Naked Mayor removed from Guildhall
Not the headline you expect to read about Saltash but when people opened their Sunday papers on 18th January 1951 there it was. The News of the World, The People, the Sunday Dispatch, the Sunday Pictorial and the Sunday Express all carried the story.
The Mayor, Alderman Tom Stanlake, a farmer, had asked local artists to paint a comic mural to decorate the Guildhall for the Mayors Ball. The theme was the mayor wearing his chains of office. Mrs Margaret Seccombe, wife of Councillor Seccombe took the brief literally and painted the mayor waring his chains – and only his chains.
The painting 8ft long showed a man about to take a bath in a duck pond and was entitled “Dawn at Warfelton Farm”, which was the mayor’s address.
The murals had been hung in positon when the Mayor saw them for the first time, a few hours before the guests began to arrive. He called the Town Clerk, Mr Bellingham. Together they agreed that it should not be shown so the painting was removed and locked away from sight. In its place went a comic scene of the mayor dancing the cha cha drawn by borough draughtsman Mr R. Holland.
Alderman Stanlake stressed that he had not posed for the painting and any rumours were defiantly not true. He added, “Well I mean to say, people might think I wear the chains all the time – even in the bath
Mrs Seccombe said “Of course the mayor didn’t pose – but for the mayoral chains and the title it could have been anybody”. She said she was furious that her work had been removed for she had stayed up till four in the morning to get it finished in time.
The mural was painted over by a council workman. As the materials had been supplied by the council the board was reused. A spokesman said, “It might become part of someone’s ceiling and be ‘discovered’ in years to come when the councils paint wears off”.