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A Chance in a Million!

Many thanks for your supply by postal subscription of the Chronicle over the past year. The village has changed so much since I left in 1964, and I hear that there are plans for further significant expansion. It will soon be a town.

Just a little bit of history for you in connection with Victoria House which the Chronicle mentions was demolished to allow the road to Smeeton to be straightened.

In the 1950s, local artist John Kenney and his wife Peggy lived there, with John having his studio on the top floor. Later they moved to Smeeton. I imagine you will know that John illustrated ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ books and the history editions of the Ladybird Books, but locally he was best known for his hunting scenes. Attached is a copy of a print that I still have. As a boy at that time, I dabbled a bit and would visit John in his studio where he encouraged me to keep trying, so we kept in touch after they moved to Smeeton, and indeed after my wife and I moved to Scotland.

We have just one of his original paintings, which providence brought to us after a long wait. In 1972, by which time we were living in the north of Scotland, John sent me a catalogue of his works at an exhibition at the Gadsby Gallery in Leicester. It included a fisherman in a trout stream entitled ‘On the Test'. My wife and I both liked it very much, but had recently bought our first house and had no money for the painting, so it had to be forgotten.

Almost 40 years later, I was meeting some old chums at a hotel in Aberdeenshire, and while checking in, I noticed on the table, a catalogue of paintings for sale at a local art gallery. When I lifted it, it amazingly fell open at at the page displaying John’s painting, so of course I bought it. We are delighted that it eventually came to its intended home. A chance in a million. See attachment 2 above.


Roger Croson, Inverness
Issue 409
February 2019

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