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The Art of W. G. Herdman


William Gawin Herdman (also known as W. G. Herdman; 1805–1882) was an English author and painter, known for his scenes in the Liverpool area. Herdman was a self-taught painter who started sketching in his early teens, documenting the city of Liverpool, making notes about how the city and its buildings were changing as the city grew. Herdman painted around 2,000 water colours of Liverpool scenes which were included in the book, “Herdman’s Liverpool” which appeared in several editions after his death in 1882. "Born in Liverpool in 1829, William married Elizabeth Munro in 1852 and had at least four children. He was a fine artist, but did not achieve the same level of success as his father, possibly lacking his self-belief and flair for promotion. His accuracy of representing locations can be confirmed with maps and Gore's street directory." Father and son painted numerous watercolours of Liverpool and Wirral, depicting the area from the late 18th century, often copying earlier works, through to the 1860s. They also record street  furniture, people and fashions. W G and William Herdman recorded everything in a fast-changing Liverpool. As soon as they heard any area was to be cleared, they were out there painting. That's how we are so lucky to have illustrations of everything from St George's Hall to Cumberland Street's long-lost slums. Herdman's paintings provide a 'snapshot' of our region that rival's any modern photographic record.
In this article we have an excellent selection of Herdmans work, which was put together by Kevin Keegan, from 
'Yo Liverpool Forum' , who provides the descriptions. (Link at the end of the article)



Click on the first image to view them all (enlarged) in Lightbox (tm


Alexandra Theatre. View from St george's Hall. 1866.

Borough Gaol (called the Old French prison) Great Howard Street. The prison would have got its nickname from the French prisoners kept there during the Napoleanic Wars

Brunswick Road from Greenside to Shaw Street. Shops
(Stationers, Tobacconists, Pawnbroker) and pub. 1869

Chapel Street in 1798. The watercolour shows Fowler's Court in Chapel Street in 1798.
The court has a thatched roof. Painted from an older scene no date

Dale Street. South side from Hotham Street to St Vincent Street - South side from
Crosshall Street to Sir Thomas's Buildings
(site of Municipal Buildings) showing shops, pub, etc. 1867.

Everton Village showing old sundial c.1820. A very 'rural' Everton.

Everton Village, Old Cottage Nr. Everton Road. 1856

Frederick Street (E. side near corner of Seddon St). Interesting terrace of old houses
including one flying the French Tricolour. 1859.

George's Dock - Mariners Church. Shows mariners church which was an old ship,
but also shows how crowded with sailing ships the docks were. 1858.

George's dock Gate from corner of Water Street. Shows warehouses of ship suppliers. 1867

Georgian houses in Williamson Square. A good painting of middle class homes
in the city centre near Tarleton Street. 1868.

Hurst Street (on either side of Grayson Street) seen from Wapping.
Warehouses, timber yard, pubs. 1866.

Hurst Street warehouses. Massive warehouses were built to
accommodate Liverpool's ever increasing trade cargo.

Irwell Street George's Dock. 1869.

J. Smith, Baker, Pall Mall and corner of Tithebarn Street. 1869

James Street Old Fishmarket. 1840.

Kensington looking towards Prescot Street. 1859

Limekiln Lane (Lime Street). Shows Burrough's Gardens, Old Bush Mill
(Limekiln Lane was noted for mills) and St Alban's Church. 1860.

Liverpool Landing Stage 1864. Detailed print of Liverpool Landing Stage
at the height of Liverpool's wealth.

Liverpool Waterworks Office. The first Liverpool Office established 1866,
although the Act of Parliament was in 1822. 1866.

London Road. South side from Hotham Street to St Vincent Street -
looking east. Good for shops (hosiers, hatters, drapers, etc) 1870

Lord Molyneux' Residence Sweeting Street. No date.

Lord Molyneux' Residence Sweeting Street. No date.

Main Bridewell c.1850. Exchange Passage North
(South Chapel Street) showing the main Bridewell (prison)

Marybone - W. Side from Stockdale St. to Miodghall St. Shops
(Grocers, fishmonger) with windmill in background. 1869

Mason Street, Edgehill. Showing entrance to the excavations for
tunnels made by Joseph Williamson. 1858.

