Car lovers and public art aficionados have been left shocked after a mural which had been a prominent feature at Coventry Transport Museum for more than 40 years was painted over. The mural featured a 1955 Daimler Empress and was painted on roller shutter doors at the back of the museum in 1981.
It was designed and created by Richard Mallord Baker, a relative of the famous British artist JMW Turner. At the time he was studying for a degree in graphic design at what is now Coventry University but at the time was Lanchester Polytechnic.
Two other students helped in its creation. Unusually the mural was never vandalised or used as a canvas for graffiti but earlier this week many were horrified after noticing work had started to paint over it.
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It prompted much debate on social media and the painting over of the mural even sparked the ire of one of those who helped create it. Richard Jones said: “The mural was designed by Richard Mallord Baker, he was related to Turner. He was doing his degree in graphic design at the poly at the time.
“It was drawn out on a piece of A3 card. Then transferred by grid to the doors. Rich did most of the painting, myself and Janet Large helped, I did most of the grille listening to Haysi Fantayzee.
“I was always amazed how it never had any graffiti on it. It is such a shame it has gone after nearly 42 years. It is tantamount to destroying a Turner.
“Well at least a distant relative. Not good, another fine example of not talking to locals.”
One of those who highlighted the mural’s disappearance was Coventry car enthusiast and keen photographer Darren Vel Satis, who brought it to the attention of CoventryLive. Darren said: “The museum is my second home, although I don’t go inside as much lately, but I have memories of walking down Cook Street and admiring the Daimler painting, it became one of those things you walk past without a second thought, part of the furniture if you will.
“I only realised this week that it can be seen from the ring road if you glance across. It’s amazing how the painting stood the test of time, and older paints were stronger and probably contained lead.
“I think that’s how it had survived so well all these years. It’s a bit of a sad loss although I recognise things do change over time.
“I’m glad to have taken a few pictures of the mural at the weekend and I didn’t know it was being over painted that’s the shocking thing, I wish I’d taken a good look at it and taken a few more pictures, but I didn’t know.”
Darren added: “It just shows you, firstly that we take these things for granted and I just wish some of the old hand-painted signs were still around. That’s what I love about photography, recording the way things were, for future generations.
“Okay, it was not a Banksy, but in the same way it’s impossible to replace an old tree with a sapling, you really can’t replicate painting now it’s been lost. Perhaps this artwork has been overlooked, just because it was on a rolling shutter door, it was just as much a part of the city as the cathedral tapestry for example, not valuable, but sentimental to many.
“A small part of my childhood lost. The museum collection means so much to me, and although the building has been entirely transformed over the years, this artwork at the back seemed to have been left alone for 40 years, throughout all of the refurbishments and extensive works carried out 20 years ago, quite remarkable really.”
Another person shocked at the mural’s removal was Scott Duffin, who said: “It’s been there all my life I remember seeing it on school trips from 30 years ago. And only pictured it again recently and posted it to the Historic Coventry group, it’s a shame it was not protected as it was an iconic piece of Coventry’s street art.”
Speculation of social media has suggested another mural is planned in its place, possibly of a motorcycle. Coventry Transport Museum has been approached for comment.