IN the excitement of rescuing the Havant War Memorial Hospital nursery rhyme tile panels, the designer, William Rowe, should not be forgotten.
William was born in Clapham in 1868, the younger son of William RA Rowe, a steel engraver for Wilkinson Sword and a designer of heraldic seals and coats of arms.
After a period at the Lambeth School of Art, William junior was taken on by Doulton & Co, at the age of 15. He stayed with the company for 56 years and became one of its principal artists involved in the design and painting of ceramic tiles.
He often collaborated with other artists on major works, such as the nursery rhyme tile panels for St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
In 1988, The Times carried the following report. ‘A Doulton tile panel of Puss-in-Boots, designed to cheer up children at St Thomas’ Hospital and removed during demolition work in the 1970s, will return to the hospital after its purchase at Christie’s yesterday. It was designed by William Rowe in 1903 and shows Puss-in-Boots presenting a dead rabbit to the king and queen.’
In 1935, William was asked to design 10 nursery rhyme tile panels for Havant War Memorial Hospital’s King George V Children’s Jubilee Ward. Each panel was made up of 24 tiles, one being signed WR Doulton Lambeth.
In 1897, William married Frances Cross and in 1900 they settled in Barnes, where they lived with their two children. William died in 1955 and Frances died three years later. The photo of William Rowe is published courtesy of his two grandsons.
Three of the restored tiles will be unveiled at The Spring on Saturday at midday.