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Footballer Peter Davenport sells secret art collection

Aug 25 2010 by Liam Murphy, Liverpool Echo

AN ART collection belonging to one of Wirral’s best known footballers is set to go on sale at auction.

Birkenhead-born former professional footballer Peter Davenport’s career is well-documented – an England cap, a Wembley FA Cup final appearance.

His high profile footballing career took in spells with Nottingham Forest, Manchester United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, followed by a decade as manager at Southport, Bangor City and Colwyn Bay football clubs.

Less well known is that throughout these years Mr Davenport, 49, has been a keen collector of marine paintings, focusing on those featuring the Liverpool waterfront.

* Oil on canvas by Frank Henry Mason (1875-1965) showing shipping in the Mersey with ferry boats by the Pier Head, which was painted in about 1949. It is estimated at £2,500-2,800. Mason was once a cadet at the HMS Conway naval school in Birkenhead and became a prolific maritime artist.
* oils on canvas by Gordon Ellis (1921-1979) shows a moonlit view of shipping in the Mersey (£1,500-1,800).
* Oils on canvas by Gordon Ellis (1921-1979) shows the cargo ship Derrymore off Point Lynas (estimate £2,000-2,500)
* Dated 1888, by Parker Greenwood (1850-1904) recording a visit by Queen Victoria. It shows a busy River Mersey scene with figures in a rowing boat in the foreground against a backdrop of the Royal Fleet at anchor. A seafarer who became another accomplished Liverpool painter, little is know about the artist, who is recorded as living in Berry Street, Bootle.
* Cunard White Star liner RMS Scythia, which was in service from 1921 until she was scrapped 1958, by William John Patton McDowell (1888-1950). The watercolour, signed and dated 1923, shows Scythia berthed near the Liver Building with tugs in attendance and a three-master nearby

He revealed that few if any of his colleagues had known anything about this secret passion for marine art which had been inspired by paintings owned by his parents.

He said: “I don’t think one of my football colleagues ever knew about the art – it was a subject that never came up. One or two may have said ‘nice pictures’ when they visited the house, but that was it.”
And although his generation of footballers did not earn millions of pounds like many now throughout his career spanning some of the best known clubs Mr Davenport continued collecting.

He said: “I never bought for investment, it was always what I liked the look of.”

Until now, since he has decided to sell much of his collection to concentrate on travel posters. On Tuesday, August 31, North Wales fine art auctioneers Rogers Jones Co in Colwyn Bay will sell 27 works. The money raised will help fund future purchases of early railway carriage prints and rail transport and tourism posters.

He said: “It is a wrench, but I need the capital.

“They might prove to be hopeless investments, but I’ve enjoyed owning them and looking at them.”