Wilmot Pilsbury
(Photo: De Montfort University)

Wilmot Pilsbury lived at ‘The Hawthorns’ (now No12) Knighton Park Road c1877-c1890.

Born in Cannock, Staffordshire, Wilmot Pilsbury was a talented watercolour painter who studied at the Birmingham School of Art under James William Walker and the South Kensington College of Art.

He moved to Leicester from Camden Town in 1869 to become the first headmaster of the new Leicester School of Art, then based at 2 Pocklington’s Walk and supervised its move to Hastings Street, behind the building that is now the New Walk Museum.

He first lived in Evington Lane but moved to ‘The Hawthorns’ which was designed and built for him, wife Elizabeth and three young children, by architect Isaac Barradale whose pupils he later taught. He resigned his post in 1881 and subsequently earned his living as a “landscape painter in watercolours”, moving to Somerset c1890.

He exhibited extensively in London and Birmingham and the Fine Art Society of London held a major retrospective exhibition of his works shortly after his death in 1908. Examples of his works are held in major collections worldwide and at the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery, City Museum in Brighton & Hove, and the Castle Museum in Maidstone and Norwich.

NOTE: The School of Art played a major role in nurturing the Arts & Crafts Movement in Leicester. By providing training and employment and by developing an awareness and appreciation of the importance of good design. It was opened in Pocklington’s Walk in 1869 before moving to larger premises in Hastings Street in 1877. According to Wright’s 1887-88 Directory the course of instruction covered, “freehand drawing, shading, painting in oil and water colours, artistic anatomy, landscape painting, mechanical and architectural drawing, designing for art manufacture, geometry, lineal perspective and ornamental art”. Morning and afternoon classes were held for ladies and gentlemen with evening classes for working people. A charge was made for all classes.