Crime author who solved Ripon mystery revisits school mural 50 years later
Last updated Apr 19, 2024
Malcolm Hollingdrake and the pupils at Holy Trinity Infant school

Crime writer Malcolm Hollingdrake has returned to Ripon to visit a mosaic mural he created 50 years ago.

In February, Holy Trinity Infant School enlisted the help of the Stray Ferret to track down the creators of a mosaic wall mural dating back to the 1970s.

Mr Hollingdrake solved the mystery when he noticed a photo in the article included him.

The mosaic, which was completed by Ripon College students on April 5, 1974, had been hidden beneath a cloth for years.

Mr Hollingdrake contacted the school and was invited back to see the mural. The author visited the Ripon primary school on Friday, April 12 — almost exactly 50 years to the day from its completion.

Mr Hollingdrake lives in Wigan and specialises in crime writing. He even created a series of thrillers titled the Harrogate Crime Series featuring DCI Cyril Bennett after acquiring a fondness for the area.

Originally from Bradford, he studied art and history at Ripon College between 1971-1974. He revealed the mural is based on the theme of ‘feeding the birds’ — at the time it was created the school children had been studying birds and life sciences.

Author Malcolm Hollingdrake and the newspaper clipping of him creating the mosaic in 1974.

The artwork was created using clay and powdered glass, which was fired and glazed. The mosaic was made inside Ripon College and Holy Trinity students were sent over in small groups to help with the creative process.

Mr Hollingdrake said:

“It was delightful going back to see it and I am grateful it has been brought to light. I was anxious at first as I didn’t know what to expect. It is an old artwork, and I was thinking ‘is it as I remember?’, it is easy to think of it through rose tinted glasses. But the mural was even better than I remembered and it is still in good condition.

“The school was so welcoming, the children were beautifully behaved and really enthusiastic. It was a special day and I have left with good memories.”

Deputy headteacher Amanda Bell-Walker said:

“We were so excited to welcome Malcolm into school, it was the culmination of a few months of hard work on the part of the pupil governors. Speaking to Malcolm really brought the mural to life for the pupils. It gave them a context for it and a much greater understanding of the figures portrayed in the mosaic. His visit created such a positive and joyful buzz around school.”

At the reunion Mr Hollingdrake spoke to students about how the artwork was made and answered their questions about the piece. Pupils were also involved in an art workshop creating rubbings, paintings, and collages reminiscent of the mosaic.

Holy Trinity pupils talking with Malcolm Hollingdrake and creating art to be displayed around the mural.

Ms Bell-Walker added:

“The pupils created some marvellous work. They were thoroughly engrossed in the activities and the results will be displayed around the original mural to show the inspiration behind the work.

“Malcolm was so generous with his time on Friday; he spoke to the staff, pupils and the parents/visitors who joined us with such enthusiasm that we feel even more passionate in school about caring for the future of our now famous mural.”

Malcom Hollingdrake’s latest book, Edge of the Land, the third in the Merseyside crime series, was published by Hobeck Books yesterday (April 16) and he is currently writing the 14th book in the Harrogate Crime Series.

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