William Newsum Prior Nicholson

SIR WILLIAM NEWZAM PRIOR NICHOLSON (1872-1949) – was a noted British painter, illustrator and print maker.Nicholson photo

Son of William Nicholson, founder of Nicholson’s Trent Iron Works (agricultural implement makers in Newark), he studied art, firstly under William Cubley at Newark’s Magnus Grammar School, then in Paris at the ‘Academie Julian’.

He started his professional career as a designer of posters and as a book illustrator, but soon became an innovative and celebrated maker of woodcuts. In partnership with his brother in law James Pryde, they were known as the ’Beggarstaff Brothers’, and their poster work was significant historically. He broke ground with his experimental techniques and his original woodcut portrait of Queen Victoria was one of the most famous British prints ever made.

Gold Medal 1928In 1928 the Newark-born artist won a Gold Medal at the Olympics in Amsterdam. Mr. William Nicholson was awarded the medal for graphic design at the games.

At the time, the Olympics also awarded medals for architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture, a practice that continued until 1952.

Mr. Nicholson’s medal for his sports picture almanac, ‘Un Almanach de douze Sports’ (‘An Almanac of Twelve Sports’) formed the centre-piece of an exhibition in the Town Hall Museum in 2012, along with personal items, including his dressing gown, waistcoat and bow tie, photographs and sketches on loan from his grandson, Mr. Desmond Banks, of London.

Museum curator, Mrs. Patty Temple said Mr. Nicholson only found out at the last minute that his work had been submitted by his publisher Heinemann and had won a medal.

She said: “He nearly didn’t make it to the award ceremony. He had to run out of his house and get on the first plane to Amsterdam, which was the first time he had ever been on a plane, and he just made it in time”.

After 1900, encouraged by Whistler, he concentrated on painting. He was knighted in 1936.

His children were the artists Ben and Nancy Nicholson, and the architect Christopher ‘Kit’ Nicholson.

The first of many in 1973. Unveiling NALHS first plaque to Sir William Newzam Nicholson on his birthplace on South Parade, Newark, is Mayor Mrs Elizabeth Yorke, with NALHS Chairman, Mr Ralph Reddish.Nicholson Plaque unveiling

Further research into the Plaque unveiling on 27th June 1973, has revealed the following detail.

(From NALHS Newsletter) “On this lovely Friday evening, in the presence of 45 members and friends, Alderman Mrs Elizabeth York, Mayor of the Borough of Newark on Trent, and Chairman of the Museum Committee, acting on behalf of Miss Margaret Steen and Mr Ben Nicholson OM, unveiled the 15” diameter plaque on 39 London Road, the home of Dr. & Mrs F. D. Sullivan[1].

The Plaque reads:





The Society is grateful to Miss Marguerite Steen, Miss Lillian Browse, Dr & Mrs Sullivan, the Newark Civic Trust and the Newark Society of Artists, all of whom contributed to the cost of the plaque and the arrangements[2].

It must not be thought that the Society originated the proposal to erect a plaque on the house. The matter was discussed by the Committee of the Borough Council in 1966,[3] and suggested by Miss Steen in a letter to the Editor and published in the ‘Newark Advertiser’[4]

[1] report in Nk. Adv. 4.8.73

[2] and to Messrs R I Derry for help with the fixing.

[3] Nk. Adv. 6.8.66 p.10. Minutes 206(ii) & 315.

[4] 16.7.66. p.19.