IN PRINT: Jennie White with a print of the Pittuck mural – one of a range of pieces of merchandise available
IN PRINT: Jennie White with a print of the Pittuck mural – one of a range of pieces of merchandise available

A RANGE of merchandise based on Barnard Castle’s fading Pittuck mural is helping raise awareness of the artist's work – along with ongoing efforts to work out what to do with it.

The mural was painted directly onto the east wall of St Mary’s Parish Hall, in Newgate, shortly after the building’s completion in 1957 and gifted to the town by artist Douglas Pittuck.

Despite restoration work in 2003, the mural is once again in need of maintenance if it is to be protected for the future.

Earlier this year, concerned members of the St Mary's congregation organised a public meeting during which they received overwhelming support to look into ways in which the mural could be saved for future generations.

Further open days were held during the May Day bank holiday weekend, with others planned for the Whit and August bank holiday weekends.

In the meantime, the group has taken delivery of Pittuck-themed cups, fridge magnets, bookmarks and postcards.

Framed prints of the mural are also available for individual order.

Jennie White, one of those involved in the Pittuck group, said the merchandise had proved popular at the recent open days, which ran alongside a church book sale.

“The idea of the merchandise was to keep us in people’s minds,” said Mrs White.

“Hopefully, it will encourage people to visit the mural and help us decide whether it's worth carrying on to maintain the mural, which will be costly.

“It is also bringing to the fore the work of Douglas Pittuck. He was quite prolific and very well liked in the town.”

The mural reflects life in the town from the early 1950s. It includes landmarks such as the Market Cross, Methodist chapel, St Mary’s Church and the round tower of the castle.

The Glaxo factory, The Bowes Museum and part of Barnard Castle School are also depicted, along with a typical white Raby Estates farm and houses in Bridgegate, which were subsequently demolished as part of the slum clearance programme.

Various figures from the era populate the mural, from women in headscarves to men in flat caps and schoolboys in blazers. Soldiers from the former Deerbolt camp are also present.

Irrespective of the mural’s future, and art trail featuring Mr Pittuck's work will be put together and launched in April next year.

It will feature an exhibition of his work in The Witham, while other venues around the town will also show his pictures.

“We have already had a lot of offers from people who would be willing to loan pictures for the art trail,” said Mrs White.

The Pittuck mural-themed merchandise is available from the Teesdale Mercury shop, in Market Place, where orders for framed prints of the mural can also be taken.

The next Pittuck mural open days will take place at the Parish Hall on Sunday, May 26, and bank holiday Monday, May 27.