Brook Harrison in Shoreham

Resident in America for many years now, Shoreham born Mike Holland has gathered an interesting collection of paintings of the town and area of his birth that he has kindly had digitally copied for and can now be seen at the end of our paintings gallery.

One is of Brook Harrison’s view of the town from the south side of the river and was painted in 1873. A large sailing ship stands on the stocks at Dyer & Sons’ yard with another moored at Stow & Sons yard, now the Sussex Yacht Club.

1873 Shoreham, Brook Harrison © Mike Holland Collection

The last three large ships to be built built at Shoreham were the Mizpah 1874, Britannia 1877 and Osman Pasha 1878. As far as is known all three were built at the old shipyard not at Dyer’s new ‘patent’ slipway that seems to have only ever been used for ship repairs.

The painting doesn’t show the Methodist church in the High Street – that was built in 1879.. The Roman Catholic bell tower also doesn’t appear to be shown – that church was built, consecrated and opened in 1875. Could he have missed including them? Unlikely. His eye for detail was such that he even identified the spire that is shown in the distance of the photo of the same view.

Harrison’s recorded year on the painting of 1873 therefore looks to be realistic apart from perhaps his age at the time. Harrison (full name Brooking Alfred Wrankmore Harrison and descended from a long line of Shoreham families) was baptised in 1860 so this is a very early example of his work. Unless the birth year is incorrect he was only thirteen. However, his death is shown at the age of 69 in 1930 so that seems to confirm his birth year as accurate. As it happens his painting at such a young age would have been quite possible – Millaise for example. albeit a much more celebrated artist, was only nine when he won a silver medal for his work at art school and eleven when he entered the Royal Academy School of Art.

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