History Articles - The Other Acklington Artist

For six years I wrote a short history article in the monthly parish magazine, The Pelican.  One of the articles is shown in the column opposite.

Articles can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate title from the index below.

If anyone has any old photographs or parish information which they would like recorded (for present and future generations to share) then please get in touch with me.

    John Davison (Website Co-ordinator)
           Telephone: 01670 760609
      Email: jdavison26@btinternet.com

63   Dec 2011 We'll Weather the Weather
62   Nov 2011 Alan's Ackl'n Appearances
61   Oct 2011 Ackl'n Marriages 1913-14
60   Sep 2011 Old Photographs Required
59   Jul 2011 A Tower With A Tale To Tell
58   Jun 2011 A Well Kept Secret
57   May 2011 Fishy Business
56   Apr 2011 Acklington Warrior Stone
55   Mar 2011 The Church of St John
54   Feb 2011 Deep and Chrisp
53   Dec 2010 For Whom The Bell Tolls
52   Nov 2010 Which Village?
51   Oct 2010 A Pilot's Memories
50   Sep 2010 Acklington Black Poplar
49   Jul 2010 Street Names
48   Jun 2010 RAF Memorial
47   May 2010 Crowning Glory
46   Apr 2010 Badminton Club
45   Mar 2010 Murder On The Train
44   Feb 2010 Guyzance Tragedy
43   Dec 2009 Acklington Park
42   Nov 2009 Dye House (Part 2)
41   Sep 2009 Dye House (Part 1)
40   Jul 2009 History Making Heads
39   Jun 2009 Acklington Main Street
38   May 2009 James Raymond Smith
37   Apr 2009 The Age of Steam Trains
36   Mar 2009 Fred Wilson
35   Feb 2009 Guyzance School
34   Dec 2008 Acklington W.I.
33   Nov 2008 Lych Gate
32   Oct 2008 Village Hall Disaster
31   Sep 2008 Summer Crowds
30   Jul 2008 Spot The Differences
29   Jun 2008 Sunday School
28   May 2008 National Finalist
27   Apr 2008 What's in A Name
26   Mar 2008 Railway Inn
25   Feb 2008 Osprey
24   Dec 2007 The Guyzance 10
23   Nov 2007 Bowls Club
22   Oct 2007 Village Harvest
21   Sep 2007 Wedding Bliss
20   Jun 2007 The Other Acklington Artist
19   May 2007 The La'Well Tree
18   Apr 2007 The German Spy
17   Mar 2007 The Winter of 47
16   Feb 2007 Les Birkett's Memories
15   Jan 2007 Railway Station
14   Dec 2006 Jane Chapman
13   Nov 2006 Witches
12   Oct 2006 Jack Taylor
11   Sep 2006 Black Ralph
10   Aug 2006 School Photographs
09   Jul 2006 Pig Killings
08   Jun 2006 Village Hall Disaster
07   May 2006 Cricketers
06   Apr 2006 On Yer Bike
05   Apr 2006 Cricket
04   Mar 2006 Mailbag Robbery
03   Feb 2006 Storm of 1886
02   Jan 2006 Football
01   Dec 2005 Help Required

Acklington History Slot


Mention the “Acklington Artist” today and most people will probably think of Charles Evans.  As well as being an outstanding artist, Charles is also a multi-talented celebrity.  He is a demonstrator, an art teacher, a writer, a TV presenter and a real entertainer.  But Charles is not the only famous artist to have lived and worked in our parish.       

This month I would like to tell you about Wilson Hepple who was born in 1853 in Byker but became known as the “Acklington Artist” famous for his horse, dog and kitten paintings.  Wilson Hepple at first trained to be a woodcarver, but in his late teenage years he left his woodcarving apprenticeship to concentrate on painting.  At 22 he astonished the local art world with his painting of “Gallowgate Hoppings” which featured himself on a horse.  He loved the countryside and spent a great deal of his time travelling many miles throughout Northumberland. 


                            Wilson Hepple at work in his studio


On one of his travels in 1895 he was walking by the river Coquet near Acklington.  He was about to cross a fine old stone bridge from the south when he spotted a broad track leading westward past a huge stone building on the left and peeping above a tangle of foliage descending to the river the red tiled roof of a tiny cottage.  Intrigued at what he saw, he moved closer and found it was deserted and soon he was following the dark still waters of a mill stream stretching to the distant roar of a waterfall.  A few hundred yards further and he found himself looking at a scene which would enchant him for the next 42 years, and his descendants for many years after, “Cauld Head Cottage” on the river Coquet. 


Cauld Head Cottage was built to house the workman once responsible for opening the sluice gates of the mill stream from the dam and clearing the silt behind it.  Hepple made some enquiries and found it belonged to the Duke of Northumberland’s estate.  For a modest annual sum Hepple had found the dream home for his wife Elizabeth, his son John and their daughter Ada.  They all moved from Tyneside to live in the cottage and the whole family loved it.  John and Ada attended Acklington School.  Hepple walked or cycled the one and a half miles to Acklington Railway Station with his paintings.  Elizabeth coped with life as a country woman much as she had done as a cook in service, but perhaps with better amenities. 


When Wilson Hepple died in November 1937 (some 10 years after his wife Elizabeth) his son John, whom he had trained as an artist but who had become a headmaster in Newcastle, kept the cottage as a studio.  But he too died and joined his father in a separate unmarked grave in Acklington churchyard.  Cauld Head Cottage and its unspoilt rural surroundings inspired three generations of Hepples, encouraging them to paint some of the most beautiful scenery ever produced.  Cauld Head Cottage, Acklington – where Hepple spent 42 years of his life painting animals and landscapes – was eventually pulled down and a bungalow now stands in its place.

Today, many of Wilson Hepple’s paintings sell for thousands of pounds.  Below are a just few examples of his work. 

As Wilson Hepple died 70 years ago, there just may be some of our more senior Pelican readers who actually met the great man.  I would be interested to know if anyone has any memories or information about him, or indeed any of his paintings displayed in their homes.  Furthermore, if anyone out there has a painting tucked away in their attic (similar to any of the ones shown and with the name Wilson Hepple on it) then please get in touch with me.  I’m sure we can do business!


John Davison   01670 760609