The Mural in the Old Fire Station

Once it was agreed that the old Merryweather Fire Appliance would be returned to the Old Fire Station garage, as the first major exhibit of the Alresford Museum, attention turned to the decoration of the garage walls. Other major investments went into the lighting system to be used, and the folding glass doors installed behind the original wooden doors. But it was felt that the back wall should feature a major relevant picture, or photograph, of something representing the history of fires in the town, or why the fire appliance was needed.

Undoubtedly the front cover picture from Arthur Stowell’s book “The Story of Alresford” was one of the best images available. It totally fitted the subject and history, and was very colourful. The photos available of the Fire Appliance from around 1900 were also largely black and white. Many were available from the Gog Andrews collection (alresfordheritage.co.uk) so these were used on a slide show on a TV screen on another wall of the garage.

Arthur Stowell’s picture was drawn by Brian Wynne, but neither the original nor any prints could be found. The book had been published via the Alresford History and Literary Society, but enquiries there did not produce any leads. So the only copies available were on the covers of his book. At that time I had a scanner that could be used to scan at a very detailed resolution, so to see what could be done I scanned the front and back covers, using a new ‘clean’ copy. I soon realised that it would be necessary to scan the spine, so eventually that was also achieved. These three scans were then brought together (using free PC software known as “Paint”).

Complete

As you can see, the scan of the spine is fairly obvious! The joins down the middle were bridged together (using more free PC software, called “PhotoScape”), to get rid of the visible edges and mould the colours together. The words had to go too.

 

Then another problem arose: the dimensions of this image, when scaled up to fill across the back wall of the garage, meant that it was too tall, and would be hidden behind the cabinets. Ideally it was necessary to lose most of the sky, and even some of the foreground where the people were standing. Normally, pictures can be stretched up to about 10%, without becoming too distorted. This was done, using ‘Paint’, but it was still not wide enough. So the ‘Photoscape’ software came back again, to add extra rooms on the houses at either side, copying the existing bits of wall. The final result was as below.

OFS plan 4 stretch crop add 10pc patch

Getting the mural printed 10 feet wide also was difficult, and the result came in two sections, once again joined down the middle! The width was not quite as wide as the garage wall, so it appears the picture version used was not a stretched one, after all! A 2019 picture in the garage (below) shows the final version on the wall. For 2020 this wall has disappeared… the mural will be repositioned!

Nick Denbow

IMG_0781

 

 

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