1956. Mrs Helen Caroline Bentwich, née Franklin CBE (1892-1972) by Henry Lamb RA (1885-1960) [No.62]. Chairman of the LCC from 1956-1957. Lamb suggested he have lunch with his subject in order to study her before the commission was given or accepted. They duly lunched. She found him ‘congenial’ and thought she would ‘get on happily with him and I hope he will with me’. That he did is clear from his warm and affectionate portrait. The Council agreed his fee of £500. The portrait is signed and dated 1957. Mrs Bentwich was a philanthropist and politician and was born in Notting Hill, London into a prominent Jewish family. Her father was a merchant banker and her uncles were leading politicians. She served as a forewoman at the Woolwich Arsenal in 1916 and fought for the rights of women workers and tried to form a trade union. Forced to resign, she became an organiser for the Women’s Land Army. She moved to Palestine in 1919, where he was appointed attorney-general under the British Mandate and she organised nursery schools, formed arts and crafts centres, and became honorary secretary of the Palestine Council of Jewish Women. She also served a prominent role in the British Movement of Children from Germany from 1939-1940. She became a Labour member of the LCC for North Kensington 1937-1946, North-East Bethnal Green, 1946-1949 and Stoke Newington and North Hackney from 1955-1958. She then served as a Alderman of the LCC from 1949-1955 and 1958-1965. Her keen interest in the arts was expressed in her acting as trustees of the Museum of London and the Whitechapel Gallery. A positive whirlwind of a lady. King Faisal of Iraq on a State Visit to London awarded her with the Order of Al Rafidain, Third Class. Lamb was born in Adelaide, brought up in Manchester and studied under Augustus John and Orpen. He was a member of the Camden Town Group 11911-1912 and served as an Official War Artist in the 1916-1918 and 1939-1945 wars.
1956. Shallow silver flower bowl with off-set radii by E.R.Emerson. [No.272]. Bentwich’s year of service was commemorated by the flower bowl one of Emerson’s masterpieces. Silver mark ARE London 1957. It was presented on 22 October 1957 and cost £239.15s.
1956. Visitors. The annual roll-call of visitors to County Hall during the past year included Nikolai Alexandrovich Bulganin, Premier of the Soviet Union and his wife and Nikita Khruschev under whom he served, the former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, General Alfred N. Gruenther, Mr G.M.Malenkov also from the Soviet Union, the High Commissioner of Pakistan, the Chief Minister of Singapore, the Governor of the State of Virginia, the Prime Minister of Victoria, the Burgemeister of Vienna, the Oberburgermeister of Bonn and the Mayor of Orly. I am sure they all came with gifts but whatever happened to them?
1957. Ronald McKinnon Wood OBE (1892-1967) by Peter George Greenham CBE, RA (1909-1992). [No.63]. Chairman of the LCC from 1957-1958. The Chairman insisted that, as President of the Royal Academy, Sir Charles Wheeler be consulted as to the artist for his portrait. Sir William Coldstream was unable to attend the meeting of the steadily growing and prestigious panel. Two names were put forward for consideration Paul James Logan Wyeth of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and Peter George Greenham. In the event Greenham was chosen and produced a rather good sensitive and pensive portrait. Wood was educated at Highgate School, Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood and Pembroke College, Cambridge. He represented North East Bethnal Green on the Labour group of he LCC from 1946-1949 and Bethnal Green from 1949-1961. He had also served as Chairman of the LCC Education Committee from 1950-1955. He was a Fellow of the Imperial College of Science and Technology and contributed papers published in the Journals of the Aeronautical Research Council. Greenham was education at Dulwich College, Magdalen College, Oxford and the Byam School of Art. He published a book on Velasquez in 1960 and was Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools from 1964-1985.
1958. Two silver salvers by Jack E. Stapley [Nos.273-174]. I can find very little about Stapley except he was teaching silversmithing and Jewellery at the Canterbury College of Art and the John Cass College, London. Both the salvers are engraved with flowers and were presented on 4 November 1958.
1958. Albert Edward Samuels (1900-1982) by Michael Noakes (b.1933) [No.64]. Chairman of the LCC from 1958-1959.Samuels was made of sterner stuff than some of his recent predecessors when it came to choosing an artist for his portrait. He decided that the commission, prestigious panel notwithstanding, should be given to a young unknown artist. He looked around and finally chose Michael Noakes. It appears that Noakes who studied at the Royal Academy Schools was exhibiting four works at the Students Exhibition at the Academy that year (1958) and Wheatley, the Council’s Art Inspector, impressed by their quality, was ready to recommend the commission to go to Noakes. However, Sir Charles Wheeler, whilst feeling ‘a keen personal pleasure at the Chairman’s preference for a student at the Royal Academy Schools’, nevertheless considered that ‘an artist of riper experience should be chosen’ and could not therefore endorse the Chairman’s choice. However, if Noakes was chosen, Wheeler would ‘watch the experiment with interest’. Sir William Coldstream went to see Noakes’s work at the Academy and reported back to the Council that he was not enthusiastic. Sir Philip Hendy, returning from a trip to Russia, missed the exhibition at the Academy by two days and confessed that he did not know Noakes’s work but as he did not feel ‘we have any brilliant portrait painters at the moment’ he was in favour of the Council ‘taking a risk’. The subsequent report to the Council stated that the Chairman’s choice was Michael Noakes and that Wheatley endorsed the Chairman’s admiration for the artist. The result, dated 1959, only served to reinforce Wheeler’s misgivings. Samuels, a solicitor, had been a member of the Labour group on the LCC on and off for many years. South East St Pancras 1928-1931, South West St Pancras 1934-1937, Balham and Tooting 1946-1949, Stoke Newington and Hackney North 1952-1961 and Bermondsey from 1961. Durig his year of office he became a Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and Knight Commander of the Gross Verdienstkreuz with the Star of the Federal Republic of Germany. Noakes was educated at Downside School and the Royal Academy Schools and is now known primarily for his portraits. He eventually became President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and Chairman of the Contemporary Portrait Society. He is also a Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and a Freeman of the City of London. He has since painted many actors, writers, academics, diplomats, politicians, (Lady Thatcher and President Clinton), lawyers, churchmen, senior military personnel, businessmen, leaders of the industry and many members of the Royal Family.
