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Harleyford Art


Harleyford Art is an archive of mid-20thC painting, print and photographs, largely the work of artists and writers associated with DA Russell and his son, MC Russell.

DA Russell, an engineer by training was a driving force in the British model-making scene, and had a life long passion for aviation. After several years as contributing writer, he purchased and became the editor of "Aeromodeller Magazine" in 1937, also publishing his first book "The Design and Construction of Flying Model Aircraft" in the same year.

The success of "Aeromodeller" enabled Russell to expand his publishing interests, and he went on to produce numerous books including the "Aircraft of the Fighting Powers" series throughout the war years under the Harborough imprint, alongside many model-making books. Post WW2 Harborough started to produce books featuring individual aircraft types and marques: "Spitfire", "Hurricane", "The Book of Miles Aircraft", "Japanese Aircraft" as well as books featuring individual airmen and a history of the A.T.A.

In 1948 Russell realised his dream of a national centre for model making and racing, when he opened the "Model Sportsdrome"at Eaton Bray in Bedfordshire, despite it's early popularity the business ended in financial disaster. By 1953 the Sportsdrome and Aeromodeller were sold and Russell was bankrupt. 

Learn more about the story of Eaton Bray from "On the Wire"

Family fortunes were revived with the launch of Harleyford Publications in 1954, which went on to produce a further nineteen books. Towards the end of his life Russell again faced financial difficulties and Harleyford went in receivership in the early 1970's. DA Russell's son Michael bought the company from the official receivers, finished the last book, endeavoured to pay off the creditors, and packed away most of the books drawings and paintings. 

On Michael's death in 2007, his daughter Shirley was astonished to discover the wealth of material contained in the long forgotten archive.

"It's clear that DA Russell had a keen sense of design, as well as his engineering and scientific knowledge. Using the fine draftsmanship on show in the technical drawings, the colourful and quirky paintings of C.Rupert Moore and the luminous watercolour cover art of J.D.Carrick, Russell set out to produce books and magazines of the highest calibre.

It has been a pleasure to rediscover the work of these artists, and I am delighted to be bringing it to a new audience".

Shirley Russell  2013



Harleyford Art

The story so far...

Harleyford Art is a collection of mid-twentieth century aeronautical publishing, much of it hidden in a loft for the last 40 years. A selection of images from these vintage works is newly available as cards and fine art prints.

DA Russell (DAR) second editor and publisher of the Aeromodeller Magazine, early twentieth century model engineering designer and devotee of tethered car-racing, editor and publisher of "The Aircraft of the Fighting Powers" series, founder of The Eaton Bray Model Sportsdrome, which ended in financial disaster, rebuilt his fortunes with Harleyford Publishing in the late 1950's before ill-health and financial problems forced the company into receivership in the 1970's.

DAR's son, Michael, a commercial pilot, gliding and vintage aircraft enthusiast bought what was left from the receiver, formed Russavia Ltd and endeavoured to pay off the company's debts. Large quantities of books, magazines, artwork and early advertising remained stored away until Michael's death in 2007 when they were discovered by his daughter, Shirley Russell.

"Dad had stuff squirrelled away everywhere and had seemingly never thrown anything away, amongst the neatly filed and boxed up gas bills and old bank statements was an amazing collection, telling the story of his father's various enterprises. For the last five years I have been sifting through these thousands of pieces of paper in order to build a useable archive".

¬©Harleyford Art 2013 - All Rights Reserved Company Registration No. 01032147 ¬©Russavia Ltd 2013