Blue plaque unveiled in Weston for celebrated artist who created iconic poster

PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:31 25 June 2018

Alfred Leete, his most famous work, and the blue plaque.

Alfred Leete, his most famous work, and the blue plaque.

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The artist behind one of the world’s most iconic posters has been celebrated with a blue plaque in Weston-super-Mare.

Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, Weston Town Council Armed Forces champion James Davis, and mayor Mike Lyall.Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, Weston Town Council Armed Forces champion James Davis, and mayor Mike Lyall.

Alfted Leete grew up in Madeira Road, where his parents ran the Addington House hotel.

A blue plaque, paid for by Weston Town Council, was unveiled on the building on Friday to coincide with Armed Forces Weekend.

Mr Leete attended Kingsholm School, in Arundell Road, and spent time at a Bristol architects firm before pursuing a career in art.

His most recognisable work, from the outbreak of war in 1914, features Field Marshal Kitchener calling for recruits to join the British Army, alongside the memorable phrase ‘your country needs you’.

While the poster stands out among his works, he had become a sought-after artist before then, at the age of just 30.

He lived in London, where he was drawing for a number of national magazines and newspapers, including Punch, Tatler and London Opinion.

Weston historian John Crockford-Hawley, who is chairman of the museum and heritage sub-committee on the town council, said: “He was clearly doing well in London. He mixed in all the right circles.”

During World War One he served in the Artists’ Rifles and his work remained in great demand once peace had been declared.

The blue plaque for Alfred Leete.The blue plaque for Alfred Leete.

His artistry was used in advertising by Rowntree’s chocolates, London Underground and Younger’s Brewery.

Cllr Crockford-Hawley said: “He died relatively early, but stipulated being buried in Weston.

“He had always thought of here as being home and he even produced cartoons of Weston.

“There is a wonderful cartoon of the opening of the Winter Gardens.

World War One re-enactor Josh Cottrell dressed as a member of Kitchner's Army, and mayor Mike Lyall.World War One re-enactor Josh Cottrell dressed as a member of Kitchner's Army, and mayor Mike Lyall.

“He had the great British sense of deprecating humour, and the cartoon took the mickey out of everyone, including those wearing chains, lampooning all the councillors.”

Mr Leete met Edith Webb in Weston and married her in 1909. Their first child, Betty, died in infancy, but their son John went on to become another artist.

Members of the Leete family still live in the town, and an exhibition featuring his works will be held at Weston Museum, in Burlington Street, in September.

The next blue plaque, as voted for by Mercury readers, is expected to be dedicated to Dr Edward Long Fox, who pioneered ways to treat mental health patients more humanely.

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