Henry Collins – former pupil and renowned artist

We have been excited to discover that the artist Henry Collins went to North School in the early 1920s.  Henry went on to create the concrete public murals that can be seen around Colchester with his wife Joyce Pallott.

Henry lived with his family at 25 Bergholt Road when he attended North School.  Before he died in 1994, he wrote down his memories of his schooldays, recalling a warm and clean environment, smelling of soap and disinfectant at the beginning of term and wet clothes on a rainy day. 

The 1923-24 Football team with Capt Twyman and Mr Martin. Henry described North School teachers as “very neat, wearing dark suits and polished shoes and with their hair well cut.”

Henry  enjoyed sport at school and was captain of the football team.  “I felt rather sad at leaving school when I did, for, had I stayed on I should have captained the team in a Cup game at Layer Road.”

Teacher Arthur Andrews was responsible for taking Henry to the Art School on North Hill (now the Sixth Form College) for one afternoon a week from the age of about twelve where he had gained a scholarship.  He went on to study and teach in London and designed for the London Underground in 1935 and for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

In the 1970s he worked on concrete and mosaic murals nationally and locally with Joyce.  These can be seen in Colchester in the subways under Southway, outside Sainsbury’s in Priory Walk and on the facade of 15 Queen’s Street close to Firstsite.

In the summer 2019 year five students from North School went to visit these and have described their experiences of Collins’ work:

“We were fascinated by the materials used, how they made marks in the concrete and the beautiful colours of the mosaics. We touched the murals; the concrete was rough and textured, the mosaics were smooth.”
Detail of concrete mural outside Sainsburys, Priory Walk.
Detail of concrete mural outside Sainsburys, Priory Walk.
The pupils particularly enjoyed looking at the concrete panels outside Sainsbury’s in Priory Walk. Roman asked “Are these new? I’ve never seen them before and they’re amazing!”
Right at the bottom they were delighted to find Henry and Joyce’s signature.
Henry and Joyce Collin's signature
Henry and Joyce Collin’s signature at the bottom of the artworks outside Sainsburys
To find out more about Henry and Joyce’s murals, there is a fantastic family trail on Colchester Civic Society’s website.