This digital resource consists of images and descriptive catalogue listings of all the fashion print designs for women's wear in the Walter Fielden Royle collection (FR1, FR2 and FR3.) The packets of men's shirtings and sheet designs (FR4-7) have been sampled only as so many of these tiny designs are each so very similar to the other. Thus a sample only has been presented here. All of the 300 or so of these croquis designs are hand painted in flatly applied gouache paint on stiff card. Most are rectangular except for a very few on circular card. Three designs (FR1.10, FR1.15 and FR1.17) carry the price '17/6' in pencil on reverse, though Watkinson suggested in his letter of 23rd October 1985 that in the 1920s and 30s Fielden Royle might have earned 2 to 3 guineas per design sold. It must be remembered, firstly, that Fielden Royle created thousands of designs over the course of his lifetime as a textile designer and, secondly, that these designs are ones which remained unsold in his studio. Width sizes vary from 7.5 - 25cms. (Width direction has been assessed by the direction of the address stamps where present and by marks of glue along a top edge- left in place after de-mounting by Fielden Royle's widow. If not, this has been guessed and indication written in pencil on reverse.)
We have no accurate information about which companies purchased Fielden Royle's work. Once sold to the mass fashion textile and clothing print trade in Manchester, through an agent, or directly to the Manager of an in-house design studio for a large company like Tootals, or to the huge Calico Printers Association, Fielden Royle's women's fashion print designs became anonymous. They may have been used on cotton, rayon and silk blouses, dresses and into the widely used cotton overall pinafores made up by the many ready-to-wear companies in the region, and possibly for lingerie. We have so far been unable to find any information on this issue, beyond Ray Watkinson's guess that some designs may been sold to the Calico Printers Association. The actuality is that Fielden Royle's bold, colourful, fresh and endlessly varied designs were simply absorbed into the industry, desperate as it was for 'novelty' and continual change, even during the Depression years of the 1930s. As Watkinson also commented, a good few of Fielden Royle's designs, targeted with professionalism at the mass roller print market (rather than for the more expensive screen-printed market) would anyway very probably have been altered in colour and print size for example and thus would become difficult to identify.
Watkinson commented that the status of the designer of these everyday prints was very low in the trade. They were never called 'artists' or artists—designers. He noted in his letter of October 23rd, 1985 that the term 'Artist' was a term 'of abuse in the Cotton trade and always has been'. Rather, Watkinson stressed, the free-lance designer - like Walter Fielden Royle - had to know his place because he then he 'should submit more readily to [the] altering [his designs] at the whim of the man who might or might not buy them: it indicates your willingness: it indicates your willingness to do this: and if English cotton print design is abysmally bad as so much of it has been, it is because we get the fruit of the wisdom and sensibility of the mill manager not the work of the designer.' It is nonetheless possible to track designs in surviving garments and in period advertisements for example, that are close in mood to Fielden Royle's work, if not exact reproductions.
One of the aims of this web site is to recover the history and imagery of the textile design work of Walter Fielden Royle and to place his professionalism, skill and creativity alongside that of well known textile designers of the same period, who worked for the far more expensive, better known 'artist-designed,' wood block or screen printed textile market – Paul Nash, Barron and Larcher and Joyce Clissold, for example. Fielden Royle was a designer of 'everyday' roller printed fabrics used widely in British ready-to-wear clothing for both men and women for nearly forty years from 1926. He is one of a lost and forgotten army of usually anonymous textile designers who have been the creative force within this Manchester trade throughout the city's many centuries of producing thousand and thousands of miles of printed cottons and rayons. Walter Fielden Royle certainly deserves his place in that history. The University of Brighton Dress History Teaching Collection, with its clear interest in 'everyday' fashion and textile design, seems a fitting place where the resurrection of Fielden Royle's name as an established, recognised, highly professional and creative textile designer from 1926 to 1961 should begin.
Collection consisting of a rare group of over 330 unsold original fashion/dress and shirting designs produced by Walter Fielden Royle.
A catalogue of hand painted, flatly applied gouache croquis print designs (numbers 1-36)
A catalogue of hand painted, flatly applied gouache croquis print designs (numbers 1-40)
A selection of print designs for women's wear.
Contains print designs for men's cotton shirtings, produced in Walter Fielden Royle's studio.
These images contain men's cotton print shirting designs mostly from the post WW2 period.
Images showing a typical selection of designs and colours in the men's shirtings selection.
This packet contains designs not produced in Walter Fielden Royle's textile design studio.
The copyright to these designs belongs to Walter Fielden Royce’s nephew, Malcolm Ross.