Born in Tynemouth in 1870, his life began in the family home at 1 Pearson Terrace, Tynemouth. Many of his family members lived in and around Cullercoats and Tynemouth, and his uncle John Reaveley was a local baker who, for a number of years circa 1861, kept a shop at 21 Middle Street. This building also had ‘rooms’ to rent and the entrance became known locally as ‘Reaveley’s Stairs’.
F. W. Reaveley went to school in Tynemouth, but little is known of his childhood. After leaving school, he found local employment as a tailor with Lyons & Sons of Rudyerd Street, North Shields.
Details of Reaveley’s artistic career are very scant as it is unclear when he took up painting on a serious basis, although the earliest dated painting uncovered dates from 1891 when he was just 21 years old. This piece is relatively accomplished and suggests that he had been painting from childhood.
Many elements of the local area inspired Reaveley to paint coastal scenes, seascapes and views throughout picturesque Northumberland in the twin disciplines of oils and watercolours and there is evidence that many of his paintings were featured in an exhibition of local and amateur artists’ works held at John Chambers’ studio at 58 Borough Road, North Shields on 31st October 1903. Between 1908 and 1921 a number of his paintings were also featured in exhibitions in the Laing Art Gallery, which demands skill and aptitude to meet their exacting standards.
Reaveley was able to maintain his own studio, situated in Back Beverley Terrace, Cullercoats, and in 1920 he was one of the founder members of the North East Coast Art Club, together with his good friend and fellow artist John Falconar (J.F.) Slater. Slater was some years older than Reaveley and already one of the most well-known and well-respected artists working in the North East. His reputation helped to promote the Club, but the benefits were short-lived, as he passed away the following year.
In addition to his artistic interests, Reaveley was actively involved in local amateur dramatic productions, for which he often made many of the costumes, making use of his first trade as a tailor.
By the 1930s he lived in Sycamore Avenue, Hillheads, and family childhood memories of the house are that the walls were covered with paintings brought there after he closed his studio; however, family hardships meant that the majority of his paintings were sold. He remained a popular figure locally until his death on 10th May 1950 at the family home.
The family of F. W. Reaveley are currently trying to locate and catalogue the whereabouts of many ‘lost’ paintings, further details of which can be found on the website www.fwreaveley.org.uk.
by Charlie Steel © 2013
His published books include ‘Monkseaton Village Vol. 1’ and ‘Monkseaton Village Vol. 2’, both of which are available from most local booksellers.