My Life – Page 37

1940-1947. Charles Latham 1st Baron Latham (1888-1970)  was appointed Leader of the London County Council

1940. The LCC obtains power to acquire and commission works of art. In 1940 the Council obtained powers under section 4 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act 1940 which applied section 157 of the London Government Act 1939, to enable it to acquire works of art out of its public money and thus to commission artists to paint portraits of its Chairman without having to rely on the generosity or otherwise of its members and to acquire works of art for its parks and historic houses.  What Swinton would have done with such a power of artistic patronage does not bear thinking about.   Certainly he would have besieged Sargent, but who would he have turned to in 1940?  The powers certainly enabled the Council to acquire works of art for its country houses which it frequently exercised.

Albert Emil Davies (1875–1950)

1940. Albert Emil Davies (1875-1950) by Philip Connard CVO, RA (1875-1958). [No.46]. Chairman of the LCC from 1940-1941. Public servant, writer, and lecturer on finance, economics, social problems and railways.   In 1941-42 he toured the USA and Canada on behalf of the Ministry of Information. He was a Labour Alderman on the LCC serving from 1919-1950. The portrait is dated 1040.  Connard produced an interesting thoughtful face, the pose a trifle dull but on the whole a handsome stolid work. Connard was born in Southport and began his working life as a house painter, attended evening classes in art and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art.   He was an official War Artist to the Royal Navy from 1916-1918. He became a full member of the RA in 1935 and was elected Keeper of the RA in 1945.  He painted the Royal Castle at Windsor for the Queen’s Doll’s House.

1940. London Guildhall destroyed. On the night of the 29 December 1940 the City of London Guildhall was bombed and Davies sent the following telegram to the Lord Mayor of London ‘I deeply regret to learn of further damage sustained by the City of London as the result of enemy action last night.  Particularly am I grieved to hear of the fate of the historic Guildhall.  On behalf of the London County Council I offer sincerest sympathy.  London has lost a precious possession, the memory of which will outlast even the name of those who wrought its destruction.  Davies promptly placed the Council Chamber at County Hall at the disposal of the City Corporation as a meeting place. Sir Hugh Wyndham (1602–1684), Judge of the Common PleasOne of the most appalling losses were the set of 22 full-length portraits of the Fire Judges by John Michael Wright (1617-1694).  In 1670, the Court of Aldermen commissioned twenty-two paintings to hang in their newly restored Guildhall. These were portraits of the Fire Judges; men who had been appointed to assess compensation claims after the Great Fire of London in 1666. And they are/were magnificent.

This of Sir Hugh Wyndham (1602-1684) by Wright. Collection of the City of London Guildhall Art Gallery

The City thought so little of their worth that they were stored in a lower room in the Guildhall during the war whilst the remainder of the collection was presumably sent off to be stored in safety. Apparently it was not the bombs that caused them to be damaged but the water used to put out the fire in the gallery above. The City states that only two survived and yet it is know that some of the set found its way into other collections including the Government Art Collection and the Inner Temple. The City’s behaviour towards these important paintings is only equalled by the appalling manner in which the GLC treated its collection of chairmen’s portraits, but at least they did not dispose of some of them which is what seems to have happened to the portraits of the Fire Judges.

Charles George Ammon (1873–1960), 1st Baron Ammon of Camberwell, MP

1941. Charles George Ammon, 1st Baron Ammon of Camberwell (1873-1960) by Harry Morley ARA (1881-1943). [No.47]. Chairman of the LCC 1941-1942.  Ammon had been in the Post Office service for 24 years and was Secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers 1920-1928, the first General Secretary of the National Union of Docks, Wharves and Shipping Staffs, and the Organising Secretary of the Civil Service Union.  He became the  Labour MP for North Camberwell 1922-1931 and 1935-1944. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, 1924 and 1929-1931, Government Chief Whip, Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords 1945-1958, Mayor of Camberwell 1950-1951, a Methodist preacher of some note and past President of the United Kingdom Band of Hope Union. He also served as a Governor of the London School of Economics and Dulwich College. He wrote Christ and Labour and Newfoundland: The Forgotten Island, the latter had come out of his chairmanship of a Mission to Newfoundland in 1943. Morley was mainly a watercolourist and engraver.  Born and educated in Leicester, he was articled to an architect but decided to be an artist after visiting Italy in 1907; he took up engraving in 1928. He painted Ammon as a very upright figure with waxed moustache in a chintz curtained room seated on a gilt chair with a floral design.

1941. Part of County Hall leased. The Council was informed on 20 May 1941 that it had leased part of the North Block of County Hall to the Ministry of Information at an annual rent of £1,300.

1941. London Fire Brigade handed over. On Friday, 11 July 1941 a formal ceremony was held at County Hall at which the Chairman of the Council symbolically ‘handed over’ the London Fire Service to the Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security, the Right Hon Herbert Morrison.  The ceremony was marked by a parade of 500 officers and men and women of the Fire Service and a large number of vehicles and appliances were put on display in the courtyard of County Hall.  The Exchequer assumed financial responsibility for the fire service.

1941. Churchill. A few days later on the 14 July the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, reviewed a parade of civil defence personnel in Hyde Park and then came to County Hall for lunch.  Three hundred people attended the lunch which was prepared by the Londoners Meals Service.   The Chairman made a speech of welcome to the Prime Minister on this his first visit to County Hall.  Churchill’s speech in reply was broadcast by the BBC ‘and aroused world-wide interest’.

1941. Moscow. The Chairman sent a telegram to the Chairman of the Moscow Soviet on 22 July 1941 as follows: ‘On behalf of the people of London I send sympathetic greetings to the people of Moscow in the wanton damage of their city.  We share with you the hazards and dangers of these inhuman attacks.  In pride of resistance we salute you.  We will stand together until the end.   Victory is assured.’

Michael Faraday (1791–1867), Chemist and Physicist

Sir Michael Faraday (1791-1867) by Edwin T. Butler [No.93]. About this time, the exact year is not clear, County Hall acquired a powerful portrait of Sir Michael Faraday (1791-1867) with a curious history. In 1878, nine years after his death, Lady Faraday commissioned a portrait of her husband from Edwin T. Butler, an amateur artist of considerable local fame’ who had formerly been an ironmaster with a business at Moss Side, Glasgow. The portrait was based on photographs and details as to flesh colour, eyes and hair supplied by Mrs Faraday.  It was sent to an exhibition at the Royal Institution in 1879.  On the death of Mrs Faraday, the painting passed to her niece, Miss Jane Barnard, who had been the adopted daughter of the Faradays.  In 1908 Miss Barnard gave the portrait to the LCC Michael Faraday School, Faraday Street, Walworth.   Miss Bernard died in her rooms in Hampton Ciourt Palace shortly after she made the gift. The painting was hung in the Boys’ Department of the school and eventually found its way to Room 152 in County Hall.  It frame is inscribed as follows: ‘Michael Faraday.  Born in Newington Butts 22 September 1781. Died at Hamton Ciourt 25 August 1867. This picture was presented by his niece, Jane Barnard, to the Michael Faraday School, Walworth.  The school was destroyed by enemy bombs on 10 May 1941 and this picture was almost the only thing saved from the burnt-out ruins.’ Considering the circumstance under which it was painted the portrait is extremely fine and was considered by Mrs Faraday and many of Faraday’s close friends to be remarkable likeness.

