The Tattooed Lady Time Forgot

Poppy Mae
Poppy Mae
Sep 19, 2017 · 3 min read

Largely forgotten of in the new millennium, Pam Nash was one of England’s first heavily tattooed women. Rising to fame some 70-years ago, Pam was probably one of the most photographed members of Bristol Tattoo Club — the brainchild of Les Skuse, which formally started in 1953.

Pam was well-known for her extensive tattoo collection and undeniable natural beauty, being named the “Best Tattooed Girl of the Year” at the sixth annual Bristol Tattoo Club party. Smack-bang in the middle of the 20th Century, during the time tattoos became more prominent culturally, it’s no surprise that Pam was considered a marvel to be photographed and documented.

Pam Nash being tattooed by Les Skuse (1959)

Perhaps known for her occasional risqué poses, Pam was dedicated to cloaking herself in work by Les Skuse, having “a bit more added each week” to her back piece, which portrays a Chinese garden, a snow-capped volcano, pagodas and dragons.

A trailblazer in equal measures as Les Skuse, Pam was and still is, a great influence on traditional tattoos. In modern culture, Pam Nash is largely overshadowed by the likes of Lady Viola and Maud Wagner, women who were perhaps even more of a rarity in Western society, sporting tattoos around the 1920’s. Whilst all are icons in their own rights, Pam Nash certainly doesn’t receive the recognition she deserves.

Having passed away less than a year ago, Cheltenham Borough Council struggled to contact any relatives about her death, as Pam had submerged herself into a seemingly solitary life in Fiddler’s Green at the end of her fame. In an interview with Gloucestershire Live, Garreth Jones — the towns Senior Environmental Officer — said:

It seems a shame that someone who must have been a very well-known character in Cheltenham doesn’t seem to have any family or friends who can come to her funeral.

After several weeks of outreach, council officials managed to contact Pam’s estranged son, Beverly, who was residing in the United States. Beverly, who was, fortunately, able to attend the funeral along with his family, wrote a letter to Pam, which included the touching line:

On Valentine’s Day two years ago, I saw the picture of you in the mirror, and on your arm were two hearts. I knew then that you really did care for me.

From this profound statement, it shows that even in death, Nash’s tattoos were able to communicate her love for her son. As profound as it is moving, it goes to show how tattoos are more than just body art or decoration; tattoos can be a means of expressing emotions.

Poppy Mae

Written by

Poppy Mae

Social media manager, Bristol Tattoo Club member & occasional writer about traditional tattoo history.

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