1959. Sidney James Barton (1909-1986) by William Patrick Roberts RA (1895-1980) [No.830]. Chairman of the LCC from 1959-1960. The following year, 1959, Sir Charles Wheeler, the President of the Royal Academy was not asked to join the panel, and could not therefore be blamed for what was to following, when the panel chose William Patrick Roberts, who was an Associate Member of the RA at this time. Roberts was commissioned to paint Barton’s portrait and Barton gave Roberts ten sittings and rejected the finished result. He told the press that he had been informed the painting was very good but ‘I’m afraid I didn’t care of it. Honestly, if you looked at it you wouldn’t think it was a good likeness’. The Roberts portrait was very ‘Roberts’ and rather jolly and a bit sad at the same time. Roberts kindly agreed to accept a reduced fee of £350 instead of the agreed £500. A note dated November 1959 fro Roberts plaintively related that he had delivered the Baxter portrait to Room 151 at County Hall as it was the room in which Barton had sat to him. Presumably there had been no-one at County Hall to receive the portrait from him. He also says in his note (preserved in the Greater London Council Record Office files), that he hopes the Council will arrange for the portrait to be framed. Not only did the Council not frame it but instead officers of the GLC shunted it from storeroom to storeroom. During its travels it received the attention of some liquid and a graffiti artist (a biro moustache). I finally rescued it in the last days of the GLC and arranged for it to be placed in a spare frame. It then joined the other portraits for storage. Roberts was born in Hackney, the son of a carpenter. He attended evening classes at the St Martin’s School of Art and won an LCC scholarship to study at the Slade. He was much influenced by Wyndham Lewis. Roberts was a war artist in both World War One and World War Two. In 1916 Roberts enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Artillery as a gunner, serving on the Western Front. He applied to be a war artist and in 1918 was ‘loaned’ to the Canadians for six months as an official war artist. He produced a masterpiece The First German Gas Attack at Ypres (1918), National Gallery of Canada, which is now regarded as one of the most significant works of art produced of World War One. He was subsequently also commissioned by the British Ministry of Information, for whom he painted A Shell Dump, France (1918–19) Imperial War Museum. A major retrospective of his work, organised by the Arts Council of Great Britain, opened at the Tate Gallery in 1965.
1959. Sidney James Barton (1909-1986) by Leslie Robert Baxter (1893-c.1972) [No.65]. Chairman of the LCC from 1959-1960. Baxter, who signs his portraits ‘Robert Baxter, and who taught at Hammersmith College of Art had been hastily called in by the Council to produce, in haste, a portrait of Barton. Baxter, it appears from the press, did not specialise in painting public figures as a rule and said that Barton ‘was the most important subject I’ve done’. What would Swinton have made of it all? The finished product is indifferent but has some redeeming features. Baxter only received £250 for his efforts and as he was at the time employed by the Council as a member of staff at Hammersmith School of Art, was not expected to work on the portrait in the Council’s time. Barton had been a laboratory technician with the Metropolitan Asylums Board and the London County Council during 1927-1934. He was elected a Labour Alderman of the LCC from 1953-1965. He also served as a Governor of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children from 1969-1975 and was Chairman of the London Trades Council from 1970-1974. During his chairmanship he was bestowed with a couple of rare honours, acquiring from the Shah of Iran the Order of Homayoun class III and from Peru the Grand Cross of the Order of Al Merito. On an official visit to Paris he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour.
1959. A Six-piece Silver Tea Service by Gerald Benny (1930-2008). [No.291] Silver mark AGB London 1959. The tea service commemorated Barton’s year of office and was presented to the Council on 19 July 1960 and cost £273. Benny was an influential silver and goldsmith who became the first British craftsman to hold four royal warrants at the same time. Born in Hull but educated at Brighton Grammar School, in 1945 Gerald moved on to the College of Art, training under Dunstan Pruden, the silversmith in the Guild of St Joseph founded by Eric Gill in nearby Ditchling. In 1950 he won a place at the Royal College of Art in London, where he was awarded a Prince of Wales scholarship in his first year. In 1974, he was appointed professor at the Royal College of Art and then had a short spell in India. He finally settled in Salisbury.
1959. Empyrean by Babara Hepworth (1903-1975). Hepworth’s monolithic abstract stone Epyrean was purchased by the LCC for display in the gardens of Kenwood. It transferred to English Heritage together with Kenwood. For those, like me, who hadn’t a clue as to what ‘Empyrean’ means, apparently it is ‘the highest part of heaven, thought by the ancients to be the realm of pure fire’. So that’s settled.
1960. Dame Florence Evelyn Cayford née Bunch (b.1897) by Henry Marvell Carr, RA (1894-1970). [No.66]. Chairman of the LCC 1960-1961. In 1960 the Council’s sub-committee, probably feeling slightly sore from its recent unaccompanied foray into the art world, asked Sir Charles Wheeler to recommend some artists. Sir Charles suggested Alan Gwynne-Jones RA (1892-1982), Henry Marvell Carr (1894-1970) and John Stanton Ward (1917-2007). Carr was chosen. Both Gwynne-Jones and Ward were to receive commissions in subsequent years. The portrait is signed and dated 1960. Cayford, who lived in Hampstead, had served as a Labour Member on the LCC for Shoreditch and Finsbury 1952-1964 and member of the Greater London Council from 1964-1967 and as an Alderman for the City of London from 1946-1952. She was made a Dame in 1965. During her term of office as Chairman she was awarded by King Mehendra of Napal during his Sate Visit to Britain, the Orer of Dakshina Bahu Class III and by King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand during his State Visit, the Order of the Crown of Thailand class III. The Clerk of the Council picked up class V of both these Orders. Carr was born in Leeds and studied art at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art. He won a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1956. Carr served in France with the Royal Field Artillery during the 1914-1918 war and was an official war artist with the 1st Army in North Africa and Italy 1942-1945. An exhibition of his war paintings was held at the National Gallery, London in July 1940. After the war, Carr resumed his career as a portrait painter. In 1948 he was elected a Fellow of the Roya Society of Portrait Painters and in 1956 he was awarded the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon. Carr taught at Beckenham Art School for some seventeen years and became Head of the School. Carr was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists. He was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1957 and a full member in 1966 and continued to exhibit there until his death.Some seventy works by him are held by the Imperial War Museum.
