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Man’s long lost search for a portrait painted by mum

Douglas parents Joe and Minnie Simpson pictured at Bridlington in 1938
Douglas parents Joe and Minnie Simpson pictured at Bridlington in 1938

A man is trying to trace a portrait painted by his mother to help complete a family history he is compiling.

Douglas Simpson, of Todmorden, says the painting, of the wife of a manager at major local textile company Fielden Brothers, was painted by his mother Minnie in the early 1950s.

Minnie was an amateur artist who while working as a weaver studied in the evenings at Fielden School of Art, Todmorden, in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Douglas said: “I remember very well her working on various types of arts and crafts during the late 40s and early 50s.

“My father Joe ran a road haulage business in Todmorden with two of his brothers, Arthur and Fred, at New Barn, Laneside, and did a lot of work for Fielden Brothers at nearby Waterside.

“He was friendly with a manager there named Jack Redman who had been in the army during the second world war and married a young Austrian woman named Berta.

“They lived at Waterside House South and my mother painted a portrait of Berta.

“Before starting she practised by doing a portrait of my father, which I have.

“My recollection of the portrait of Berta is that it was quite large, almost full length, of Berta seated wearing a long blue velvet dress.

“Sadly Berta developed tuberculosis around this time, and died in 1958, aged 30.

“By this time my mother had already died, in 1956, from leukaemia.

“I am preparing a booklet for my family, explaining the history of my mother and in particular the story of, and a pictorial record of, her artworks.

“I would love to know if the portrait of Berta Redman still exists and if so its whereabouts, as I would very much like to see and photograph it.”

Douglas added that he discovered Jack had married Audrey Bee in 1959 and lived at Waterside House at least until 1961, but could not trace them on later Todmorden electoral registers.

They had a daughter Elizabeth, who he would like to contact if possible.

If anyone can help, Douglas can be contacted on 01706 813404.