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Northern Ireland

  • Author: CLEGG, Ernest
  • Publisher: Countryman Ltd
  • Engraver: John Waddington Ltd, Leeds
  • Date: 1947
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 57 x 45 cms


Decorative map of the Province of Northern Ireland [1947], one of a sadly incomplete series designed by cartographer Ernest Clegg

About this piece:

Northern Ireland

Printed colour. Wide margins. Fine condition.

1947 Overseas edition of this this highly decorative county map of Nothern Ireland, 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). He first emigrated to the US before World War One. At the outbreak of war he returned home to take an officer’s commission with the Bedfordshire Regiment in late 1914 and saw action on the Western Front, where he was badly wounded in a German artillery bombardment on the Somme in June 1916. After recovery & demobilisation, he returned to the United States in 1919, pursuing an increasingly successful career as 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 once again, in late 1944. He briefly settled in Bournemouth, where he set up an artist & map-making studio in the final months of the war. In 1945, following the advent of peace, 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 & inflows of much-needed hard currency, not least the dollars of former wartime GIs & equally affluent fellow Americans 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 1947 New Year’s Honours list.

On the map itself, Clegg highlights the different areas of agricultural production throughout Northern Ireland’s Six Counties of Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh, Down, Antrim & Londonderry. 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 indicates 19.4 on several of the other maps) and that the output of food increased by 70%. He indicates that in Northern Ireland, the area under tillage increased from 471,000 to 851,000 acres; that flax acreage increased six-fold and that some 1,500 million eggs were sent to mainland Britain.

One attractive pictorial vignette upper right depicts the present Northern Ireland Assembly building at Stormont, which was the Headquarters of the RAF in Northern Ireland from late 1942 to early 1945, whilst another lower left, depicts Caledon House, ancestral home of Field Marshal Viscount Alexander.

As with most of Clegg’s maps, particular focus is here given to region’s important role in World War Two, not least the part played by Ulster as a training ground for some 300,000 American troops from January 1942 onwards. Clegg also highlights the importance of Belfast’s shipyards in the production of wartime naval and merchant shipping – the launching point of some 263 warships and merchant vessels – and the significance of Belfast Lough as a gathering point for American ships in May 1944 before their departure for the Normandy Landings. Mention is also given to the Derry Naval Base & Lough Erne’s Catalina seaplane base as well as to the Langford Lodge aircraft assembly and repair plant built by the US Lockheed Corporation in 1942 on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Further detailed notes around the peripheries of the map indicate famous figures and personalities associated with Northern Ireland, listing the Ulster lineage of several military leaders and thirteen American Presidents from John Adams to Woodrow Wilson.

Very appropriately Clegg includes an extract from Churchill’s letter of May 6th 1943 to the then retiring Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr J M Andrews, which emphasized the vital influence of loyal Ulster in the early days of the war.

Referring to 1940 Churchill noted: “We were alone and single handed had to face the full fury of the German attack, raining down death and destruction on our cities, and still more deadly, seeking to strangle our life by cutting off the entry to our ports of the ships which brought us our food and the weapons we so sorely needed.”

Clegg’s extract from the letter continues: “Only one great channel of entry remained open. That channel remained open because loyal Ulster gave us the full use of the Northern Irish ports and waters and thus ensured the free working of the Clyde and the Mersey. But for the loyalty of Northern Ireland and its devotion to what has now become the cause of thirty nations we should have been confronted with slavery and death, and the light which now shines so strongly throughout the world would have been quenched….the bonds of affection between Great Britain and the people of Northern Ireland have been tempered by fire, and are now, I firmly believe, unbreakable”.

Further decorative embellishments include an attractive compass spur in the waters north of Portrush as well as the coats of arms of Northern Ireland itself and the Cities of Belfast and Londonderry. Below the map title upper left, the insignia of the Province’s Regiments are also displayed: The King’s Royal Irish Hussars, the Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, the Royal Ulster Rifles, the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

The map itself is dedicated to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon. Sir Basil Brooke [1888-1973], later Viscount Brookeborough, an Ulster Unionist politician & MP, who was the Province’s Premier for twenty years, from May 1943 to March 1963.

The decoration is completed by a surrounding line border interspersed with royal & military coats of arms, typical of Clegg’s polished & refined design style.

Refs: Women’s Land Army