Jack Percy Blake

1942. Jack Percy Blake (1874-1950) by Philip Connard (1875-1958). [No.48]. Chairman of the LCC from 1942-1943. Blake was certainly a man with many interests and talents  He was in charge of a section of the High Explosives Department of the Ministry of Munitions during the First World War and was for a time Commissioner for Income Tax for the City of London. He was interested in the arts and served as Governor of the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells theatres and was a trustee of the National Theatre.  He wrote books on furniture including one on Chippendale.  He also wrote a number of short stories and two novels A Lady’s Honour and The Mony God.  He played water polo for London and was a good amateur boxer. He competed for the United Kingdom in fencing at three Olympiads – London 1908, Stockholm 1912 and Antwerp 1920.He was also epee champion 1911 and a member of the first British International Fencing Team to visit the USA in 1922. A veritable whirlwind of a man, and as such perfectly captured by Connard.   He was a member of the Progressive Party for Islington from 1919-1925 and a Labour member fro Peckham from 1925-1931. He also served as an Alderman on the LCC from 1934-1946. There is only a matter of a couple of years between Connard’s portrait of Davies [No.46] and this one (dated 1942) and yet the change in style is remarkable.  The former is a standard academic piece, restrained, and perfectly crafted, but here we have a free, almost impressionist style.   No concession made to flattering Blake, who sits arms folded, looking very bald, eyes reduced to slits behind glasses.  An uncomfortable and honest piece and it is sad that Blake’s reactions are not known.

1942. America. America came to County Hall in the autumn of 1942. On the 8th October 1942 Blake received a cablegram from the American Short Wave Broadcasting Station WRUL, Boston, Massachusetts, stating that New York City and Mayor La Guardia would be broadcasting special greetings to London on 15 October, between 5 and 5.30pm. ‘These greetings were duly received and on the following evening the Chairman of the Council broadcast a short message in reply on behalf of the people of London to New York and Mayor La Guardia through the BBC’s North American Service. Lieutenant-General Dwight D. Eisenhower, United States Commanding General European Theatre of Operations’ accompanied by various military personnel and the editor of The Times, visited County Hall for lunch on Thursday 15 October 1942.  A few days later on Tuesday 27 October Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt was also given lunch in the Conference Hall of County Hall at which there were 350 guests.

1942. Stalin. Blake sent a telegram to Stalin on his 63 birthday on 21 December 1942. ‘On behalf of the people of London, who are full of admiration for the brave and unwearied resistance of the Russian people, I send hearty greetings and good wishes on your birthday   The cause of civilization and the better world which the Allied People mean to achieve owes a heavy debt to your brilliant and inspiring leadership.  May success attend your efforts and those of the Russian people.’  Somewhere in the Council’s archives is Stalin’s reply. ‘Please accept, Monsieur Chairman, my gratitude for your congratulations and good wishes. J. Stalin.’  The Battle of Stalingrad took place from 23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943.

Image result for Ivan Maisky by epstein national gallery

1942. Ivan Mikhailovich Maisky (1884 – 1975) by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) [No.590]. Maisky was a Soviet diplomat, historian and politician, notable as the Soviet Union’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom during much of the Second World War. In 1942, Reginald H. Pott, an LCC  Labour Member for East Woolwich (1931-1949) presented the Council with a bronze head by Epstein of Icvan Maisky. A replica, it was reported, had recently been bought by the National Gallery.  The bronze was placed in the Members’ Library and was then removed to the County Hall cellars for safety.  On its return to the principal floor of County Hall after the war, it received a new pedestal (paid for by Pott). It then resided in one of the members rooms.  When Christopher Chataway took over the room in which it resided, he was leader of the Education Committee of the Inner London Education Authority, he personally removed the bust and plinth from his room and placed the bust on the ground in the corridor face down where it was found by the cleaning staff and removed to the cellars. I got this story from one of the porters who worked for me when I was cataloguing the collection, even he was shocked.  At the some time in its history it was adopted by Harvey Hinds [see No.86], who arranged that the Maisky bust be placed in whichever room he was allocated on the principal floor as a Council Member of the GLC. During Hinds’ year of office as Chairman the bust adorned his office.  It finally came to rest in Room 176, County Hall during the last few months of the GLC.  The head was stolen during its time with the London Residuary Body and has never been recovered.

1942. Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) the Scottish shipping merchant, philanthropist and art collector. Knighted in 1927.  In late 1942 Sir William Burrell contemplated and in March the following year, proposed to offer his magnificent art collection to the London County Council.  Writing from Hutton Castle on 3 March 1943 to Sir Kenneth Clark, then Director of the National Gallery, he said he would ‘be very pleased to come to London to have an interview with the Chairman and Clerk to the Council and to bring up some of the volumes of photographs of the collection as you suggest, but as I have not been well lately, I should be greatly obliged if they would make it convenient to have the meeting some time next month’. Unfortunately the LCC decided that the financial consequences of maintaining the collection were too great and it was felt that the Council would have other urgent calls on its resources in the post war period.  Image resultAccordingly Clark was informed that the Council would not be willing to entertain Burrell’s proposal. London’s loss was Glasgow’s gain.  In 1944 Burrell donated his collection to the city of Glasgow, with £250,000 to house it. The collection of some 9000 objects is now displayed in a specially designed building in Pollock Park and is described as ‘containing rare Chinese porcelain to modern masterpieces by Manet, Degas and Cézanne; objects from ancient civilizations to works by Rembrandt and Rodin – the Burrell Collection is undisputedly one of the world’s finest treasure houses’. It contains one of my favourite items The Warwick Vase which was discovered at Hadrian’s Villa in 1771, is thought to be 2nd century AD and was given by Sir William Hamilton to his nephew the 2nd Earl of Warwick, hence its name. It was sold in 1978, bagged by the Metropolitan Museum, New York, but was refused an export licence, the British Museum turned its nose up at it and eventually it was offered a home by Glasgow and joined the Burrell Collection.  Sadly only 20% of Burrell’s collection is on display.

Sir Alfred Baker (1870–1943)

1943. Sir Alfred Baker (1870-1943) by James Bateman RA (1893-1959). [No.49]. Chairman of the LCC 1943. Baker died within a few days of his election as Chairman. Born in Exeter but moved to London. He was a solicitor and was legal adviser to the National Labour Party, the London Labour Party and the Miners Federation of Great Britain. He was a member of the Progressive Party on the LCC from 1919-1922 for Finsbury and a Labour Alderman from 1924-1925.  From 1025-1943 he was the Labour member for South Hackney. He represented the LCC on the Thames Board of Conservators until 1928 when he became the representative of the Minister of Agriculture on the Thames Conservancy that succeeded it. He also represented the council on the Port of London Authority, the Territorial Army and Air Force Association of the County of London. He was also a member of the Dulwich College Foundation, a governor of the Regent Street Polytechnic and of Holloway, and a life governor of the London Hospital. He was married but must have had no private life whatsoever.  Bateman had to paint Baker’s portrait from a photograph and duly produced a stiff and awkward ‘likeness’.  Bateman specialised in landscapes and pastoral scenes, farmyards, cattle and horses. He had studied at the Slade and presumably took on the odd portrait commission. On 21 March 1944 the portrait was formally presented to Kenneth Brown (Sir Alfred’s professional partner) on behalf of Lady Baker who then gave it back to the Council.

