Search for famous Scottish mural artist narrowed to Gravesend man

PUBLISHED: 09:59 14 April 2011

A section of a huge war-time mural in barracks in Orkney, belived to be produced by a Gravesend artist

A section of a huge war-time mural in barracks in Orkney, belived to be produced by a Gravesend artist


» Months of appeals and searching have traced the creator of a huge World War II mystery mural in Orkney to north Kent.

Painted on the walls of mess halls of the gun battery charged with protecting the British fleet during World War II, the mural has been a source of speculation for years.

When a huge restoration project began last year, the search to discover the mural’s maker, signed AR Woods, was reignited. With the help of Scottish radio, the internet, and art experts it has converged on an amateur artist and Port of London authority worker, Albert John Rycraft Woods, from Gravesend.

Project leader Julian Branscombe said: “This is probably the most important coastal gun battery in Britain and the wooden halls here are the last remaining examples in the UK. This mural is part of local folklore, but no one has been able to track down the identity of AR Woods. Now we think we have him, but we need help to confirm it.”

Painted on three walls of the mess, it covers 100 square metres and depicts an idyllic English countryside, including oast houses and thatched 

Since the association with Gravesend, art experts and historians have noted a similarity between the church spire in the painting and St George’s Church, Gravesend.

Albert John Rycraft Woods was born in Gravesend in 1877, served as a machine gun trainer in WWI and is the subject of a short biography written in the 1940s about work with the PLA.

Anyone with information about him and his connections with Orkney should email or call 01856 873535. Please also call The Reporter on 020 8269 7011.

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