Alfred Randal Catherall 1926 – 2013
Alf was born on 22nd October 1926 in Chester and passed away peacefully at the Countess of Chester hospital aged 86 on 11th March 2013.
Alf spent a large part of his life living at Tudor House in Lower Bridge Street, Chester thought to be the oldest house in Chester having been built in 1603. He bought Tudor House from his father, Peter Catherall who had been a cabinet maker, picture restorer and antique dealer with his own antique shop in Watergate Street.
Alf was an artist who painted watercolours of local scenes in Chester and the surrounding areas as well as further afield. He was a prolific painter and sold many of his paintings from his antiques and fine art shop - Catheralls of Chester - which occupied the ground floor of Tudor House (now a café and delicatessen).
In May 1961 Alf hosted a large art exhibition in Tudor House for local artists and sculptors and this was promoted by L S Lowry who loaned two of his own paintings for display at the event. These were a drawing of a boy’s head and an oil painting titled ‘Man Holding Forth’.
Tudor House, an architecturally important Listed Building, was – from 1956 - the family home for Alf and his first wife Joyce and their two children Joanna and Jonathan as well as the base for the family fine art and antique business. Alf and Joyce implemented the restoration of this historic house and, in 1964, the first major building repair project of Tudor House commenced. The north wall of Tudor house was in an unsafe, dilapidated condition. Alf and Joyce applied for a Repairs Grant from the Historic Buildings Council and were successful in gaining some financial support. In 1967 additional necessary, complex structural repairs to other sections of the building were completed by building contractors Halliwell’s of Chester. The whole building was then in a safe, stable condition and “saved from collapse”.
Alf had several exhibitions in the 1970s and 1980s in Paris, Germany and The Netherlands.
In 1977 Alf sold Tudor House and pursued his painting career. He had recently married his second wife Carol and they initially moved to live with friends in a castle called Burg Diesdonk in Germany. With the same friends they helped run an art gallery in Dusseldorf where Alf had several successful exhibitions. Alf and Carol returned to Chester in 1979 and in 1980 Peter was born, followed by Amy in 1982.
Alf’s biggest commission and the largest single surviving collection of his paintings can be seen at St. George’s Hotel in Llandudno. Alf was commissioned by then owner, Michael Forte, to paint thirty three large scale panels and twenty eight are still on display there. It took Alf two years to complete this task.
Alf was a well known personality in Chester. In his youth he was in a local climbing club and spent leisure time mountaineering and youth hostelling. He was extremely fit and he was a member of Royal Chester Rowing Club as well as keeping fit by running and cycling. Alf was also a motorbike enthusiast having in his life a number of classic British motorbikes such as an old AJS 7R motorbike. Another of Alf’s passions was a rare vintage car he drove for some time. It was limited edition model of a 1952 R type Bentley and he had this repaired and kept it roadworthy for use with the family antique business.
In his later life he also got a lot of pleasure from lovingly restoring and travelling in his VW Caravanette with Peter and Amy his youngest two children. Many fun filled family camping trips were had.
Alf led a full and happy life. Alf’s health failing in his later years was sad but he was lovingly cared for in a Chester care home for the last ten years of his life. Alf is survived by Joanna, Jonathan, Amy, Peter and seven grandchildren. Alf’s legacy lives on in Chester through the restoration work he and Joyce, his first wife, had carried out to Tudor House in the 1960s to make sure the ancient property was made safe from the earlier risk of collapse. Alf was a free spirit, who had a love of nature, landscape and colour and worked for no one but himself. Artistically hundreds of Alf’s paintings adorn the homes of his former customers around the world from his long career as an artist and many are also cherished by family and friends.
(Article from the Chester Chronicle)