Sir Richard Coppock (1885–1971), Trade Unionist

1943. Sir Richard Coppock CBE (1855-1971) by Reginald Thomson RA (1894-1979)[No.50]. Chairman of the LCC 1943-1944. Coppock took over from Baker as Chairman. He served on a multitude of committees on the LCC and was Chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee from 1951-1958.  He served as a Labour Alderman of the LCC from 1925-1931 and represented Limehouse from 1934-1949. He was born in Cheetham, Manchester, left school at eleven and followed his father in becoming an apprentice bricklayer. He was active in the Trade Union movement and in 1920 he was elected as secretary of the National Federation of Building Trade Operatives and moved to London. He eventually became president of the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers. In his capacity as president he travelled extensively in Europe and America. He listed his recreations as reading, music and propaganda.Thomson is most notable for being an official War Artist to the Royal Air Force  during World War Two. He was born in Bangalore, India and was deaf from birth. He attended the London Art School in Kensington for a short period but was mainly self-taught. He became a highly respected society portrait painter. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1945.  In the 1948 Olympic Games in London Thomson had the distinction of being the last person to win a Gold Medal for painting as medals for art were abandoned in subsequent Olympic games.

1943. John Elliot Burns (1858-1943). In 1943 Julius Salter Elias, 1st Viscount Southwood (1873-1946) purchased the John Burns Library and four oil paintings, most of which related to London. Special bookplates were also supplied by Southwood, recording that they formed part of the John Burns Library. Burns was MP for Battersea and was a member of the Progressive Party for Battersea in the first London County Council. He was also a Cabinet Minister and played a leading part in the Dock Strike of 1889.  Southwood also presented the Council with Burns’ desk and chair.  In making the offer Southwood expressed a wish that the collection should be suitably housed together as an entity and kept intact, that the collection should be readily available for reading and consultation and that the premises and surroundings in which the library was housed should be conducive to the comfort of members of the public who wished to consult and examine the collection.  The collection was housed at the Greater London Record Office at Clerkenwell.   As far as I could discover Burns’ desk and chair had disappeared..   As to the paintings unless they are in the Greater London Record Office now presumably the City of London Record Office, it is possible that these have also gone.  However, there is one painting which could have come from his collection.

A View of Westminster Abbey and Bridge by John Paul. [No.858]. The painting has the date 1760. Thought to be from the collection of John Burns (1858-1943). I can find no reference to an 18th century artist by the name of John Paul and I cannot recollect where I got the date of 1760 from. There is an artist called John Dean Paul (1804-1887) of whom very little is known who painted  views of London in which the figures were dressed in the manner of the 1700s.

John Elliot Burns MP (1858-1943) by Harold Speed (1872-1957) [No.92]. This portrait of Burns was presented in 1978 to the Council by the daughter of a niece of John Burns.  The portrait was reclaimed from the London Residuary Body by Mrs B.A.Stone and has been presented by her to the City of London for display with the Burns Collection at the Greater London Record Office now part of the City of London Record Office. Speed painted in oil and watercolour and did portraits, figure and historical subjects.  Born in London, the son of an architect, he studied architecture but soon dropped it for painting.   He studied at the Royal Academy Schools and visited Rome, Paris, Vienna Spain and Belgium.  He lived at Watlington, Oxfordshire and in London.

Cockney Stoic

1943. Cockney Stoic – Camden Town Kids Don’t Cry by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson ARA (1889 – 1946) was an English figure and landscape painter, etcher and lithographer, who was one of the most famous war artists of  World War One. In October 1943 the Council was informed that Nevinson had offered and the Council had accepted the gift of a painting by Nevinson ‘for hanging in County Hall’.   The painting depicted a London girl injured in an air raid.  I could not find the painting so presume it must have been stolen at some time during its sojourn, presumably in the cellars, in County Hall. Does anyone know where it is out there?

1944-1945. Dr Somerville Hastings, FRCS (1878-1967) by Francis Ernest Jackson ARA (1873-1945). Chairman of the LCC 1944-1945.   Jackson, a Huddersfield artist, who designed many posters for the London Underground, was commissioned to paint Hastings but unfortunately the painting was never completed owing to the death of the artist in 1945 caused by a road accident.  There is no trace of the unfinished work though it is recorded that Jackson’s executors were paid a fee of £150 for it.

Dr Somerville Hastings (1878–1967)

1944-1945. Dr Somerville Hastings, FRCS (1878-1967) by Rodrigo Moynihan RA (1910-1990) [No.51]. Chairman of the LCC from 1944-1945. Hastings was educated at Wycliffe College, University College (receiving the gold and silver medals for botany) and the Middlesex Hospital, London. He was a consultant surgeon and lecturer to the ear and throat department of the Middlesex Hospital and held a number of surgical appointments in many London hospitals. He was a Labour MP for Reading 1923-1924 and 1933 and for Barking 1945-1959. His recreations, plants, photographs and mountains are reflected in his published writings, Toadstools at Home, 1906,  First Aid for Trenches, 1917, Summer Flowers of the High Alps, 1910, The Future of Medical Practice, 1942. He represented Labour on the LCC for Mile End during 1932-1946. Moynihan, who had just been made an Associate Member of the Royal Academy (1944) was chosen to do Hastings portrait and received £210. Born in the Canary Islands he studied in Florence and Rome and at the Slade. He was an official war artist during the Second World War and was o become Professor of Painting at the Royal College of Art 1948-1957. He delivered to the Council a truly great work freely done as to details with a stunning portrait head.

1945. Americans in London. On the evening of Wednesday the 17 January 1945, Hastings gave a reception at County Hall for American Officers who were engaged in the repair of bomb-damaged houses in London.  They were entertained by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.   On the following evening the Chairman gave another reception for 500 officers and other ranks of the American Army. This time the music was supplied by the Irish Guards and a cabaret  was given by E.N.S.A.

Charles Robertson (1875–1968)

1945. Charles Robertson (1875-1968) by Arthur Ralph Middleton Todd RA (1891-1966). [No.52]. Chairman of the LCC 1945-1946.  Robertson had served in the Ministry of Education, Egypt from 1902-1905 He represented Labour on the LCC for East Islington during 1931-1934 and served as an Alderman from 1934-1952. The work depicts a gentle kindly man, shown with a sheaf of drawings or watercolours on his lap which may be some significance but there are no records of the period to give a clue to them. Todd was born in Newlyn, Cornwall, the son of the artist Ralph Todd.  He studied at the Slade and was in the Motor Transport section of the RASC during the 1914-1918 War.  He was elected an RA in 1949.

1945. Death of President Roosevelt.   Robertson sent a telegram to Mrs Roosevelt ‘on learning the tragic news of the death of Mr Franklin D. Roosevelt (13 April 1945).

End of European War. VE day was on the 8th May 1945. On Sunday, 1 July 1945 a concert was arranged at the Royal Albert Hall as a tribute to the part played during the war by the Council’s staff and, in particular, its defence personnel.   The concert, was sponsored by Lord Southwood and the Daily Herald. 3,000 people attended.

