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Northern Ireland

  • Author: CLEGG, Ernest / McCULLOUGH, John
  • Publisher: Countryman Ltd
  • Engraver: John Waddington Ltd, Leeds
  • Date: 1947
  • Dimensions: Map: 56.5 x 45 cms


Unique autographed edition of Ernest Clegg’s decorative map of Northern Ireland [1947] featuring a host of famous signatories

About this piece:

Northern Ireland

Printed colour. Wide margins. The map sheet contemporarily laid down on thin cardboard backing. The peripheries and blank borders of the map with numerous autographs of important wartime military commanders, political leaders and politicians, many closely connected or associated with the Province of Northern Ireland. Overall fine condition.

A unique, specially autographed edition of this highly decorative 1947 map of the Province of Northern Ireland, one of the 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 post-war economy sought to encourage renewed 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 aegis 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.

This example is one of several special autographed editions of Clegg’s maps featuring the signatures of prominent wartime leaders and commanders. They seem to have been used by Clegg as a means of increasing the rarity & cachet of the standard Countryman maps and thereby increasing their value to would-be collectors when presumably sold on to raise additional funds for the WLA Benevolent Fund. It is known Clegg was a longstanding admirer of Churchill and had corresponded with him on a number of occasions both during and after the War. A pair of similar Clegg maps of the counties of Kent and Norfolk, both personally signed by Winston Churchill (alongside extracts from two of his most famous wartime speeches) aswell as by Clegg  & McCullough too, were offered for sale at Sothebys in London in December 1998 with individual estimates of £2000-3000. Examples of Clegg’s companion map of the county of Hampshire, signed by wartime Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D Eisenhower, are also known.

In this example, alongside British wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill [1874-1965] the famous signatories include the former Supreme Allied Commander (SHAEF), General Dwight D Eisenhower [1890-1969], later 34th President of the United States, 1953-61; American former First Lady, Elinor Roosevelt [1884-1962], the widow of FDR; Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery [1887-1976]; Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke [1883-1963];  Field Marshall Earl Alexander [1891-1969]; and Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck [1884-1981].  Both Clegg and McCullough have also signed the map together with prominent political & administrative figures connected with the Province, including a host of contemporary Unionist politicians. These include Major The Rt Hon John Maynard Sinclair [1896-1953]; (John) Edmond Warnock [1887-1971]; (William) Brian Maginess [1901-1967]; William (Billy) Grant [1883-1947]; Lt Col Samuel Hall-Thompson [1885-1954]; Rev Robert Moore [1886-1960]; Sir Roland Nugent [1886-1962]; and Sir Basil McFarland [1898-1986]. Several British military figures and administrators associated with the Province have also added their signatures: The 4th Earl Granville, Vice Admiral William Spencer Leverson-Gower [1880-1953], the Governor of Northern Ireland during this period; the Northern Ireland-born wartime commander General Sir James (“Daddy”) Steele [1894-1975]; Air Commodore Allan Churchman [1896-1970], AOC, RAF Northern Ireland, 1944-46; Brigadier Nelson Russell [1897-1971], a prominent British Army figure in Belfast & Ulster during and after the War; and General Ouvry Roberts [1898-1986], a senior British officer in several different theatres during the War and GOC Northern Ireland in 1948. Two or three signatures around the peripheries of the map have sadly become faded & indecipherable whilst those of two others (J W Vaughan (?) (top left) & M F Neill (?) (top right)) have yet to be conclusively identified.

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 (19.4 million 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 of Tunis. Fittingly Alexander’s own signature appears in the map’s right margin.

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 five well-known British wartime Field Marshals (four of whom – Alanbrooke, Alexander, Mongomery & Auchinleck – have signed the map) and thirteen American Presidents from John Adams to Woodrow Wilson (and it is below this panel that former First Lady, Elinor Roosevelt, has added her signature).

Clegg also 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.”

It 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”.

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.

A rare & uniquely collectible map of the Province of Northern Ireland.

Refs: Women’s Land Army

For further information on Ernest Clegg’s life and his career as Boer War soldier & Great War officer, decorative calligrapher and pictorial mapmaker, see our three December 2015 blog posts