Action painting of the Fakenham fire

The Fakenham Great Fire Painting by Bryan Exton.
The Fakenham Great Fire Painting by Bryan Exton.

A talented part-time painter from Bulwell has raised money for charity with his picture of a fire-struck town square.

Bryan Exton’s vivid picture of Fakenham town centre raised £80 when it was auctioned and the artist donated the proceeds to Cancer Research UK.

Mr Exton (76), who has run a vintage motorbike shop on Carey Road since he was 19, wanted to use his artistic skill to help the people affected after a blaze last year destroyed part of the town centre.

He said: “I’ve been getting to know Fakenham while visiting a friend in Cromer and I think it’s a wonderful town.

“I was visiting on the day of the fire and I caught the tail end of it.

“It was a real tragedy for this lovely town.”

The fire, on May 25th 2014, took around 100 firefighters to tackle. It destroyed one of the Norfolk market town’s most historic and recognisable buildings, the former Aldiss store, in Upper Market Place.

Last week Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze most likely started in a faulty light fitting in the suspended ceiling on the ground floor.

The incident caused what has been described as the biggest destruction Fakenham has suffered since the Second World War bombings.

Mr Exton used oil paints and pencil for the picture, and based the image on pictures in the local newspaper, the Fakenham and Wells Times.

He paints portraits of people as a hobby and has painted in his spare time since his school days, when he was top of the class for art.

He said: “There was a big gap when I didn’t do anything for 20 years and then I started again.”

His original ambition was to raise funds to help those affected, but donated the cash to Cancer Research UK, as his wife and some of her family died of the illness.

Mr Exton, who now lives in Nuthall, is a fan of the artist JMW Turner, and in particular his seascapes.

He added: “I really fancied doing a painting. I love Fakenham because the people there are very friendly, it has great markets and there is a lovely atmosphere.”

Mr Exton has a holiday home near Fakenham and plans to retire there.