2 September 1945. End of the 2nd World War.


1945. Bust of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) by Sigmund Strobl (1884-1935). For a period County Hall played host to a bust of George Bernard Shaw by Strobl.On 21 October 1945 Shaw wrote from Ayot St Lawrence to J.P.Blake, a member of the LCC.  ‘Dear Mr Blake, I am disposing of my art treasures to avoid bother after my death, which actuarially is overdue.   Among these is a white marble bust of myself by the Hungarian sculptor, Sigmund Strobl (1884-1935), which has an artistic value quite independent of its subject, and will be an ornament to any public gallery.  I have promised it to the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre to be placed in its foyer like Houdon’s bust of Voltaire in the foyer of the Theatre Francais.  But the SMNT is not yet built, and without a public subsidy cannot be for 50 years hence.  It will take that time for its capital to accumulate at compound interest to anything like the sum required. Meanwhile the bust should not be hidden away in the cellars of the SMNT (if they had any) or of the Public Trustee. We are agreed that the best place for it is the County Hall.   Will the LCC accept it on rust for its final destination?  If so, how shall it be addressed and delivered?  I have in mind of course the probability of the theatre being erected on the projected Waterloo-Blackfriars Embankment. Faithfully,  G. Bernard Shaw.’   Blanche Patch recalls in her ‘Thirty years with GBS’ that Shaw had playfully written beneath a photograph of the bust:
This bust thou seest her portrayed
It was by Sigmund Strobl made
A master who in daily strife
With nature could outdo the life.
Oh that I could express my wit
As well in ink as he hath hit
My face in marble, I’d outshine
All who have ever penned a line;
But since I cannot, reader, see
The genius he had made of me.’
The Council agreed to hold the bust as a trustee pending the opening of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre and placed it in the ambulatory of the Council Chamber in County Hall.   The bust was duly handed over to the National Theatre but contrary to Shaw’s wishes it does not appear to have been placed in the foyer (1990).

1945. Bridges. On the morning of 10 December 1945, the Right Hon. Herbert Morrison MP, the Lord President of the Council at the invitation of the LCC, opened the new Waterloo Bridge by cutting a tape and crossing it on foot with the other dignitaries present.   These included Sir Giles Gilbert Scott OM, RA (the consulting architect). After the ceremony all sat down to lunch at County Hall. ‘The luncheon was prepared by the Council’s meals services.’   A baluster from Old Waterloo Bridge was presented to the Council by Reginald Pott (donor of the Epstein bust of Maisky).  It was last seen serving as a sundial on the Members’ Terrace of County Hall (1985).

Toll Keys from Old Waterloo Bridge [No.554] and Charing Cross Footbridge (Hungerford Bridge) [No.558].


These keys were also discovered in the cellars and are included in the Heritage Collection. They had been handed over when the bridge had been freed of tolls on 5 October 1878.

Bridge Foundation stone plates.  The Heritage Collection also had two lead foundation stone plates taken from the demolished Strand Bridge (Old Waterloo Bridge) [No.423] and old Vauxhall Bridge [No.422]. 

The plates had been removed from their foundation stones which had been laid on 11 October 1811 (Strand Bridge) and 9 May 1811 (Vauxhall Bridge). The former had been laid by the Prince Regent who opened it on the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and not as stated on the plaque – 18 June 1817. The Italian sculptor Canova called it ‘the noblest bridge in the world’ and said that ‘it is worth going to England solely to see Rennie’s bridge’.   Both plates inform us that John Rennie the elder (1761-1821) was the engineer. The old Vauxhall bridge was the first iron bridge to be build over the Thames. Again it was opened by the Prince Regent.  

1945. The London Briges Bowl by A.R.Emerson. [No.281]. Reginald Pott commissioned and presented to the Council a magnificent piece of engraved civic silver, the London Bridges Bowl. The bowl is inscribed To commemorate the courage of Londoners 1939-1945. The 11 panels on the bowl have engravings of London’s bridges and a twelfth panel has an engraving of County Hall engraved with Valiant Citizens.  A Valiant City.

John Cliff (1883–1977)

1946 John Cliff (1883-1977) by Dennis William Dring  RA(1904-1990). [No.53]. Chairman of the LCC 1946-1947. Sir Walter R. M. Lamb the secretary of the Royal Academy wrote to the Council on 12 November 1946 that the President, Sir Charles Wheeler and the Royal Academy Council had nominated William Dring to paint John Cliff.  Cliff was born in Leeds and  joined Leeds Corporation Transport Department in 1900 as a tram conductor and later became a tram motorman.  He joined the Amalgamated Association of Tramway and Vehicles Workers and eventually became the first Assistant General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, he later became a prominent member of the London Transport Board. He was a member of the LCC for many years serving as an Alderman from 1937-1949.  He was also a Deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex from 1949 and a founder member of British Institute of Management. He drove the last London tram into New Cross Depot in July 1952. He died in Eastbourne. Dring, it appears from a letter in the LCC files, lived in Compton, near Winchester but proposed to acquired a studio in London.  He specialised in landscapes and portraits and had studied at the Slade School of Art 1922-1925. He served as an Official War Artist with the Air Ministry, the Ministry of Information and the Admiralty. The Imperial War Museum owns 64 of his pastel portraits and 5 oils. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1955.

1946. Rosebery portrait. [No.1] It was Cliff who finally broke the tradition that the Rosebery portrait of the first Chairman of the LCC should be kept in the Lobby of County Hall where it had hung since 1922 and ordered that it be displayed in the Chairman’s Office.

1946. Wedgwood plaques by Ada Louise Powell (1865-1956). [Nos.372-399]. Among the gifts recorded in the Minutes of the Council of 28 May 1946 is a set of plaques showing the coats-of-arms of the Council, the City Corporation and the Metropolitan Borough Councils. These were presented to the LCC by Mr A. D. Power, and consist of 28 unique Wedgwood plaques painted and signed by Ada Louise Powell. Louise and her husband Arthur Powell were employed by the Wedgwood factory as artist designers and adhered closely to the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement. They exhibited several hand painted pieces at the 1914 Paris Exhibition – Decorative Arts of Great Britain and Ireland.

1947-1965. Sir Isaac Hayward (1884-1976) was Leader of the London County Council

Lady Eleanor Joan Clara Nathan (1892–1972)

1947. Lady Eleanor Joan Clara Nathan, (1892-1972) by Arnold Henry Mason RA (1885-1963) [No.54]. Chairman of the LCC 1947-1948. Mason was nominated in 1947 by the Royal Academy to paint Lady Nathan. The fee remained at 200 guineas and the portrait was dull, stiff and lifeless and dated 1948. Lady Nathan is dressed in a grey coat with a mustard coloured blouse and tie. Hers was to be the last painting to be placed in the standard black and gilt frame which has been introduced in the 1920s. Henceforth all portraits of the chairmen were to be in gilt frames, which were considerably less impressive.  Lady Nathan was the first woman member of the Metropolitan Water Board 1937-1946, President of the Union of Jewish Women 1945-1955 and Governor of Girton College, Cambridge, Holloway College and the University of London.   She was the daughter of Carl Stettauer, a Russian-born leather merchant. In 1919 she married Harry Louis Nathan and they were both involved in Liberal Party politics in Bethnal Green. He was MP for Bethnal Green North East 1929-1935  while she was a member of the LCC also representing Bethnal Green North East from 1928-1934. In 1934 she and her husband joined the Labour Party. In 1937 she returned to the LCC as a Labour member for Wandsworth Central and in the same year her husband was elected as MP for the same area. She held her seat till 1949 and was then elected an Alderman of the LCC from 1951-1965. She was a member of the LCC’s Education Committee from 1937 and following its abolition was co-opted onto the Inner London Education Authority until 1967. Mason painted portraits and landscapes.   He was born in Birkenhead and studied at the Macclesfield School of Art, the Slade in London and then worked for many years in Provence in the south of France. He finally settled in London and became an RA in 1951.