1960. Pair of Silver Dishes by K.W.Lessons [No.241]. A pair of silver dishes, silver mark KWL London 1960, were presented to the Council on 17 October 1960 to mark the term of Cayford’s office. They cost £305.
1961. London County Council Election. Labour was returned with its largest majority since 1946.
1961. Visitors to County Hall. The report of the General Purposes Committee on 4 July 1961, which is always a good read, showed that the year’s visitors to County Hall included the Queen Mother, the King and Queen of Sweden, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent, The Lord Mayor of London and the Speaker of the House of Commons. Countries who sent civic heads and representatives of municipalities included Afghanistan, Australia, Ceylon, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Southern Rhodesia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, The United States of America, the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, West Germany and Yugoslavia. Clearly all roads led to County Hall that year.
1961-1962. Sir Harold Charles Shearman (1896-1984) by Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1984). [No.67]. Chairman of the London County Council 1961-1962 and First Chairman of the Greater London Council 1964-1966. Halliday was to become the virtual artist in residence at County Hall. From the Greater London Council Record Office files it is recorded that Halliday and Shearman met to discuss the portrait and Hart, the Clerk of the Council, noted that they ‘both seemed to take to each other’. Sittings were to be arranged between their secretaries and Shearman was to come to Halliday’s studio in St John’s Wood. Halliday wished the sittings to commence at 10.30 am and to last for four hours at a time. Six sittings were required. Both sitter and artist agreed that the Chairman should look at the other paintings in the collection to give him some idea of how he would like to be painted and Halliday thought that something other than a black coat would give the painting ‘a bit more life’. They also wanted to introduce some symbol or element in the picture which would gave a clue to Shearman’s background as an educationalist. On its completion Halliday presented his account for £900 and wrote that he had ‘received a charming letter from Mr Shearman telling me that the portrait met with the approval of his friends and colleagues which naturally is pleasing news to me’. In the event the portrait did not contain anything to show Shearman’s background and he did wear a black suit. Shearman was also to become the first GLC Chairman 1964-1966. He was a member of the LCC for the Deptford Division from 1946-1965. He also served on many Government and Education Committees and was Chairman of the Education Committee of the LCC from 1955-1961. He was knighted in 1965.
1962. A silver epergne designed by A.R.Emerson. [No.240]. The epergne to commemorate Shearman’s year of office, had a centrepiece composed of a shallow bowl in petal form with a central vase and grill cover with ball finial. The piece was made by the Central School of Arts and Crafts, silver mark CS&C London 1962. It was presented to the Council on 3 July 1962 and cost £300.
1962. Olive Gertrude Deer (1897-1983) by Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1984). [No.68]. Chairman of the London County Council 1962-1963. Deer was born in Grimbsy and was to return there to be a member of the Borough Council 1964-1967. During her early years she served on many Hospital Boards and Committees in Cleethorpes, Lincoln and Sheffield. She was an Alderman of the LCC from 1952-1958, was Labour Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury 1958-1964 and Chairman of the LCC Welfare Committee from 1955-1962. Deer also became a Commander of the Star of Africa which was bestowed on her on 10 July 1962 by President Tubman of Liberia at County Hall while on his State Visit to Britain. Halliday informed the Clerk to the Council when he had completed the portrait that ‘As you know I enjoyed my sittings with your Chairman very much indeed and only hope that my efforts will meet with the approval of her friends and colleagues at County Hall. He was informed that Mrs Deer was indeed delighted with her portrait.
1961. Silver cigar box and a pair of silver wine coasters by E.R.Emerson [Nos.246 and 286]. These three pieces to commemorate Deer’s year of office were presented to the Council on 2 July 1963. Silver mark SC&C and were Emerson’s last commission from the Council.
1962. The John Martin Oakey Chalice designed by Reginald H. Hill (1914-1975) and made by N.V.Basant for C.J.Vander Ltd [No.532]. On 30 October 1962 the Council Minutes record that the Deputy Chairman of the Council, John Martin Oakey, had presented the Council with a silver chalice decorated with oak leaves and an ivory accord finial to commemorate his service as a member of the Council from 1931-1958. The silver mark was CGV, London 1961. Engraved on the bowl is the only known record instance of the Council’s badge which had been granted in 1956. Major John Martin Oakey MC, CBE (1888-1963) was a businessman and public servant. He was chairman of the family firm of Joan Oakey & Sons Limited, abrasive manufacturers. During the First World War he served in the Artists’ Rifles and the Royal Engineers (Special Brigade), the British Army’s chemical warfare branch. He won a Military Cross in 1917 for…” conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When in command of four trench mortar batteries he carried out a most successful piece of work. Two thousand rounds of ammunition had to be carried a distance of 2,500 yards. This was successfully accomplished, in spite of enemy fire and the difficulty of working over open ground at night.” He was a member of the Municipal Reform Party and later the Conservative Party of the LCC for twenty-seven years. From 1931-49 he was an Alderman and from 1949-58 a councillor representing Lewisham North.. He served as Deputy Chairman of the LCC from 1947-1948 and was awarded the CBE in the 1958 Birthday Honours for ” political and public services in London”. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, a justice of the peace and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of London. At the time of his death he was Chairman of the National Heart Hospital and the Tooting Beck Hospital Board. Reginald Hill was educated at the London’s Central School of Arts and Crafts and became a very reputable and was much sought after as a silversmith.
