Edward Irvine Halliday, 1902 - 1984
Portrait of Sir Isaac Hayward, 1884–1976, trade unionist and local politician
Portrait of Sir Isaac Hayward
2nd May 1968

signed and dated 1968

oil on canvas
92 x 79 cm. (36 x 31 in.)


Sir Isaac James Hayward,  (1884–1976), trade unionist and local politician, was born on 17 November 1884 at Blaenafon, Monmouthshire, the second of five sons in the family of seven children of Thomas Hayward, engine fitter, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth French. He went to the local elementary school, and left aged twelve. His subsequent education was at night school. Hayward remembered Blaenafon ‘as a town of 13,000 people, sixty public houses and twenty-two chapels’ (Jones, 239), and the necessity of regular Baptist worship and of total abstinence from alcohol was instilled in him by his father from an early age. As with Herbert Morrison, with whom Hayward was later closely associated, his introduction to social problems came through the temperance movement. From the age of twelve to fifteen he worked in the nearby pits, after which he went into engineering. He was soon active in union work in a voluntary capacity, and later he became a full-time official of the National Union of Enginemen, Firemen, Mechanics, and Electrical Workers.

In 1926 the union was affiliated to Ernest Bevin's Transport and General Workers' Union and became known as the Powerworkers' Group of that union: Hayward was first London district secretary, then assistant general secretary, and from 1938 to 1946 general secretary.In his later years he proudly referred to the union card he had held continuously from the age of sixteen. He still held it at his death.Hayward was exempted from military service during the First World War when, in the interest of industrial harmony, there began a new partnership between government and unions. Hayward played his part in this new union role, the work taking him frequently to London, where he and his family moved in 1924. He had married on 13 November 1911 Alice (d. 1944), daughter of Joshua Mayers, a master builder, of Blaenafon; they had four sons, of whom the eldest was killed in action in 1944. In London, Hayward's service on various committees brought him into contact with Clement Attlee and Herbert Morrison. Hayward found Attlee ‘cold and aloof’ (Jones, 240), but established an instant rapport with Morrison, who was anxious at that time to strengthen his small team, then in opposition at County Hall. Rating Hayward's union experience and balanced judgement very highly, Morrison encouraged him to seek election to the London county council (LCC). Hayward sat for the safe seat of Rotherhithe (1928–37), and later Deptford (1937–55). With Labour's resounding victory at the council elections in 1934 he became, with Lewis Silkin and Charles Latham, a member of Morrison's ruling presidium. This ‘quadrumvirate’of close associates effectively governed the council until 1940.

As chief whip Hayward had a special responsibility to read the mood of the party as well as to maintain discipline within it. He was Morrison's ‘eyes and ears and strong arm’ (Donoughue and Jones, 193).He was also his trouble shooter and as chairman of the council's public assistance committee (1934–7) steered through the many reforms calculated to ease the existing harshness of the poor law. Hayward aimed to make this ‘a genuine welfare service available to all in need, rather than a deterrent system for a narrow category of destitute persons’ (The Times, 5 Jan 1976). He initiated a more generous and flexible set of scales to be applied to outdoor relief, which became a nationwide model, and set in motion the replacement of the large barrack-like institutions (or workhouses) by the small type of home that became the norm.

For Hayward there were to follow years of service as chairman of important council committees, as the council's representative on outside bodies, and as expert adviser. He became a part-time member of the board of British European Airways on its formation in 1946 and was also chairman of the consultative council of the London Electricity Board (1948–60). In 1947, while he was chairman of the London county council's education committee (1945–7), the development plan required under the Education Act of 1944 came down decisively in favour of a comprehensive school system, which in due course spread across the country. For Hayward, a self-educated man of impressive learning and culture, this was the fulfilment of a dream: ‘Why should not the crossing sweeper have a university degree?’ The comprehensive principle aroused deep passions, however, and Hayward needed all his political acumen to restrain the excesses of the enthusiasts on his own side while carrying the case against a determined opposition. In1952 he was awarded the honorary degree of LLD by the University of London, on whose court he served from 1947, drawing closer the ties between university and council.

