By Barbara Jones
We have many interesting and unusual things in the Heritage & Education Centre (HEC) Archive but for me the clear favourites are the two very large, leather bound volumes presented to Bernard Waymouth, then Secretary of LR, in 1884, by the staff in thanks for him setting up the Society’s first Pension Fund.
The first volume contains the photographs and signatures of more than 130 exclusive surveyors and clerks employed at that time. It also contains 6 pages of original pen and ink drawings of ships and river scenes by Assistant to the Chief Surveyor, Harry Cornish, who became Chief Ship Surveyor in 1900. The second volume is entirely made up of Cornish’s artwork. There are 36 pages depicting the 46 outports where LR was then based, ranging from London to Prince Edward Island, each page signed by the outport’s surveyors. Each place is depicted by its coat of arms, drawn and embellished by Cornish with references to LR’s work and the sea such as sailing ships and steamers, ships under construction, mermaids, sea sirens, fish, seaweed, shells and seagulls. Some of the outports were picked out for special treatment, for example Liverpool has a charming pen and ink drawing of the Mersey ferry, while the page for Renfrew, Paisley, Dumbarton and Rutherglen has two drawings of a steel mill. The page for the London clerks has letters tumbling through a letter box and an ink pot surrounded by ink splodges.
Through contact with Harry Cornish’s descendants we know that Harry carried a notebook with him everywhere, and doodled in every spare moment. The notebooks reveal his first drafts for some of the artistic embellishments found in the presentation volumes such as the lions that appear on the page for Barrow, Belfast and Rotterdam.
An excerpt of this article appeared in the HEC monthly newsletter. To receive our newsletter, please sign up here.