Around the year 1880 Joseph Guest, a wealthy Birmingham entrepeneur,
adopted a young boy by the name of George Lomas. Exactly why this one
boy of a larger Treddington family became adopted in this way remains a
mystery, although most of his brothers and sisters are alleged to have
died from TB. At the age of 25 George lost his adopted
father, gaining a large inheritance, and very soon after married
Eleanor Loach . George was unfortunate in his investment of his fathers
wealth and much of it was lost in a dodgy deal. However, in due course
they had two daughters and a son, called Hilda, Eleanor and
George. George, the youngest, was killed in action in the first
world war. Sister Eleanor eventually became my paternal grandmother. My
great aunt Hilda never married. Both sisters were artistic and keen
with the drawing easel.
Hilda Winifred, the eldest child, was born in 1890, at .Bastonford
House, Powick. Her early memories include the resident water rats and
then moving to Stechford and then Yardley and to Wilmslow as she
approached her teenage years. Her father moved around a lot to keep
work. But it was around this time that he lost the money inherited from
his father and the family hit hard times. They had to move to
Duckingfield, Manchester. Hilda recalls looking down the hill at all
the chimneys. Her father became a lay preacher and pursued a career in
Hilda attended high school in Manchester then aged about 14 they moved
to Hereford for a further 3 years. Eventually the family moved to
Womborne and by this time Hilda was 21. She recalls it to be the most
miserable time of her life as money was running out and her father was
unable to make ends meet. After this they moved on to Burton on Trent,
her father trying to follow work in the clergy.
Hilda then began to attend schools of art, first at Wolverhampton and
then at Burton. After 4 years in Burton Hilda lost her mother. As the
first world war was looming they then moved to Cannock. During their
time there she lost her brother who was shot while in action in France.
Meanwhile her father remarried and then they moved again to Wednesbury.
After several more moves around the Birmingham area her father finally
retired and they all lived together at my grandparents house near
Tidbury Green, where her father dies during the second world war. At
this point an Uncle asked Hilda to be his houskeeper which she did for
several years before moving into a similar occupation in Leamington
where she eventually died in 1965 aged 75.
Little seems to have been carried down the family regarding her art
work. We are in possession of a number of her pen and ink drawings in
frames, which she obviously regarded as her better works. Some are
marked as “For Book” or Not For Sale. Some never made it to a frame,
but are bundled up with some of her sister’s artwork rescued from the
family home on the death of my grandfather. She was known to
have done some commission art work for the author Foster Forbes. We
have located two of his books in which this is the case. Some other of
her works are known to have been shared with my father’s brother, now
sadly passed on.
There is one oil on canvas, apparently inspired "from" Brangwyn, which
Hilda was responsible for, but as far as we know she did not carry out
any other oil works.
But we were not really aware that she practised art in any professional
way for money. However, its is apparent that some of the other items we
have were done in mind for sale for the purposes of illustrating books
or advertising, in particular cigarette advertisements, as they carry a
More recently we have discovered the existence of a work of her art
which we do not have, called The Realm of Fairyland. This appears to
been sold at Bonhams in 2007, fetching the sum of £1260. We do
not know where this came from or how it made its way to Bonhams
auctioneers. There are similarities to her other work called "The Good
Fairy", see later.
It may be that this was bought by a publisher, for use in a book, and
has stayed in their hands until coming on the market recently, but this
is pure conjecture, we do not know and probably never will. We have not
found any more books containing her artwork, unless you know different?
The other works in our possession mostly seem to have been done while
Hilda was residing at 192 Bristnall Hall Road in Langley, Birmingham.
In a recorded interview we have, Hilda stated that she followed her
father around many different jobs in the clergy, with Bristnall Hall
Road being the last place they lived before he retired in 1934. After
this date they both lived with my grandfather at Shirley, Birmingham,
until after the war. Her father died 1943. Is is not clear when she
moved to Bristnall Hall Road but she would not have been there for more
than 10 years at the most. This gives a window of approximately 1924 -
1934 for the likely dates of these artworks.
