One hundred years ago, almost to the day, Lt. Douglas Marshall Rigby was killed in the Great War. From early September this year, the fallen soldier’s family will have realised their aim to publicly exhibit his remarkable paintings, for the first time.
Over 60 watercolours of Northern landscapes, sketches and caricatures will be exhibited simultaneously in the three towns* most closely associated to in his life: in Chester where he enlisted into the Cheshire Regiment, in Knutsford, where he and his family moved to shortly before the war began, and in Buxton where he went to school, grew up and loved the hills around the area.
Douglas Rigby’s watercolours and etchings, as well as his letters from the war, family diaries and other artefacts, will be displayed across the three sites, with each exhibition revealing a different facet of his story. The visitor will quickly realise his engaging and generous nature, which similarly touched his family and the men under him at war.
Douglas Marshall Rigby joined the Cheshire Yeomanry in 1914 and was commissioned in the Cheshire Regiment in 1915. He was severely wounded in June 1916 at the Somme in France and again in a bombing accident in 1917. After a protracted convalescence, he returned to the front in August 1918, rejoining his regiment at Ypres in Belgium. Two weeks later, on 4th September 1918 he was shot dead by a sniper as he was leading his company in the advance which contributed to ending the war.
Douglas Marshall Rigby was born into one of north-west England’s foremost commercial families. His grandfather John Rigby became the business partner and brother-in-law of William Armitage. Together they founded Armitage & Rigby Ltd which became one of ‘cottonopolis’s’ most successful manufacturing and merchant businesses with large mills and warehouses in Manchester, Stockport, and Warrington. Through the marriage of William Armitage’s daughter Kate to William Oswald Carver, strong family bonds were established with the Carver family, also eminent wealthy cotton manufacturers.
A book called “She makes no fuss when I go” is being published to coincide with the exhibitions and will be available at Buxton Museum & Art gallery Gift Shop . It contains many of Douglas’s paintings and drawings, a selection of his letters to his family from the war, his mother Grace’s comments on his life, and tributes to him from fellow officers. A DVD in which an actor reads a selection of Douglas’s letters is also being produced. Both will be on sale at the three exhibition sites.
This extraordinary exhibition will be open at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery from 15th September – 10th November 2018. Entry is free. Opening times for the museum are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sundays and bank holidays (from Easter to September) 12 noon to 4pm.
*In Chester, at the Cheshire Military Museum, Chester Castle, Chester (from 8th September), in Knutsford at the Knutsford Heritage Centre, King Street, Knutsford (from 11th September), and in Buxton at the Buxton Museum and Art gallery, Terrace Road, Buxton (from 15th September).
For more information go to www.derbyshire.gov.uk/buxtonmuseum
Buxton Museum & Art Gallery, Terrace Rd, Buxton SK17 6DA
Tel: 01629. 533 540