1st March 2021 is the 50th anniversary of the death of marine artist, yachtsman, PSPS member and my Dad Winston Megoran.
Of the several thousand water colours, oil paintings, etchings, aquatints and drawings he created in his short life only a few feature paddle steamers. This one was painted as a birthday card for me by him in the early 1960s.
This is Dad’s first published painting and shows the barque Viking on the cover of Yachting Monthly in August 1936 when he was 23.
During the war, and as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF, Dad was seconded to the Admiralty in London to illustrate ship recognition books for use aboard warships and in the air for identifying enemy vessels. There are many volumes of these filled with drawings by Dad taken from photographs shot by agents in the Philippine Islands, Hong Kong, Burma, Malaya, Siam, the Pescadores, the Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
After the war Dad exhibited widely often in company with other major marine artists including Montague Dawson, Frank Mason, Charles Pears and Norman Wilkinson.
In the ensuing years and on through the 1950s he produced illustrations for countless books and magazines and painted the pictures for the jackets of very many more. This painting features the paddle steamer Sirius crossing the Atlantic for the cover of the children’s book Travel by Sea.
Dad had a formidable technique and that is something which rather went out of fashion in the 1960s. Developments with colour printing and colour photography meant that it was easier and cheaper to hire a photographer rather than commission an artist and as a result work started to dry up. Dad died at the young age of 57 on 1st March 1971.
In recent years there has been increasing interest in his work. Tap “Winston Megoran” into Google and you will find countless entries about him. Last March there was a twelve page article about him and his work in the French magazine Chasse-Maree. The UK’s Classic Boat magazine took this up and ran an eight page article on him in their December 2020 edition.
Dad joined the PSPS in September 1960 and very much fostered and encouraged my interest in boats, ships, the sea and paddle steamers in particular. When Dad was a boy he built for himself a homemade canoe in his back garden which started him off on the water. As a boy I built myself a replica paddle steamer in our back garden. This I equipped with a telegraph, ship’s wheel and binnacle made out of an old aspidistra stand and included on it a chart table plus charts, dividers, parallel rule and almanac which started me off in the process of getting to grips with navigation. Dad painted this picture of my garden paddle steamer for my birthday in 1961. Note the name on the bow.
Winston Megoran 1913 – 1971 RIP.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.