When in 1947 Hayward began his record period of leadership of the council (1947–65), he was sixty-three and steeped in the traditions of a council honoured for its integrity. He tolerated no semblance of corruption or impropriety in council affairs and rigidly observed the separation of public duty from private interest. He also kept the council from excessive spending, aware of how damaging this could be to the Labour cause. Hayward was intensely happy on the LCC and had no political ambitions beyond it. Mild-mannered and almost diffident, he avoided publicity and stood back to allow others to take the credit for the council's work. At the same time he ruled with a much tighter rein than Morrison had done. Attlee is reported to have remarked privately that under Hayward the LCC was ‘the nearest approach to a totalitarian state in Western Europe’ (Rhodes, 32). An ‘old-style Labour political boss’, Hayward dealt effectively with the few who dared to challenge him, and, having inherited ‘a highly centralised machine’, maintained it (Jones, 243). He also used it to good effect, embarking on the much-acclaimed south bank venture—the Royal Festival Concert Hall, the Elizabeth and Purcell halls, and the Hayward Gallery (named after him)—partly on land reclaimed from the Thames. He played a major part, too, in the birth of the National Theatre, for when doubt ruled the day he offered a grant from the council of £1 million, from which stemmed the ultimate decision to proceed. As with the south bank, his vision, determination, and clear view of the way forward led to the realization of the Crystal Palace Sports Centre, for which he had carefully assessed the nation's need. He was to be disappointed in his plan for an exhibition centre there, which was abandoned for reasons of finance. In the field of the arts he broke new ground, initiating the role of the public authority as benefactor, to some extent in place of the private patronage of earlier times. Grants to opera, orchestral music, ballet, sculpture, and painting came to the rescue of the then languishing artistic world. In addition Hayward threw himself with vigour into the affairs of the International Union of Local Authorities, of whose British section he became chairman.


In his last six years as leader, however, Hayward fought a different battle—to save the LCC from abolition. His great pride in the achievements of the council led him to preclude even the possibility of reform at a time when increasing numbers thought this necessary; and he obstinately refused to co-operate with the royal commission on the government of London, withholding advice and even refusing to participate in working parties set up by the government. The cause was eventually lost and he felt some bitterness that the Labour government did not repeal the 1963 act that abolished the council, setting up the Greater London council (GLC) in its place. By then Hayward was approaching eighty and it was felt by many in the party that he had stayed on too long. His authoritarian style, or ‘bossism’, was resented by a younger generation of Labour councillor, and when in 1964 he stood as an aldermanic candidate for the GLC he received only a handful of votes. It was a painful lesson: ‘He and his style had been rejected’ (Jones, 243). Hayward was knighted under a Conservative government in 1959 but was overlooked by successive Labour governments for a life peerage, an honour that he had done much to deserve and which was bestowed on colleagues who had been less than steadfast in their defence of the LCC. He was given the freedoms of the boroughs of Bermondsey and Deptford in 1955 and 1961, and was made an honorary FRIBA in 1970. On 8 December 1951, seven years after the death of his first wife, Hayward had married Violet Charlotte, daughter of Thomas Henry Cleveland of Greenwich. He died on 3 January 1976.

Freda Corbet, rev. Mark Pottle  DNB

Artist biography

Halliday, Edward Irvine (1902–1984), painter, was born on 7 October 1902 at Garston, Liverpool, the second son of James Halliday (b. 1870) and his wife, Violet (1870–1940), daughter of Edward Irvine, of Orkney. James Halliday was a successful businessman. He expected his sons to follow in his footsteps and initially gave Edward's interest in art little encouragement. A combination of a determined nature and early success enabled the aspiring artist to pursue his chosen career. Edward was educated at the Liverpool Institute, Liverpool College, the City School of Art, Liverpool (1920–23), and the Royal College of Art, London (1923–5). A travel scholarship awarded in 1922 enabled him to attend life classes at the Académie Colarossi in Paris. He won the Rome scholarship in decorative painting in 1925 and spent three years studying and working on commissions in Rome. Between 1927 and 1931 Halliday made a number of decorative paintings for Liverpool patrons including panels for the Johnson Bros. Co. and the SS Hilary. Sir Benjamin Johnson gave him a second commission for three large panels depicting myths of the goddess Athena for the library of the Athenaeum, Liverpool (1928–30; in situ). These early murals demonstrate the classical basis of his academic training but also have a strangely dream-like atmosphere and complex narrative that is personal to Halliday. The intellectualism of these works contrasts with the direct and natural style of portrait painting he was developing in the same period.

While in Rome Halliday had met the classical scholar and archaeologist Dorothy Lucy Hatswell (1900–1986), the only daughter of Robert Hatswell MBE, a senior staff officer in the General Post Office. They married in 1928 and settled in London. Dorothy was a constant and loyal support to Edward throughout his career. They had a son, Stephen, born in 1933, and a daughter, Charlotte, born in 1935.

