There’s a statue at Waterloo station, of an artist. His name is Cuneo and he sits above what used to be the Eurostar platforms and is now the stage for The Railway Children. He looks very eccentric with his cravat and paint palette. I’ve seen him thousands of times because he’s near Nero’s, where I get my coffee in the afternoon. Apart from this statue I knew nothing about him. That is until today.
He was an artist…clearly…whose full name was Terence Tenison Cuneo. He was born in 1907 and loved painting railway subjects. Trains, stations, goods yards, engineering works, bridges, everything to do with trains. One of his big paintings I researched today. It is of Waterloo Station in the mid 1960s. I’ve included a small image of it although the actual painting is very big!
Waterloo is certainly a bit different today! If you tried to drive under the clock, you’d topple many people over before you. Then you’d wind up on platform 13 or 14. You can see where the cars went because the entrance/exit to the taxi rank is still there and has a big arched opening that could easily be two lanes.
It looks a bit busy but it’s nothing on how Waterloo Station is at peak hour these days. Wild and manic is how I’d describe it. Actually, not so much wild and manic as heaving and jam packed. In fact, it’s horrid. I much prefer Cuneo’s version to todays.
Something that Cuneo always did, and which I think is kind of cute, was put a mouse somewhere in his pictures. He is known for it. There’s even one on the statue of him at Waterloo. It’s peeking out from under the book. Very cute.
The painting was in storage for quite a while but was then hung at the Railway Museum in York. I’ll have to check it out next time I’m up there.
I also read about Sir William Henry Preece today. He was an electrical engineer who, among other things didn’t think the telephone was much good. After working on them, he told a parliamentary inquiry in 1879 that he foresaw little demand for them in Britain, saying the telegraph and a ‘superabundance of messengers, errand boys and things of that kind’ already met the need. What a clever chap he was.