1947. Princess Margaret’s gift. Among the gifts recorded as having been received by the Council during the year is one from Princess Margaret and consisted of five 35 lb tins of sweets, a gift from South Africa which she requested be gifted to the deaf children at the Council’s schools.

1947. War damage to County Hall. A report to the Council meeting on 4 November 1947 relates that nearly one third of the effectively lighted office  accommodation at County Hall had been damaged by enemy action.  This amounted to 160,000 square feet.  In addition thirteen committee and members’ rooms had sustained major damage. Work of reinstatement was likely to take three years and the estimated cost was in the region of £610,150 which was recoverable from the War Damage Commission.

Walter R. Owen

1948. Walter R. Owen (d.1959) by Reginald Grange Brundrit (1883-1960) RA. [No.55]. Chairman of the LCC 1948-1949. Brundrit was chosen by the Royal Academy to paint Owen’s portrait and produced a reasonable if rather dull 200 guinea portrait. Owen represented Labour for East Lewisham 1934-1949 and East Lewisham South 1949-1958, he was also Mayor Lewisham in 1945. Brundrit was born in Liverpool and studied at the Bradford School of Art and the Slade in London. He lived for many year in Yorkshire and became an RA in 1930.

1948. Cleopatra’s Needle, London. The Establishment Committee reported to the Council on 2 November 1948 that it had accepted from Mr C.H.Mabey a collection of original models, pictures and documents concerning the erection of Cleopatra’s Needle and Sphinxes, the Temple Bar memorial and other similar works. Certain items from this collection  relating to Cleopatra’s Needle were discovered in the Record Office of County Hall and were included in the Heritage Collection. Heaven alone knows what happened to the rest of Mr Mabey gifts. The sphinxes which adorn Cleopatra’s Needle were sculpted by George John Vulliamy (1817-1886).


1948. Plaster Sphinx [No.616].  Is the plaster an original by Vulliamy? It was Vulliamy who designed the  iconic London ‘dolphin’ lamp posts on the London Embankments and was also responsible for the design of the benches on the north embankment, with their Egyptian sphinxes and camels – complementing Cleopatra’s Needle. He may also have been responsible for the design of the benches with swans on the south embankment. Metropolitan Board Of Works in 1855. The London embankments was one of the Metropolitan Board of Works biggest projects – Victoria and Chelsea Embankments on the north bank of the River Thames and the Albert Embankment on the south. The MBW’s Chief Engineer Sir Joseph Bazelgette (1819–1891) oversaw the whole project.

Bronze sphinx [No.144]. Is the bronze sphinx the original copy made by Vulliamy to adorn Cleopatra’s Needle? Cleopatra’s Needle is a granite obelisk nearly 60feet high and weighing about 186 tons was cut from the quarries of Aswan in about 1475 BC and had been erected in Heliopolis. It is carved with dedications to various gods and cartouches with the names of Tuthmosis III, Rameses II and Cleopatra.  The obelisk was moved to Alexandra probably on the orders of the Roman Emperor Augustus.  It eventually toppled over and was presented to the British in 1819  by the Turkish Viceroy of Egypt. There it lay till 1876 when John Dixon an engineer working in Alexandra built a vessel for its journey by sea to London.

Ship model of the Cleopatra [No.304]. The vessel was basically a cylinder measuring 93 feet long and 15 feet wide.  A gale hit the vessel in the Bay of Biscay, six seamen died and the Needle was almost lost. It eventually arrived in London in January 1878 and was to have been erected in front of the Houses of Parliament but the site was found to be unsuitable and it was eventually erected on the Embankment further down the river, flanked by Vullaimy’s sphinxes. The LCC was responsible for the upkeep of Cleopatra’s Needle as well as many other public statues in London.

1948. LCC Hospitals. The National Health Service Act of 1946, pioneered by Aneurin Bevan, came into being on the “appointed day”, 5 July 1948. Hospitals with their “additional premises” throughout Britain transferred to the state. The Council’s hospitals were transferred with 1,000 staff to the Metropolitan Regional Hospital Boards.

1949. LCC Elections. The 1949 spring election saw the Labour and Conservative parties each winning 64 seats on the Council,  The Labour Aldermen enabled Labour to retain control.

1949.  Badges of office for the Vice-Chairman and Deputy Chairman. On 25 October 1949 the General Purposes Committee reported to the Council that ‘The Vice-Chairman of the Council and the Deputy Chairman of the Council are frequently asked to represent the Council, in the absence of the Chairman of the Council, on ceremonial occasions.  We have approved suitable badges of office for use on such occasions.   These will be about two-thirds the size of the Chairman’s badge, similar in design and as dignified, but simpler in material and construction’.  These badges were formally presented to the holders of these offices (Bernard Sullivan and Charles Pearce) by the Chairman of the Council at a meeting of the Council on 7 February 1950. The badges were to be broken up and altered by the GLC in 1965 (see below).

1949. The Council and the Royal Academy. On 4th October 1949 Council members had a change of policy with regard to the future commissioning of portraits. In future they would not leave it to the President of the Royal Academy to nominate an artist as it was feared that on occasions, his nomination might ‘prove embarrassing’ and the Council could get involved in commissioning an unsuitable artist.  Henceforth, the choice would be left to a sub-committee consisting of the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee, the Leader of the Council and the Leader of the Opposition.   This worthy body would, it was agreed, visit the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and other suitable exhibitions such as those of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters accompanied by the Council’s art adviser and choose a suitable artist to their taste.  Expenditure of not more than £250 a portrait was sanctions. Sir Walter Lamb, the Secretary of the Royal Academy, was asked to approve the Council’s draft letter bringing to an end the nomination arrangement.  Sir Walter thought the draft letter treated the ‘rather delicate matter with excellent tact and taste’. The letter was duty sent and the Academy formally accepted ‘without demur’ the Council’s decision to make its own choice.

Sir John William Bowen (1876–1965), Politician

1949. Sir John William Bowen, CBE, MP (1876-1965) by Thomas Cantrell Dugdale (1880-1952). [No. 56] Chairman of the LCC from 1949-1952. This was the Council’s first choice of artist under the new scheme. Dugdale asked for £300 and got it.  He had already painted a former chairman Edward Gladstone Culpin (1877-1946) who had been chairman from 1938-1939 and produced an almost identical bland portrait. Bowen left school aged eleven to work at the  Post Office and became an active trade unionist, joining the Postmen’s Federation of which he became chairman in 1916. He became active in the Labour Trade Union movement and was the Labour MP for Crewe 1921-1923. In 1940, he was elected to the LCC as labour member for Wandsworth Central. He lost the seat in 1949, but despite no longer being a member of the council, the Labour group ensured his election as the council’s Chair. He served in the position for three years, winning an aldermanic seat in 1951 to remain on the council after his time as chair finished. In 1950, during a visit of the Queen of the Netherlands he was made a Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau and in the same year the President of the French Republic appointed him Commander of the Legion of Honour.

0031949. Silver Flower Vase by A. R. Emerson [No.244]. A large silver flower vase was commissioned to mark Bowen’s first year of office as Chairman of the Council.   Thus began a custom which continued on and off for some years and served to create a small collection of civic silver for use by the Council on ceremonial occasions.  The vase was designed by A.R.Emerson and made by members of the staff of the Silver Department of the LCC’s School of Arts and Crafts (silver mark ARE London 1949).   It was presented to the Council on 9 May 1950 and cost £243.

