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Brian Gough: Music-loving artist, graphic designer and illustrator with a fine singing voice who drew comparisons with Michelangelo and Frank Sinatra



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The funeral has taken place of a former Bishop's Stortford man who made a lifelong career out of his exceptional childhood talent as an artist.

Brian 'Goughie' Gough, who was blessed with a wonderful imagination and brilliant sense of humour, died on March 11, three days after his 80th birthday.

He had lived in Stortford, Stansted and Birchanger, but at the end of his life he was in a care home in Great Dunmow. His funeral took place at Cam Valley Crematorium in Great Chesterford on April 1.

Brian Gough (55976371)
Brian Gough (55976371)

He leaves his partner Annie, daughters Joanne and Sophie, and grandchildren Holly, Alfie and Harry.

As well as being a gifted artist and illustrator who worked professionally as a graphic designer, Brian loved music, filled his homes with instruments and had a fine singing voice – and was variously known as the 'Michelangelo of Stansted' and the 'Frank Sinatra of Worthing'. A maverick non-comformist, he certainly did it his way.

Brian Douglas Gough was born on March 8, 1942, at his grandparents' home in Whittington, Shropshire. He was four when he first met his father Douglas, who was away serving in the Second World War. He had a younger brother, Melvin, five years his junior.

Brian relaxing in his artistically decorated conservatory
Brian relaxing in his artistically decorated conservatory

With his father absent and his grandfather working, next-door neighbours Harold and May, who had no children, took him under their wing. Harold was the local poacher and would take Brian for walks in the countryside with his dogs. The youngster retained a love of the countryside and Shropshire in particular.

Brian was a skinny boy. He did not take to football, rugby or cricket, but he was a good swimmer. When he was about 15, he took a Saturday job on a bread delivery van and used his wages to buy the Charles Atlas body-building course. After 12 months the scrawny kid had turned into a fine example of fitness and muscle. He enjoyed hiking and mountain climbing, especially in North Wales.

At 13, his teachers at school in Oswestry realised he had an exceptional talent for painting and drawing, and he was transferred to Shrewsbury School of Art. At 20, with a National Diploma in Design to his name, he left Shropshire to seek his fortune in London.

His first job was as a graphic designer with the Boy Scout Association. He then moved to a department store, Berman's, where he met his future wife Carol Ingle, also a graphic artist.

Brian at work on a garden mural
Brian at work on a garden mural

The couple moved to Worthing, West Sussex, where they rented a flat above a pub and continued to work in graphic design.

Brian had a very good singing voice and was a regular in the end-of-the-pier show. He became known as the ‘Frank Sinatra of Worthing’.

After they married in 1968, Carol and Brian moved to Bishop's Stortford, where they raised Joanne, born in 1970, and Sophie (1973). Brian worked in several big advertising agencies in London.

Brian had a love of the countryside, especially his native Shropshire
Brian had a love of the countryside, especially his native Shropshire

In contrast to his city life, at weekends he loved nothing more than getting out into the countryside with the girls. They recall setting off on all-day adventures with a flask and sandwiches. Coming home tired and weary, often with a rucksack full of stones, pine cones or other treasures found, Sophie in particular shared a love of fossil-hunting with her dad.

Brian loved collecting unusual things and would often take the girls across the fields with a metal detector. Long days out always ended with a refreshing pint or three in the former Fox pub in Rye Street with a well-earned Coke and crisps for the girls.

Brian Gough covered a wide variety of subjects in his art, chief among them sport
Brian Gough covered a wide variety of subjects in his art, chief among them sport

He loved animals and once came home with two "female" rabbits – who quickly multiplied! At one point the family had 18 rabbits and 23 guinea pigs. Brian also wanted to get a goat as a replacement for the lawnmower, but Carol drew a line at this.

The artist loved music and was always singing along to his favourite crooners. The house was filled with guitars, drums, maracas, cymbals and recorders – even a double bass! Brian enjoyed playing piano for the girls. Eventually it made way for a huge pianola, finally downsizing to a church organ. The family never knew what he would come home with next.

In 1980 Brian boldly gave up his job as creative director at London agency Rileys to work freelance from home. His many clients included Alan Goldsmith, owner of Mountfitchet Castle, for whom he illustrated a children’s book, The Dollops.

William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre by Brian Gough
William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre by Brian Gough

However, the project closest to Brian’s heart was his own children’s book that he wrote and illustrated, The Little Men of Hoggett's Wood. It was set in the woods off Dane O'Coys Road where he, Joanne and Sophie had spent many happy times, and the characters were based on people he knew, ranging from his beloved grandmother to colourful characters he worked with.

He did a fresco on the ceiling of the Old Bell pub in Stansted, depicting the big tree that featured in his book, and literally worked flat out by spending weeks lying on his back on scaffolding boards, earning him the nickname ‘the Michelangelo of Stansted'. Later he joined Bishop's Stortford advertising agencies Simpsons and MBS.

In 1983 Brian and Carol divorced. He moved to Stansted, where he met and moved in with Annie and her children, Nicola and David.

Brian’s next venture, with a colleague from MBS, was starting his own graphic design company, Talks, at The Maltings in Station Road, Sawbridgeworth. Later it became That Studio.

While running Talks he fulfilled a lifetime ambition by opening his own gallery in The Maltings which housed 80 examples of his work spanning more than 25 years, including oil and watercolour paintings, pencil drawings and cartoons.

When the business closed in 1990 Brian rented a little studio in Stansted. He continued to work for many varied clients and develop his own ideas, including children’s TV shows and greetings cards.

A Brian Gough original
A Brian Gough original

Brian and Annie moved to Birchanger, where they ran a B&B. They also took a pub in Sudbury for a year before returning to the Uttlesford village.

Brian started up his own successful art classes. Over the years he was in high demand for his portraits and caricatures and had exhibitions in Stansted and surrounding villages.

Joanne and Sophie said: "You'd be hard-pushed to find a pub that didn’t have an original Brian Gough painting, a Goughie cartoon or mural adorning its walls.

"He loved the garden, kept fish and chickens, and enjoyed walks with his Jack Russells, first Kes and later Flossie.

"Brian was quiet and softly spoken, thoughtful and well read, with a wonderful imagination and brilliant sense of humour. He loved and was proud of his family and his Shropshire heritage.

"Over the years he had some great mates that he enjoyed the company of over a good few drinks, however he was equally happy in his own company.

"He had a lot of fun, enjoyed his life, never conformed and did it his way."

A moody painting of a storm brewing at Old Trafford during the 3rd Test between England and West Indies in 2004
A moody painting of a storm brewing at Old Trafford during the 3rd Test between England and West Indies in 2004
Brian fulfilled many caricature commissions
Brian fulfilled many caricature commissions
A painting of a line-out during the England v Ireland Six Nations match at Twickenham in 2004
A painting of a line-out during the England v Ireland Six Nations match at Twickenham in 2004


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