This pen and ink drawing called Omah Khayyam has the Bristnall Hall
Road address pencilled on the obverse, along with a price of
Verse from Omah Khayyam
Having the pencil grid drawn over the
picture suggests this may have been an early work?
This next one introducing more than one colour of ink, is annotated to
be a possible design for a writing pad cover. On the obverse Hilda's
address is Ettingshall House, Wood Green, Wednesbury so it may actually
predate the other Bristnall Hall Road works. Once again it is priced at
Writing Pad Cover
and another similar cover design:
Writing Pad Cover No 2
This has the price of £2-0-0 on the obverse but blanked out with
a revised price of £1-11-6d.
This is a proposed design for a magazine advert for cigarettes:
And another similar one:
The obverse of this one shows her
Bristnall Hall address and a former address in Boldmere Road which is
that of a cousin in Erdington. The original price was £2-10-0 but
now reduced to £1-11-6d.
The next one seems to be intended as a book dust wrapper:
On the obverse, the annotaion Trade price £4-4.
The next one is simply maked as Book Illustration No 2. No price.
And with the following Hilda starts to alter the address to the Shirley
address where she and her father went to live with my grandfather after
The obverse notes that this scene is from The Bride of Dunkerron, an
old Celtic legend.
again there is no price on this one.
There is evidence that it may have been sent off to someone for
consideration for use, as it has a return address maked on the rear.
Unfortunately the next drawing has used a second colour of ink that
seems to have faded badly over time.
Marked as The Hound of Heaven after
The next one appears based on thoughts of the famous willow pattern.
Marked as an Illustration for a Fairy Story
This ellaborate pen and ink drawing is
entitled The Arabian Nights.
The obverse is marked, Prince Ahmed
meets the fairy Peri Banou- The Arabian Nights.
This is the most expensively priced work so far, at 20 guineas
This one is called The Agra
And last but one, this colour washed pen and ink drawing seems to be
from the same stable as the Realm of Fairyland sold at Bonhams
recently. Notice the similarity with the chair in particular, and the
red haired cherubs. This may have been done a bit earlier as it shows
only the Bristnall Hall address on the obverse. It is called The Good
Fairy No 1 and was priced at £5-5s . But the price has been
crossed out and replaced by "Not For Sale". This tends to suggest it
have been used by a publisher so that she no longer has the rights to
it. Maybe the same publisher as the Realm of Fairyland? We may never
The Good Fairy No 1.
The final work is an oil painting which
Hilda appears to have done as late as 1948, as that date appears on the
obverse, which also tells us it is "after Frank Brangwyn". I recall my
grandfather used to tell a story that there were supposed to be a very
large number of people in the picture, numbers get distorted over time
but as I recall he used to refer to a 3 figure sum. Unfortunately it is
currently imposible to tell since the oil has aged very badly and
caused the detail to be extremely badly faded. It was hung for most of
my childhood in the garden shed (which I believe Auntie Hilda used as
her bedroom when evacuated there during the war) and maybe the
Birmingham industrial air did not do it much good. But I do not ever
recall it being any better in colour or detail and that goes back to
about 20 years after it was painted. Whether this can be restored to a
worthwhile improvement by a professional restorer is not yet known, but
the expense may not be justified.
Brangwyn did a number of works and the 2 which seem to be most similar
They are "The Lord Mayors Show in Olden Days" and "Queen Elizabeth goes
aboard the Golden Hind- Deptford" respectively.
Books by J. Foster Forbes
As mentioned above, Hilda did some commission work for this author.
There are at least two such books of which we are aware.
Giants of Britain, published in 1945.
This is a hardback octavo book of 93 pages. The material is a little
esoteric and seems like it is a mix between a childs subject and modern
( for then) scientific analysis using psychometrics.. But the author
needed illustrations of things that were not all capable of being
photographed easily. It seems that is where Hilda came in.The title
page says the book contains illustrations by Hilda Lomas, but it does
not actually state which ones. However most of them appear to be in the
style of Hilda's work including an elaborate dust cover drawing with
The book contains a number of pen and
ink drawings in the style of Hilda Lomas as follows:
Click on any thumnail for a larger version.
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