1949, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House. Iveagh Bequest Kenwood Act 1925. In 1925 Edward Cecil Guiness, 1st Lord Iveagh (1847-1927), having amassed a fortune, acquired Kenwood House and the parkland surrounding it, from Alan David Murray 6th Earl of Mansfield;  Robert Adam having remodelled the house for the 1st Earl of Mansfield.

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Lord Iveagh promptly proceeded to furnish Kenwood and install his remarkable collection of paintings which he had formed in the 1880s and1890s.  He then bequeathed the estate and collection to Trustees for the benefit of the public.  Iveagh wished the house to be shown as a fine example of the artistic home of a country gentleman of the 18th century. The house was closed during the war.  On the 22 March 1949 the LCC elected to become the administrative trustee of the bequest and took over complete responsibility for the house, its contents and park. The house had sustained appreciable war damage and the contents had been put in storage for the duration.  The house was formally re-opened to the public by Lord Chancellor Jowett on the 17 May 1950. Into the hands of the LCC came a stunning collection of paintings; two Rembrandt’s including one of his moving late self-portraits, Vermeer’s Guitar Player, fourteen works by Reynolds, eight by Gainsborough including his magnificent Mary Countess Howe and many other major works of art.  The LCC and then the GLC were, over the ensuring years, to add considerably to the collection. The house was also the recipient of many generous gifts. Also the Council arranged a number of important exhibitions over the years.

Seventy-eight persons applied for the post of curator of Kenwood and the position went to 37 year old G.L.Conran, who had been curator of Southampton Art Gallery since 1938. His salary was £600 a year, but ‘unfurnished quarters, fuel, light and water’ also came as an emolument.

The LCC’s Diamond Jubilee. On 21 April 1949 the LCC celebrated its Diamond Jubilee.  ‘It has often been said that if Parliament ceased to talk for twelve months the country would suffer no inconvenience and many people would be glad.  On the other hand, if the London County Council ceased work for a few days indescribable chaos would result and the health of Londoners would be seriously jeopardized…      The Council’s housing estates house 500,000 people who pay £5,000,000 a year in rents.  In its 400 schools, 3000,000 children are educated by 14,000 teachers…..’. The Face of London by Harold P. Clunn 1951.

1950. Pair of matching silver vases by A.R.Emerson. [No.244]. This year a pair of matching silver vases were commissioned from Emerson and made by the Silver Department of the LCC School of Arts and Crafts (silver mark ARE London 1950.  They were presented on 19 June 1951 and cost £130.7.6d.

0041951. Silver Rose Bowl [No.242] designed by by B.I.Wade and made by A.R.Emerson. To mark Bowen’s final year of office a magnificent silver soe bowl was commissioned   The design was the subject of a competition and was won by B.I.Wade. The bowl was made by the Silver Department under the direction of Emerson and was presented by Bowen to the Ciouncil on 17 March 1952. (silver mark ARE London 1952).  It cost £200.   It was reported to the Council on 23 October 1951 that ‘In response to a request from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, the silver vases presented to the Chairman of the Council in 1950 and 1951 were lent for inclusion in the Exhibition of Contemporary Silverware during the Festival of Britain.

1951. The Festival of Britain. The concert hall known as the Royal Festival Hall was built as part of the Festival of Britain for the LCC and was designed by Leslie Martin, Peter Moro and Robert Matthew from the LCC’s architects department. The building was constructed by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts at a cost of £2 million.   The foundation stone was laid in 1949 by the Prime Minister Clement Attlee. The building was officially opened on 3 May 1951. The 7,866 pipe organ was built during 1950–1954 by Harrison & Harrison to the specification of the LCC consultant Ralph Downes.

1951. Battersea Park.   The LCC’s Battersea Park hosted the Festival Pleasure Gardens, one of the major exhibitions of the Festival of Britain. The northern parts of the park were transformed into  “Pleasure Gardens” which included a new water-garden and fountains, a “Tree-Walk”, which consisted of a series of raised wooden walkways linked by tree-house-like platforms suspended between the branches of a number of trees. Then there was the Guinness Clock, designed by Jan de Witt and George Him, and the Far Tottering and Oyster C|reek Branch Railway.

Henry Moore-Three standing figures-Battersea Park-2.jpg1951. Three Standing Figures by Sir Henry Moore. The contemporary Arts Society presented the Council with Henry Moore’s 1948 statuary group Three Standing Figures.  These female figures had caused a sensation at the Council’s Sculpture Exhibition in 1948. The statues were erected in Battersea Park.

1951. Crystal Palace. During the night of 30 November 1936 the Crystal Palace had burnt to the ground.  It had been built for the Great Exhibition of 1851. During the war the ruins and park were used for various military purposes but then lay derelict.  The provisions of the London County Council (Crystal Palace) Act 1951 arranged for the transfer of the ruins and park to the London County Council.   And so to the Council came a motley collection of gold and silver presentation cups for cage birds, bicycle polo, poultry, dirt tract events, etc. These were mainly displayed in the glass cases in the corridors of the Principal  Floor of County Hall, though some had found their way into the cellars. All were catalogued for the Heritage Collection and were subsequently handed over the London Borough of Bromley together with the remains of the Crystal Palace and park.    They included: The Gold Sunday Times Championship Trophy  [No.148] for Male Voice Choir.

The Silver Daily Telegraph Crystal Palace Harp  [No.545]which was the Crystal Palace Empire Musical Festival Choir Trophy for Ladies (silver mark Mappin and Webb, Birmingham 1923).













The Silver Carwardine Trophy or Tasso Cup [No.655] This was 56 inches high, dated 1883 and was competed for by National Jazz Bands. The trophy was found in one of the storerooms of the Record Office, tarnished black and covered in bird (?) droppings.

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1952. Edwin Bayliss OBE (1894-1971) by Reginald Robert Tomlinson (1885-1978). [No.57] Chairman of the LCC 1952-1953. Bayliss was educated at Nottingham College.  He served on the Nottingham Board of Guardians.  He was  wounded in the 1914-1918 war and received the Mons Star. He was a founding member of the British Legion.  He was a member of the LCC for Islington from 1946-1965. He was also founder and Vice-President of the Anglo Turkish Society.  He was awarded the OBE in 1960.During his term of office Bayliss made official civic visits to Copenhagen, Berlin and Ankara.  The portrait is dated 1953. Tomlinson had studied at the Farnham School of Art and won a scholarship to the art school at Hanley. Studied at the Royal College of Art from 1912-15.  He travelled extensively in Europe and had worked in the Hague on the Palace of Peace (painting murals). After a spell working in the potteries as Art Director for Crown Staffordshire Porcelain Company, he took a job teaching in Cheltenham. In 1925 he became Chief Inspector for schools in London. He was acting principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London 1939 to 1947 and retired from the Council’s service in December 1950. The General purposes Committee was informed that Tomlinson had been chosen after his work had been inspected by the Chairman and the Clerk of the Council. The report described him as a distinguished artist and craftsman and had exhibited at the Royal Academy.

1952.  Holland House and Holland Park. Holland House the Jacobean house of the Earl of Holland which became the social centre for the Whigs in the 18th and early 19th century was bombed during the Second World War and was left derelict until 1952 when the LCC acquired it together with its surrounding extensive park covering 54 acres from the last owner the 6th Earl of Ilchester.   Today the remains of the house form a backdrop for the open air Holland Park Theatre, which is the home of opera and ballet. The park contains a statue to Henry Richard Vassall-Fox, 3rd Baron Holland (1773–1840) by George Frederick Watts (1817-1904)  and Joseph Boehm (1834-1890) dated 1872.

