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Yorkshire East Riding

  • Author: CLEGG, Ernest
  • Publisher: John Waddington Limited, Leeds
  • Date: 1946
  • Dimensions: 57 x 44.5 cms


Ernest Clegg”s scarce, beautifully designed map of the East Riding of Yorkshire, published by John Waddington Ltd, Leeds, 1946.

About this piece:

Yorkshire East Riding

Printed colour. Wide margins. Slight toning in blank margins where line of old window mount is just visible in lower margin. Slightly browned along top & right sheet edge. One brown mark in left blank margin well beyond printed image. Overall fine condition.

The 1946 edition of this charming & highly decorative map of the East Riding of Yorkshire. It  is amongst the earliest (and most scarce) of this 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 post-war economy sought to encourage new 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, as Clegg himself put it, “to set on record the achievements of the English countryside against the background of the war” and in the process 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 outlines the different areas of agricultural production across the East Riding & the rolling Wolds terrain, encompassing Potatoes, Carrots & Sugar Beet as well as Flax, Wheat & Peas. In a note on British Farms he indicates during the war years the East Riding had doubled its Potato acreage & that the number of Dairy Cows had increased by 20%, whilst over 700 miles of ditches had been reconditioned. Reference is also made to the 86 Women’s Institutes in the West Riding Federation and their valuable contribution to the war effort. Notable local figures from history also receive a mention, including Sir Tatton Sykes [1772-1863] and William Wilberforce [1759-1833].  Inset views depict York Minster (upper left), Beverley Minster (upper right), York’s Walmgate Bar with its famous barbican, and Burton Agnes Hall.

Like all of the maps in this series, Clegg incorporates a rousing quotation from one of Winston Churchill’s wartime speeches. The one quoted here was given at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 27th January 1940, during the so-called Phoney War and was widely promoted on several wartime propaganda posters. The passage here reads as follows:

COME THEN LET US TO THE TASK , to the battle to the toil, each to our part, each to our station…pour out the munitions, strangle the U-boats, sweep the mines, plough the land, build the ships…Let us go forward together in all parts of the Empire, in all parts of this Island. There is not a week, nor a day, nor an hour to lose… 

A companion map of the West Riding was also published in May 1946 and it is known that a North Riding map was also in preparation in October 1947, though, sadly, it never appears to have been published.

The map is dedicated to Lord Halifax, former British Foreign Secretary [1938-1940] and British Ambassador to the United States [1941-1946]. Clegg & Halifax had certainly met in the United States during the war years.

As we have noted, it is said that it was Halifax’s personal intervention whilst Ambassador in Washington in 1944 which unexpectedly brought Clegg back to the UK, his remarkable graphic design and map making skills being requisitioned for official service on the Home front during the final phase of the British war effort.