County author and illustrator comes home with Lamport Hall exhibition

The works of a county writer and illustrator are being celebrated in an exhibition this week at Lamport Hall.

Denys Watkins-Pitchford MBE – also known by the pen name BB – was a naturalist and conservationist who wrote and illustrated dozens of books.

Exhibition of the works of Denys Watkins-Pitchford, also known as BB, at Lamport Hall. The exhibition has been arranged by the BB Society. Picture by martinizzardphotographic.co.uk

Exhibition of the works of Denys Watkins-Pitchford, also known as BB, at Lamport Hall. The exhibition has been arranged by the BB Society. Picture by martinizzardphotographic.co.uk

The exhibition at the hall, across the road from the rectory in the village where he was born and grew up, runs until Sunday, July 6. It features BB’s works which are now in the hands of a number of private collectors.

Bryan Holden, editor of compilations of the artist’s work as well as secretary of the BB Society, which has organised the exhibition, said: “BB is coming home to Lamport.”

One of BB’s most celebrated novels was the children’s book Brendon Chase, published in 1944, and Mr Holden added: “It’s still in print. This exhibition is to celebrate its 70th anniversary, and it’s also 15 years since the society was founded.”

The society, which has hundreds of members across the world, keeps alive BB’s work and also aims to continue his fight to protect the British countryside.

Watkins-Pitchford, who died in 1990 at the age of 85, wrote and illustrated more than 60 books. He completed dozens of paintings and was an expert at the scraperboard technique, producing a set of first-day covers on British wildlife in 1977 using a scraperboard.

The covers, which are highly valued by stamp collectors, are also on display in the exhibition alongside a host of other items of memorabilia.

He was also responsible for the reintroduction of purple emperor butterflies to Fermyn Woods.

He had noticed they had died out there, and brought back eggs from the south of England to the wood near Brigstock, which is now visited by butterfly enthusiasts as one of the UK’s best places to see the species.

As well as Watkins-Pitchford’s art, the exhibition also features work from local schoolchildren.

The society runs an annual BB Creative Arts Award for Northamptonshire schools, and Mr Holden added: “What we want to do is to encourage a younger generation.”

The exhibition, in the stable block at Lamport Hall, is open from 10am to 4pm each day until Sunday, except for Saturday, when it is open from 2.30pm to 4pm. Entry is free.