1952. Photograph of Mark Twain. [No.779]. It was the Chairman Edwin Bayliss who, on 17 December 1952, ‘received with pride on behalf of London and the Citizens of Britain’, a framed photograph of Mark Twain standing in front of his boyhood home in Hannibal,Missouri, USA, which is now in the Heritage Collection. It appears from the inscription on the photograph that the frame is made of wood taken from the author’s home and was presented to the citizens of Britain in commemoration of the ‘opening by transatlantic telephone of the Mississippi Show Boat in Battersea Gardens 24 May 1952. One of the very few relics of the Festival of Britain.

Bird Cage1952. Bird Cage by Reginald Cotterell Butler (1913-1981). An abstract metal sculpture called Bird Cage by Reg Butler was accepted from the Festival of Britain for display on the lawns of Kenwood House.  It transferred to English Heritage with Kenwood. However I understand that it is now displayed at the Royal Festival Hall.

0051953. Large silver two-handled chalice by A.R.Emerson [No.245], Made by the silver department of the LCC’s School of Arts and Crafts and presented to the Council on 15 December 1953 by Bayliss (silver mark ARE London 1953).  It cost £250.

1953. Hanging the portraits. The 1953 file of the Accommodation Section of the Director General’s Department reveals information about the scheme which prevailed for the hanging of each new portrait: ‘Under present arrangements this new portrait (of Bayliss) will be placed in the Noes Lobby, existing portraits in both lobbies with the exception of Lord Rosebery’ presumably he had been returned from the Chairman’s Office ‘all moving down one, the portrait finally displaced from the Ayes Lobby being removed to the Conference Hall’. The rules were ‘prescribed’ by the General Purposes Committee we are informed, and they also prescribed that the ‘portrait of the first Chairman should be left in situ over the mantelpiece in the Noes Lobby’. The purpose of the note was in response to a request that consideration be given to the removal of Lord Rosebery’s portrait back to the Chairman’s Office for display.  Whether in fact Lord Rosebery’s portrait was removed is not known, but presumably it had since the opening of County Hall, with the exception already noted, occupied the same place over the mantelpiece in the Noes Lobby. However, it is known that Rosebery’s portrait found its way to the storage area of the Members’ Reading Room where I found it stacked in heaps with other portraits in the last few months of the GLC.

Sir Arthur Middleton

1953. Sir Arthur Edward Middleton (1891-1953)  by Reginald Robert Tomlinson (1885-1978). [No.58]. Chairman of the LCC August-October 1953. Middleton died whilst in office. Lady Middleton was consulted on the matter and agreed the choice of artist and to supply Tomlinson with ‘photographs and such other material as was available’.   The portrait was a competent likeness, which was probably all that was required of it.  The portrait is dated 1953. A somewhat distracting feature of Tomlinson’s portraits was the inclusion of the sitter’s name in large letters. Middleton represented Labour and served as was an Alderman from 1942-1946, and 1952-1953 and Islington North from 1946-1952.

Bronze statue of General Charles George Gordon (1833-1885) by Hamo Thornycroft (1850-1925).  The statue had stood in Trafalgar since 1887 but was removed in 1943 and was then, having lost part of its plinth, sent to the Victoria Embankment Gardens and into the keeping of the LCC in 1953.

1953. Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  On 6 July 1953 Middleton gave a ‘Coronation Reception’ at County Hall.   The guests included the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Dukes and Duchesses of Gloucester and Kent, the Earl and Countess of Athlone, Princess Marie Louise, the Marchioness of Carisbrooke, the Marquess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Beaufort.Other guests were Viscount Alanbrooke, the High Sherrif and Mayor of London, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr & Mrs Clement Attlee (he as leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons) and R.A. Butler, Chancellor of the Exchequer , the mayors and mayoresses of all the Metro;olitan boroughs, councils and county councils adjoining London and all Members of Parliament for all the London constituencies and representatives of a host of organisations concerned or connection with the governance of London.   Quite a gathering.  The Queen ended her speech with ‘My husband and I will continue to take the closest interest in your labours for the well-being of the people whom you serve.  May God give you wisdom, courage and faith in all your work’. She then knighted Middleton.  Within 35 years the LCC successor the GLC would be abolished and County Hall would be a sad empty shell awaiting the developers all because of a mad Prime Minister wanting and succeeding in destroying  an equally mad Leader of the GLC.  The magnificent County Hall, in its prime position on the Thames now reduced to being used as hotels, an aquarium and heaven knows what other rubbish, simply because of Thatcher’s determination that it would be destroyed forever. On a personal note I had always thought it would have made an excellent home for the National Portrait Gallery and its vast collection scattered all over the country.   It could also have served as a home to the archives of the NPG, the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery and also have accommodated a national conservation workshop and be London’s foremost exhibition space.  At the same time freeing up the NPG’s galleries at the back of the National Gallery for expansion of the National Gallery. I did put my ideas to Sir Godfrey Taylor of the London Residuary Body when we were discussing the future of the Heritage Collection, but the idea was laughed to scorn.

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1953. Mrs Ivy Molly Bolton (1897-1991) by Leszek Tadeusz Muszynski (1923-c.1990). [No.59] Chairman of the LCC from November 1953-August 1954. Bolton was a Labour member on the LCC representing North Hackney from 1934-1949, South Newington and Hackney North from 1949-1952. She was currently serving as an Alderman at the time she was chosen as Chairman of the LCC.  She married Douglas Bolton. Muzsynski was a painter, draughtsman, printmaker and teacher was required to present a preliminary sketch, for Bolton’s approval.   The sketch was approved and he was offered the commission. The resultant portrait was conspicuously odd as Bolton appears to be wearing rather than sitting on her chair.  On the other hand it leaves a pleasing image of roudness and comrotable well-being which would not have been out of place in a Beatrix Potter illustration. Muzsynski was  born 1923 in Halicz, Poland.  He studied art at Edinburgh College of Art, 1946-9, under William Gillies, John Maxwell and William MacTaggart. A travelling scholarship took him to France and Italy, then he did a postgraduate year, teaching at the College. He also taught at Gray’s Art School in Aberdeen and at West Surrey College of Art and Design, taking early retirement as head of the painting school in 1984. Muszynski’s best work has been a dialogue of the human condition and the working of the land. This was fostered by his regular visits to Mexico begun in the 1960’s, and his association with the family of the great Mexican painter Diego Rivera. He settled in Liphook, Hampshire, but also worked around his second home in Ibiza. His portrait of the Scottish artist Anne Redpath (1895–1965) is in the National Portrait Gallery.

1953. Note on the silver.  It has to be pointed out that though the Council was commissioning special pieces of silver, in fact it owned quite a handsome collection of silver which it used at banquets. All of the silver was catalogued in the Heritage Collection, all of it, other than the commissioned pieces were sold off by the London Residuary Body. When I say all of the silver was catalogued, I sometimes did wonder how many pieces had been lost, stolen or strayed over the years.  The silver was kept in a storeroom which was not locked and seemed to be open to anyone in the catering department. I asked if there was an inventory but no one had heard of one ever having being made.

