ILLUSTRATION ART: John Whitlock Codner (1913 – 2008): A rare painted concept poster/ advertising design, for the “Campbell’s Steamers”

John Whitlock Codner (1913 – 2008): A rare painted concept poster/ advertising design, for the “Campbell’s Steamers” (P & A Campbell “White Funnel” Paddle Steamer Company) circa 1930s, featuring a white funnel ocean liner paddle steamer.


The hand-painted mixed media design, probably executed during the 1930s, on artists board, with pencil credit to lower margin relating to E.S. & A. Robinson Ltd, Bristol. The reverse of board with artist’s details added later in an unknown hand.



John Whitlock Codner RWA (1913-2008) was an artist and designer known particularly for his portrait work.



Campbell’s Steamers were otherwise known as P & A Campbell Paddle Steamer Company, or the “White Funnel” line. Spotting a gap in the market brothers Peter & Alexander Campbell brought their business down from Scotland and from the 1880s began operating paddle steamers across the Bristol Channel. Initially the company were very successful, providing services for trade and leisure during the Golden Age of Paddle Steamer travel. P & A Campbell created the largest network in the region offering excursions to Lundy Island, Barry, Somerset Piers to name a few.

By 1945 the company had offices across South Wales and Devon (including Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Ilfracombe, Weston-Super-Mare, Minehead and Torquay) and their Steamers were a common site in the area. During their existence P & A Campbell used over 30 different steamships. The company went into receivership during the late 1950s and became a subsidiary company. With faster methods of travel being developed Paddle Steamer operations had ceased by the late 1960s.

Vessels from the P & A Campbell fleet had important roles during both the First and Second World Wars. Thirteen of their ships were requisitioned during WWI and eleven during WWII. A similar vessel to that represented here the PS Barry for example, was used during the First World War (renamed HMS Barryfield) as a minesweeper, and notably during the Gallipoli campaign was the last boat to evacuate Suvla Bay. Post WWI she was refitted and returned to service and in the late 1920s renamed again the PS Waverley. Requisitioned once more at the outbreak of WWII she was renamed again HMS Snaefell. The ship was part of the Dunkirk evacuation flotilla and rescued almost 1,000 people. She was bombed and sank in 1941; her wreck was located off of the coast of Sunderland.

For further information see a series of publications on the company by author Chris Collard.



E.S. & A. Robinson were a Bristol based printing and packaging company operating from 1844 – 1968.


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Condition Report: Condition good/ fair in accordance with age and use, some watermarking to reverse and visible to front, some flaking to paint, rounding of edges loss to board corners (see images).

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