1963. Alfred Reginald Stamp (1891-1974). Chairman of the London County Council 1963. Stamp resigned unexpectedly on 5 October 1963 when he came under investigation by the Director of Pubic Prosecutions. Stamp is the only Chairman not to be represented by a portrait in the collection. A sad omission. The exact reason for Stamp’s resignation is not clear but from the Council’s Minutes of 8 October it appears that the Leader of the Council, Sir Percy Rugg, saw the Leader of the Council Sir Isaac Hayward, and showed him copies of two letters written over two years previously which had recently come into his possession. Sir Isaac considered that this correspondence should be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This was duly done with a request that consideration should be given to investigation of the contents of the letters and appropriate action taken. Stamp’s name was ‘one of those which arise in connection with the matter’ and in October 1963 he decided to resign the office of Chairman ‘in order to avoid embarrassment while any investigation took place’. Stamp was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in December 1963. According to The Times of 6 December 1963 the Director of Public Prosecutions stated that the available evidence was wholly insufficient to support a criminal charge and that it was only fair to Mr Stamp to record that there is no evidence that he ever sought, directly or indirectly to influence the council or any of its departments in the interest of any professional client. Clearly it appears that someone in the opposition on the council wanted to destroy him on what appears to be rubbish evidence. The article also stated that at the age of 71 and with 30 years service on the Council he had been chair or vice chair of almost every important committee on the Council and that at the time of the accusatory letters Stamp had been chairman of the LCC Planning Committee. Poor Stamp. Stamp did not go empty handed as the Council had been visited by the King and Queen of the Belgians on the 14 May 1963 and Stamp had been made a Commander of the Order of Leopold II. I can find no information about Stamp other than he was the chairman of the LCC’s Licencing and Entertainments Committee, chairman of the Hospital and Medical Services Committee and wrote the foreword to the exhibition of Eighteenth Century Portrait Busts, the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood – 1959.
1963. Arthur Ernest Wicks (1915-2006) by Alfred Reginald Thomson RA (1894-1979). [No.69]. Chairman of the London County Council 1963-1964. Also Chairman of the Greater London Council from 1973-1974. The Royal Academy presented the names of six artists for the Council to consider. In a memorandum dated 1 August 1963 to the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee and the Leaders of the Council and Opposition, the Council’s Art Inspector recommended John Ward or Alfred Reginald Thomson, ‘who however has the disadvantage of being deaf and dumb which can make it difficult for a sitter to feel wholly at ease with him’. The Chairman, Alfred Reginald Stamp visited the Academy Summer Exhibition (1963) and agreed that he would prefer Ward to do his portrait. The Leader of the Council, Sir Isaac Hayward and Mrs Freda Corbet also visited the Academy exhibition, but did not like Ward’s, Robert Buhler’s or Ruskin Spear’s work. Mrs Corbet was impressed by Gwynne-Jones ‘but the Leader would not have him’. Henry Carr was also considered excellent by both of them, but the leader ‘doubted he wisdom of having him again so close to Mrs Cayford’. Both liked A.R.Thomson’s work and also Norman Hepple’s. The latter was ‘favoured by the Leader’. In the event Thomson got the commission to paint Stamp. However, just as the first sitting was being arranged Stamp resigned (see above) and Arthur E. Wicks was elected as Chairman and took over the appointments at Thomson’s studio. The portrait signed and dated 1964 was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition that year. Wicks was to have the distinction of being the last Chairman of the LCC. He also served as Chairman of the GLC from 1973-1974. He had been the Labour representative for Shoreditch and Finsbury since 1952. Wicks had been a conscientious objector during the Second World War, he was first elected to the Shoreditch Metropolitan Borough Council in the 1950s, and became chairman of housing, at a time when Shoreditch had one of England’s highest concentrations of municipal housing. He gave his time with the LCC to housing and parks. The LCC, a Labour stronghold since 1934, was a pioneering model for Labour ideas and plans, including comprenhensive education, school music, housing development and the establishment of the South Bank complex. As LCC chairman from 1963 to 1965, Arthur oversaw the transition in 1964 to the new Greater London Council and served on the GLC until 1981. Wicks owned two shops and a cafe in Islington, his main shop, selling everything from paraffin and groceries to hardware, served as a local informal advice surgery. The President of Sudan, General Fedik Ibrahim Abboud (b.1900), visited the Council on 26 May 1964 and decorated Wicks with the Order of the Two Niles, third class. The Two Niles, fifth class was bestowed on the Clerk to the Council. King Pavlos I of the Hellenes (1901-1964) and his Queen also visited on 9 July 1963 and made Wicks a Commander of the Royal Order of the Phoenix. During his year of office, Wicks and his wife, Barton [No.65], Fiske [No.90], and other representatives of the Council went on an official visit to Moscow and hoped that the visit helped in a small way to strengthen good relations between the two countries’. Thomson was born in Bangalore, India where his father was a British civil servant. He was born deaf from birth and when the family returned to Britain from India he attended the Royal School for Deaf Children at Margate. Although Thomson attended the London Art School in Kensington for a time, he was largely self-taught as an artist. He was the official war artist to the RAF from 1940-1944.
1964. A pair of silver seven branch candelabra designed by Leslie Durbin (1913-2005). [No.239]. Presented to the Council on 16 February to commemorate Wicks’ years of office (silver mark LDG London 1964.
Leslie Durbin (1913-2005), silversmith. Durbin is best remembered as the maker of the Stalingrad sword of honour. This two-edged fighting weapon in its scabbard, with its blatant overtones of medieval chivalry, was presented by Winston Churchill to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at the allied conference on war strategy held in Tehran in November 1943. In the 1950s and early 60s, Durbin was the best known silversmith in Britain, designing church silver and government presentation pieces, badges of office, coinage and medals. Some of his finest work was done for Cambridge, and when, in 1963, the university awarded him an honorary doctorate, the public orator described him as “a craftsman inspired by Minerva”.
1964. Visitors to County Hall. During 1965-1965 the following were some of the ‘distinguished’ visitors who beat a pathway to County Hall. Sir Charles Cunningham, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, the Ober-Burgermeister of the Landschaftaverband Rhineland, West Germany, the Lord Mayor of London, the High Commissioner for Jamaica in London, the Mayors of Grimsby, Hackney, Lambeth , Peterborough and Rome, Members of Parliament from the Lower House of the Federal Republic of Germany, a Member of the City Council of Adelaide, the Home Secretary, Sir Frank Soskice and his wife, a Member of the House of the People of the Indian Parliament and the Right Honourable the Earl of Rosebery, the son of the first Chairman of the London County Council.
