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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

T. E. North

I've had an enquiry about the artist T. E. (Thomas Edward) North, but I have to confess that I knew nothing about him beyond the titles of a few books he illustrated for Blackie's Modern Transport series in the 1950s and the Collins' Wonder Colour Books series and Pageant of Knowledge series in the early 1960s. He also did cover illustrations for various annuals and books.

A little digging shows that a commercial artist by the name of T. E. North lived at 190 Priory Road, Hull [1951/55] and 29 Mill Lane, Kirkella, Hull [1956/69]. Whether this is the same guy I've no idea but it seems possible. A search of death records for the period 1968-72 turned up only one vaguely possible result, one Thomas Edward North, who died in Sutton, Surrey, in 4Q 1972 (born 22 November 1909). It's a long shot at best but fits an artist we know to be active in 1939-64.

Update (26 June 2011)
I have recently heard from David Platt who adds the following in relation to T. E. North.
I collect steam train jigsaw puzzles as a hobby and currently own around 400 different examples. T. E. North was a prolific railway/transport artist during teh mid 20th century and his poster/illustrative style artwork was ideal for jigsaw puzzles. Manufacturers included Victory, Ian Allen/Ponda, Valentines, Philmar (all wood) and Good Companion/Tower Press (cardboard). I wrote a book on the subject of steam trains and jigsaw puzzles three yearsa ago but always found [North] difficult to research. One snippet I can add to your own research is that a man named Thomas Edward North died in Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham - 16 April 1985 (born 25 September 1916). Cottingham, of course, is close to Hull, where we suspect he worked from. It may help others keep to research the life of this very interesting and excellent artist.
__If of interest I have appended a fine example of his work for Scottish company Valentines.
The picture appears below.

Airways. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1939.
By Train and Ship. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1939.
The Boys' Book of Locomotives. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
The Boys' Book of Modern Motor Cars. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
The Boys' Book of Ships. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
My Book of Ships. London, Collins, 195?
My Book of Trains. London, Collins, 195?
Timothy's Book of Aircraft. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1960.
Timothy's Book of Ships. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1960.
Timothy's Book of Trains. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1960.

Illustrated Books
Tiny Tots Picture Book, illus. with Leslie Branton. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1939.
Timothy's Space Book by Maurice Allward. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1961.
Do You Know About Aircraft? by Maurice Allward. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1962.
Do You Know About Cars? by Maurice Allward. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1963.
Timothy's Book of Farming by David Stephen, illus. with A. E. Kennedy. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1963.
Do You Know About Railways? by William Porter. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1964.

(* Images from around the net: the header is the frontis from an edition of Collins' Boy's Annual found at the Motoring Art Information website; Timothy's Space Book came from the Dreams of Space website, which has further illustrations from the book; and The Wonder Book of Motors is from the Old Classic Car website, which has one or two more examples of North's covers. With thanks to David Platt for additional information (see update))


  1. Thanks Steve for the research on T. E. North. I have a copy of Timothy's Book of Trains, though in tatters, and I was dying to know more about the artist. Remember I had once Emailed you about the publication date of Tim's Book of Trains? With luck, we may even be able to contact his descendents, let's hope for the best !!

  2. Many of T. E. North's paintings were used as jigsaw puzzles in the 1950s. I used to have a couple - "The Yorkshire Pullman" and a view of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe diesels, but somewhere along the line they seem to have disappeared. North made very accurate and atmospheric depictions of railway scenes but appears to be forgotton today - a pity.

  3. Have recently picked up a rare jigsaw puzzle by Crusader of 400 pieces depicting an Aircraft Carrier at Sea,by T.E.North.Puzzle probably dates from the 1950's/60's period,and is in complete condition.

  4. I own two T.E. North watercolours - one of Santa Fe locomotive and another British railway scene. Anyone else have an original North watercolour? I'd be made up if an image of the Santa Fe jigsaw could be posted!!?

  5. As one of Ted North's nephews (and having been pointed to this site by my brother) I can confirm that he was born in Hull on 25th September 1916 and died in Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham on 16th April 1985.
    He married Eva Worsdale in 1941 while serving in the RAF (North Africa and Italy). The addresses given are right, and after that they lived at 100 Woodland Drive, Kirkella until their deaths. Eva lived until 1997 and they had no children.
    As well as the book illustrations Ted did a lot of commercial artwork for the Hull Daily Mail. While he preferred the former he always said that the latter paid rather better!
    Somewhere around here I have one of his watercolours, of WW2 bombing raid dated 1943. One of these days I'll get it properly framed.
    As Ted introduced me to whisky, I'll raise a dram to his memory, this being Burn's Night.

  6. Tony,

    Thanks for taking the time to share some information. It's much appreciated.

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  8. I've created a blog post with a picture of a T E North Fire Engine jigsaw, and linked to your post.


  9. I Have a copy of The Giant Book of Amazing Stories pub. by The Children's Press (no date). None of the illustrations or strip cartoons inside are signed but the front and back card covers have the same great colour illustration of a space station with approaching space rocket and space suited figures. Definitely 50s/60s.

  10. I think it was Nelson who published a series of board type children's books of trains in the early 1950s I had one or two long lost.
    Subjects included 60120at Welwyn Tunnel,61245 on the Forth Bridge,35026 at Waterloo.
    60100 on the Tay Bridge,46254 at Brock Troughs 5012in a tunnel location
    Abroad I recallNew South Wales 3801 by the Hawkesbury River as well as Canadian and Indian Subjects
    These are fondly remembered
    Alex Rankin