Considered by many to be the UK's foremost railway artist, Philip D. Hawkins was born and grew up in the West Midlands where, after leaving Lordswood Boys' Technical School, he attended Birmingham College of Art and Design graduating as a Technical Illustrator. As such he worked in the railway industry at Metro-Cammell Ltd at their Washwood Heath, Birmingham headquarters. This was a time when the company were still involved in locomotive and rolling stock design and construction. During this period Philip was occupied with creating artists impressions of company products to display to clients before actual construction, working from blueprints prepared in the companies extensive drawing office. Running parallel with this 'proper job' he also found time to paint and indulge his passion for photography. The latter interest led to a job offer from a local newspaper to join their ranks as a press photographer which was accepted and led to a two year spell covering anything from fashion and sport to Father Christmas arriving at Solihull in a helicopter.
His art, though, exerted an irresistible attraction and the decision was taken in 1978 to attempt to make a living with his painting. To specialise in railways came quite naturally as this had been an abiding interest since when, as a boy living in Winson Green, Birmingham he was held, spellbound, by the procession of trains that passed on the embankment that dominated the view from the back yard. This was known as the 'Soho Loop Line', formerly LNWR and LMS but during the fifties was under the jurisdiction of British Railways London, Midland Region and provided such magnificent spectacles as 'Royal Scots', 'Patriots' and a regular diet of 'Jubilees' and Black 5's as well as a vast array of lesser locomotives. Not only this but a few yards down the road was the Western Region main line from Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton with 'Kings', 'Castles', 'Counties', 'Halls' and 'Granges' together with almost other type of Western engine hauling all sorts of traffic. How could a small boy be surrounded by all of this and not be interested in railways?
This interest developed into train-spotting and travel to all parts of the country visiting engine sheds and stations. Later a camera was added to the duffle bag and the photographs taken during these years often become a crucial source of reference when researching his paintings. During the 1970's his photographs were a regular feature in railway magazines of the time.
Over the years his paintings have been acquired for collections in the UK and many other parts of the world. Commissions for private individuals and corporate concerns, particularly railway oriented companies, now account for the majority of his output with the result that Freightliner, European Passenger Services, Virgin Trains, Docklands Light Railway, Midland Metro, Bombardier Transportation, Waterman Railways Heritage Trust and DB Schenker are among the extensive client list. Two books of his work have been published, details of which you will find elsewhere on this website.
Philip now lives and works in Dawlish, Devon where many of his clients can experience the delights of travelling along the magnificent coastal railway line that runs from Starcross through Dawlish to Teignmouth, if they choose to arrive to discuss their commissions by train of course.