Reginald Hanson Fawcett (1892 -1978) was born at Wilsden, near Bradford, and lived there for most of his life.
Reginald was a gifted amateur painter and at the outbreak of WW1 he joined the Royal Engineers and served in France and Belgium in a Signals Regiment laying cables close to the front line. He had taken a sketch pad and watercolour paints with him and whenever he could sketched scenes from The Somme area. He survived the war unscathed and on his discharge in 1919 had built an impressive portfolio of war scene paintings.
After the war Reginald returned to Wilsden, where he became the village postmaster and was then able to develop his artistic talent by studying art part-time at a local college. He was active in village life and was a life-long member and deacon of Wilsden Congregational Church (now Trinity). Between 1945 and 1975 Reginald made a series of sketches of scenes of Wilsden and the surrounding area, initially to support the Congregational Church, and later sold to raise money for a village hall and community centre that opened in 1976.
Reginald was also a local historian who wrote a scholarly account of the history of Wilsden and the surrounding district: ‘The Story of Wilsden’, published in The Bradford Antiquary, bound volume XI, 1976.
After his death, Reginald’s paintings remained within his family and in 2014, Reginald’s grandson, professional photographer Tim Brown, contributed a number of Reginald’s paintings pictures to the national Guardian ‘Witness Awards’ photographic competition alongside his own work. The unique combination of Tim’s contemporary photography, with the theme of ‘space and place’, with his grandfather’s WW1 landscapes, resulted in Tim being one of only six photographers shortlisted for the Award.
In 2017, Black Sheep Design, based at Wilsden, produced sets of the Wilsden and district sketches (see examples above and below), with sales in support of Wilsden village post office, then in threat of closure, to maintain and keep it open as a community project.
See also Bradford Artists – and War