PAINTINGS once donated by a shipbuilding dynasty to launch a town’s art collection are going on display.

The ‘Gray’s Exhibition’at Hartlepool Art Gallery will feature more than 12 works belonging to the Gray family.

Among the paintings will be ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ an oil-on-canvas by Irish-born Daniel Maclise (1806-1870) who studied at the Royal Academy.

Born in Blyth in 1823, William Gray moved to old Hartlepool at the age of 20 and set himself up as a draper.

He ploughed his profits into sailing ships and then shipbuilding, William Gray and Company won the famed Blur Riband Prize for the highest output from a British shipyard an unbeaten six times between 1878 and 1900.

The former mayor died in 1898 aged 75, having also poured much of his personal fortune into charitable and educational works and having been knighted by Queen Victoria.

It was Sir William’s surviving son Sir William Cresswell Gray who gave much of his personal art collection to the town to found the museum collection in 1920.

Clare Irvine, Hartlepool Council’s Arts Manager, said: “The role played by Sir William Gray and his family in Hartlepool’s industrial, social and cultural development was impressive and extensive.

“Among their remarkable legacy was the wonderful collection of paintings which they gave to the town and we’re delighted to feature many of them together in this major exhibition which tells the story of this remarkable family and their generosity to the town and its people.”

‘Gray’s Exhibition’ will be on display at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23, to Saturday, June 1.