1964. Last meeting of the London County Council. At the final meeting of the LCC held on 30 March 1964, which was presided over by Wicks, a message from the Queen was read to the assembled members. The message sent congratulations on the Council’s achievements during the past seventy-six years and continued ‘Londoners and visitors to the Capital will long be grateful to the elected members of the Council who are leaving so many tangible monuments to a period of sound local government which as attracted the admiration of municipalities throughout the world’. It concluded ‘I am proud to recall that the members of my family, so many of whom like myself, have often been associated with you in your work and your celebrations. They join me in wishing good fortune and prosperity to you and the members of the London County Council, to your successors the Greater London Council and to the people of London’.
1964. The creation of the Greater London Council. The GLC was established by the London Government Act 1963, which created a new body covering all of London rather than just the inner boroughs it also empowered the newly created London boroughs within the overall administrative structure. The GLC was abolished under the Local Government 1985.
The Middlesex County Council was abolished. The MCC’s Guildhall in Parliament Square, built in 1906-1913 was transferred to the LCC together with its contents. Thus into the possession of the GLC came the MCC’s collection of paintings, prints and a tapestry which hung in various rooms throughout the building, in particular the Court Rooms and the Justice’s Dining Room together with various badges of office and items of civic silver. The MCC Guildhall was subsequently compulsorily acquired from the GLC by the Lord Chancellor’s Department for use as a courthouse. The paintings, etc., continued to remain the property of the GLC. After protracted argument it was agreed that as the GLC had nowhere appropriate to display the paintings they would be loaned to the Lord Chancellor’s Department and would remain on the walls of the Guildhall. The tale of the MCC collection is told separately at the end of this account of the history of the LCC and the GLC and its collections.
1964-1967 Bill Fiske (1905–1975) Labour, became the first leader of the GLC.
1964. Sir Harold Charles Shearman (1896-1984) by Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1984). [No.67]. First Chairman of the Greater London Council 1964-1966. Knighted in 1965. (Formerly chairman of the London County Council 1961-1962) – see above 1961.
1964. First Meeting of the Greater London Council by Alfred Reginald Thomson RA (1894-1979). [No.96]. The first meting of the GLC was held on 27 April 1964. Thomson, the artist was present. He and Terence Tenison Cuneo (1907-1996) had been invited by the Clerk to the Council following a suggestion by Harold Sebag-Montefiore (1924-2011) that the Council should commission a painting of its first meeting. Cuneo declined the invitation as he could not foresee being able to undertake such a commission if it was offered to him. Thomson arranged for photographs to be taken of the meeting from viewpoints which he considered an artist might find useful. At a meeting of the General Purposes Committee in June he displayed the photographs and a sketch ‘as an indication of the viewpoints and possible scope of a painting’. Thomson had just finished painting the House of Lords in Session which was on view that year at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The painting included 188 miniature portraits and was 9 feet buy 6 feet. He had been paid 2000 guineas. He suggested that, if he were offered th GLC commission, he would include 250 portraits on a canvas 10 feet by 7 feet. It was first proposed that he be paid 2000 guineas but the committee was asked to increase the offer to 2500 guineas. Thomson said he would ‘not wish any difficulty which might be felt by the Council in going beyond 2000 guineas to stand in the way of his undertaking the commission which would in any case be agreeable to him. The Committee agreed the higher figure. Thomson informed the Clerk that he hoped to sketch the general setting of the painting during the latter part of the recess and would devote virtually his whole time for the next twelve months to the painting. He proposed to make arrangements for individual sittings at his studio for each of those whose portraits would be in detail Each sitting would last one hour and only in a few instances would a second appointment be necessary. On one thing he was quite clear, he would prefer not to work from photographs unless it was absolutely unavoidable. And so one of the great documentary paintings of the Council began. The final product is not a work of art, but it is a remarkable complex design and Thomson manages to fill an impossible space in an accomplished manner. He found solutions to problems of scale and depth and also managed to create a feeling of uncluttered space.
1965. A coat of arms for the GLC. A report dated 24 May 1965 was submitted to the Council stating that a formal application had been made to the College of Arms for the grand of a coat-of-arms to the Council. It appears that discussions had been held with the Garter Principal King of Arms and a design had been evolved for approval by the Council.
1965. A Grant of Arms to the Greater London Council [No.516] and a Grant of a Badge to the Greater London Council . On September 1965 the GLC obtained a Grant of Arms and a Grant of a Badge from the Royal College of Arms. Strange to relate, nobody seems to have told the Council about the badge design, or if they did, no one paid any attention, and it as clearly a Surprise to Council Members when during the preparation of the Heritage Collection catalogue the document was found in the Record Office cellars. As far as it known, the only reproduction of the GLC Badge, whose sole purpose was ‘everyday use’, is on the document on which it was granted. On the other hand the coat-of-arms, which should only have been used for special civic purposes, was tuck, painted, printed, stitched or carved on every conceivable thing. Arrangements were made for these handsome documents to be framed. It is hope that future writers of the history of the GLC or London local governance will not omit reference to their existence.
