Thomas Brock was born in Worcester in 1847. The start of his career, at the age of eight is difficult to believe – at the Exposition Universelle at the Palais de l’Industrie 1855, Paris, Le Jury International awarded T Brock a second class medal (this may not be the same person).
In 1857 Brock won a box of colours at the Worcester Government School of Design. He probably worked for Kerr & Binns porcelain works, sweeping floors and turning wheels at this time and was then officially apprenticed in 1859. The first entry for him in the wage books is dated 6 August 1859, working in the modelling department with James Hadley who was then 22 years old and quite an old hand! Brock’s first wages were £1 1 shilling and sixpence per week. The 1861 census records him living at 5 Sidbury Place with his parents William and Catherine, sister Mary Jane and an apprentice painter Herbert Millington.
Brock studied at the Government School for nine years, winning local prizes and Government awarded medals every year until 1866. He studied in good company; his classmates included Benjamin Williams Leader, Charles Noke, and James Hadley. In 1866 he completed his seven-year apprenticeship and went off to London as a pupil of John Foley RA.
In 1868 Brock submitted a portrait bust of his ex-boss Royal Worcester RW Binns FSA to the Royal Academy and in 1869 he submitted a figure of Salmarcis, the Water Nymph.
We have no record of the models that Brock worked on during his apprenticeship; presumably he would have helped the more senior modellers, however two Royal Worcester models have always been associated with Brock.
The Bather Surprised
Model No 486 She was produced in three sizes (10 ½”, 15 ½”, 24″) from 1875 and an example was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. The original figure of Salmacis was designed by Brock in 1868. It was modelled and exhibited at the Royal Academy, London in 1869 and Royal Worcester bought the original and the right to reproduce the figure in porcelain. The large size examples are impressed ‘T Brock Sc London’ and the small size versions were modelled by George Evans after Brock’s original.
The Young Mozart
Model No 1487 is more puzzling. It was designed in 1890 (19 3/4″) and is said to commemorate the centenary of the composer’s death in 1791. A small version was re-issued in 1931, this was again probably a commission.
As a sculptor Brock’s most well known works are the Victoria Memorial facing Buckingham Palace, the monument to Lord Leighton in St Pauls’ Cathedral and monuments to Longfellow and Gladstone in Westminster Abbey.
In 1913 Brock was awarded the Freedom of the City of Worcester, he died in 1922.