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Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Monday, 12 April 2010 16:08 UK
Alfred Bestall, Rupert the Bear and Trefriw

By Bernadine Parry
Bernadine Parry from Trefriw Historical Society explains Rupert the Bear artist Alfred Bestall's link with the village and, in particular, her home Penlan

Alfred Bestall, courtesy of Caroline G Bott
Alfred Bestall was most proud of work he did for Punch and Tatler.

Since the mid 19th century many artists have come to live or spend their holidays in Trefriw, attracted by its beautiful lakes, valleys and mountains, and by the fame of the artists colony in Betws y Coed.

One of these artists was Alfred Bestall, probably best known as the illustrator from 1935-1974 of the much-loved Rupert the Bear who appeared daily in the Daily Express newspaper and in a children's annual every Christmas

Alfred Bestall went to Rydal School in Colwyn Bay where his artistic abilities were soon recognised and from there he won a scholarship to Birmingham College of Art on the strength of a watercolour of a mouse caught in a trap.

From 1912-1915, Alfred spent his summer holidays with his parents and sister at Penlan on Top Road, Trefriw, which they rented from Mrs Marsh, the widow of an American professor from Washington who is buried in Trefriw cemetery.

These visits appeared to be idyllic holidays and are described in detail in Alfred's Wales Sketchbook, from the family's arrival at Llanrwst station laden with boxes and baggage and bicycles - and the dog.

Paul McCartney

The journal and sketchbook was published by Alfred's god-daughter in 2003. It describes the long walks he and family and friends enjoyed, charabanc trips with Llanrwst Congregational Chapel members and visits from friends and sometimes gloomy observations on the weather.

His journal is illustrated with lovely line drawings of Trefriw and the surrounding countryside, and of Penlan.

Alfred Bestall became a well known and accomplished artist. He designed posters during the First World War and provided artwork for many publications, newspapers and magazines.

He obviously had happy memories of Wales because he retired to a cottage in Beddgelert which he called Penlan. Paul and Linda McCartney and their children visited him there to collaborate on a film about Rupert. He died in Beddgelert in 1986.

This article is based on Alfred Bestall's Journal and Sketchbook published by Caroline G Bott, Bestall's goddaughter, in 2003.

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