Mersey Street (West side from No. 18 southward). Notices for
boarding house and 'ship bread baker' (also people, pub). 1859

Old Cottage, Kirkdale. Shows an old cottage with new
 (Victorian) houses and countryside in background. 1862

Old Cottage, Walton Road. Thatched cottage on NW side of
Black Bull Lane, Walton Rd, Kirkdale. 1856

Old Customs House in 1780. showing pencilled details of what stood there
in 1843 when Herdman was painting from imagination. 1843.

Old Haymarket (later the entrance to the Birkenhead Tunnel). 1858

Old Haymarket (now Birkenhead Tunnel entrance). Looking north - shows
Weighing Machine Office, warehouse, provision store. 1864.

Park Lane (W. side Nos. 128 to 148 between Tabley Street and Beckworth Street).
Excellent view of two shops with goods (clothes) displayed outside. 1861.

Peter Street (E. side from Shaw Hill St looking north). Show demolition in
Peter Street and construction in background (Municipal Buildings) 1867.

Prescot Street (S side looking to Kensington). Shows 'Old Red Lion Inn' with a boy with basket on his head - obviously selling. Ladies and gentlemen in background. 1859.

Queen Square (W. side corner of Hood Street). Shows Queen Square Bazaar with goods displayed. 1859.

Ranelagh Street (s. side). Shows Lynn's Waterloo Hotel. 1867.

Regent Road (E. side from Fulton Rd to Nelson Dock). Excellent view of windmill working. 1865.

Richmond Fair. This is a reconstruction of richmond Fair in 1787. It was founded as a market for
Yorkshie woollen goods. 1856. (of 1787)

Richmond Row (from Fox Street, showing the 'Loggerheads' pub). Useful for old
pre-19th century buildings and factory chimney in background. 1857.

Richmond Street (N. side showing S.E. corner of Williamson Sq with Houghton St.).
 Good view of pub with adverts outside. 1858

Sandstone Quarry at corner of Netherfield Road. Shows quarry workings. 1848.

School Lane. 18th century view although dated as 1856 - when Herdman painted it


Shaw's Brow (William Brown Street) from Byrom Street to Livesley Place. 1855

Shaw's Brow (William Brown Street). N. side from Livesley Place to Byron Street. 1853.

Shipping Telegraph Office. The office was situated in Thomas Street.
The painting shows what these areas of Liverpool near the docks looked like
when it was a thriving city. 1867.

Sir Thomas Buildings (now Sir Thomas Street). Shows Sir Thomas Street
and building of Municipal Buildings. 1858.

Sir Thomas's Buildings (now Sir Thomas Street)Interesting street scenes
(people, hose and rider, cart) and a showroom for iron founder advertising grates,
kitchen ranges, etc. 1858.

South St John Street (from corner of Thomas Street) Showing demoltion work
(no workmen) 1862.

Spitalfields, Whitechapel. Shows demolition of Spitalfields
to make way for Victoria Street. 1868.

St Anne's Church from Great Richmond Street. 1860.

Strand Street (E. side from James Street to Redcross Street, showing N. side of
James Street) Excellent on suppliers to ships. 1857.

Street scene (Walton Rd from Everton Valley) with entertainers.
Reconstruction by Herdman. 1860 (from 18th century image)

Tithebarn Street (seen from Moorfields). 1856

Townsend Mill (called North Shore Mill) Regent Road. Shows windmill
with masts of ship in background and a workyard in the foreground. 1859.

Trowbridge Street showing slaughterhouse. E. side showing the gate to the slaughterhouse
(with advert for auction of meat) and door to mission house. 1867.

Upper Dawson Street N. side looking towards Williamson Sq. Shows
a shop called the 'Butter Place' with adverts outside. 1864.

Vauxhall Road (E. side from Naylor St. to Paul St. looking N.)
Shops, pawnbrokers  but mainly pubs. 1869.

Victoria Street (N. side between Sir Thomas's Building and Crosshall Street
showing rear of Municipal Buildings). Shows the building of
Victoria Street which was driven through the old town. 1868.

Waterloo Road (E. side from Oil St. to Vandries St.). Pubs and shops -
the names include 'United States Hotel'; Anglo American House; Deutsches Haus. 1859.

Waterloo Road (E. Side) Shows old Formby Street Mill which has
been made into he 'Eskane Rotunda Hotel - advertises steaks, chops, good beds. 1860.

WG Herdman lived at west Villa 41 St Domingo Vale & his daughters lived at no.21 this painting was done by James Innes Herdman from his fathers home ....in the background is Everton Water Tower

William Brown Street (North side). Shows site of the Walker Art Gallery. 1867

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