Austin, Robert

(1895 – 1973)

Spiers Wharf on the Forth and Clyde Canal, Glasgow 1922


Signed and dated 1922

Oil on canvas
9 1/4 x 10 7/8 in. (23.5 x 27.7 cm)

1 in stock


Private Collection

Spiers Wharf has greatly changed in the 100 years since this painting was made, showing the Whaf at  the height of Glasgow’s prosperty..  The ex-distillery building survives and is now converted into flats. Port Dundas in 1859 had chemical works, granaries, distilleries, glass works, iron foundaries, power stations and engineering shops. but it all declined by the 1960s. The brick chimney at 454 ft was the tallest in the world at the time.

The initials MR on the railway truck  – which looks like a high-sided coal truck – stand for Midland Railway, which ran all the way from London to Carlisle via the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds – and also from Bristol to Derby. So it could be somewhere on that system : Bristol or Leeds, say. But railway trucks often strayed a long way from their owner’s system

Spiers Wharf on the Forth and Clyde Canal, photographed by Bill Tait in 1955. 

The canal was completed to Hamiltonhill in 1777, and extended to a new terminal basin, named Port Dundas, in 1790. In 1955 Partick Camera Club set out to create a photographic survey of Glasgow. As the project progressed, other camera clubs joined and each was allocated a district of the city to photograph. Glasgow Museums exhibited the photographs at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and at the People’s Place, and in 1956 the exhibition was shown at the Palace of Art in Bellahouston Park. The photographs are now part of Glasgow Museums’ collections. Reference: 1005.97.256 / OG.1955.121.[331] Reproduced with the permission of Partick Camera Club 
We are grateful to Michael Barker and Ian Jack for assistance.
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Austin, Robert

1895 – 1973

Printmaker and draughtsman, born in Leicester. He studied at the School of Art there and at the Royal College of Art, 1914-16 and 1919-22, winning the Rome Scholarship for engraving in the latter year. He taught engraving at the Royal College of Art, 1927-44, becoming Professor in the Department of Graphic Design, 1948-55. Showed with RWS, of which he was a member and President; RE, of which he was a member; and the RA, to which he was elected in 1949. Austin was a meticulous craftsman-engraver and a vigorous draughtsman, as his series of drawings of Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and ballooning activities done during World War II shows. The Tate Gallery holds his work.

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, organised an exhibition of his work in 1980.

More recently he was the subject of two shows at the Fine Art Society plc (2001 and 2002), the latter organised in conjunction with Liss Fine Art Ltd.


The Angelus, 1922, original copper plate
Alice Lush, 1928 (CD 80), original copper plate
Charles Murray, 1925 (CD 55), the original copper plate
Ling of Lingard, 1936 (CD 115), the original copper plate
Attic Room, Lingard House, with unmade bed, 1930’s
The Fisherman, 1927, the original copper plate