Hilda Lomas


Holy Ghost

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 the church.

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 price tag.

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 have 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.

The Realm of Fairyland artwork sold at Bonhams

Artwork signed by H W Lomas sold at Bonhams for £1260

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 £1-11-6d.

Omah Khayyam

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 £1-11-6d.

Writing Pad Cover

Writing Pad Cover

and another similar cover design:

Writing Pad cover No 2
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:

advert for cigarettes

And another similar one:

magazine advert for cigarettes

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:

Book cover

On the obverse, the annotaion Trade price £4-4.

The next one is simply maked as Book Illustration No 2. No price.

Book Illustration No 2

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 1934.

Death of Dunkerron

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.

Hound of Heaven Francis Thompson

Marked as The Hound of Heaven after Francis Thompson.

The next one appears based on thoughts of the famous willow pattern.

Illustration for a Fairy story
Marked as an Illustration for a Fairy Story

This ellaborate pen and ink drawing is entitled The Arabian Nights.

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

The Agra

And last but one, this colour washed pen and ink drawing seems to be clearly 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 may 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 know.

The Good Fairy

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.

oil on canvas after Bryngwyn
"After Brangwyn"

Brangwyn did a number of works and the 2 which seem to be most similar are :

The Lord Mayors Show in Olden days- Bryngwyn       Queen Elizabeth going aboard the Golden Hind, Deptford -Bryngwyn

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 added colour.


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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The Castle and Place of Rothiemay

This book by Foster Forbes was published in 1948, is concerning his family and their home in Scotland.

He uses one work commissioned by Hilda, for which he specifically thanks her for her work, at the end of the Preface.


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