1965. Badges of Office. In the same report to the Council of 24 May 1965 regarding the coat-of-arms, the General Purposes Committee states that it had given approval in principle to te provision of badges of office for the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Council, and stated that consideration was now being given to their design and that ‘The badges might appropriately include the Council’s coat-of-arms. The General Purposes Committee reported back to the Council on 18 October 1965 that it had now approved a design for the badge of office of the Chairman submitted by the Silversmithing Department of the Sir John Cass College, City of London. This was an adaptation of the badge of office of the chairman of the London County Council. The Council’s coat-of-arms will replace that of the London County Council and scroll-work in gold embracing the letters GLC and four diamonds will replace the mural crown’. The badges for the Vice-Chairman and Deputy-Chairman were also to be ‘adapted’. However the ribbons on which the badges were hung were to remain the same. ‘The ribbon was based on the barry wavy argent and azure feature which is prominent in both coat-of-arms and indicates the position of London on the River Thames’. The Finance Committee agreed to apply to the Minister of Housing and Local Government for sanction for the expenditure of £250. This all added up to a wanton act of vandalism, in that, instead of creating new badges the LCC badges were to be broken up and ‘adapted’ for the new Council badges. All presumably done in the name of economy and a paltry £250. No one was prepared to put a hand in their pocket or send the hat around. The central portions of the badges, consisting of the crest and crown were presumably destroyed, certainly no record exists of thei whereabouts of the originals. The rather delicate and unostentatious badges were placed in the Heritage Collection and I suppose will languish in the cellars of the City of London till doomsday.
Chairman’s Badge of Office [No.455]. The chairman’s badge is made of 18 ct gold, with a total of 29 diamonds, four clusters of 8 small pearls and a pendant pearl.
Vice Chairman’s Badge of Office [No.453]. The vice-chairman’s badge was made of silver gilt decorated with enamel and pearls with a pendant pearl.
Deputy-Chairman’s Badge of Office [No.454]. The deputy-chairman’s badge was made of silver gilt decorated with enamel and pearls with a pendant pearl.
1966. Herbert Ferguson by Allan Gwynne-Jones RA (1892-1982) [No.70]. Chairman of the GLC from 1966-1967. Labour Party Alderman of the GLC from 1964-1970. The portrait from Gwynne-JOnes was commissioned for £780, and is dated 1967.Gwynne-Jones was born in Richmond, Surrey and studied at the Slade School of Art but his studies were interrupted by the First World War. He served in the Public Schools Battalion and the Welsh Guards. He was wounded twice and was awarded the DSO. He became professor of Painting at the Royal College of Art and Senior Lecturer at the Slade. He was a writer on art and also painted landscapes and still life. The portrait is one of the most accomplished and informal works in the collection and it is almost a relief to find someone portrayed in an actual interior rather than the wearisome blank studio backgrounds and settings in which so many of the former chairmen had been placed.
1966. ‘The Last Supper‘ altarpiece [No.162]. During Ferguson’s term of office, the Council was visited (18 July 1966) by King Hussein of Jordan (1935-1999). He presented the Council with a handcrafted mother-of-pearl altar piece consisting of a three dimensional depicting of Leonardo’s Last Supper, surmounted by a nativity, the whole terrible edifice twinkling in tinsel set in a star shape. The President of Austria, Dr Adolf Scharf presented Ferguson with the decoration of the Grosse Goldenes Ehrenzeichen during is State Visit to Britain in May 1966.
1966. The South Bank Lion By William Frederick Woodington. The standing male lion of Coade Stone was cast in 1837. The lion was originally mounted on the parapet of James Goding’s Lion Brewery on the site of the Royal Festival Hall. The Brewery was demolished to make way for the construction of the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Festival of Britain. It was moved to outside Waterloo Station. When Waterloo Station was extended it was moved by the LCC to its current location on a large granite plinth beside Westminster Bridge.
1967. Sir Edward Percy Rugg (1906-1989) by Henry Marvell Carr RA (1894-1930) [No.71]. Chairman of the GLC from 1967-1968. After a preliminary discussion with the Secretary of the Royal Academy, Carr was commissioned for a fee of £700. Rugg was badly served and the result is a stiff and awkward work of little merit and remarkably harsh and empty. Rugg was a solicitor and had been knighted in 1959. He had served as Leader of the Conservative Party on the LCC from 1959-1965 and the GLC from 1964-1966. He represented Kensington on the GLC from 1964-1970. Apparently he was also a shooting and fishing man.
1967. Chairman’s Lady’s Badge of Office, Mappin and Webb [No.303]. Rugg added to the collection of badges the Chairman’s Lady’s Badge of Office. The badge is silver-gilt and enamel with a small cluster of pearls. Silver mark Mappin Webb, Birmingham 1966. Rugg made a statement to the Council at its meeting on 18 July 1967 ‘Members of the Council, apart from the built-in disadvantage of being the wife of the present Chairman of he Greater London Council, my wife has felt for some time that there should be some indication at ceremonial functions and occasions as to who she is and why. The wives of lord mayors and the spouses of mayors all have some identifying badge, but not so the spouse of the Chairman of the Greater London Council. My protestations that further adornment was unnecessary have not met with any marked success and it is, members of the Council, for that reason that I have, I hope with the full permission of all members, decided to present to the Council a badge for the chairman’s wife which can be worn either as a necklace or as a brooch. It will I hope be enjoyed by many wives in the years to come. I am not quite sure what will happen if the occupant of this Chair should be a lady, but I am quite convinced that even that problem will be within the powers of the ceremonial officers of this Council It is for me a proud thing to be able to present this to my own wife and with the Council’s permission I would not like to pin it on her’. This, so the Council Minutes record, is what he then did and Desmond Plummer, the Leader, expressed the Council’s thanks.
1967. The fate of the portrait collection. At a meeting of the Council on 21 November 1967, Miss Clare Mansel, the Conservative Member for Camden, asked the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee if it ws correct that portraits of former chairmen, having travelled through the Noes Lobby,, the Ayes Lobby and the Conference Hall, end up ignominiously in the basement. The reply she received to this was ‘No. All save one of the portraits of he ;past Chairmen of the London County Council and of this Council are on display on the Principal Floor’. Miss Mansel, presumably taking this with a large pinch of salt (as well she may), then asked ‘Is there any truth in the story of the embarrassment caused when the son of a former chairman asked to see his father’s portrait and had to be kept waiting while it was unearthed and hung in a suitably prominent position? This was repulsed with a ‘Not so far as I am aware’. Miss Mansel then got down to the point she presumably really wished to make ‘…and would it not be preferable, rather than relegating portraits to the basement, that at this stage portraits should be offered back to their reluctant donors or their descendants?’ The answer to this was ungrammatical but fortunate ‘Does not arise’. Hopefully the person or persons responsible for the paintings pulled their socks up and for a short while, at any rate, put all the portraits on display. The story of the basement as being the repository for paintings of ex-chairman was however all too true.
