Tattooing A to Z #29: Jock Liddell “Tattoo Jock”

Jock Liddel, better known as “Tattoo Jock”, first began tattooing in his native Scotland at a time when there were only a couple of tattoo artists working there – with Bert Vallar being the most well known. His father got him into the game as he was a part-time tattooist. In 1948 Jock moved to London: he began visiting George Burchett at his Waterloo Road studio, and with Burchett help Jock soon began his professional tattooing career.

Jock spent his first years in London working alone, until he struck up what was to be a lifetime friendship with two of the great characters of the British tattoo scene. “One day out of the blue I met Jack Zeek and Charlie (Cash) Cooper and we became known as the ‘Crazy Threesome‘ – because I was a drinker and Jack was a drinker but Cash was a better drinker than both me and Jack put together. And me and Cash got on so well that we tattooed together in a little shop in the Piccadilly Arcades in London for nearly seven years, before I decided to branch out on my own and I moved just around the corner from here and then to my present address where I am now in Pentonville Road. So I got my tattoo education from my father, Cash Cooper and Jack Zeek. I get all sorts in here and the main stuff they go for is the tattooing I love doing the best: very traditional style of work. I like seeing all the Japanese tattoos of course, but I don’t do any of it as it takes too long and my customers come in and want to spend around £10 to £15 pounds and be away again in 10 or 20 minutes. I keep my prices reasonable because I do not believe in exploiting anyone”.

Jock Liddell “Tattoo Jock”, watercolour by Pepe
Jock Liddell “Tattoo Jock”, watercolour by Pepe

Jock came from the old school of tattooing – where you not only got tattooed – you also became privy to some good old story telling, surrounded by the magic and mystery of getting yourself marked. There was a very famous tale of the skull that hung in his studio that Jock claimed to be his grandfathers.

Before Liddel took up tattooing full time, he ran a coffee stall with his wife Peggy in London. Then he decided to tattoo on a more serious level by going full time and calling himself “Prof. Jock”. His most famous shop was at 287 Pentonville Road, Kings Cross, London WC1, where he tattooed for many years. British tattooing legend Jock Liddel died on the 16th of February 1995 at his home in Kent, England.

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