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A BEACON OF LIGHT
Stanley Murray Scott: A Local Glass Designer of the 20th Century
In this article, researcher Kelsey Graham writes about the life of Stanley Murray Scott, the artist behind one of the most striking windows in Newcastle Cathedral.
Stanley Murray Scott designed this fine stained glass window for installation in the north aisle in 1971. You’ll find it at the entrance to the crypt. The window was created to commemorate the life of Oliver Thompson and is said to represent the Glory of God. Information about the commemorated individual remains unfound, but it is likely that this man was part of the military because of the window’s location in the northern aisle of the Cathedral, alongside numerous military memorials.
Stanley Murray Scott was born in Sunderland on 9 April 1912. He was educated at Bede Colligate Boys’ School and later attended Sunderland College of Art. Scott then went on to study at Armstrong College, which was part of Durham University at the time but now belongs to Newcastle University. He graduated from Armstrong College in 1933 and joined the Newcastle-based company, Reed Millican, which specialised in the design and creation of stained-glass windows.
Scott stayed at this company until the beginning of the Second World War. During the war, he joined the Royal Corps of Signals. Members of the corps served in all major areas of the military during this period, including operating signals equipment, as well as maintaining telephone lines and various communication infrastructures, all whilst under enemy fire. Scott was a part of the Royal Corps of Signals for four years and was stationed in Egypt during this time. During the 1920s and 1930s, the corps served in overseas stations such as India, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Egypt.
Upon his return to Newcastle, after the war was over, he re-joined Reed Millican as their chief glass designer. He remained with this company until his retirement and, during this time, designed and produced numerous glass windows. One example can be found in Hexham Abbey and is dedicated to the Royal Flying Corps (the air arm of the British Army during the First World War until it merged with the Royal Navy Air Service in 1918 to form the RAF) and the Royal Air Force. Another example can be found in the United Reform Church in Alnwick, which was formerly Presbyterian. This church houses two windows produced by Scott which commemorate those who died in the First and Second World Wars.
In his early career, Scott rarely signed his work with his own signature and instead predominantly stamped his work with the company logo. During his later career, he was persuaded to use his own signature, and this can be seen on the window above the crypt in Newcastle Cathedral. When Scott produced and designed a window, he religiously used glass which was hand-made by a company called Hartley, Wood & Co, of Sunderland.
This company was known for its high quality and signature ruby red glass, whose contents were only known by senior partner, Alfred Wood. When the latter passed away, it took a significant amount of time before the company could produce glass of the famous ruby red colour again. This glass can be found in Scott’s window at the Cathedral. Hartley, Wood & Co closed, but the glass-making department has become part of the new National Glass Centre at Sunderland University.
Stanley Murray Scott was also a member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters. The society was founded in 1921 and is still active today. It is the only British organisation that is entirely devoted to the art and craft of stained-glass design and production. Its main aim is to encourage high standards of craft production in the stained-glass industry, whilst also enhancing ideas and broadening the exchange of information within the wider industry. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in stained glass and includes designers, painters, historians, researchers, conservators, and anyone with a general enthusiasm for the subject.
The stained-glass window by Scott is not only a fitting addition to the wealth of objects on display at Newcastle Cathedral but also an example of the wide range of industries prevalent in the North East during the 20th century.