1968. Sir Louis Halle Gluckstein (1897-1979) by Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1948) [No.72]. Chairman of the GLC from 1969-1969. Another cool classic work by Halliday. Gluckstein who had been knighted in 1953 had been educated at St Paul’s and Lincoln’s College, Oxford. He had served in both World Wars and had been wounded in the First and mentioned in despatches in both. He had been MP for East Nottingham from 1931-1945 during which time he was elected Chairman of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, 1938, and became President in 1944. He was made Deputy Lieutenant of London in 1952 and had been a member of the LCC for Marylebone from 1955-1964 and the GLC for the City of Westminster from 1964-1967. He then had served as an Alderman from 1967-1973. He was keenly interested in the arts and became President of the Royal Albert Hall in 1965 and during his year of office as Chairman of the GLC became a Member of the Board of Trustees of the London Festival Ballet. Like his predecessor he also enjoyed shooting.
1968. The Plummer Salver by Denis Quaid. [No.284]. The Council received from Sir Arthur Desmond Herne Plummer, Lord Plummer of St Marylebone (1914-2009), Leader of the Greater London Council from 1967-1973, a magnificent silver and gilt salver designed engraved and made by Denis Quaid.
1971. Portraits of Leaders of the GLC. There are only two portraits of leaders of the GLC.
1. Sir Arthur Desmond Herne Plummer, Lord Plummer of St Marylebone (1914-2009) by Robert Norman Hepple RA (1908-1994) [No.91]. Leader of the Greater London Council from 1967-1973. Plummer presented this portrait to the GLC. Plummer went to Hurstpierpoint College and the College of Estate Management where he qualified as a surveyor. In World War Two he served with the Royal Engineers leaving with the rank of Major. In 1950 he was awarded the Territorial Decoration for long service in the Territorial Army where he was a member of the Territorial Army Sports Board from 1953 until 1979. Plummer was elected to St Marylebone Borough Council 1952-1965 and served as Mayor of the Borough from 1958-1959. He became a Member of the Inner London Education Authority from 1964-1976 and also served as a Conservative on the LCC for the Cities of Westminster and London from 1973-1976. He was knighted in 1971. After leaving local government He resumed his business career, and became a member of Lloyd’s of London and Chairman of the :Portman Building Society. also took up the job of President of the Political Committee of the Carlton Club, the leading Conservative club, from 1979 to 1984. It appears he was passionate about London and cats. The portrait is a remarkably direct and strong one and he was well served by Hepple. Hepple had studied at the Royal Academy Schools and became an RA in 1961 he was also the President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters from 1979-1983. This is the only portrait by Hepple and it is to the advantage of the collection that he should be represented.
2. Sir William Godfrey Fiske, CBE (1905-1975) by Lorna Wigney (1916-2003[No.90]. Fiske was Plummer’s predecessor as Leader of the Council 1964-1967. He was also an Alderman from 1964-1967 and member of the LCC for Hammersmith South from 1946-1965. He was Deputy Lieutenant of London 1967 and Governor of the Museum of London. He oversaw the decimalisation of the Pound Sterling as Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board. When young his main interest was the art of ancient Greece. He studied at Berkhamstead Collegiate School and then, went to work for the Bank of England. After twelve years at the Bank, he took advantage of its generous pension scheme and left in 1935, and began to work as a Company Secretary. As Leader Fiske carried on a policy of subsidies for the arts, and it was under his leadership that the decision was made to build the Royal National Theatre on the South Bank site. He himself served as a member of the board. Later he used his seat in the Lords to campaign in support of council tenants, statutory control of estate agents, and for better treatment of diabetes. Sadly the portrait had no merit whatsoever and Fiske was poorly served by it. I can find no information about the artist.
The Common Seal of the Greater London Council by Stuart Devlin [No.626]. Stuart Devlin designed an elaborate Common Seal for the Council incorporating many of London’s landmark buildings. A photograph of the original design signed by Devlin and dated 1968 is in the Collection.
1969. Leslie Freeman MBE, OBE (1920-1973 by John Stanton Ward CBE, RA(1917-2007). [No.73]. Chairman of the GLC 1969-1970. Freeman is shown sitting on the window sill of the Chairman’s Office in County Hall overlooking the Members’ Terrace with a view of the Houses of Parliament. It is one of the more animated portraits of the collection with some attempt to give the sitter an appropriate setting and shows the splendid view to be had from the rooms overlooking the Members’ Terrace. It is a careful, crafted work and very different from Ward’s later freely worked portrait of John Benjamin Ward [No.84] which he was to paint 13 years later. Ward was born in Hereford and was educated at St Owen’s School in Hereford, and then from 1932 to 1936 at the small Hereford School of Arts and Crafts. With financial support from the Principal, Sir William Rothenstein he won a place at the Royal College of Art in London in 1936 and studied under Gilbert Spencer and winning the prize for drawing. He served in the Royal Engineers in the Second World War from 1939. He became an extremely respected portrait painter and everyone who was anyone seem to have made their way to his studio. He became RA in 1956. Freeman was a solicitor and Conservative politician. Freeman was elected as a councillor to both Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council and Middlesex County Council, He was made an Alderman of the GLC from 1969-1970.
1969. Six silver ‘armada’ dishes for use as ashtrays, Mappin and Webb . Freeman’s year of office was commemorated with eight (only six survived into the Collection) solid silver ‘Armada’ dishes for use as ashtrays in the Chairman’s Reception Room. The dishes were so named because the are exact replicas of an Elizabethan banqueting service, part of which was made out of silver captured from the Armada. Silver mark Mappin and Webb. The days of commemorative silver were coming to an end. One is left wondering how many other silver items were bagged during the years as it is clear no one was evenly remotely responsible for any valuables in County Hall, and certainly to my knowledge no inventory had ever been made, not even of the paintings. But that was the sorry case at the Middlesex Guildhall as well.
