British Man Spends 54 Years Drawing His Hometown on 100-Foot-Long Roll of Paper

Some people love their hometowns so much, they want to preserve their heritage and tell the rest of the world everything about it. While many do this by becoming tour guides or simply documenting their city's splendor through photography, one British man's effort is even more commendable. Artist Maurice Ivor Birch spent 54 years drawing the town of Aldridge on a 100-foot-long roll of paper.

Birch bought the oversized paper roll in 1969, and only finished his visual love letter to his hometown in 2023. He paid 10 shillings for the scroll at a car boot sale with hopes of entertaining his then 4-year-old son. “I thought ‘I'm having that' because I used to do little cartoon sketches of animals and [creepy crawlies] for my son to color in and it seemed ideal,” he told The Daily Mail.

Now 82 years old, Birch turned this art project into a five-decade-long hobby. “I thought I would tear them off but as I began to draw on it, I couldn't bring myself to rip it up. After doing about 80 sketches, I thought ‘what else can I do now?'” That's when he decided to draw buildings of Aldridge, as he has lived his whole life there. “I thought I'd keep the scroll intact but sketch the local buildings for posterity as so many have long disappeared from the landscape.”

The scroll now features 320 drawings of historic buildings in both ink and pencil. Since no city stays the same for long, Birch's drawings include pubs, hotels, shops, and cottages that no longer exist—many of which he actually drew from memory. Overall, he spent 2,560 hours, or 106 days, mixing the lost construction of yesteryear with the way Aldridge looks today.

Since it would be hard for everyone to browse the same scroll, Birch's work has been turned into a book aptly titled Aldridge on a Roll. “Hopefully it will be a legacy showing the way Aldridge used to be,” the man says. “It was the most beautiful village when I was a boy. It's still a lovely place to live and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else but many of the buildings have gone. I've always wished my children could see Aldridge as it was and this way they sort of can.”

Artist Maurice Ivor Birch spent 54 years drawing the town of Aldridge on a 100 feet roll of paper.

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h/t: [Laughing Squid]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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