05 August – 01 September 2023
This August, while the gallery is closed (except for our fundraiser book sale on 12 and 19 August) we are celebrating the glorious shirts of “Captain” Ed Hall, a stalwart volunteer at the Stradling Collection. Created by Ed’s wife, Mary, these amazing shirts have for years been delighting everyone who sees them – and may we say, he models them extremely well. We thought it was high time we gave Mary’s work the exposure it deserves and this window exhibition will do just that.
Who is Captain Ed?
Until his recent retirement in 2022, Ed Hall skippered tourist and ferry boats in Bristol City Docks starting in 1977. As such he is the Docks’ longest-serving skipper. He leads wonderful guided walks around the harbour, displaying amazing knowledge of the buildings, boats and their history, knowledge he picked up over the course of this long career running guided tours aboard the vessels he skippered. He volunteers for the M Shed running regular tours around the harbour. (Pictured, right, talking about the Matthew, John Cabot’s boat.) Occasionally he also runs tours under the aegis of the Stradling Collection, where he is a regular exhibition steward welcoming visitors. An old friend of Ken Stradling, Ed first came across this mysterious, elegantly dressed figure dressed in black and wearing a fedora when Ed used to take Ken across on the ferry from Hotwells to the SS Great Britain where Ken was once a Trustee. They later became friends and Ed went on the garden for Ken, so his association with the Collection is a long one.
What about the shirts?
Mary Hall (pictured with Captain Ed on the poster) began making these wonderful shirts for her husband so that he would stand out when skippering a ferry. She did it so that she could spot which boat he was on across the docks! Yes, they really do stand out that much! The shirts were such a big hit that Mary started making him one for every birthday and he now has a spectacular collection of unique shirts. Her attention to detail extends to the buttons: always unique, they often follow the theme of the fabric design.
Come and walk past the gallery while we’re closed in August and we’re sure these amazing creations will bring a smile to your faces!
With very many thanks to Captain Ed and Mary Hall for their generous help with loaning and exhibiting these shirts.