Soham Grammarians - Leslie C Caswell (late 1920s entry)

Soham Grammar School: Prizegiving 1935?

Dramatic Interlude.
Scenery and Costumes designed by L. CASWELL, VIth Form.


.. L. C. Caswell. Distinction in Art: Passed in Geography, Botany and English Essay.

from the Prize List ...

Form VI. Awarded on the results of the Higher School Certificate, 1934.
L. Caswell. E. Drake. J. Pinion.
G. Cornell. V. Freestone. A. Spinks.

Art Prizes.
L. Caswell. J. Pinion.

L. C. Caswell and A. Spinks were awarded Isle of Ely County Major Scholarships of the annual value of £70 a year tenable at a University.

Soham Grammarian Summer 1937


A glowing and sensitive interpretation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" [see photos] was given on the School lawn on June 30th by a cast comprised of boys from all parts of the School, Old Boys, and amateur actresses recruited locally. The harmonious collaboration of the various elements was very pleasing, as was also the courageous determination of the producer, Mr. Crouch, to present the play without cuts.

The incidental music for the production was from Mendelssohn, while the more essential stage properties were supplied by Simmons, of Covent Garden, London. The striking programme-cover designs were entirely the work of the School, one being by F Hockley (Form 4), and the other by LC Caswell, an old boy who is now at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Soham Grammarian Summer 1938
LC Caswell has obtained his University of London Diplomain Fine Art; he has won a Slade School prize for Lettering, and has been awarded a Scholarship, £14 in value.

Soham Grammarian Autumn 1940
LC Caswell at his first attempt had work accepted by the Royal Academy this spring, It was a sculptured head in redstone. We also saw a spirited cartoon of his in Lilliput.

Soham Grammarian Summer 1941
LC Caswell, who for the second year running has had a work accepted by the Royal Academy - a head in stone

Soham Grammarian Spring 1945
Army: Lieut LC Caswell, RA, Burma

Soham Grammarian Summer 1945


The African boys are a grand lot with a good sense of humour. Everything our boy sees about is washed and ironed - we have to hide carefully all we don't want washed. I asked him to sit for a portrait the other day.
"Me no savvy, sah."
" Look. You sit. You do nothing. I work. Savvy ? "
" Yis, sah. Me savvy, sah "- and a huge grin split his face. It was work he enjoyed.

We had an extremely good trip coming out. Weather was perfect from the second day at sea and the Bay of Biscay was kind. On two days I had to force myself to stop drawing. I did a large number of sketches, about a dozen portraits, which left me, on leaving the ship, richer than when I embarked, and several compositions, three of which came off quite well - one a grey, drizzly scene on board before we left; one looking down to an E.N.S.A. show on a lower deck one night when blackout was relaxed, a subject with interesting silhouettes of spars and swarms of troops; and one of a harmonica (lovely word) band rehearsing.

I had an interesting day looking round the town where we landed - visited the museum where there was a good collection of Indian sculpture but little else, replenished my stock of Winsor & Newton's water colours and bought some Whatman blocks and sketch books; but what interested me most was life in the narrow, crowded back streets where every pace gave me a new ready-made subject for oil painting. All the lower parts of walls are stained red by spit of betel-chewers. I liked too, to watch the craftsmen at work, watchmakers, jewellers, cobblers, weavers, crouching over their work in small box-like recesses in the walls. All this was cheek by jowl with wide spacious streets and very modern architecture.

Going back at night, being in a hurry, I called a gharrie, but when the driver came alongside a Scotsman walking in the middle of the road playing bagpipes, nothing would induce him to go faster until he had heard his fill of the weird music.

Here, there is little to draw-but I have made a number of little sketches even down to lizards and butterflies.

At the moment I am working on one of an Indian operating an irrigation well, or rather, driving the four humped bullocks which do the work. While the bucket fills he sings a song and when the singing ends, the cattle move forward. Then a gentle long-drawn oooo. When this ends they halt.

I found that the Padre was running an Art School here, the chief support coming from the West Africans. I now help him with evening classes twice a week, and for the last three weeks we have each given one evening lecture in addition. The Africans have produced a lot of work which I like very much - but there appears to be no tradition and they want to work like Europeans. The school is apparently unique in India, and although it was started only just before Christmas, it has already been visited by many big 'noises' and instead of relying on voluntary subscriptions as formerly, the Education Authorities now buy everything we need - oils, canvas, paper, brushes, water-colour, powder-colour and so on.

Nearby camps and hospitals have also paid us visits and want to do something on the same lines themselves. I have done one or two landscapes, about eight portraits (including one of a Viscount who intends to hang it amongst family portraits by Gainsborough, Etty, &c. !), one Indian boy and a Tripura Indian man and a Tripura boy. The latter are a very Mongolian type from the jungle which covers the hills near by. The Colonel has bought these but I want to submit them to the New English or London Group. For the last three weeks I have done no easel work. Mornings have been spent doing welfare jobs-chiefly getting everything necessary for a stage constructed in the face of many difficulties. I now spend two evenings weekly as producer at rehearsals.

Afternoons have been spent on a mural decoration behind the bar in our newly-opened Officers' Club. This was made of groundsheets stitched together and house paint was used. It worked very well. I have just finished it. A bacchanalian scene with lots of nymphs, centaurs, satyrs, and I got most fun from baby satyrs. The African who serves behind the bar is portrayed prancing in with wine, feet winged liked Mercury. As soon as I had done him, another African wanted to give me a month's pay to include him too!! The size is 20 ft. x 5 ft. Two other works I forgot to mention - a portrait of an African R.S.M. which has been exhibited at Delhi but has not yet returned, and a mural 8 ft. x 3 ft. for the African N.C.O's Club.

