- Author: CLEGG, Ernest
- Publisher: Countryman Ltd
- Engraver: John Waddington Ltd, Leeds
- Date: 1946
- Dimensions: Sheet: 44 x 57.5 cms
Decorative map of Derbyshire , one of a sadly incomplete post-war series by Anglo-American cartographer, Ernest Clegg
About this piece:
Printed colour. Wide margins. Overall fine condition.
1946 edition of this charming & decorative county map of Derbyshire, one of a sadly incomplete series of post-war English County & regional maps designed and created by the well-known Anglo-American calligrapher and cartographer, Ernest Clegg [1876-1954].
Originally born in Birmingham in 1876 and a graduate of the City’s famous School of Art, Clegg had seen military service in the British Army in both the Boer and First World Wars (see our blog posts). Returning to the United States after World War One, he pursued a successful career as a graphic artist, calligrapher and cartographer in New York during the 1920’s and 1930’s. During the Second World War, supposedly following the personal intervention of Lord Halifax, the then British Ambassador in Washington, the ever-patriotic Clegg returned to England in late 1944 and settled in Bournemouth, where he briefly set up an artist & map-making studio. Soon after the end of the war, he & his wife relocated to the London suburbs.
It was in early 1945 that the so-called Countryman County Map Series was first mooted. Endorsed & copyrighted by the Countryman Magazine and printed by the Leeds games publishers, John Waddington Ltd (of Monopoly fame), all of the maps were designed & drawn by Clegg in collaboration with Donald McCullough [1901-1978], a well-known writer & broadcaster and perhaps most famous as the chairman & compère of the BBC’s immensely popular wartime radio programme, The Brains Trust. From 1947 onwards, an edition for overseas markets was also produced under the auspices of the British Travel Association, as Britain’s heavily indebted & ravaged economy sought to encourage post-war tourist spending & the influx of much-needed hard currency, not least from the pockets of former wartime GIs & affluent new visitors from across the Atlantic.
The principal aim of the maps was in fact to raise money for the Women’s Land Army Benevolent Fund, originally launched in July 1942 under the auspices of the WLA’s Honorary Director, Lady Gertrude Denman. By 1944 some 80,000 Land Girls had been seconded into the farming sector in order to sustain & support Britain’s wartime food & agricultural production on the Home Front. The Benevolent Fund’s “original function was to help volunteers who met with illness or accident, and who were not covered by other forms of help, and to assist with grants or loans for those women intending to remain on the land after the war ended” (Twinch). Fund raising activities continued around the country throughout the wartime period, with local areas and Land Girl hostels often competing against one another to raise the most funds. In 1944, the author, Vita Sackville-West offered all the profits & royalties from her book “The Women’s Land Army” to the Benevolent Fund. Commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, Sackville-West’s book was the first attempt to focus public attention on the WLA’s relatively little-known efforts in both World Wars and to celebrate their organisation, efforts & impact in saving Britain from starvation. Most interestingly perhaps the final chapter of the book envisioned the potential career paths & contributions that its members might make in the peaceful post-war world. In 1945, the British Government provided additional funding to the Fund totalling some £170,000. By 1944, the Benevolent Fund’s services included a WLA Club in London and a Homecraft Training Centre (offering residential courses for retraining &/or for those about to leave the WLA & get married). Special treatments for rheumatic complaints (arising from wartime agricultural work) were also offered, and from 1945, a dedicated Convalescent home & two Rest homes were provided for former wartime workers in Torquay & Llandudno. The Women’s Land Army was finally disbanded on 30th November 1950. At a farewell parade at Buckingham Palace on 21st October 1950, Queen Elizabeth observed that the Land Girls “had obeyed the call of duty in the nation’s hour of great peril and need, and the nation owed them an everlasting debt.”
Clegg would be honoured for his important work both as cartographer and supporter of the WLA’s Benevolent Fund with the award of an M.B.E in the 1946 Honours list.
On the map itself, Clegg highlights the varied areas of agricultural production throughout Derbyshire, including sheep farming in the county’s northern uplands, as well as dairying, sugar beet, wheat and potato cultivation. He further notes that on British farms between 1939 & 1944 the area under the plough increased from nearly 13 million acres to over 19.2 million (he indicated 19.4 million on several of the maps) and that the output of food increased by 70%. In Derbyshire, dairy herds increased by 10% inspite of a threefold increase in arable acreage.
Attractive pictorial vignettes depict the county’s most notable historic buildings, sites and attractions, including Keddleston, Haddon, Sudbury & Hardwick Halls, Chatsworth House, and Tideswell Church, the Cathedral of the Peak District.
A short description of Derbyshire from the 1685 Saltenstall translation of Mercator’s Atlas is included together with references to the Indian Mule Corps (stationed at Osmaton after Dunkirk) and the 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry, the first troops to enter Tunis with units of the British First Army in March 1943 and later the first British regiment to reach to River Po in Northern Italy in the summer of 1944.
In common with most of these maps, Clegg includes quotations from Winston Churchill’s wartime speeches, here an extract from a speech made in Parliamentary Secret Session on June 25th 1941, referencing the inexhaustible adaptiveness and ingenuity of the British mind and unyielding unwearying tenacity of the British character:
“All the great struggles of History have been won by superior willpower wresting victory in the teeth of odds or upon the narrowest of margins…” concludes the Clegg quote.
Appropriately, the map is dedicated to the Rt Hon Tom Williams (later Baron Williams of Barnburgh) [1888-1967], a Derbyshire native & former coal miner and long-standing Member of Parliament for Don Valley in South Yorkshire. Williams was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, serving under Conservative Minister, Robin Hudson, in Churchill’s wartime government coalition. He was subsequently appointed Minister of Agriculture in Clement Attlee’s post-war government, following Labour’s landslide election victory in July 1945.
The map is further embellished with a fine compass spur as well as numerous local coats of arms & regimental insignia.
The decoration is completed by a surrounding line border interspersed with equally finely rendered royal & military coats of arms, typical of Clegg’s polished & refined design style.
Refs: Women’s Land Army