Express & Star

Old painting reveals a long-lost view of Halesowen

Today the site is occupied by a somewhat nondescript shopping parade, the scars of 1960s redevelopment.

Dennis Partridge with the painting of an old house in Halesowen by celebrated 19th century artist Joseph Frederick Hone

But this painting, picked up on an internet auction site for just £45, gives a rare and fascinating glimpse into what Halesowen's Bull Ring would have looked like 150 years ago.

And one has to say, that the changes that have taken place since the 1870s are not what you would call progress.

While the Georgian shops along the main part of the Bull Ring have been lovingly preserved, it is not known when this rather attractive timber-framed building disappeared.

The painting, by celebrated artist Joseph Frederick Hone, was spotted by collector Dennis Partridge for sale from a gallery in Bath.

Mr Partridge, who collects all manner of memorabilia related to the town where he grew up, believes the impressive timber-framed house was located at the Bull Ring, opposite the bottom of Peckingham Street.

"It is where the old Co-op was, opposite Peckingham Street, and where the old market building stood about 1840," he says.

The painting of an old house in Halesowen by celebrated 19th century artist Joseph Frederick Hone discovered by Dennis Partridge of Kingswinford

"This area, I believe, is one of the oldest in the town. The painting was done in the 1870s, so could easily be around the same age as the market building."

The painting was done by celebrated Gloucestershire artist Joseph Frederick Hone, part of an influential Anglo-Irish family, who was better known for his landscapes of Italy and Switzerland.

So what made him paint an unidentified house in Halesowen?

"His brother was the vicar at Halesowen, Richard Brindley Hone," says Mr Partridge.

"He was vicar from 1836, and died in Halesowen in 1881.

"He had a wing dedicated to him at St John's Church for all his and his family's help with the poor and destitute at that time in the town. He was also archdeacon at Worcester Cathedral."

Mr Partridge, 68, now lives in Kingswinford. He worked at the BSR record-player factory in Cradley Heath before moving into asbestos removal.