0061954. Silver Salver by A. R. Emerson. [No.248].Middleton and Bolton shared in this piece, a handsome silver salver.  It was also made by the Silver Department of the LCC’s School of Arts and Crafts (silver mark ARE London 1954) and cost £250.

Victor Mischcon (1915–2006), Solicitor and Politician1954. Victor Mishcon, Baron Mishcon, QC, DL (1915–2006) by Arthur Ralph Middleton Todd (1891-1966). [No.60]. Chairman of the LCC from 1954-1955. In 1954,for reasons not made clear in the records, the sub-committee decided, in selecting an artist, to seek the advice of the Director of the National Gallery (Sir Philip Hendy) and the Slade Professor of Fine Arts (William Coldstream).  In the company of the Council’s Senior Inspector of Art they were to act as an Advisory Panel, and the Council was prepared to accept their advice ‘both on this occasion and in future’. Sir Philip  and William Coldstream  promptly recommended Arthur Ralph Middleton Todd.  The records do not specify whether the Inspector of Art was invited to attend their deliberations on this occasion.  He may have been able to tell them that Middleton Todd had already painted a previous Chairman, Charles Robertson [No.52] in 1946. Todd was formally approached by the Council’s officers and asked what his fee would be.   He replied ‘500 guineas’ and was hastily informed that the Council only had £350 to spend. Todd apparently gave this some thought and then agreed to undertake the portrait of Victor Mishcon for £350 provided the amount of the fee was not made known to anyone else as it was ‘below that which he normally expects to command for a commission of this nature’. Todd was also commissioned to do the next chairman’s portrait for the same price. The Mishcon though somewhat stiffly posed, nevertheless has a benign, quiet feel about it. Mishcon was a solicitor by profession and represented Brixton for Labour on the LCC between 1946-1965 and Lambeth till 1967. He was Deputy Lieutenant of the City, 1954, Chairman of the LCC General Purposes Committee 1952-1954. He was also a member of the Inner London Education Authority 1964-1967 and played a prominent role in many Anglo-Jewish organisations. During his term of office, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden appointed him a Commander of the Royal Swedish Order of the North Star and ‘His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia’ awarded him th Star of Ethiopia, 3rd Class during his State Visit to Britain in 1954. Mishcon also served on the National Theatre Board 1965-67, the South Bank Theatre Board, 1977-1982 and the London Orchestra Board 1966-1967.  Mishcon was one of 15 men and women who sat on the 1954-1957 British Government appointed Wolfenden Committee which considered the law and practice of homosexual offences and treatment of persons convicted of such offences in British courts, and to review prostitution offences. He was made a life peer, Baron Mishcon of Lambeth, on 10 May 1978

1954. Pair of Silver Candelabra by A. R. Emerson. [No.270].  The candelabra commemorated Mishcon’s year of office and were made by the Central School (silver mark ARE London 1955). They were presented to the Council on 7 February 1956 and cost £250.

Sir Norman George Mollett Prichard (1895–1972), London County Councillor

1955. Sir Norman George Mollett Prichard (1895-1972)  by Arthur Ralph Middleton Todd (1891-1966). [No.61]. Chairman of the LCC from 1955-1956. Prichard had been educated at Henry Thornton School, Clapham and King’s College, London and been called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1925. He served as a Civil Servant for some 34 years. He became a Battersea Councillor  from 1927, and was Mayor Battersea from 1935 to 1936. As a barrister he had been much engaged in religious and social work and undertook a series of lecture tours o London Local Government in Holland, the USA and Canada. He became an Alderman of the LCC from 1950 and then a Labour councillor representing Hammersmith North until until 1965. In 1965 both the Battersea Borough and London County Councils were abolished and Prichard became members of the successor authorities: Wandsworth Borough Council from 1964–68 and the GLC, representing Wandsworth from 1964–67 and 1970-72. He was knighted in 1968. During the visit of the President of Portugal in 1956 Prichard was appointed a Commander of the Portuguese Military Order of Christ. Todd’s portrait is extremely good with a colourful background which offsets a remarkably well painted head of some depth and character.

1956. Silver Inkstand by A. R. Emerson [No.247]. Inkstand to commemorate Prichard’s term of office as Chairman. The silver mark is ARE 1956. The inkstand was presented on 2 April 1956 and cost £270.

1956. London County Council Seal by Walter Crane (1845-1915) No.311. During Mishcon’s term of office Miss Dorothy Walker presented to the Council Walter Crane original design for the seal of the London County Council. The drawing by Crane is framed and within the frame is included the steel counterpart of the seal and a red wax impression.  The design was used on the GLC’s 1985 Christmas card.

1956. Plaque of the London County Council’s seal by Walter Crane (1845-1915). [No.769]. A painted circular wooden convex plaque with the design of the LCC’s seal on a gold background, by Walter Crane was discovered in my hunt for works of art in County Hall. It may have been meant for insertion in the back of the original Chairman’s chair.

1955. Staff Chapel, County Hall. On the 17 October 1955 the Staff Chapel was dedicated by the Bishop of Southwark (Bertram Simpson). The walls of the chapel were covered in linenfold panelling of Tudor design but of a much later date which had been recovered from a house in Wandsworth which had been demolished by the LCC for ‘open space’ purposes. Fronting the dais are richly carved altar rails of 17th century Flemish oak which had been sitting in the cellars of County Hall and had formerly been stored at the Geffrye Museum The altar rails had a series of carved panels of the Passover Feast in a roundel with two angels heads at the top corners, The Pelican in her Piety, The Lamb on the Book of the Seven Seals and The Shrewbread. It is possible the panels had been taken from a disused church in London though I could find no record. I wonder what has happened to the Chapel and its contents. In the small passage leading to the Chapel were/are two large majolica panels in the style of della Robbia of groups of choristers framed by borders of fruit and flowers.

1956. Visitors to County Hall. The General Purposes of the Council presented a general summary of the visitors to County Hall during the past year in a report to the Council on 20 March 1956. The visitors came from 40 countries and included the Vice-President of Yugoslavia, The Prime Minister of Italy, the American Ambassador, the President of the Conseil General de la Seine, the Burgomaster of the Hague, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Moscow City Soviet, the Mayors of Amman, Jordan,  New York and San Francisco and the Governing Mayor of West Berlin, the Dukes of Edinburgh and Gloucester, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Home Secretary, the Minister of Labour and National Service, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health; all beat a path to County Hall to wine and dine. Some of them left mementoes.

1956.The Hague Chalice. [No.531]. The Burgomaster of the Hague presented the Council with a silver chalice and cover engraved with flowers and leaves, the cover topped with a pineapple finial. It is inscribed ‘To the London County Council from the City Council of the Hague 1956’.

1956. The Berlin Porcelain Bear [No.160]. The Governing Mayor of West Berlin presented the Council with a porcelain bear on a stand.  The stand is marked ‘Berlin House of Representatives to the London County Council’.

Losses of gifts. Many visitors over the years must have left a memento of some consequence during their visit.  I found many small plinths of stone and wood scattered around in various store rooms both on the principal floor and the cellars of County Hall. Sadly they were unmarked and equally sad to relate what they had supported had probably been stolen. Added to this a number of items were stolen during the reign of the London Residuary Body but I was never told of the extent of the losses.  I presume these were reported to the police. Maybe one day I’ll request a list. I know the theft was kept very  secret and I was only told about in confidence by a member of staff.  The incredible thing is that both Banks, the chairman, and I, found that no one in the GLC was responsible for these valuable items or the paintings  in County Hall.


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