1970. Peter Blair Black (1917-1997) by Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1984) [No.74]. Chairman of the GLC from 1970-1971]. The portrait almost achieves photo-realism, much like most of Halliday’s work for the GLC. Black was elected to the Midddlesex County Council in 1949 and became a county alderman in 1961. When the MCC was abolished he was elected as one of the four councillors representing the London Borough of Barnet. He remained a member of the GLC till its abolition later representing Hendon South. He was leader of the GLC from 1970-1971 and was the chairman of a number of GLC committees. He was also a member of the Metropolitan Water Board and chairman of the Thames Water Authority from its creation in 1973 to 1978. He claims to be the motivator of the Thames Barrier Project and in his spare time enjoyed small boats and fishing.
1970. Two handled silver tray designed by Eric Clements (b.1925) and made by Elkington [No.292]. Black’s year of office was marked by this silver tray, silver mark Elkington Sheffield 1968. Clements was born in Rugby and spent 3 years in the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts. The war interrupted his study but in 1948 he won a travelling scholarhip and spent three years studying in Scandinavia. He was at the Royal College of Art from 1949 to 1952. After a short teaching spell he spent 10 years teaching at the School of Jewellery and Silversmithing. He eventually became Dean of the Faculty of Art and Design and Assistant Director of the Polytechnic of Wolverhampton.
1971. Robert Mitchell (1913-1996) by Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1984) [No.75]. Chairman of the GLC from 1971-1972. Halliday was chosen yet again. The portrait is dated 1972. Mitchell, a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, put his main recreation as planting trees, then sitting and watching them grow, and certainly Halliday has captured his subject seemingly doing just that. Mitchell was educated at West Ham Grammar School and St John’s College Cambridge. He represented England and Great Britain 1934-1939 and Cambridge University 1932 and 1935 in swimming and water polo. He also represented England at the Olympic Games at water polo in 1936 and 1948. He was a Verderer of Epping Forest, 1976 and a Member of the Lea Valley Regullation Park Authority., 1982–85. Mitchell was positively showered with honours during his year of office. Visitors presented with Orders of the Star (Afghanistan) and of the Rising Sun (Japan) and made him a Grand Officer, Order of Orange Nassau (Holland).
1971. Silver Octagonal tray on claw and ball feet. [No.250]. His year of office was commemorated with a silver tray engraved with the Council’s crest. Silver Mark WA Birmingham 1945.
1972. Frank Abbott (b.1914) by Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1984) [No.76]. Chairman of the GLC 1972-1973. A solicitor by profession. He was a Member for South Battersea on the GLC, 1949. Chairman of the General Purposes Committee 1970-1972.
1972. A set of 12 Silver and Enamel Menu Holders, Mappin & Webb.[No.287] The holders with the Council’s coat-of-arms were acquired to commemorate AXbbott’s year of office. Silver Mark Mappin and Webb, Birmingham 1972.
1973. Power and Speed by Sir Charles Wheeler RA. The council owned English Electric House in the Aldwych which sported, on its façade, two nude male figures, twenty feet high, one holding aloft an eagle, the other a lion, They were called Power and Speed and were sculpted by Sir Charles Wheeler RA. They were designed specially for the building, when it was erected in the early 1960s. The building was sold in 1972 minus the sculptures as the new owners, so rumour at the time had it, did not care to have their entrance adorned with such absolute nudity. They were duly taken down and placed in store in the underground cellars of all that remained of the original Crystal Palace. A report to the Historic Buildings Board of the Council on 14 September 1973 recommended that the statues be loaned together with a statue of Mendelssohn (also in the same store) to Gerald Moore of the Heathfield Wild Life Park. Moore later moved them to Devon and then donated the statues as part of his endowment of a new arts centre at his old school, Eltham College. I understand it is possible to see them at the College by appointment at the school’s discretion. Heaven knows what happened to Mendelssohn. You would have thought the Royal Festival Hall would have been an appropriate resting place for him.
1973. Arthur Ernest Wicks (1915-2006) by Alfred Reginald Thomson RA (1894-1979). [No.69]. Chairman of the London County Council 1963-1964 and GLC 1973-1974. (see entry for 1963).
1973, Future of the Portrait Collection. It was a dark year for the future of the portraits. Most of them were now in store (i.e. in the cellars of County Hall) and a report was presented proposing that they be offered to the families of the sitters. Fortunately the meeting at which the report was considered resolved that a further report be submitted on alternative ways of retaining the portraits as a collection. J F Kerslake, the Deputy Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery, was asked to view the collection and gave his opinion that quite apart from the eminence of the individual sitters and the fact that several of the pictures were by artists of high repute, the portraits comprised a unique collection of considerable historical and artistic importance, representing an unbroken succession from 1889 of the Chairmen of the world’s major urban authority. What amazes me is that the Council needed to be reminded of this. Kerslake considered that the pictures should come under the care of a professional curator and more suitable accommodation be found (rather than the cellars). He suggested Rangers House as a possible resting place for them. The Committee resolved that the portraits should be retained as a collection and those ceasing to be displayed at County Hall should be stored under the care of the Curator of Rangers House. They also agreed to expenditure on restoration and additional protection. Unfortunately the ‘Curator of Rangers House’ did nothing, for the paintings continued to be shuffled from storage room to storage and there is no record of any work being done to protect or restore them.
1973. Glass lined Silver Ashtray, London Merchant Securities designed by Gerald Benney (1913-2008).[No.249] Sir Max Rayne the Chairman of London Merchant Securities Limited, presented the Council with the ashtray which has a lion motif and is engraved London Merchant Securities Limited 1873-1973. Silver mark AGB 1972. Gerald Benney was a goldsmith and silversmith. Educated at Brighton Grammar School and Brighton College of Art. Most important for the development of silver design he was appointed Professor at the Royal College of Art from 1974-1983 and in 1981 became Assistant at the Goldsmith’s Hall. He held Royal Warrants of Appointment to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales. He gives his recreations as walking, oil painting and landscape gardening.
The story of the Middlesex County Council Collection is on the next p.39 and the GLC Collection continues on p.40.