Over the next decade Halliday established himself as a portrait painter exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy from 1929 when he made his début with a painting of Lord Darling(1928). The majority of commissions came by word of mouth. He achieved considerable success due not only to his talent in capturing a likeness but to his real interest in people and his lively and entertaining conversation. Where a commission did not require a formal setting Halliday preferred to paint his subjects in their typical surroundings. Above all, he relished an opportunity to paint a conversation piece. His studies of undergraduates at Worcester College, Oxford (exh. RA, 1938; Worcester College, Oxford), and state rooms at Chatsworth housing a girl's dormitory in wartime (exh. RA, 1941), still at Chatsworth, are among his most successful in this genre.

In the early 1930s Halliday turned his hand to interior design which gave him fresh opportunities for mural painting. He obtained several commissions, including a major scheme for the interior of the restaurant, bars, and sports facilities at Dolphin Square, Pimlico, completed in 1938 (architect Gordon Jeeves FRIBA). Halliday designed everything, from the crockery and carpets to the lighting, on an appropriately maritime theme. There were five murals in the scheme; they have all been destroyed except two which remain in the poolside bar. Beside the swimming pool Halliday painted a 90 foot-long decorative map of the Thames embellished with topical characters past and present. These murals confirmed Halliday's move away from the classicism of his early panels towards a more popular and humorous style echoing the contemporary revival of interest in naïve or folk art.

Halliday was a gifted public speaker and on the strength of this was invited to participate in two early arts series for radio: Artists at Work in 1932 and Design in Modern Life in 1934. His lively contributions led to further radio and television work providing commentaries on a variety of events, among them the opening of parliament and launch of the Queen Mary. In April 1939 he made a pioneering live television broadcast from varnishing day at the Royal Academy which attracted considerable interest by allowing public access to a previously exclusive event. After the war he returned to broadcasting and was for some years in the 1950s the voice behind the BBC Television Newsreel.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Halliday joined the Royal Air Force in Bomber Command. He began work in air traffic control but was then seconded for special duties with the Foreign Office working in the ‘black propaganda’ team led by D. Sefton Delmer. When he was demobbed Halliday shared the common and discouraging experience of having to ‘start again’. In 1948 he received a commission from the Drapers' Company for a portrait of Princess Elizabeth (Drapers' Company, London). This picture not only re-established Halliday's name but proved to be the first of many royal portrait commissions. In 1952 he painted Conversation Piece, Clarence House of the queen and her family (Royal Collection) creating an unusually informal glimpse of royalty. Portraits of other members of the royal family followed, among them the queen mother, the Earl and Countess Mountbatten, and the prince of Wales.

Over the next decades Halliday's portrait commissions included a wide range of distinguished public figures: Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Edmund Hillary, Lord Denning, Lord Widgery, Sir Louis Gluckstein, the bishop of London, Robert Stopford, Lord Hunt, Sir Frank Whittle, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Leon Goossens, Beryl Grey, Gladys Cooper, Wally Hammond, Brian Johnston, and Ben Travers. He also painted several foreign heads of state: Jawaharlal Nehru, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kenneth Kaunda, Forbes Burnham, and King Olaf of Norway. Some of these portraits went into private collections; many were for official purposes. His sitters came from all walks of life and frequently became his close friends.

Meanwhile Halliday gave his time freely to several arts societies because he felt he had been more fortunate than many of his contemporaries. In 1958 he was co-founder of the Federation of British Artists, from 1970 to 1975 he was president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, and between 1956 and 1973 he was president of the Royal Society of British Artists. He also gave his time generously to the Artists' League of Great Britain and the Artists' General Benevolent Institution, serving on the latter's council from the early 1950s and as chairman from 1965 to 1981. Halliday presided over the monthly meetings with fairness and skill, letting each have his say, and smoothing over controversy with some sensible compromise or piece of well-timed wit. He was a great raconteur and a witty after-dinner speaker. These talents and his natural sociability led him, at various times, to be a member of the Savage Club, the Garrick, and the Athenaeum, as well as chairman of the Arts and Chelsea Arts. He became an associate of the Royal College of Art (1925), a member of the Royal Society of British Artists (1942), a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (1952), and fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (1970). He was appointed CBE in 1973.

In spare moments Halliday sometimes painted self-portraits, making at least twelve in all. These read not as the product of deep introspection, more as a record or appraisal of the different stages in a long and varied career. The ‘props’ and settings in the self-portraits variously relate to his studies in Paris and Rome, his work in interior design, the war years in the RAF, broadcasting, and family life. In all of these he applied the same principles that he used in portraits of others: to give an appropriate context for his subject, to avoid overt flattery or prettiness, and to convey an understanding of personality coupled with a true and dignified likeness. He died at his London home, 62 Hamilton Terrace, St John's Wood, on 2 February 1984.

George Butler, rev. Ann Compton DNB