A MYSTERY bobby in a 1950s painting by a Silsden artist has been identified by several former police officers.

The ex-officers contacted the Keighley News after seeing the picture of the imposing PC painted by Kathleen Gorell as part of a series of portraits of local figures.

After talking with fellow police veterans across the district, they named the subject of the picture as PC55 Chris Barlow, who served with Bradford City Police.

Kathleen died in 1989 and her 60-plus paintings were donated to Keighley Art Club, and until recently they lay forgotten in the attic of one of the members.

Following the member's death the pictures were rediscovered, and passed to Silsden History Group whose member David Mason is working with Silsden art historian Colin Neville to identify the 51 figures who the art club never recognised.

Colin posted six of the pictures in the Keighley News this month, and the rest can be seen on his website notjusthockney.info.

Philip Balmforth, a former City of Bradford, police inspector, immediately recognised PC Barlow's Bradford helmet and consulted other former colleagues about the picture.

He said: "We are all over 95% sure the officer is PC55 Chris Barlow who worked on the Haworth Road beat and, at the time, lived in Laneside, Wilsden."

Another ex-officer, Ian Jayne, who involved with the Facebook closed site Bradford City Police Google Docs, also identified PC Barlow, who he said served across the city during his career.

Mr Jayne said: "He served as an A Div City Centre Beat Officer and at B (B1) Sub Div Toller Lane. He retired as community PC for the Haworth Road area many years ago."

None of the officers knew of PC Barlow's current whereabouts.

Kathleen Gorell was born Kathleen Briggs in Bradford in 1911, and in 1937 she married police constable John Kenneth Gorell. They lived in Bradford and Bingley, and finally Howden Road in Silsden. Kenneth died in 1984.

In the mid-1950s Kathleen studied art part-time at Shipley Art and Technical Institute, and was a member of the Keighley Art Club when she lived at Silsden.

Silsden History Group is planning to stage an exhibition of the portraits at the Silsden Town Hall in March this year.

Mr Neville created the Not Just Hockney site to highlight the lives and works of many artists across the district, dating back through the last century.

Under the same banner he presents regular displays of paintings by current artists from the district on the Big Screen in Bradford’s City Park.