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Coo, Pigeon Painter Edward Henry Windred joins our list of Notables



Continuing our series on notable people buried in the Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries, we here profile Edward Henry Windred (1875-1953) who was a renowned painter of racing pigeons in the 1920s and 1930s. In those days owners of prize winning pigeons often commissioned a painting of them to commemorate their victory. Windred was one of the most prolific painters, and also ran a barbers shop in New Cross where he lived at 352 New Cross Road. People would bring their pigeons to the shop where he would paint them.





Here is more information from the artist's Wikipedia page
From the earliest days of organised pigeon racing, special prizes have been awarded for outstanding performances and particular events. Today these are often photographs but in the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century it was common for a portrait painting to be commissioned of the winning pigeon.

Demand for such trophies was at its highest in the 1920s when several artists were working in the field. Notable amongst them were E.H.Windred in London, Andrew Beer in Bristol and South Wales and J.Browne in Northumberland and Cumberland, although there were several others.

Nobody knows how many paintings have been produced but their peak was in the 1920s and 1930s when several artists were working on such portraits. Probably the most prolific of these was E.H.Windred whose paintings remain one of the most commonly available. He may originally have been a miner but he came to London and lived in or near New Cross Gate railway station. He was not trained as an artist and in fact was actually a barber by trade. His lack of training resulted in an unusual technique for capturing the shape and stance of his subjects. He had a number of silhouettes of pigeons made up in cardboard or ply which he would match up to the pigeon. Once he had found the shape that fitted best he would draw around it to get the outline of the bird. To get the colours of the feathering right, Windred would keep a few feathers after the bird had been returned to its owner and use these as a guide.

Surprisingly, pigeon lofts rarely featured in the background of the portraits as E.H.Windred, like most of his contemporaries, would paint a backdrop of country scenes. Again, like most of his contemporaries, Windred included the fancier's name as well as the pigeon's name and ring number and performances on the canvas.


Mark Hewitt has created a website about Windred's life and the various places his family lived at in South East London. He has also put together a gallery of some of his portraits