The Fountain in Londonderry is this week mourning the passing of one of its most beloved sons; the artist, musician, and family man Bobbie Jackson.
Robert Jackson, who painted King Billy up on the wall in the loyalist estate of the Fountain, was one of the best known members of the local community and was famous far beyond Londonderry thanks to his many talents.
Mr Jackson, whose artwork still proudly adorns murals in the estate, sadly passed away suddenly in Yorkshire last week, where he had been living with his son Albert, a Minister, due to ill health.
Bobbie was much loved in the Fountain area and was well known as the man who painted famous murals, including a depiction of the historic scene as King William crossed the Boyne and another depicting the Relief of Derry.
He was a talented musician who played a range of instruments for the Churchill Flute Band over a long period of time, and who also played in the Ulster Special Constabulary band.
A funeral service will take place in his son’s home, 129 The Fountain, tomorrow at 2pm, followed by burial in Altnagelvin Cemetery.
Bobbie was the beloved husband of the late Kathleen, loving father of Ann, Albert, William, Patricia, Paul, David, Leonard and the late Robert and a dear father-in-law, grandfather and great grandfather.
His son, William, spoke to the Sentinel about his father’s life: “He was born in the 1920s, and he lived in one of the old streets off the Fountain before moved up into the Fountain, where he has lived right up until the last few years. Due to ill health, he moved to England where his son, a Minister, lives.”
William Jackson continued: “He had been building the effigy of Lundy since the 1930s, along with his father, Bobby Jackson senior. He was a painter in Altnagelvin Hospital and he was in there for over 40 years.
“He also painted the historic pictures of King William crossing the Boyne and the Relief of Derry, the murals. Those are still in the Fountain, at the very top end, beside the big carpark.
“He also helped to produce numerous models of things connected with the Siege of Derry - a miniature St Columb’s Cathedral, Walker’s Monument, things like that. Those would be on display in the Heritage Tower Museum. Some of his paintings are on display in the Apprentice Boy’s museum.
“He also served for a time in the ‘B Specials’. He also played, I think it was a tenor drum, within the B Specials band. He was also very famous within the Churchill Flute Band. He started with them as a tenor drummer, went from a tenor drummer to the cymbals, went from the cymbals to the bass drum and through ill health and old age he came out of the band.
“He was always an active member within the Fountain community. This is sort of the end of an era for the Jacksons in the Fountain.
“I do a bit of painting but I wouldn’t class myself as being on the same level as my Dad. He was self taught and he did everything freehand, done with oils. He was still doing paintings right up until 2012.
“He will be sadly missed. He would have also been responsible back in the older days for painting the coat of arms on the side drums for the Churchill Flute Band. He was a very talented painter.
“He also painted some bass drums for what we would class as Republican bands. Apparently, way back before the Troubles, Loyalist bands and Nationalist bands used to exchange instruments when they were short.
“He would have been in the ‘B’s’ during the start of the Troubles in ‘69. I think it was 12 years service he did. I still have his medal. He never talked about it.
“He has always been coming back to the Fountain over the past few years, as often as he has been able because of his health.
“He was an artist, a musician, an historian, and a great story teller. He will be greatly missed.”