The Museum of Policing in Cheshire
Feature Articles

Old Buttermarket Street 
Attributed to George Sheffield[?] and Percy Davies 1887


"The Big Picture", a 7ft x 4½ft pastel on brown paper, hung in the original Warrington Police Station in Irwell Street and moved to the parade room at the new Arpley Street Station in 1901. The picture was moved in the 1990's to a dryer position in the main corridor.


It depicts Buttermarket Street, Warrington looking up to the Clock Tower at Market Gate. In the lower left corner is a poem signed by Percy Davies and dated 1887.


An old photograph of 1905 (right) shows just how accurate the picture is. The loading beams of the warehouse in the top left centre of the picture can be clearly seen in the photograph.

The small hanging lamp in the centre of the picture is that of the old Pelican Inn. It can be seen in another old photograph from the early 1900's.

"Mr Hunt's on your right"

This stern character is Samuel Hunt Esq, Chief Constable of the Warrington Borough Police from 1866 to 1895. Also in the collection is a fine clock presented to Mr Hunt on his retirement.


Percy Davies was born in Warrington and after going to sea as a young man became one of the town's solicitors. He was also an artist and a close friend of the well known landscape painter, George Sheffield. 

The painting was made in or just before 1887 and shows the top end of Buttermarket Street before that street was widened and the circus at Market Gate built. Davies presented it to the Warrington Borough Police. But whereas the poem and its associated four figures in the foreground are undoubtedly by Davies, considerable questions have been raised as to the authorship of the rest of the painting.

Natasha Lolljee, Exhibitions & Display Assistant at the Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, has pointed out that the four foreground figures are in a very different style to the rest of the painting and that the background bears a similarity to the work of George Sheffield, and especially to his painting "Old Cheap Side" which is in the Warrington Museum.

The foreground figures are primitively drawn, very stiff and unnatural. The drunk's left leg is much longer than the right and both are twisted out of the body line. Compare them to the small but deft figures in the background and the detailing of the folds on the lady's cloak.

The perspective line of the pavement in the bottom right is not consistent with its lines further up, suggesting that the pavement may have been widened to accommodate the figures.

The Warrington painting without the figures A pastiche of the painting by the cartoonist John Witt.