Tributes to artist Bob Palmer who captured Sunderland’s ‘Barbary Coast’

Pal Palmer and his book of cartoons about Sunderland's Barbary Coast

Pal Palmer and his book of cartoons about Sunderland's Barbary Coast

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A talented artist who was inspired by his passion for his home city has lost his fight with cancer.

Bob Palmer, 88, who was affectionately known as Pal, created a number of cartoon, artworks and sculptures that reflected life in Sunderland.

Pal painting one of his canon ball rocks

Pal painting one of his canon ball rocks

As well as having cartoons published in The Spectator, he also published an illustrated book titled Sunderland’s Barbary Coast, a colloquial term for Monkwearmouth and the surrounding streets.

It featured cartoon depictions of his memories of life in the area during the 1930s and ‘40s with stories pertaining to Victor Street, where Pal grew up, as well as boxer Fol-De-Rol-Dol, Catty Allen, Roker Variety Theatre and Geraldi’s ice cream van.

In general, his cartoons harked back to Sunderland landmarks that are now long gone - cinemas like Black’s Picture Palace and the Cora as well as the Half Moon Inn which was dismantled and sold stone by stone to the United States.

Other artworks paid tribute to local characters such as Jack Crawford, hero of Camperdown, and Bobby Thompson, the Little Waster, performing at the Ivy Leaf Club in Hendon.

Some of Pal's work

Some of Pal's work

As well as being an accomplished landscape artist Pal, whose nickname came from the first three letters of his surname, also used to paint characters onto beach stones, more specifically cannonball rocks, he collected in Roker and Seaburn.

Speaking in tribute to his father, son Robert, 63, said: “He had various jobs over the years but his great love was art, in all its forms. He was self-taught and did it from being a child.

“Back then he would draw on any scrap of paper he could find, just to get his drawings down.”

Former St Benet’s pupil Pal also used his cartoons to depict his home town’s industrial history. Over the years his cartoons were printed in the Coal Board’s Newspaper, Coal News, as well as in Rail News and the popular tabloid Reveille.

Scenes of yesteryear Sunderland

Scenes of yesteryear Sunderland

Robert says his dad’s work has become all the more precious since his death in St Benedict’s Hospice on September 23.

He said: “Everyone in the family has many copies of his work, it’s something we treasure.”

As well as Robert, Pal leaves Vernon, 60 and Sandra, 58.

Pal's book in tribute to his beloved home town

Pal's book in tribute to his beloved home town