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