Every Name A Story Content

Rainbird, V.N., 1914-18 (1936)

Headstone in Preston Cemetery: Angela Conroy

Victor Noble Rainbird was born in 12th December 1897 at North Shields, the son of James William Rainbird (born in Ireland 1856) who, in 1884, married Rosabella Foubister (born 1859). He attended Armstrong College in Newcastle and the Royal College of Art in London, and became an artist of repute. He painted landscapes of the north east, sea scapes, street scene, and people, using oil and water colour. He was also a naturalist as well as being a designer of stained glass windows. One of his designs is in Allendale Trinity Methodist Church .

He joined the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers at the outbreak of the war, service number 38539, and became a Lance Corporal. On 15th July 1916, Victor married Elizabeth Kirkley at York.

His paintings included scenes of life in the trenches.

The Sunderland Echo 09/03/1936 reports:

"Prominent artist.
Mr. Victor Rainbird, who has died at the home of friends with whom he was staying in Otto Terrace, Sunderland, was a well-known North County artist.

A native of North Shields, his early artistic promise resulted in his being sent to Armstrong College, Newcastle, where he studied for four years under Professor Hatton and others, during which time he won a number of distinctions.

He was awarded the silver medal offered by Walter Crane, P.R.W.S., R.I., R.B.A., for the highest placed student in all art subjects. He was the King's Prizeman in design, with honours, and he won the national silver token for figure compositions, his drawings being subsequently included in the Government exhibition of work which was given in New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

He studied under Sargent, Sir William Orpen, Sir J.J. Shannon, Charles Shannon, Sir William Richmond, Henry Woods, Arthur Hacker, Professor Thomson, Professor Laurie, H.S. Tuke, Sir A.S. Cope and Sims.

During his stay in Sunderland his new surroundings seemed to inspire him to special effort, because he turned out some of his most impressive work that has come from his brush in recent years.

He died of throat cancer. He had become an alcoholic, presumably because he was gassed in the war and suffered from shell-shock. He is buried in Preston Cemetery.

There is a blue plaque on the house where he lived in West Percy Street, North Shields.

Excelsior Academy Rainbird School in Scotswood is named after him.

Journal 20/12/2014 reports the launch of a fund to have a memorial sculpture raised over Victor Noble Rainbird's grave. The headstone in Preston Cemetery is carved with a scene featuring buildings, a boat and an artist, and bears the words "Victor Noble Rainbird 1887-1936" on the pedestal.

His name does not appear on a local war memorial.

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk