The First London School Board

1914. The First London School Board 1873 by John Whitehead Walton (fl.1831-1885). [No.94]. In 1914 Mrs MacFarlane presented to the LCC a group portrait of The First School Board for London 1873.  No record could be found relating to the background of the painting.  It shows what appears to be a rather informal meeting of the Board presided over by  John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence (1811-1879) who served as Viceroy of India from 1864-1869. The frame incorporates a key which identified all 53 members and officials of the Board, among whom are Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836 – 1917) who was a physician and suffragette and Professor Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). The Board was an institution of local government and the first directly elected body covering the whole of London. The original intention of the Board was to provide a sufficient number of school places for the poorest children in London, and provide them with a high-quality education and though education was not  compulsory on a national level until 1880, the board passed a by-law in 1871 that compelled parents in London to have their children schooled between the ages of five and thirteen.  By the 1880s, the board was providing school places for more than 350,000 children, the quality of school premises, being often far superior to those of private or charity schools.  The responsibility for education in London was transferred to the LCC in 1904.  Walton was a London portrait and genre painter and exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1934 and 1865.  The painting was used for the last official Christmas card sent by the Inner London Education Authority prior to abolition of the GLC – Christmas 1985.

Seal of the London School Board. [no.625].  The seal also came to the LCC and entered the Heritage Collection together with the original drawing of its design [No.625]. The seal is dated 1870.   There had been a competition for the design of the School Board Seal and JS & AB Wyon, who were among the foremost designers and makers of seals and commemorative medallions, won the competition. The die for the seal cost £2.10s. The design itself was purchased by the Board for 50 guineas.

John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence (1811-1879) by John Edgar Williams (fl.1846-1883). First Chairman of the School Board for London (see above). The full-length portrait of Lord Lawrence by Williams was in the possession of the Council and was on display for many year at County Hall but its present whereabouts is unknown.

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1914. Malachite Vases [No.265].  Into the possession of the Council in 1914 came a magnificent bequest from Henry Lorenzo Jephson (1844-1914).    He sat as a Progressive Party member of the LCC from 1901 until his death: representing 1901-7, Kensington North from 1901-07, as an alderman 1907-10 and representing Islington West 1910-14. The bequest consisted of two monumental malachite vases which had been presented to Sir John Fiennes Twisleton Crampton, 2nd Baronet, KCB(1805 – 1886), a British diplomat, minister to the United States from 1852 to 1856 and Minister to Russia from 1858 to 1860, by Czar Alexander II (1818-1881) in 1861. Jephson was a nephew of Crampton. Black marble plinths costing £39.10s were duly made for them and they were placed at the head of the ceremonial staircase at County Hall. Later in their history they were damaged by an intruder and were very poorly repaired.  The vases and plinths are now with the Museum of London and I last saw them in 1989 adorning the entrance to the Museum.

1914. War. On the 4th August 1914 war was declared on Germany.

The almshouses, 1906, by Philip Norman

The Almshouses 1906 by Philip Norman

1914. The Geffrye Museum was opened by the London County Council in 1914.  It is set in the former almshouses of the Ironmongers’ company, built in 1714 with a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye and sold to the London County Council in 1911.  In 1914 the council was persuaded to save the 18th century buildings and their gardens by leading members of the Arts and Crafts movement who suggested its conversion into a museum.  The Geffrye began as a museum which aimed to inspire and educate those in the East End furniture trade. Over the years it evolved, with collections of paintings, furniture and decorative arts presented in the context of period living rooms. One of the great treasures purchased by the GLC for the museum is a portrait of John Monck by Pompeo Batoni, dated 1764.

1915-1918. Ronald Collet Norman (1873-1963) was Leader of the London County Council.

Sir Cyril Jackson (1863–1924), Educationist

1915. Sir Cyril Jackson KBE (1863-1924) by Walter William Ouless RA (1848-1933). [No.24]. Chairman of the LCC 1915-1916. Sadly the painting was rather lifeless and grey. Jackson, like Peel and many of his predecessor Chairmen, was a hardworking and devoted public figure serving on countless committees and institutions.  His published works included Unemployment and Trade Unions, 1910, The Religious Question in Public Education, 1911 and Outline of Education in England, 1913. He was twice chairman of the Education Committee 1908-1910 and 1922 and suffered from insomnia.  It is clear that no one found this uncomfortable whirlwind of a man easy to get on with.  He represented the Municipal Reform Party for Limehouse during 1907-1913 and served as an alderman from 1913-1916 and 1919-1924. Ouless was born in St Helier, Jersey could hardly be said to have been one of Swinton’s wisest choices, though Ouless was in his time a highly successful society portraitist who had studied at the RA Schools (1865-1869) on the advice of no less a person than Millais who had also convinced him to abandon genre paintings for portraiture.   He was elected an RA in 1881. Ouless’s portrait was given the singular honour of being chosen to fill the only other permanent frame in County Hall, over the fireplace in room 128, which together with 129 and 130 were amongst the most ornate in the building.  However, from the Minutes of the Council of 20 February 1917 we learn that the portrait was originally exhibited in the lobby to the Council Chamber.

Alfred Fowell Buxton (1854–1952), Chairman of London County Council

1916.   Alfred Fowell Buxton (1854-1952) by Briton Riviere RA (1840-1920) [No. 25]. Chairman of the LCC from 1916-1917. Buxton as a member of the Municipal Reform Party represented the City of London from 1892-1895 and was elected an Alderman from 1904-1922.  He was educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge. He became a banker and was a director of the National Provincial Bank. He left the Council a charming memento of his year of office in the form of a small hand-seal mounted in silver with the LCC crest [no.358].

Buxton also presented the Council with a pair of life-size bronze statues facing each other standing on Portland stone pedestals dated 1894 which are copies of the Wrestlers of Herculaneum. They were original placed in the Victoria Embankment Gardens, but due to regular vandalism were removed to adorn the LCC’s Holland Park instead. They now stand in the Orangery at Holland Park.

orangery-holland-park

Riviere was more famous for his sentimental animal paintings, though highly regarded as a painter of genre and classical subject. His portrait of Buxton is competent and dull. Riviere studied under Orchardson and was elected an RA in 1880. He usually managed to introduce an animal or animals in most of his paintings, especially domestic pets and in particular, dog.  He touched that almost universal British streak of sentimentality about animals that, needless to say, sold his paintings at good prices not to mention the fact that vast numbers of prints were made and sold. In consequence many private and public collections in the country have a painting by Riviere, though these days they mostly adorn their storerooms, which is a pity.

Robert Offley Asburton Crewe-Milnes (1858–1945), 2nd Baron Houghton, Marquess of Crewe

1917. Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes, 2nd Baron Houghton and 1st Marquess of Crewe, KG, PC, DCI (1858-1945) by Ambrose McEvoy RA (1878-1927). [26]. Chairman of the LCC from 1917-1918.  Crewe was educated at Harrow and Cambridge.  Succeeding to the barony at 27 years of age, he took his place in the House of Lords and began a busy political life during which he was Liberal Leader in the House 1908-1916 and 1936-1944. He also was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He married twice, the second time at the age of 41 to the 18 year old daughter of Lord Rosebery the first chairman of the LCC. He was also Secretary of State for India responsible for transferring the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi and thus presumably appointed Swinton as Chairman of its Planning Committee. In 1911 he was created Earl of Madeley, in the County of Stafford, and Marquess of Crewe. Apparently he did not like public speaking, and tended to hesitate too long time with many “pregnant pauses”, which made his speeches stilted. He was only at ease in London high society, and famously hosted the dinner party at which Winston Churchill met his future wife.  To his great credit he supported many social reforms during his time in Parliament including old-age pensions, an eight-hour day for miners, and meal provisions for schoolchildren. The portrait is one of the most compelling and strange works in the collection, though what Lord Crewe made of it is not known. McEvoy was born in Crudwell, Wiltshire and in 1917 was at the height of his fame as a society portrait painter, indeed some considered him to be the new Gainsborough. Nevertheless he contributed  his services to London and depicted Crewe as a rather haunted sepulchral figure emerging out of a grey mist.

1917. Extracts from the review of the Council’s work by the Chairman. Staff. Staff serving during the war. Crewe reported that the number of Council staff serving in the forces had continued to grow until on 31 March 1917, out of the 31,072 men of all ages, including those in the fire brigade, tramways and asylums services, 850 were on active service, 532 had lost their lives and 690 had been discharged. Of these last, 591 had returned to their work in the Council’s service.

1917. Lord Kitchener. The Minutes of the Council for 20 February 1917 record that the Council’s Horniman Museum had accepted the loan of ‘the late Lord Kitchener’s collection of four hundred Indian and Persian weapons’. Kitchener had drowned in HMS Hampshire on the way to advise the Tzar on reorganising the Russian arming. The Council also authorised expenditure of £42 for the purchase of coal and coke for the museum.

1918-1925. Sir George Hopwood Hume (1866-1946) was Leader of the London County Council

Ronald Collet Norman (1873–1963), Chairman of the BBC

1918. Ronald Collet Norman (1873-1963) by Glyn Warren Philpot RA (1884-1937. [No.27] Chairman of the LCC 1918-1919. Norman was a banker and had been educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He became chairman of the Board of Goverrnors of the BBC from 1935 to 1939 He had been Private Secretary to the Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Halsbury, was a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission and was to become Vice-Chairman and Vice-President of the National Trust. As a member of the Municipal Reform Party he represented Chelsea on the LCC from 1907-1922 and was an Alderman from 1922-1934. Philpot produced one of his stylish portraits, a strong impressive face in a simple assured composition, truly one of his masterpieces. Philpot had studied at the Lambeth School of Art and in Paris at the Julian Academy.  He was much influenced by Charles Ricketts and produced exciting, powerfully penetrating portraits.  He also did figure subjects and still life in oils and watercolour and was a sculptor of considerable force.

William Hayes Fisher (1853–1920), Lord Downham of Fulham

1919. Sir Walter Hayes Fisher, Baron Downham of Fulham (1853-1920) by Arthur Hacker (1859-1919). [No.28]. Chairman of the LCC from 1919-1920.  He was educated at Haileybury and University College, Oxford and was called to the Bar, Inner Temple in 1879. He was a member of the Conservative Party and held the office of President of the Local Government Road and Minister of Information in Lloyd George’s First World War Coalition government. In 1918 he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and was also a Director of the Suez Canal, 1919. He was elected MP for Fulham 1885-1906 and 1910. He was also President of the National Skating Association.   The last may account for the startling red waistcoat. He was a member of the Municipal Reform part on the LCC and served as an Alderman from 1907-1913. The Minutes of 20 November 1920 record that Lady Downham presented this portrait of her huband to the Council for addition to the series of portraits of chairmen. Lady Downham stated that the portrait had been painted about two years earlier (it is dated 1899) and ‘represents Lord Downham as a good deal younger than he was when Chairman. The work shows a jolly affable man and is that a smile? Hacker studied in the Royal Academy Schools and travelled extensively in North Africa, Spain and Italy with his friend Solomon J. Solomon [see No.33]. He was an extremely popular society portrait painter but also dipped into the occasional ‘romantic’ mode and produced paintings called By the Waters of Babylon, Circe and Leaf Drift very much influenced by William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905).

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1919. Westminster Bridge, Victory Day 1919 by J. Hutchinson [No.653]. A watercolour painted during Lord Downham’s year as Chairman showing County Hall being built, was discovered in a saleroom by Mrs Muriel Gumbel JP, later Deputy Chairman of the Greater London Council 1981-1982. Mrs Gumbel was a Conservative and represented Lambeth. She purchased the painting and kindly presented it to the Council as a memento. The painting shows that a substantial portion of County Hall had been erected. The painting was hung in Room 102A County Hall and remained there till the abolition of the GLC.

Sir John William Gilbert (1871–1934)

1920. Sir John William Gilbert (1871-1934) by Sir Walter Westley Russell CVO, RA (1867-1949). [No 29]. Chairman of the LCC 1920-1921. Gilbert was an Alderman from 1919-1934 and sat for the Municipal Reform Party. He wrote The Catholic Church and Education and was created a Knight of St Silvester by Pope Pius X in 1909 and Knight Commander of St Gregory by Pope Benedict XV in 1902. Swinton declared Gilbert to be a very fine subject but the portrait ‘a catastrophe’. ‘My recollection is that I went down to the studio at the start and then not again for some weeks. Then I said at once ‘It is under life-size’. Russell said ‘Oh no’.  Going back on a bus with Gilbert I asked him to try and get some alterations but the picture had gone too far of course.  A portrait painter like a caricaturist should almost exaggerate any special point, and Gilbert impresses me as a very big man.  Later I was told that Russell always inclined to paint under life-size and was therefore not the man to paint Gilbert!. Russell has certainly created the effect of a physically small man but has also captured a very intense yet vulnerable look, maybe not quite the disaster Swinton thought.    Russell was born in Epping and had studied at the Westminster School of Art. He was the assistant professor at the Slade School from 1895-1927 and was to become Keeper of the Royal Academy from 1927-1942. His landscapes were mostly of scenes in Yorkshire, Norfolk and Sussex.  The portrait was presented to the Council on 20 December 1921.

Sir Percy Coleman Simmons (1875–1939), Mayor

1921. Major Sir Percy Coleman Simmons KCVO, DL (1875-1939) by Richard Jack RA (1866-1952). [No. 30]. Chairman of the LCC from 1921-1922. Son of a milliner and costumier and became a solicitor who was at this time representing the City of London 1919-1938. As a member of the Municipal Reform Party he had represented St George in the East 1907-1910 and served as an Alderman 1910-1919. He also served as chairman on many LCC committees. He became a pilot officer with the rank of major in the RAF during the war and was a Grand Officer of the Order of Belgium. Richard Jack was born in Sunderland and spent the last twenty years of his life working in Canada. He died in Montreal aged 86. He had studied at the York School of Art and at the Academy Julian in Paris and painted portraits, figurative subjects, interiors and landscapes. The rather good portrait showing a rather warm and personable man was presented to the Council on 20 December 1921.

1921. Extracts from the Chairman’s review of work of the Council. The Council distributed two and a half million pounds in flood relief, hoping that the works ‘will result not only I putting an end to complaints, but in the creation of more healthy conditions in low-lying party’. In October the Council had appointed a Special Unemployment Committee who had inaugurated various road work schemes with a 50 per cent grant from the Government. ‘These works, which will, I fear, have to be largely added to during the coming winter, are, of course, only a palliative of the evil. The lack of them was not the cause of, and their execution cannot cure unemployment.  Pending, however, that revival of the world’s trade which alone can guarantee continuous and profitable work for all, they at least were the purpose of providing such work as those rendered workless. through no fault of their own, may undertake and retain their self-respect’. The total number of passengers carried on the Council’s tramways during the year ended 31 March 1921 was 689,452,036, a rate approximately 2 million passengers every day throughout the year.

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Metropolitan Board of Works. Chairman’s Chair [no.593].  It must also been about this time that the official chair of the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works (one of the LCC’s predecessors 1855-1899) was brought over to County Hall.   A vast ornately carved throne-like affair with lions’ heads on the arms and incorporating a circular painting of the Board’s coat-of-arms. It had in recent times been hideously re-covered with a harsh maroon coloured leather.

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Bazalgette Snuff Box. [no.275]. With the chair came a large table centrepiece in the form of a silver and wood snuff box composed of four wood compartments surmounted by a  silver figure of Father Thames. The structure stands on four silver swans set on wheels for pushing around the table.  The piece is by S. Smith and is hallmarked London 1867. It incorporates four silver panels engraved with the following: ‘Presented to the Metropolitan Board of Works by William Webster one of the Contractors for Main Drainage and Thames Embankment Works. October 1867. Chairman Sir John hwaites.  Engineer J. W. Bazalgette Esq. Clerk of the board John Pollard Esq. Ass. Engineers Edmund Cooper Esq. John Grant Esq. Thomas Lovick Esq.  The wood of which this box is made was found embedded in peat in the excavations for the Main Drainage Works 27 feet below the surface.’ The final panel is engraved with the following:
‘Bid the broad arch the dangerous flood contain,
The Mole projected break the roaring main,
Back to his bounds the subject sea command,
And roll obedient rivers through the land:
These honours peace to happy Britain brings
These imperial works and worthy kings’

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Leicester Square. Keys [no.564]. The keys to Leicester Square are also preserved in a presentation case stating they were handed over to the Metropolitan Board of Works by Albert Grant on 2nd July 1874.

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Horsemonger Lane Goal. Key.[No.551] The large iron key to Horsemonger Lane Goal, which was the County Goal for Surrey was also brought over to County Hall.  The Goal had been built in 1798  and demolished in 1879. Public executions used to be carried out outside the Goal, it was here that Dickens witnessed the hanging of a Mr and  Mrs Manning and wrote in the Times ‘I do not believe that any community can prosper where such a scene of horror as was enacted this morning outside Horsemonger Lane Goal is permitted’.

Sir Henry Cubitt Gooch (1871–1959), Politician

1922. Sir Francis Robert Ince Anderson (1859-1950) by George Fiddes Watt, RSA (1873-1960), [No.31]. Chairman of the LCC 1922-1923. Anderson was a barrister and was an Alderman of the LCC from 1910-1913 and 1925-1931. Represented Hammersmith on the LCC for the Municipal Reform Party from 1919-1925.  The portrait seems to have disappointed everyone. Anderton’s letter dated 23 May 1923 to Swinton thanking him for his success in persuading Watt to ‘undertake the painful task of perpetuating my poor features’ has a note on the top in Swinton’s hand ‘This was not one of our successes.  Near the end it was excellent and then at the last moment when Fiddes Watt was ill and his subject tired out, it went wrong’.  Whatever the reason the resultant rather awkward portrait was certainly forgettable and Anderton does look tired. Watt came from Aberdeen and though he lived in London from 1911 he eventually returned to his home where he died. He specialised in portraits and had studied at Gray’s School of Art founded in 1885 in Aberdeen which is now part of the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

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1922. The Ford Goblet  designed and made by Kathleen Winney Adshead (1891-1974) [No.535]. In 1922 the Council acquired a silver and gilt goblet, the Ford Goblet. Adshead was born in Manchester. It was commissioned from the proceeds of a bequest made to the Council for the purpose by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles William Ford (1847-1918) who represented North Lambeth on the LCC as a member of the Progressive Party from 1892-1901.   He was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School and the Naval College at Gosport before becoming a solicitor with a practice in London. He was the  legal editor of the Bankers’ Magazine and edited the Law Times. He held a commission as a major and honorary lieutenant-colonel in the 4th Volunteer Battalion, Essex Regiment until 1891. He retired to Southsea, Hampshire, where he died aged 72. He was cremated and his ashes placed in Portsmouth Cathedral. The Minutes of the Council of 23 January 1923 state that the goblet was to be kept in a glazed case in the Chairman’s room.

1922. The Photograph Albums of the Prince of Wales [No.634]. For some obscure reason, two albums of printed photographs which had originally been presented to the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, on the occasion of his visit to Kagoshima, Japan, were handed to the Council on 9 May 1922.

1922. Opening of County Hall. 17 July 1922. The most important event during Anderton’s chairmanship was the ceremonial opening of County Hall by King George V and Queen Mary. 006They were received at the main entrance by Anderton and conducted to positions on the top of the central steps of the Members’ Terrace and the Archbishop of Canterbury then offered prayers ‘upon the conclusion of which His Majesty dedicated the building for all purposes of the London County Council and declared it open’. The royal party which included the Duke of York and the Princess Royal and her husband were then conducted to the south door of the Council Chamber, ‘where his Majesty unlocked and opened the Council Chamber by the key handed to His Majesty by the Architect of the building.  His Majesty then delivered the key to the keeping of the Clerk of the Council. The gilt key [no.541] now forms part of the Heritage Collection.   The Royal party was conducted through some of he rooms at County Hall and then proceeded to a position outside the south lobby where the King presented to the Council the trowel, mallet, spirit level and plumb rule he had used when laying the foundation stone of County Hall on 9 March 1912. The Royal party then ‘made Their departure by way of the members’ entrance court, in which groups of the uniformed and other staff of the Council were stationed, together with some of the workmen engaged on the construction of the building’.  On 17 October 1922 the Council agreed to arrange for the mallet, trowel, spirit level and plumb rule to be placed on view, together with the gilt key ‘in a suitable glazed case with an appropriate inscription in the marble corridor in which is the foundation stone itself’. The engraved brass plaque [no.540] is now with the other items in the Heritage Collection. The ‘glazed case’ was subsequently dismantled and the items found their way into one of a series of security display cabinets which were placed in the corridors of the principal floor of County Hall.

Arthur Lewis Leon (1855–1927)

1923. Arthur Lewis Leon (1855-1927) by Sir George Clausen (1852-1944) [no.130]. Alderman of the LCC from 1889-1907. Leon was a stockbroker and entered local politics in 1889, when he was  elected to represent the Limehouse Division of Tower Hamlets along with Jams Ambrose, both councillors sitting on the majority Progressive Party. Leon held the Limehouse seat for the Progressives until 1907, when both seats and control of the county council were won by the Municipal Reform Party. He returned to the council at the 1910 elections as a councillor for St Pancras North. He retired from the council in 1919. The lively and vibrant portrait, for whatever reason, was at some time in its history banished to the cellars of County Hall and spent many year wrapped in brown paper until I rescued in the last few months of the GLC. It was brought to the attention of Banks who had it displayed on the walls of the Chairman’s office where is so happened Clausen’s portrait of Benn [no.12] was already hanging, thus bringing them together probably for the first and last time.

Francis Robert Ince Anderton (1859–1949)

1923. Sir Henry Cubitt Gooch (1871-1959) by Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee KCVO, PRA (1853-1928) [No.32].Chairman of the LCC for 1923-1924. Gooch was called to the Bar in 1894 and represented Dulwich from 1919-1934 as a member of the Municipal Reform Party.   He served as an Alderman from 1914-1919. He was MP for Peckham from 1908-10, Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company 1929 and Vice-President of King’s College Hospital    The portrait is dated 1926, the year after Dicksee was knighted and is plain and straightforward except for an unnecessary gold braided drape which Dicksee presumably enjoyed doing. Dicksee, who was to become President of the Royal Academy in 1924 wrote to Swinton in reply to one of his cajoling letters that ‘he could hardly be out of the fashion followed by so many of my good friends, so let me say ‘Yes’ to your proposal’. Dicksee was one of the great band of Victorian artists who specialised in sentimental narrative works and who was highly popular, but from this portrait it is clear had not much talent. He was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy Schools. He was President of the Royal Academy from 1924-1928 and was knighted in 1925.

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1923. Souvenir box of Rowntree chocolates, [No.581]. Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York 26th April 1923. (the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). The inscription in the lid says it all. ‘Wedding of H.R.H. The Duke of York. 26 April 1923. On the occasion of an entertainment given to the school children by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York.  Souvenir of the chocolates supplied by Messrs Rowntree and Co., was presented by that company to the Chairman of the Council, Mr Henry C. Gooch. J.P.’

Sir John Herbert Hunter (1864–1930)

1924. Sir John Herbert Hunter (1864-1939) by Solomon Joseph Solomon RA (1860-1927). [No.33]. Chairman of the LCC 1924-1925.  Hunter represented North Paddington for 23 years. A competent but lifeless portrait. Solomon appears from his letter dated 17 December 1925 to have absolutely no confidence in himself and his poignant letter is one of the most touching and revealing in Swinton’s collection.  ‘I am not yet quite happy with Sir Herbert’s picture. The dark winter days do more harm than good.  Anyhow if when it is hung temporarily have any condemnations or are yourself not happy about it, I’ll have it back and trouble Sir Herbert to sit again. It was hinted that I should be expected to appear at the presentation.  On these occasions my portrait looks like anybody else in the room but the sitter and I am totally miserable so I take care to stay away’.  Poor Solomon.   Having originally signed-up at the start of the war as a private in The Artists Rifles, a home defence corps, he promoted his ideas on camouflage, initially in the press and then directly to senior army officers. In December 1915 he visited the front lines and asked to set up a team to start production of camouflage. General Haig, no less,, instructed that Solomon be given the temporary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel to enable him to carry out his new duties. He wrote Strategic Camouflage which made a major contribution to its techniques. Solomon was brought up in a wealthy Jewish family and trained in various school including the Royal Academy Schools 1877-1880.  He travelled extensively in North Africa, Spain and Italy with Arthur Hacker. He had been elected to the Royal Academy in 1906 and produced paintings on historical and contemporary themes, from myth and, religion, harem scenes, and many portraits. One of his best works is Samson and Delilah (Walker Art Gallery) showing Delilah taunting the captured Samson. Titles of other paintings will give an idea of the sort of painting he produced: Echo and NarcissusJudgement of Paris,  Psyche, and Ajax and Cassandra. Sadly most of his paintings now glow in the storerooms of most public collections.

1924. Marble Busts. A Council question raised by J.P.Blake at a meeting of the LCC on 28 October 1924 throws some light on two pieces of sculpture which adorned the LCC’s principal rooms in the 1920s and the GLC’s cellars in the 1980s. Blake asked who was responsible for placing two busts, one unnamed in the ambulatory of the Council Chamber and whether they were there for artistic or commemorative purposes.  If not, the Council should perhaps reserve them for those purposes in future. Blake was informed that the busts had been placed on  temporary pedestals and no decision had been made on their permanent placing. The busts in question were:

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George Saunders FSA, FRS  (1762-1839) by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey (1781-1841). [No.859]  Chairman of the Metropolitan Commission for Sewers (1808). Saunders was an architect and designed extensions to the British Museum.  The Metropolitan Commission of Sewers was one of London’s first steps towards bringing its sewer and drainage infrastructure under the control of a single public body, thus the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers, was the direct successor of 7 earlier commissions. The Commission surveyed London’s antiquated sewerage system and set about ridding the capital of an estimated 200,000  cesspits, insisting that all cesspits should be closed and that house drains should connect to sewers and empty into the Thames (ultimately, a major contributing factor to The Great Stink of 1858). The Commission employed Joseph Bazalgette as chief engineer of the Commission’s successor, the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1856, and by the end of the decade after The Great Stink – his proposals to modernise the London sewerage system were being implemented. The powers of the Commissin passed to the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855 and to the London County Council in 1889. The bust is signed and dated 1831.

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Joseph Firth Bottomley Firth  (1842-1889) by   Francis (Pierre François) Verheyden (c.1843-1919).  [No.860]. Firth was  from the prominent Bottomley Quaker family and was an English barrister and Liberal politician. In 1873 he adopted the surname of Bottomley Firth.  He was member of the LCC Progressive Party for Shorditch (Haggerston) and a member for Chelsea on the London School Board, (1876-1879). He was MP for Chelsea 1880-1885. He became the first Deputy Chairman of the LCC. Firth died suddenly from “sun stroke” at the age of 47, while in Switzerland. The sculpture had been subscribed for privately and presented to the Council. On 2nd December 1890 the Council had decided that the bust should be placed in the Council Chamber. On the 9th February 1892 it decided that the exact position should be the wall of the Council Chamber to the right of the Chair.

Two other busts were also brought over to the new County Hall in 1924 as the Establishment Committee of the LCC decided on 6 November 1924 to place them on a temporary basis in the education library.

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The Reverend John Rogers MA (d.1880) by Edward Onslow Ford RA (1852-1901). [No.857] Vicar of St Thomas, Charterhouse and Vice Chairman of the London School Board from 1876-1880. The bust was gifted to the LCC as a memorial to the Rev.Rogers by friends and teachers.   The bust eventually found a home in a niche on the ceremonial stairs on the northern side of the building leading to the Conference Hall.  It was removed from this position in 1989 and eventually transferred to the Guildhall Art Gallery.

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Sir Charles Reed FSA (1819-1881) by Edward Onslow Ford (1852-1901). [No.594]. Reed had been Vice-Chairman (1870-1873)and second Chairman (1873-1881) of the London School Board. The sculpture had been presented by Members of the London School Board and Reed’s friends.  The bust found its way to the cellars of County Hall at sometime in its life there and was scooped up with the cellar paintings and put into safe storage. Now with the Guildhall Art Gallery. Reed was a politician who served as MP for Hackney and St Ives. He owned a successful commercial typefounding business in London and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He was knighted in 1874 and as a pastime he collected autographed letters and keys.  He also developed the Guildhall Library of the City of London, while he was a councillor. He is buried at Abney Park Cemetery under  a grey granite obelisk.

1925-1934. Sir William Ray (1876-1937) was Leader of the London County Council.

Sir Oscar Emanuel Warburg (1876–1937), Chairman of London County Council (1925–1926)

1925. Sir Oscar Emanuel Warburg OBE (1876-1937) by George Harcourt (1868-1947). [No.34]. Chairman of the LCC 1925-1926. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated in 1898. Member of the Municipal Reform Party of the LCC for North Hackney Division 1910-1931 and was an Alderman from 1932-1937.  Alderman from 1931; seven years Chairman of the Public Health Committee, and Chairman of several other Committees of the Council and other bodies . He was a Captain in the  Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War and was later in the Intelligence Corps. Warburg included in a list of his publications A Preliminary Study of the Genus Cistus Oaks in Cultivation in the British Isles. Warburg was also a member of the Court of London University and an honorary freeman of the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney. His recreations are listed as gardening, botany and piano playing. On 10 May 1927 the Council Minutes record that the princely sum of £2 was expended in connection with the presentation of the portrait of Sir Oscar Warburg. The portrait is extremely accomplished, a freely painted study in browns. Warburg liked the painting so much he commissioned Harcourt to do a replica for him. The original was shown at the RA Summer Exhibition that year.  Harcourt, like Swinton, studied under Herkomer and was also a Scot born in Dunbartonshire.  He became one of Herkomer’s most successful pupils and was master of the school’s Preliminary Classes. He had specialised in portraits since 1913 and was elected President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.   He died in Bushey where Herkomer had his home and studio.

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1926. Emma Jane Catherine Cobden, Mrs Fisher Unwin (1851 – 1947) by Emily Mary Osborn (1828-1925). One of two women elected to the first LCC.   She represented Bow and Bromley from 1889-1892 for the Progressive party.  She was the daughter of the Victorian reformer and statesman Richard Cobden (1804-1865) and was active in many radical causes and was an early proponent of women’s rights. Her election to the LCC was controversial and she faced legal challenges to her eligibility which eventually prevented her from serving as a councillor.   She married the publisher Thomas Fisher Unwin in 1892. As an anti-imperialist she opposed the  Boer War and after attacked the Union of South Africa for its introduction of segregationist policies. Cobden gave the LCC a choice of portraits of her one by Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861-1942) or one by Emily Mary Osborn. The Council chose the Osborn; a rather pensive head rising from a shimmering gold dress or coat, trimmed with white fur.  After extensive travels around County Hall, the portrait eventually came to rest in Room 168 (Leader of the Inner London Education Authority) where it resided through the last days of the GLC and most of the period of the Inner London Education Authority’s life after the abolition of the GLC. The painting was loaned for an exhibition at the Museum of London and on its return to County Hall was placed in the old vacated Members’ Library from where it was stolen in 1989. The frame was left behind and is now with the Guildhall Art Gallery. Osborn, the daughter of a London clergyman, was a genre painter though she also painted historical subjects. The laxity with which the staff responsible for protecting the GLC’s Heritage Collection is to deplored.  But I fear their indifference came from Sir Godfrey Taylor who presided over a period where quite shocking burglaries took place.   As far as I am aware this is the first time this charming and important portrait has been published so keep your eyes open if you spot it in the marketplace.

1926. More portrait losses but this time at the door of the LCC/GLC’s incredible careless treatment of its works of art throughout its history. A gift by Miss Anne Leigh of a portrait in crayon of  Margaret Mansfield, Baroness Sandhurst (née Fellowes, c.1828-92) by Henry Jermyn Brooks is recorded. She was a noted suffragist and an active philanthropist, who ran her own home for sick children in the Marylebone Road. She was  also a member of the first LCC representing Brixton though her election, which she won, was disputed by her opponent who bagged her seat when the courts ruled against her election. It is likely that the drawing is one of Brooks’ ten minute sketches he made for his  Meeting of the London County Council [No.95]. Unfortunately the present whereabouts of the portrait is not known. From a letter date 20 October 1926 in the Council’s archives it is recorded that the portraits of Lady Sandhurst, Emma Cons and Jane Cobden were hung together in Committee Room 172 in County Hall. All three portraits are now lost or stolen.

  Meeting of the London County Council in the Council Chamber, County Hall

1926. A Meeting of the LCC in its Council Chamber in County Hall. 1926 by Reginald George Jennings (1872-1930) [no.142]. A unique record with a wayward history also survives of this period of the Council’s history.  In 1960 the Rev. Leslie Jollie of the Shirley Methodist Church delivered to the Council, on permanent loan (apparently he did not know who owned it), an unframed oil painting eight feet by six feet of members of the Council in the Council Chamber, County Hall. The Council’s Art Inspector was called in and considered the painting ‘not a good one either in its composition or on the actual technique of the painting’. Nevertheless the Clerk to the Council agreed to relieve the Rev. Jollie of its custody to ensure that an interesting historical document was preserved. The painting is the earliest painted record of members in the Council Chamber. That a date can be put to it at all is due to a reference in a letter from Frank Dicksee to Swinton dated 7 February 1926 ‘It is very good of you to let me know the conditions under which Mr Jennings’ picture is being produced. It is his greatest and most difficult undertaking and he will doubtless improve it before it is finished, but of course the result remains very uncertain and I am glad to know it is in no way official’. The painting was rolled up in brown paper and duly delivered to the Council by the Rev. Jollie and deposited in the cellars of County Hall where it remained gathering dust until it was also rescued by me in the last days of the GLC.When it was taken into storage just before the abolition of the GLC it was still unframed and in dire need of conservation.  Jennings, born in Wandsworth, London, was a painter of portraits, figure subjects, miniatures and landscapes. He divided his time between London and Siena. The titles of his paintings give a flavour of his usual work: The Voice of God, The Wooing of Matilda, Elijah and the Angel. The LCC at a meeting must have been quite a change.

Sir George Hopwood Hume (1866–1946)

1926. Sir George Hopwood Hume, MP (1866-1946) by Sir John Lavery RA (1856-1941). [No.35] Chairman of the  LCC 1926-1927. Hume was a Conservative politician, MP for Greenwich, and served as Leader of the LCC for seven years.  He was born in the Ukrainian city of Poltava then part of the Russian Empire his father George Hume was a mechanical engineer and British vice-consol at Kiev and Kharkov. H was educated in Russia, England, France, Switzerland and Germany. He represented Greenwich on the LCC for the Municipal Reform Party (1910-1922) and served as an Alderman from 1922-1946. Hume had been apprenticed as an electrical engineer at Siemans Brothers but later studied law and was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1900. Lavery was the next to succumb to Swinton. He received a letter from Swinton dated 22 March 1927 which concluded #Today we have to have a portrait of Sir George Hopwood Hume, MP, Leader of the Council for seven years and Chairman last year, a most paintable person, wholly Scottish, but has lived in Russia and assimilated a Russian look, bearded, somewhat rugged – and on our walls we have no Lavery! I know it is a cool request, but there it is.   Will you join the army of Benefactors of London and paint Hume’s portrait for the County Hall for £100.  Of course you may be far too bush – but London will be the poorer’. Clearly Swinton was at his cajoling best.  Lavery’s  secretary replied on 26 March 1927 that ‘he feels so much indebted to the City of London that the least he could do is to accede to the request you make and paint a portrait of Sir George Hume for the County Hall for the sum of £100’.  Sir George wrote to Swinton in some anxiety on 5 January 1928 to say that he had heard nothing from Lavery and asked ‘Do you think he cares about doing this picture?’  Swinton wrote o 7 January 1928 wishing Lavery a Happy New year and saying Sir George had heard nothing from Lavery about his portrait and therefore he felt obliged to write.  Lavery replied on 9 January ‘Since I returned from America I have not felt very much like work as I had rather a strenuous time over there, but I hope to be once more in harness in a short time when I shall communicate with Sir George Hume. I am sorry to have to delay the sitting but I shall make a point that the portrait will be the first work I shall undertake.  Believe me with kindest regards’. It is indeed remarkable that Lavery, who dashed off glittering portraits of every society butterfly that emerged each season and commanded large fees should then find time, tired though he clearly was, to paint Sir George all bright and gleaming for £100.Sir George is also the first Chairman to be painted with the LCC’s Chairman’s badge of office (see below). Lavery was a painter of genre and landscapes as well a portraits. He studied in Glasgow and London and then went to Paris where he studied under William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 – 1905). In 1890 at the age of 33 he came to London and became one of the most fashionable and famous portrait painters of the time.  He kept a studio in Tangier where he spent his winters.

1926. The LCC Chairman’s Badge of Office. During Hume’s term of office the question of a badge of office for the Chairman was raised.  In April/June 1926 the General Purposes Committee reported to the Council that on the motion of Mr Henry Mills (on behalf of Sidney C. Harper) seconded by Mr Johnson, the Council had resolved on 7 July 1925: #That it be referred to the General Purposes Committee to consider and report whether or not a distinguishing badge should be provided for the Chairman of the Council to wear at official functions’.  The General purposes Committee reported that after hearing the views of Mr Harper on the matter they had appointed a special sub-committee to consider the suggestion.   They reminded the Council that in 1909 the matter had been considered and that the Council at the time had felt it ‘unnecessary and distinctly out of place’ for a badge to be used to distinguish the Chairman of the Council. However, they pointed out that since 1909 the ‘occasions on which some mark of distinction is really required for any one holding high municipal position for a short period have increased in number.  Not only social, but also the purely civic, occasions upon which the attendance of the Chairman of the Council is placed at a distinct disadvantage at ceremonial functions that he holds the office of Chairman, and we think that this omission should be made good. The wearing of robes, chain or sash would be inappropriate to the office, but a badge based on the Council’s coat-of-arms, would, in our opinion, be both distinctive and appropriate.   The Committee has obtained designs from leading jewellery designers and others,  and had examined 18 sketches submitted by them.  The design they favoured was No.17 (which was displayed in the ambulatory on 29 June 1926{. They considered that minor improvements to the design would be necessary. They also suggested that the badge be worn suspended by means of a ribbon round the collar.  They added that no expense would fall on the Council if it approved the proposal.  The Council agreed Design 17 subject to alterations and stipulated that the Chairman should only use the badge at official functions.

1927. Chairman’s badge of office. On 22 February 1927 the badge was ready for presentation to the Chairman.  It had been made by H.G.Murphy, one of the instructors at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and was described as follows:  ‘The badge is based upon the Council’s coat-of-arms. This with its surmounting mural crown, forms the centre of a pointed oval consisting of a wreath of London Pride. Greiffenhagen, Maurice, 1862-1931; Sir Robert Inigo Tasker (1868-1959), PoliticianAt the rounded end of the oval is a scroll with the letters ‘LCC’ surmounted by a loop in brilliants, through which a further loop, also set in brilliants, passes.  To this second loop is attached the ribbon, which will be barry-wavy argent and azure repeating the representation of the river Thames which appears o the Council’s coat-of-arms. At the pointed end of the oval appears a separate spray of London Pride and from this depends a pear-shaped parl.   The whole badge is made f gold and the colour of the coat-of-arms and of the London Pride leaves is worked in enamel’.  The reason there was to be no expense to the Council was revealed.  Major H.B.Lewis-Barned DL who represented South Paddington for the Municipal Reform Party had offered to bear the expense of providing the badge.  And so at a meeting of the Council on 22 February 1927 Major Lewis-Barned handed the badge to the Chairman (Hume) and ‘the Chairman of the Council assumed the badge’. Major Lewis-Barned was duly thanked for his generous gift. In May the Council resolved that the custody of the distinguishing badge of the Chairman of the Council should be the responsibility of the Chairman during  his year of office and arranged for it to be insured for £350. Sadly when the LCC’s successor the GLC wanted a badge, they broke up the LCC badge and had a new one made from the wreckage.  An unbelievable act of parsimonious vandalism.

Sir John Maria Gatti (1872–1929)

1927. Sir John Maria Emilio Gatti (1872 – 1929)  by Frederick Whiting (1874-1962).[No.36]. Chairman of the LCC 1927-1928.  Born as Joannes Maria Aemilius Gatti in Dongio in Ticino, Switzerland he was an Anglo-Swiss theatre manager, restauranteur and businessman.  Gatti was educated at Stonyhurst College at St John’s College Oxford, and was called to the bar at the Inner Temple. He had been mayor of Westminster 1911-1912 had served as Chairman of the Finance Committee of he LCC for the past seven years and was a senior partner of J & R Gatti, proprietors of the Adelphi and Vaudeville Theatres, London. He was chairman from 1919-1920 of the  Society of West End Theatre Managers.  He and his family also owned a string of cafe-restaurants and the Charing Cross and Strand Electricity Supply Corporation Ltd, which supplied power to most of the West End of London.  He listed his recreations as golf and mechanical work.  He represented the Strand Division on the LCC for the Municipal Reform party. When elections resumed after 1918, he was elected a councillor for the Westminster Abbey division, holding the seat until his death. His is the last painting of a Chairman without the Chairman’s Badge of Office. I regard the painting as one of the most distinguished portraits in the collection and in fact is my favourite. Gatti in grey, before an open window, sitting with his arm over the back of his chair, cigarette in hand, suave, poised, the very epitome of sophisticated 1920s. During his year as Chairman, Gatti led a deputration from the Council to St James’ Palace (13 March 1928) to present an Address of Welcome to His Majesty King Amanulla of Afghanistan. It appears from the address that the deputation had watched with interest His Majesty’s progress through India, Egypt, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany and hoped that he wold continue in good health so that the people of Afghanistan could long enjoy the blessings of his Rule His Majesty expressed  his thanks and conferred on Gatti the Order of Astauri-i-Dome. Unfortunately within a year Amanulla was deposed in a coup.  He died in 1960 in exile. Gatti also acquired the Insignia of the 3rd Class of the Order of the Nile from King Faud of Egypt during that king’s State visit in 1927. The portrait has written on the back 1929. Whiting was educated at Deal and Chelsea and studied at St John’s Wood Art School, the Royal Academy Schools and the Julian Academy in Paris. He was a painter and etcher of portraits and landscapes and had led a rather adventurous life as a war correspondent and artist for the Graphic in China 1900-1901 and during the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905.

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1927. Gatti’s Gavel. [No.316]. Gatti left his elegant inlaid wood and silver gavel. as a memento to the Finance Committee on which he had served for seven years,  The gift was accepted on 1 April 1927.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Cecil Bingham Levita (1867–1953), Chairman of the London County Council (1928)

1928. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Cecil Bingham Levita KCVO, CBE, DL (1867-1953 by George Henry RA (1858-1943). [No.37].Chairman of the LCC 1928-1929.  Levita attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1886. He served in the Second Matabele War and the Second Boer War and was mentioned in dispatches. He was promoted to Major in 1902, and retired from the army in 1909. He served as a General Staff Officer in the First World War. He was created a Commander of the Legion of Honour in 1929 and Commander of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.   He was a Member of the Municipal Reform Party and represented North Kensington on the LCC from 1911-1937. He is painted by George Henry in the full military regalia of a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Horse Artillery his badge of office as Chairman of the LCC lost among his other orders and medals, his great-coat hanging with some style from his shoulders.  George Henry was born in Ayrshire and had studied at the Glasgow School of Art. He was later to be much influenced by Japanese art.

1929. Suggestion that the President of the Royal Academy appoint future artists.  It was Levita who, so Swinton informs us, had the idea of inviting the President of the Royal Academy to choose the painter each year for the Chairman’s portrait. Swinton: ‘Sir Cecil Levita had a happy inspiration when, after a preliminary discussion with Sir Frank Dicksee, President of the Royal Academy, who unfortunately died suddenly at that moment – he induced Sir William Llewellyn, who succeeded him as PRA and who had a generation earlier himself painted Lord Cheylesmore, to undertake the responsibility of selecting our painters and, in a way telling them off. It is to be hoped that the excellent arrangement so started will continue, with perhaps the result that from now on the British Portrait Painter who thinks he has made good, but has no specimen of his work hanging in County Hall, will feel almost aggrieved.’

John William Dodson (1869–1933), 2nd Baron Lord Monk Bretton, Chairman of London County Council

1929. Sir John William Dodson, 2nd Baron Monk Bretton, CB, DL (186-1929) by Samuel Melton Fisher RA (1859-1939). [No.38]. Chairman of the LCC 1929-1930. Educated at Eton (1883–1887), and New College, Oxford. In 1894 he entered the Diplomatic Service and was Honorary Attaché in Paris (1894) and Constantinople (1895). He resigned in 1897 having succeeded to the barony. From 1899 to 1900 he was assistant Private Secretary to Lord Salisbury who was the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and from 1900 to 1903 he was Principal Private Secretary to Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, in South Africa.  He was a member of the Municipal Reform Party on the LCC serving as an Alderman from 1911-1915 and representing Clapham from 1922-1933. Fisher’s portrait is, in a quiet way, an accomplished one of great restraint and power. Fisher a painter of portraits and figurative subjects and genre in Italianate settings  had studied at Dulwich College, the Royal Academy Schools and in Paris.  He had then travelled to Italy where he lived for 10 years. He then lived in Herne Hill but died in Camberley.

Sir Robert Inigo Tasker (1868–1959), Politician

1930. Sir Robert Inigo Tasker (1868-1959) by Maurice Greiffenhagen RA (1862-1931). [No.39]. Chairman of the LCC 1930-1931. Tasker was educated at Ardingly College and became an architect,  a member of the Institute of Registered Architects. He held a commission in the British Army Volunteer and Territorial Forces between 1900 and 1920. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the 21st Middlesex Rifle Volunteers in 1900. In 1908 the unit became the 11th Battalion of the London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles). Following the outbreak of war, he reached the rank of Major-General in 1916. He served in South Africa and Egypt and was twice mentioned in despatches during the 1914-18 War. He later became Director of the Army Veterinary Service, War Office 1933-1937.  He was a Member of the Paviors’, Fan Makers and Gardeners’ Livery Companies.  He represented Holborn on the LCC as a member of the Municipal Reform Party from 1910-1914. Tasker appears as a forceful and slightly rakish character with a penetrating gaze and assured stance; a fist clenched in a strong hand, impeccably turned out against a black background which is broken by a flowing pink silk drape.  The whole space is divided into a complex series of shapes and angles.  It must be one of Greiffenhagen’s most successful portraits.  Greiffenhagen studied at the Royal Academy Schools and worked extensively as an illustrator.  He had been head of the Life Department of Glasgow School of Art from 1906-1929.

0111930. Master keys to the old  Gaiety Theatre London. [No.552]  Tasker presented to the Council, in a velvet lined presentation box, the beautiful set of keys to the Old Gaiety Theatre 1868-1908. Tasker remains full of surprises.

1930. The Poor Law Boards of Guardians.  The Metropolitan Asylums Board and the Boards of the Guardians of the Poor.  On 1 April 1930, the Local Government Act 1929 conferred on the LCC the duties of London’s Poor Law authorities, The Asylums Board and the twenty-five Boards of Guardians of the Poor.   With the duties came 26,000 staff, 140 hospitals, schools and institutions containing 75,000 beds.   From now on the Council was responsible for the health and welfare of people of London irrespective of their financial conditions.  Boards of Guardians had been set up in 1834 to provide workhouses and residential schools for destitute children and infirmaries and dispensaries for the poor.  With the workhouses came 75,000 inmates and responsibility for more than 109,000 persons on welfare relief.  The Asylums Board provided mental and isolation hospitals for women and children, laboratories for research and an ambulance service. The Board of Guardians of St Giles Infirmary were clearly well looked after as witnessed by a curious survival in the Collection of part of a silver cutlery service (17 teaspoons, 2 dessert spoons and a pair of sugar tongs) all inscribed with either ‘St Giles Camberwell 1808’ or St Giles Camberwell 1822. [Nos 222].  The original metal seals of the majority of the twenty-five Poor Law Boards of Guardians are in the Heritage Collection as is a poignant historic document [No.600] in the form of an Application from the future Nurse Edith Cavell for an appointment as an assistant nurse Class II at the Fountain Fever Hospital.  She informs the board that ‘I have had no hospital training nor any nursing experience whatever’.

Metropolitan Asylums Board Coat-of-Arms

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Metropolitan Asylums Board Coat-of-Arms by Laurence Arthur Turner (1864-1957) after a design by Christopher Rahere Webb (1886-1966) [No.646]. A memento from the Asylums Board is the handsome wood carving of its coat-of-arms and supporters which had been removed from the Board Room in their head-quarters building in Carmelite Street on the Victoria Embankment. Turner was a sculptor, carver, modeller and architect. He was Master of the Art Workers Guild in 1922, a member of the Society of Antiquaries, and an honorary Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. His obituary in ‘The Times’: ‘According to the fashion of these days such artists are rare and at a discount, but never does skill of his quality disappear form the world without a warmth and richness going too.’ (Tuesday, 15 October 1957, p. 14). Christopher Rahere Webb was foremost a English stained glass designer but was presumably an artist of some repute. Some of his finest work is in Sheffield Cathedral.  His father was Sir Aston Webb who was one of the judges for the design of County Hall.

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1930. Royal Warrants of a coat-0f-arms and supporters for the Metropolitan Asylums Board. [Nos.356 and 357]. The LCC inherited the Royal Warrants for a coat-of-arms granted to the Metropolitan Asylums Board, granted to the Board by the Royal College of Arms.   There was clearly a vogue for coats-of-arms in 1914 – the LCC had been granted one within a few months of the Board.   The LCC may have waited 35 years, the Metropolitan Asylums Board waited 47 years. These warrants together with those of the LCC and GLC were framed in the last few weeks of the GLC by order of Tony Banks MP the last Chairman of the GLC.

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Sir Robert Mitton Hensley (1840–1912)1930. Sir Robert Milton Hensley (1840-1912) by John Alexander Harrington Bird (1846-1936). Chairman of the Metropolitan Asylums Board 1901-1904. Knighted in 1902. Bird was mainly a sporting artist specialising in horses and did the occasional portrait. He was intended for the army but took up art and studied at the Royal Academy Schools. He went to Montreal in Canada and became the Director of Art and was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1880. He returned to England in 1885 and made a speciality of painting horses many of his paintings were done for the Royal family.  He died in London.   This portrait seems to be an extremely accomplished one; it’s a wonder he did not do more.

1930. War Memorial 1914-1818 of the Metropolitan Asylums Board. Built into the walls of one of the cellars of County Hall, originally used as office accommodation by the LCC/GLC Record Office is the handsome war memorial of the Asylums Board, listing the staff who died in the 1914-1918 war and surmounted by the Board’s coat-of-arms. Presumably it is still in place and has not been destroyed by the developers of the building.

Sir Ernest Sanger (1875–1939)

1931. Sir Ernest Sanger (1875-1939) by George Spencer Watson RA (1869-1934). [No.40]. Chairman of the LCC 1931-1932.Sanger has been Mayor of St  Marylebone 1920-1911 and served on many committees on the LCC and was Chairman of the Welfare for the Blind and the Mental Hospital Committees.  He was a member Municipal Reform Party on the LCC and represented West Marylebone from 1916-1919 and St Marylebone from 1919-1939. Watson had studied at the RA Schools and painted portraits and figurative subjects. The titles of some of his paintings will give a feel of his work Joseph interpreting Pharoah’s Dream, Her Hair was Long, her Foot was Light, and The Birth of Aphrodite.  

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1931. Silver-gilt inkstand by John Law. [No.276]. Sanger presented the Council with a lavish memento of his year of office in the form of a George IV silver-gilt ink-stand by John Law dated 1829. The inkstand consists of an exquisitely worked castle with battlemented tower inkwells and a central pedestal surmounted by a lion couchant whose body is formed by a large baroque pearl.

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1931. The Sandringham Chair. [No.310]. The Council was also presented with an unusual piece of furniture; a writing table corner chair, highly carved to which are fixed two silver plaques stating ‘Given by H.M.Queen Alexandra to Sir Francis Jeune. Sandringham April 1901’, and ‘Presented to the London County Council in memory of Lady St Helier  Alderman 1915-1926 by her daughters 1931’. The plates are hallmarked 1901 and 1931 respectively.  The chair was used by the last chairman of the GLC for his visitors and is now part of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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1932. Sir Angus Newton Scott (1876-1958) by Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn RA (1870-1951). [No.41]. Chairman of the LCC from 1932-1933. Newton was a chartered accountant, chairman of a tea company, a Liveryman of the Glaziers Company and a Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons. He was a member of the Municipal Reform Party  on the LCC and represented Putney from 1922-1934 and the City of London from 1934-1941. Knighted during his year of office as Chairman of the LCC. Gabriel de Glehn’s portrait is a handsome and attractive work of exceptional quality.   De Glehn, a notable landscape and stained glass artist was born in London and educated at Brighton College.  He studied art at the South Kensington School of Art and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris and exhibited at the Paris Salon. During World War I he joined the staff of a British hospital for French soldiers in Haute-Marne France, and in 1916 was commissioned and served with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was seconded to the front in Italy in 1917, and spent the last part of the war as an interpreter.  He travelled extensively through France, Italy and the United States of America many times with his friend John Singer Sergent and finally settled in Stratford Tony, near Salisbury.

0021932. Bronze Memorial to Ralph Knott (1878-1929) who designed County Hall. The bronze was designed by Gilbert William Bayes (1872-1953) renowned for his war memorials, and executed by the Morris Singer Art Foundry. The memorial was unveiled on the east podium flanking the Members’ Entrance to County Hall.

1933. Opening of County Hall.   On 27 January 1933 the Chairman (Scott) ceremonially declared the main building of County Hall complete and officially opened it   The General Purposes Committee of the Council reported on 31 January 1933 that ‘We have decided that the expenditure involved in a formal opening of ….County Hall could not be justified in the present situation. We felt however, that there should be some appropriate commemoration, and the Chairman of the Council expressed his willingness to give an afternoon party at the County Hall on 27 January 1933, to commemorate the completion of the whole building, at which there would be an appropriate ceremony in the new conference hall’.  The Minutes of the same Council Meeting record the reason for ‘the present situation’ which was clearly unemployment and indeed a Special LCC Committee on Unemployment reported to the Council with dire statistics.

1933. Fireplaces at County Hall. On 7 Februatry 1933 the Establishment Committee of the Council agreed to the removal of three 18th century fireplaces from the Old County Hall to Rooms 160, 161 and 127 of the new County Hall.

Ernest Martin Dence (1873–1937)

1933. Ernest Martin Dence (1873-1937) by Algernon Mayow Talmadge RA (1871-1939). [No.42]. Chairman of the LCC 1933-1934. Dence looking rather pre-occupied, was a marine engineer by profession, mainly concerned himself with the Council’s housing programme. A LCC Member of the Municipal Reform Party, he represented Greenwich from 1919-1933 and served as an Alderman from 1935-1937. Talmadge had also studied under Herkomer, joining his school in 1892.  He is best known for his landscape and animal paintings.  An accident with a gun had left him with a crippled hand and, being unable to fight during the First World War, he became an official artist to the Canadian Government. For many years he lived in St Ives, Cornwall, where he became Director of a School of Landscape, Figure and Sea Painting.  He had been elected an RA in 1929.

1934. The Labour majority. During 1934 the Labour Party took control of the LCC and remained the majority party till the spring of 1967.

1934-1940. Herbert Morrison (later Lord Morrison of Lambeth) (1888-1965) became the Leader of the London County Council.

Lord Snell of Plumstead (1865–1944), Politician and Compaigner

1934-1937. Henry Snell, 1st Baron Snell, CH, CBE, PC (1865 – 1944) by Francis Dodd RA (1874-1949). [No.43]. Chairman of the LCC from 1934-1937. Snell was a British socialist politician and campaigner. He served in government under Ramsey MacDonald and Winston Churchill and was the Labour Party’s leader in the House of Lords in the late 1930s. The painting is dated 1934. Snell began his working life as a farm labourer, the son of agricultural labourers.  He was later a groom, a ferryman and a potman.  His education began in the local village school and was completed in the London School of Economics and Heidelberg University. He had been a Labour MP for East Woolwich 1922-1931 and was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the India Office, 1931. He was well known as a speaker on labour and religious topics and wrote Daily Life in Parliament and pamphlets on subjects such as Alien Immigration and Sunday Games in the Parks. He published an autobiography, Men, Movements and Myself, in 1936.  He was to become Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.  As leader of the Labour Party in the Lords, Snell took a strong line against the growing threat of fascism, and attacked the Government’s appeasement of Nazi Germany and its refusal to intervene to help the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War. He also continued to champion Zionism. Francis Dodd depicts him as a man of considerable presence and character, with a benevolent and firm gaze.  He must have added great dignity to the Council Chamber and the House of Lords.  He represented East Woolwich from 1919-1925 as a Labour member of the LCC.    Dodd was born in Holyhead, Anglesey, the son of a Wesleyan Minister.  He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and travelled to France, Italy and Spain.  He settled in Manchester in 1895 and then moved to Blackheath, London in 1904. He was an official war artist 1917-1918 and was elected an RA in 1935.

1935. Silver Jubilee of King George V. On the 6th May 1935 the country celebrated George V’s Silver Jubilee. The Council Minutes of 19 March 1935 reveal a Health Ministry Circular No.1465 had stated that ‘it is the King’s express wish that celebrations should be as simple as possible and held on a local basis, also that all undue expenditure should be avoided’.  On a local level the Council arranged for schools to close and children to be taken to see the Royal procession. The Residential Establishments for those receiving Public Assistance (the Workhouses) which were run by the Council were to have a fete day on 6 May and only ‘essential work’ was to be performed.  ‘The dietary to be supplemented for both inmates and staff and chocolates and sweets supplied for the women, tobacco and cigarettes for the men, and toys and games for the children.  The total cost of this was £1,700 for inmates and £90 for staff.  Recipients of outdoor relief were to be allowed an additional two shillings for each adult and o ne shilling for each child, the total cost to be about £8,850.  The mental hospitals, which were run by the Council, were to arrange for ‘The dietary to be supplemented or a special supper served for patients and staff’. Sports and entertainments were to be provided for them at the cost of £1,950. And then there was to be ‘An extra visiting day on 6 May at all hospitals and institutions;. The Council proposed to floodlight County Hall during the celebration period and hold a civic reception on the 31 May for the King and Queen who accepted and invitation to attend.  In the event the King was unable to attend due to illness but Queen Mary did come and the King later wrote to Snell that ‘His Majesty heard from the Queen of the success of the ceremony and fully realises that this was due to the care bestowed upon he arrangements by all concerned’. The King also went on to say that under the ‘fostering care’ of the LCC ‘London may become ever more worthy of the affection which she inspires in the hearts of the whole Empire’.

1935. Chairman – ‘The Right Honourable’. On the day of the Jubilee Reception, 31 May 1935, a letter was sent to the Council by the Home Office ‘I am directed by the Secretary of State to inform you that His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to confer upon the Chairman of the London County Council and his successors in office for the time being the right to the style ‘The Right Honourable’ prefixed to his official title of Chairman of the London County Council.’

1933. Cartoon for a stained glass window by Robert Anning-Bell RA (1863-1933). In January 1933 the Council accepted the gift by the London Schools’ Guild of Arts and Crafts of a framed cartoon for a stained glass window by Robert Anning-Bell.  Anning Bell had been the School’s President and the Guild wished to show their appreciation for the help received from the Council. The cartoon was last seen by me with a graffiti balloon stuck on its glass in the offices of the GLC’s Historic Buildings Division of the Architect’s Department. It presumably transferred with that Department to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.  Anning Bell was professor of design at the Royal College of Art, designed the great mosaic in the tympanum at Westminster Cathedral and from 1922 worked on mosaics for the Palace of Westminster.

1936. Death of King George V.  George V died on the 20th of January 1936.  The Council Minutes of 4 February record that the Chairman with the concurrence of the Finance Committee had decided that County Hall and all other offices of the LCC would close on the day of the king’s funeral, also that all facilities for games in the parks would be stopped. The Council sent a wreath bearing a card with the Council’s coat-of-arms with the inscription ‘From the London County Council to express the profound sorrow and grateful remembrance of the People of London’. The wreath was ‘conveyed to Windsor Castle in one of the latest type of enclosed appliances of the London Fire Brigade, by the senior superintendent, one other officer and four firemen’.  The fire brigade was represented in the funeral procession and Snell accompanied by the Vice-Chairman and Deputy-Chairman attended the funeral service at the Royal Chapel of St George, Windsor.

1936. Snell’s annual report. In his annual report to the Council on 28 July 1936 on the work of the LCC during the past year, it is interesting to note one of the items.  The Council was responsible for a number of hospitals in London and Snell comments ‘London still continues to be exceptionally healthy.   The London death rate fell in 1935 to 11.4 per 1,000 of the population compared with 12.2 in 1934.

1936. Invitation to King Edward VIII. It was reported on 10 November 1936 that the Council had extended an invitation to Edward VIII to attend an evening civic reception by the Chairman at County Hall to celebrate his coronation. The King accepted the invitation. The date chosen was 27 May 1937. The King abdicated on the 11 December 1936.

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1936. Silver cigarette box by the Central School of Arts and Crafts. [No.278]. It was during Snell’s term of office that a silver cigarette box engraved with the Council’s coat-of-arms, designed and executed by the CentralSchool of Arts and Crafts (hallmark CSAC, London 1936) became the first piece of civic silver to be collected by the Council.

0021937. Frank Hunt Loving Cup by the Central School of Arts and Crafts [No.543]. A striking memento of a member of staff is included in the Heritage Collection. It consists of a silver cup engraved on one wide with a representation of the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens and on the other inscribed ‘Presented by his colleagues.  The Chief Officers of the London County Council. To Frank Hunt on his retirement on 4 May 1937 and dedicated by him as a Loving Cup to the Service of the Company of Chief Officers Present and Past’. Another inscription under the base states that the cup was made at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (hallmark W&H 1937). Frank Hunt was the Valuer to the LCC.

1937. Coronation of King George VI. The invitation from the Chairman of the Council to celebrate the coronation of George VI was accepted by the King and Queen. The date chosen to celebrate King Edward VIII’s coronation remained the same, Thursday 27 May 1937. The king and queen also agreed to open the London Fire Brigade’s new Headquarters in Albert Embankment on 21 July 1937.  A lengthy report was put to the Council on the 23 February 1937 setting out the details of the coronation celebrations by the Council.   Schools were to be closed for the day, presentation beakers as a souvenir of the Coronation were to be presented to full-time pupils attending schools maintained by the Council – cost estimated at £13,750.   Copies of these beakers were later sent to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the London Museum. The ‘inmates and staff’ of ‘Public assistance residential establishments’ (i.e. the ‘workhouses’) were to have their diet ‘supplemented’ by ‘extra chocolates and sweets supplied to the women, tobacco and cigarettes for the men, and toys and games for the children’. Parties of ‘inmates’ were also to be provided with seats at cinemas to view the Coronation films.  Mental hospital patients were to celebrate with a special supper.  On the day of the coronation 37,000 children from the Council’s schools were brought together by the Council to view the Coronation procession along the Victoria Embankment. The report to the Council on 15 June 1937 states that ‘It is believed that no child was unduly tired, that every child was able to sit down until the procession arrived, that all enjoyed a good view and that very few children were unprovided with a coat or mackintosh… The weather was initially ideal from the medical point of view, although the heavy rain which fell after the procession had passed caused some discomfort many children must have arrived home wet, despite their coats and mackintoshes….’ . After the procession had passed the Chairman (Snell) sent the following telegram to the King’s private secretary: ‘Would you express to His Majesty the deepest gratitude of the 37,000 children present on the Victoria Embankment today for the wonderful opportunity granted to them to be among the first to greet hi after his Coronation’. The reply was as follows: ‘The King thanks the children for their king message and is glad to hear that they enjoyed the Coronation Procession on the Victoria-embankment last Wednesday’. The Chairman also sent letters of thanks to those who had helped with the arrangements, including the Milk Marketing Board and the Potato Marketing Board who generously ‘distributed cartons of milk and packets of potato crisps free of charge’.

1937 Chairman ‘s Annual Report. In his review of the work of the Council, Snell reported on 27 July 1937 that ‘During the year the Council renewed its life.  A corporate body, they say, never dies.  I rather prefer the analogy of that bird of mythology, the phoenix, and like to think of the Council rising out of its own ashes every three years with renewed vigour.   As a result of the election last March, no fewer than 36 new members came to County Hall.  I hope that they are finding the work interesting – there is, in truth, plenty of it, and for all tastes’.  Snell also recorded that he noted the disappearance from the Council of eight members with over 20 years’ service, including a number of former Chairmen among the Sir Cecil Levita and Sir Robert Tasker.  He also recorded the deaths of other former chairmen – Sir Oscar Warburg, E.M. Dence and Captain G.S.C. Swinton, Finally Snell commented that ‘The increasing use of the Council’s hospitals by the citizens of London is proving almost embarrassing, because additional accommodation and extra staff take time to provide.  Some idea of the in creating demand for treatment may be obtained by the fact that the number of admissions to cute general hospitals has increased from 139,010 in 1931 to 166,288 in 1936, and the number of confinements in hospitals from 10,038 in 1931 to 17,831 in 1936….  The increase  – over 70 per cent in five years – in the number of maternity cases is very striking.’ The report goes on to give details of all the improvements which were being made, including the building of new hospitals.  The King of the Belgians made a State Visit in November 1937 and the Chairman accompanied by representatives of the Council made an address of welcome to the King at St James’ Palace. The king conferred on Snell the Order of a Grand Officier de la Couronne.

Ewart Gladstone Culpin (1877–1946), Architect

1938. Ewart Gladstone Culpin (1877-1946) by Thomas Cantrell Dugdale RA (1880-1952) [No.44]. Chairman of the LCC 1938-1939. Culpin was an architect by profession and was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. .  He was president of the Societie Belge pour le reconstruction de la Belgique and Officier de l’Ordre de la Couronne de la Belgigue. He was made a Grand Officer of the Crown of Rumania by King Carol and created a Commander of the Order of the Black Star of Benin by one of the kings of Dahomey.  He was an Alderman  from 1925-1937 and represented  North Battersea from 1937-1946.   The portrait is not wholly successful but does present Culpin in a straightforward and kindly way.  Dugdale also gives him the appearance of a rather large boned and bulky man who seems to expand and flow sideways into a blotched grey background. Dugdale was born in Blackburn, studied at the Manchester School of Art, the Royal College of Art, London and the Julian Academy, Paris. He was a member of the Royal Society of Portrait painters and exhibited at the RA from 1901 and became a full RA in 1945. The Times obituary commented that Dugdale was greatly liked by his associates and ‘his generosity to brother artists in material ways as well as in appreciation was famous’.

1st  September 1939. WW2. The invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany takes place followed by declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom. The war was to last 6 years and 1 day.  Evelyn M. Lowe (1870–1956)

1939. Evelyn Mary Lowe (1870-1956) by Alfred Kingsley Lawrence RA (1893-1975). [No.45]. First lady chairwoman of the LCC 1939-1940. 1939 saw the appointment of the first Chairwoman of the LCC.   She represented West Bermondsey on the LCC for the Labour Party from 1922-1946. Lowe specialised in the area of Education and became Leader of the Oposition on the Education Committee.  When Labour won its majority in 1934, Herbert Morrison made her Chairman of the Education Committee.  She held this post till 1937.   Her mission in life was to improve and promote London education and in all served as a member of the Education Committee for some 30 years.   Unfortunately her appointment as Chairman was 15 years too late for Swinton’s dream of having the first lady Chairman painted by Sargent. She would have made a perfect elegant subject for him or maybe this is just the impression made by Lawrence’s 1940 portrait. Lawrence is not Sargent but there is a faint stylish glass to the work, the only profile portrait in the collection which bears a teasing resemblance to Sargent.   Maybe Lawrence had been told of Swinton’s aspirations.  Lawrence had been born in Southover, Lewes and studied art in the King Edward VII School of Art, Newcastle upon Tyne and at the British School in Rome. He was elected an RA in 1938.

1939. LCC Jubilee. The year 1939 was also the Jubilee year of the Council has on 21 March 1939 it had completed its first 50 years.   It was proposed that invitations to the Jubilee celebrations should be sent out to the only three members of the first Council who, as far as could be ascertained, were still living: John Burns, Lord Dickinson and Mrs Fisher Unwin.   The celebrations were to include a public exhibition illustrating the Council’s work and achievements and a luncheon for the surviving members of the first Council with past chairmen and chairwomen of he Council. The City of London proposed to invite the Council to a reception at the Guildhall on the evening of Monday, 27 March 1939.   A Jubilee volume of the first fifty years’ work of the Council was to be written by Sir Gwilym Gibbon (1874-1948) with the assistance of Reginald W. Bell (1919-1992).  At the special meeting of the Council on the 21 March 1939, the Chairman of the Council sent a telegram to George VI conveying the Council’s loyalty and devotion and to place on record ‘its sincere appreciation of the deep and continued interest of Your Majesties in the welfare of the people of London’. The king replied by thanking them for their loyal message and remarked that ‘Your Jubilee today marks the close of half a century’s arduous work for the well-being of London and her people.  I send you my hearty congratulations on what has been achieved during that period and my best wishes for the success of the Council’s activities in the future’.

1939. LCC Jubilee Exhibition. On the 21 March, Queen Mary opened the Council’s Jubilee Exhibition and asked that in celebration of the occasion a holiday should be given to all the children in the Council’s schools.  ‘This was arranged.’  The following day a reception was held at County Hall by the Chairman, the Guest of Honour being the President of France who was accompanied by Madame Albert Lebrun.  On the 27 March the City Corporation gave a reception at the Guildhall to celebrate the Jubilee and on the following day the Lord  Mayor of London and the Sheriffs and officers of the City Corporation were entertained to lunch at County Hall.   The Mayors and Mayoresses of the Metropolitan boroughs came to lunch on the 29 March.  Over 70,000 people visited the exhibition at County Hall and, through a considerable number could enter free, a charge of 6d was made to 16,117 persons.  The highest number attending the exhibition was 10,000 on Saturday 1 April.

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