Remembering Jimmy Thompson
Readers will no doubt be sad to hear of the death of Jimmy Thompson, one of Amble’s most popular artists. The Ambler spoke to his son Iain and two of his sisters, Helen and Christine.
Jim was born at Chevington Drift in June 1944, one of nine children. “He was christened James Edward Thompson. Wor Jim to his family and wife, but Jimmy to everyone else,” said Helen.
His father worked at the pit, but after leaving school and a stint working at Link House Farm, Jimmy became a fisherman, first on trawler the Green Plover then Ocean Vanguard, where he met Barry Davison (Barney). The pair decided to get their own coble; Alliance A then Alliance B, both built at Harrison’s boat yard.
“Jim was left-handed, hated school but showed talent in art early on,” said Christine. “I remember him painting in oils on hardboard sheets balanced on the back legs of an upturned kitchen chair! He was self-taught as far as I know. We still have some of his early works copied from a ‘Teach yourself to Paint’ book.”
“He didn’t say much but if he told you off you took it to heart and if he praised you, it felt great,” said Helen.
Jim married Rita in 1975. Rita was from Hebburn but was a regular visitor to Amble caravans. They had two children, Wendy and Iain.
Seascapes and fishing boats were Jimmy’s main subjects, but he loved animals too. “I think it was because he always took his camera on the boat with him, and he would mainly take pictures of Coquet Island, or boats etc. but he always had a love for wildlife, dogs and horses,” said Iain. “Mainly I would say he just loved painting.”
Helen said “When he retired if he wasn’t spending time with family or painting, he’d be walking the legs off one of his many dogs, helping his brothers with their fishing, picking and stockpiling sea coal and driftwood (became a bit of an obsession), or scouring car boots for the next hoover or lawnmower that needed a bit of a tweak.”
After retiring, Jimmy began painting more often, and commissions flew in. Iain said “He has paintings all over the world. People came from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, America and South Africa that I know. Mainly local people who moved away, but when they returned they had orders from their friends who wanted paintings of their dogs, boats or scenery.”
“He was a family man through and through” said Iain, remembering that his dad was especially happy to take and collect granddaughter Chloe from school, and together they would sit and paint.
And latterly, when his wife Rita was ill, despite having liver cancer himself, Jimmy cared for her until she moved to a nursing home in Blyth.
“It seems my dad had held on as long as possible looking after my mam, as it was only a matter of weeks later, when he himself needed to be cared for by family.”
He leaves a wife, two children, five grandchildren and six siblings.