The artist who painted this picture was Leonard Appelbee, who was the son of a coppersmith, and studied at Goldsmiths College of Art and the Royal College of Art before serving in the Second World War.

He began his army career in charge of a mobile anti-aircraft battery but was soon moved over to classified operations for the Special Operations Executive.

At the end of the war he completed two commissions for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, one of a scientist and the other of former prisoners of war who were returning to their homeland.

His career included teaching, exhibiting at various shows and exhibitions including the ’51 Festival of Britain, and producing commissioned work, particularly for Eton College and Corpus Christi, Cambridge.

In the final decade of his life he unfortunately broke his leg so badly that he was unable to stand at an easel, but he refused to let that cramp his creative talent, and instead he spent his time picture framing and writing poetry.

So much for Leonard Appelbee.

But what we are equally interested in is the person who left money in their will to enable the gallery to buy this painting. The SB Cole bequest allowed Swindon to buy The Dead Tree in 1955. But who was S B Cole? What relationship did they have with Swindon? Did they live here? Is any trace left of details of their family, workplace or interests?

If you have any clues that can help us piece together a picture of someone who clearly cared about Swindon and art, please let us know.

We’ve already had great feedback on the other puzzles we’ve set, and it’s helping us get a far clearer picture of this fantastic town’s past.

Please email us at .

  • You can find out more about Swindon’s story at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 4.30pm.