The G.O.C., W. A. Forces has seen my work and is anxious to have me as Official Artist W.A. Forces. Reg. is in Delhi. He posted three tubes of yellow ochre on 28th February. I received a very yellow little packet on the 14th April. Such is the postal service in India. And a letter from England usually reaches me six or seven days after posting. It is hot these days.

For two weeks we had watched lightning displays in storms away to the north. Every day for the last five days we have been able to see them overhead. Last night I went to see Africans boxing. Car lamps had been fixed over the ring, and for an hour and a half lightning made them look dim. Then the rains came and we went home. At times a series of flashes in the same place will last fifteen seconds or so, then a series of sparks like tracer bullets will leave a cloud and hurry away in different directions to another cloud.


Heartiest congratulations to Lieut. L. C. Caswell (now in India) who had a water colour and an oil painting accepted by the Royal Academy this Spring, and to R. W. Britton, M.A., Cantab., who has been appointed Headmaster of Hindley and Abram Grammar School, near Wigan.

(Soham Grammarian Autumn 1947) ... LC Caswell has returned from India , where he has been painting local princes ...

So, one or two people in the studio said, 'Well, why don't you have a look in the studios magazine, advertising for jobs?' and one of them was Cooper Studio. An artist and illustrator called Leslie Caswell, who was doing stuff for John Bull, Woman, Womans Own. A straight illustrator who wanted someone to help him. So I applied and took all my pieces, specimens of work - I'd managed to get a portfolio together, of things I liked drawing, and I got the job! And the tanks helped, because Leslie Caswell had been in the Royal Artillery during the war. He thought they were okay. So I started at Cooper Studio." This would have been in 1952, and during this period Mike Noble also worked on a strip called Simon and Sally for the relatively new Robin comic.
site appears to have closed -

As well as basic animations telling corny jokes and short silent films of surreal slapstick gags, each edition of Zokko! included a running serial, pop records, and a live variety act. Spanning the entire run, the sci-fi adventure yarn "Skayn" - concerning the theft of a gravity-wave-hologram capable of causing the Earth and the Moon to collide - was told through huge blow-ups of comic strip-style panels drawn by Leslie Caswell, with a pre-recorded dialogue track provided by prolific character actors Gordon Clyde, Sheelagh McGrath and Anthony Jackson.
site appears to have closed -

Leslie Caswell is mentioned elsewhere as an illustrator for scientific and medical journals.

21 Jun 10: Matt Salusbury, a freelance journalist, writes: [Leslie C Caswell] was an illustrator  from IPC's World of Wonder - the Magazine for Every Boy and Girl which ran weekly from 1970-1976, and one of very few illustrators who signed his name on his illustrations. I spotted his signature on an illustration from a Talking Point on levitators.

7 Oct 11: Norman Boyd writes: I studied in Impington Village College 1969-1976 so was somewhat local. My interest bumps into Leslie Caswell - I have published some scans of Home Notes, a romance weekly from - in this case the 1950s. I have used one of your photos - hope you don't mind as I have given you credit. I'd love more information on Caswell:

Norman Boyd's blog was contacted by two of Leslie Caswell's family:

12, January 2013: Leslie's daughter Catherine says:

I am Leslie Caswell’s daughter. It was nice to read of your interest in my father’s work. Thank you for your kind comments. My father sadly died in 1986. However the model village and Cornish museum he created at Lelant, near St. Ives continued to be displayed for ten years following his death having been moved to the Land’s End visitors centre.

My father actually served with the Royal Artillery in India during the war and was also commissioned as an official war artist.

You may be interested to know that, during his comercial art studio days (Caswell Studio Ltd of Oxford Street), he was a primary illustrator for C&A as well as producing many illustrations for a variety of national newspapers and magazines.

He also produced an illustrated series for the BBC called ‘Skayn’ featured on the children’s televsion series ‘Zokko’ (directed by Paul Ciani). My brothers and I are in the process of cataloguing his life’s work.

23, January 2016: Hamilton Caswell says:

Hello All,
I am Leslie Caswell’s oldest son Hamilton Caswell (b. 26.7.44), and have only just stumbled on this thread! I watched Father illustrating the medical books and much else at our home in Dorking before he opened his “Caswell Studio” in Oxford Street, London in the mid 1950’s and illustrated countless magazine stories, fashion advertising and two daily newspaper strip cartoons plus books etc.

Before WW2 he progressed from Soham Grammar to the prestigious Slade School of Art where he won the life-drawing prize. He began his WW2 service in the Royal Artillery , but was slightly deafened by the 25 pounder guns under his command.

He was reassigned as an official war artist in India recording the actions and personnel in the Burma campaign and also drew and painted many members of the British forces, African regiments, Gurkhas, Indian scenes, beggars, villagers, Mahrajas and beautiful Tibetan women.

Upon returning home in 1946 he and my mother Grace became founder members of the Dorking Group of artists, which has grown and flourished to this day. Particularly known for his portraiture, he has painted Lord Mountbatten and the Duke of Edinburgh.

I will be happy to expand on any aspects of Father’s work in future. has more examples of his work

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page last updated 7 Oct 10: 11 Dec 17