Elsie P. Langridge R.D.S.

An Inspirational Teacher

A brilliant artist and an inspiration to her pupils

I first met Elsie P. Langridge when, in 1952 at the age of twelve, my parents enrolled me for art classes which she gave from her home in Shipwrights Drive, Benfleet. Naturally, she was Mrs Langridge to me. I remember her as a very short, tubby lady wearing an amazingly large hearing aid hung around her neck. It regularly emitted a loud high pitched scream, much to Mrs Langridge’ s annoyance!

Elsie was an artist of the old school – she could really draw! I looked in amazement as she would illustrate a figure using a very soft pencil, probably a three or four B, flexing the lead as she drew to achieve a thicker or thinner line. As she outlined an arm for example, the muscle formation within the limb became apparent, even though it was simply the white of the paper on which she was drawing! Regrettably, I have never been able to emulate this technique.

What I have done however is to make my living as an artist and graphic designer. I ran my design studio for forty years, operating for some considerable time from premises based in Benfleet. It was Elsie Langridge who enabled me to gain my place at The Southend School of Art, which I attended from 1956 to 1959. I was not alone in benefitting from her teaching, there were many more students who owed the start of their careers in art and design to this talented lady.

Unfortunately I do not possess an original Langridge drawing or painting, however every year she sent Christmas cards to her students and I have held on to mine for over fifty years! I came across them a few months back and realised for the first time that I had emulated my mentor more closely than I had realised! For the past seven years my wife Rebecca and I have sent Christmas cards featuring my own drawings and in 2009 we had chosen Hadleigh castle as the subject. Suddenly I realised that Elsie Langridge had also chosen Hadleigh Castle over half a century earlier! Was her influence on my work even stronger than I had thought ?

For me this lady formed a colourful panel in the tapestry of this, our historic Essex town – Benfleet should remember her with pride.

We are indebted to Clifford G. Messiter F.B.D.S. for this tribute

Elsewhere on this site is a biography of Elsie Langridge.

The Five Sisters (the 5 elms which stood in Essex Way, uphill from the Anchor)
Elsie P. Langridge
Student and teacher
Clifford G. Messitter

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  • With regard to the last person, David, our paths must have crossed at some time. I used to arrive on my Triumph motor bike at around this time and we would sometimes go to Hadleigh castle for art sessions. If you remember me my e-mail address is laineandrob@talktalk.net and I would love to hear from you if we had ever met at Mrs Langridge’s art classes.

    By Archie McColl (25/12/2012)
  • I also was a student of Elsie’s in the late Fifties and in my sitting room I have hanging a 24″ x 18″ oil portrait of myself with Hadleigh castle in background painted by Elsie. I lived at the bottom of Shipwrights Drive on the main road and often think about the evening classes, I am 67 and have just started painting again with some difficulty. 

    By David Simmerling (25/11/2012)
  • I too remember Mrs Langridge, I was an enthusiastic but not very successful art student living in Hart Road in the early sixties. I always remembered the name of her house which was “Sneck Yeat”, which I believe was a Cumbrian dialect saying meaning something like “our door is always open” which was echoed in the greeting you got when you called at the house. I have since discovered a Cumbrian beer from Jennings Brewery with the name Sneck Lifter meaning almost the same thing. 

    Mrs Langridge was a lovely but strict lady, who had enormous enthusiasm to teach some less than able pupils like me. I remember her little dog and her husband making the odd appearance in the classes and also I think, her daughter working in a music shop in Southend. I never was a very good artist, although I did manage the odd Highly Commended in the annual RDS exhibitions. I just enjoyed the atmosphere of her classes and her way of making even a hopeless case like me feel that they had achieved something worthwhile. I even sat for her as a model for her art group in Hadleigh. She is a lady I will not forget in a hurry. 

    By Archie McColl (01/08/2012)
  • On a recent return journey from Westcliff I made a detour to see if I could find the whereabouts of Mrs Langridge’s house in Shipwrights Drive as I have been searching for information about her for many years. Because, like you, she played such an important part in my formative years as a ‘budding’ art student. I was last there, as a 10-13 year old, in the late nineteen fifties attending her (from memory) Thursday evening and later Saturday morning drawing and painting classes – with my dear (late) friend Bob Rider. But how the street has changed – I think I could make out the house. Sadly the small orchard and the lovely garden (which I used to mow and weed on Sunday’s to pay for the classes) has long gone. 

    As I say I have been searching for anything about Mrs Langridge for many years – so to stumble across your tribute was a real delight. As you say she was a lovely lady and a true draughtswoman and one of the ‘old school’ of artists. I recall being amazed at how well she improved my St. George and the Dragon picture – her version of my horse was done from memory and was spot on. I seem also to recall that she always included a small mouse in her illustrations but despite all my searches I have not been able to find anything that she had published. I still have some of Bob’s Royal Drawing Society – Competition pictures that he did there – entering the ‘competition’ seemed to be an annual event and I still have my awards somewhere. But fundamentally it was her inspirational teaching that set me on my way. Like you I also attended the art school at Southend. I could not wait to leave Belfairs Secondary Modern so I arrived there at the age of 14 (or was it 15?) with my collection of Langridge inspired work and luckily Mr Hardy (the Head of the Art School) let me in. 

    Currently I have some life drawings on show in the ~ Art imitating life: Celebrating 100 years of life drawing at South Essex College in Southend. It’s very much a reunion event and it has enabled me to reconnect with many of my friends that I was at Art School with back in the nineteen sixties. Perhaps you are also showing some work there? Anyway once again thank you for this tribute – as you say, she does deserve a mention. 

    Editorial note: This comment was received in April 2012. The information it contained enabled more research into this lady, culminating in contact being made with her granddaughter, resulting in us being able to publish more information and photos.

    By Barry Wenden (17/04/2012)

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