and seems to have been part of some kind of commune. They had a house in Buckhurst Hill called the Wilderness, just north of St John’s church and primary school, now (on the instructions of Walter) reverted to forest. Between the wars the Spradberys hosted all sorts of cultural activities – mainly musical; the Wilderness became a well-known venue.

A lot of this is covered i the book ‘My Dear Jim’ by his son ; John Spradbery.

As a master of the lino cut there is no doubt, i was introduced to his work through some scruffy examples I inherited a few years ago showing examples such as this

Spradbery 2


Walter Spradbery was born in East Dulwich, London on March 28 1889. He studied at Walthamstow Art School, and then worked as an art teacher. He also worked as an art teacher, exhibiting at the Royal Academy, a linocut artist, and a poster designer, mainly for London Transport. Spradbery was a lifelong pacifist, serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the First World War, whilst an official war artist, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for leading a stretcher party under fire. In 1929 Spradbery married Dorothy D’Orsay. Spradbery’s life story appeared in Uphill (published by the Stamford Hill Boys’ and Girls’ clubs) in late 1943. The article linked his poster work with the work he did for youth clubs. ‘The writer describes how his great love of trees has influenced all his work. He attributes it to the fact that Spradbery has lived since childhood on the fringes of Epping Forest’. In 1944, Spradbery designed his last series for London Transport ‘The Proud City’, for which he chose the quotations. Art and Industry noted that his work would have already been known ‘to all connoisseurs of good commercial art, through his characteristic posters for the Southern and London North Eastern Railways’. Spradbery died on December 31 1969, and a memorial exhibition of his work was held at the William Morris Gallery, London, in 1970.

He was also fond of London scenes as his crowning glory the ‘Proud City’ series testifies

Spardbury the proud city.PNG

More info here :



Please write in with any anecdotes you may have about this fascinating character.

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