The permanent Dan Dare exhibit at the Atkinson, Southport. Image courtesy the Atkinson.

Dan Dare art and memorabilia part of permanent new exhibit in Southport, Frank Hampson’s home town

The original Dan Dare spacesuits have been recreated for the new Atkinson museum Dan Dare exhibit.
The original Dan Dare spacesuits have been recreated for the new Atkinson museum Dan Dare exhibit.

A new museum in Southport features a permanent display of some Dan Dare art  by his creator, Frank Hampson along with other Eagle memorabilia, helping to mark the comic’s 65th year since first publication.

 

Dan Dare by Frank Hampson
Dan Dare by Frank Hampson

The Atkinson is Southport’s new home for music, theatre, art, poetry, literature and history, right in the middle of Lord Street in the town and just three minutes’ walk from Southport train station. Significant investment has been made in refurbishing the stunning 19th century buildings, to create a really welcoming multi art-form venue with a strong contemporary feel.

The museum includes a permanent exhibition – Between Land and Sea – 10,000 years of Sefton’s Coast – which explores the rich and varied history of the Sefton area and its coastline. Alongside imagery and memories of the daring female motor-racing pioneers dubbed ‘scorchers’, ‘motorinas’ and ‘motoristes’ who tore up Southport beach in the 1920s, is a tribute to comic creator Frank Hampson, who was a pupil at King George V Grammar School (now King George V College) in the 1930s.

His best-known creation, Dan Dare, first appeared in the Eagle comic, and was first produced in 1950 in a studio called Old Bakehouse in Churchtown, Southport. The Eagle’s founder, the Rev John Marcus Harston Morris, was vicar of the St James Church, Birkdale at the time.

The permanent Dan Dare exhibit at the Atkinson, Southport. Image courtesy the Atkinson.
The permanent Dan Dare exhibit at the Atkinson, Southport. Image courtesy the Atkinson.
Image courtesy The Atkinson.
Image courtesy The Atkinson.

The exhibit features also a model of  The Mekon and pays tribute to other famous Southport citizens such as Frank Hornby, the inventor of Meccano and Dinky Toys.

The opening of the new museum prompted the Burnley Express to interview Dan Dare team member Greta Tomlinson (now Greta Edwards), who was also the model for Professor Jocelyn Peabody, told the newspaper working on the Eagle was “tremendously hard work but great fun.

“We literally worked day and night sometimes,” Greta, now 88, recalled. “I heard many a dawn chorus from the birds. We would take photographs of each other and then draw from that. I was Professor Peabody.

“Sometimes, Frank Hampson, who devised the Dan Dare character and was a genius, would arrive in the office in the morning and tell us to start all over again. Frank had witnessed the German V2 rockets during the war, which inspired the design for Dan Dare’s spaceship.”

Greta, who now lives in Haslemere, Surrey, moved on from the Eagle after four years and later moved to Iraq with her husband Richard Edwards who worked for BP, returning to the UK in 1969.

“I still paint and exhibit today, mainly using acrylic and collage,” she told the paper. “I will never forget my time working on the Eagle… I am still amazed that so many people are interested in it.”

For full details of the “Beyond Land and Sea” exhibition at The Atkinson, visit this dedicated web page

Read Greta’s interview with the Burnley Express here

View a gallery of the opening night of the exhibition on The Visiter web site

 • The Atkinson is at Lord Street, Southport PR8 1DB. Box office: 01704 533333. Web: www.theatkinson.co.uk | Facebook: TheAtkinson |
Follow The Atkinson @AtkinsonThe

With thanks to Ian Wheeler and Jeremy Briggs for sourcing links and The Atkinson for imagery

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

4 thoughts on “Dan Dare art and memorabilia part of permanent new exhibit in Southport, Frank Hampson’s home town

  1. All the artwork I can see here is NOT Frank Hampsons!
    most is by Don Harley and Bruce Cornwall from 1961 Eagles, and some is by Desmond Walduck from 1955 Eagles, I can’t quite make out the frames on the far side of the photo.
    – Rod Barzilay

  2. I understand this is an entirely unconscious mistake, and that to find Frrank Hampson original artwork
    is incrredibly expensive. But I have files of Hampson’s work, in whole page format, and would be pleased to allow the Museum to copy a page or two. Just add a note on here. Alastair Crompton (Hampson’s biographer).

    1. The Museum has been in touch with us and says that if there is original graphic material available by Frank Hampson they would love to include it in the exhibition. They’re keen to update the displays as frequently as possible.

  3. I’m pleased to see that Southport is acknowledging Dan Dare and Eagle’s roots in the town with a permanent display at last.

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