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Alfred Daniels’ Murals In Hammersmith

February 2, 2017
by the gentle author

Old Hammersmith Bridge by Alfred Daniels

When I met Alfred Daniels, the painter from Bow, almost the first thing he said to me was, ‘Have you seen my murals in Hammersmith Town Hall? I’m very proud of them.’ So it was with more than a twinge of regret that I went to see the murals yesterday for the first time, over a year since he died, realising I should have gone while Alfred was here to tell me about them.

Yet it proved an exhilarating experience to discover these pictures that declare themselves readily and do not require explanation. Five vast paintings command the vestibule of the old town hall, created with all the exuberance you might expect of a young painter fresh from the Royal College of Art in 1956.

On the south wall, three interlinked paintings show scenes on the riverbank at Hammersmith Mall,which was just across the lawn at the back of the Town Hall before the Great West Road came through. The first looks east, portraying rowers standing outside The Rutland Arms with Hammersmith Bridge in the background. The second painting looks south, showing rowers embarking in their sculls from a pontoon, while the third looks west, showing a Thames pleasure boat arriving at the pier. A walk along this stretch of river, reveals that these pictures are – in Alfred Daniels’ characteristic mode – composites of the landscape reconfigured, creating a pleasing and convincing panorama. In Alfred’s painting the river appears closer to how you know it is than to any literal reality.

These three pictures are flanked by two historical scenes from the early nineteenth century, showing old Hammersmith Bridge and the Grand Union Canal, adding up to an immensely effective series of murals which command the neo-classical thirties interior authoritatively and engagingly, without ever becoming pompous.

This must have once been an impressive spectacle upon arrival at Hammersmith Town Hall, after crossing the small park and then climbing the stairs to the first floor entrance, before they built the brutalist concrete extension onto the front in 1971. This overshadows its predecessor and offers a new low-ceilinged entrance hall on the ground floor which has all the charisma of a generic corporate reception. Yet this reconfiguration of the Town Hall has protected Alfred Daniels murals even if it has obscured them from the gaze of most visitors for the past forty years.

However, the murals can be viewed free of charge when the Town Hall is open and I recommend you pay a visit.. You just need to drop an email to arts@lbhf.gov.uk and make an appointment.

Painted by Alfred Daniels and John Mitchell in 1956, cleaned and restored by Alfred Daniels assisted by Vic Carrara and Robyn Davis, 1983

Mural on the west wall

At Hammersmith Pier

You may also like to read about

So Long, Alfred Daniels

A Return Visit to Alfred Daniels

Happy 90th Birthday, Alfred Daniels!

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Jim McDermott permalink
    February 2, 2017

    His work is beautiful. I’m particularly taken with the final work – is it the inlet just west of the Dove before the A4 widening ruined the area?

  2. Geraldine Moyle permalink
    February 2, 2017

    Thank you so much for photographing Alfred Daniels’ murals. I remember them very well from the handful of times in the 60s when yes, the only way to enter the Town Hall was to climb those winged stairs to the main entrance, across the park off King Street. (Our school had reason to attend ceremonies there, & a ~ remarkably imitative ~ painting of mine featured in an art exhibit down in the basement.) I’ve been looking for reproductions online for a few years &, believe me, there’s nothing compared to your photos!
    BTW: the pier is not Hammersmith, but Dove Pier, &, so I’m told, it aligns perfectly with the Mayor’s Parlor in the Town Hall. And lovers of tv’s New Tricks have seen the interior of the 1939 Town Hall many many times.

  3. Jon Henley permalink
    February 2, 2017

    What beautiful paintings . They really are striking . The gentleman was a very talented artist.

  4. robert permalink
    February 2, 2017

    What a gem.

  5. February 2, 2017

    These are beautiful. About a thousand times better than the current trend for making hideous bronze statues in a lifelike mode but capturing the spirit of wily old Hammersmith perfectly.

  6. February 2, 2017

    These really are exquisite, the man had good reason to be proud! thank you for sharing!

  7. February 2, 2017

    Murals! — On-view, “cleaned and restored”, not-slated-for-demolition, enduring and enriching.
    If that wasn’t already a Feel Good story for today, just seeing MORE of Alfred Daniels’ artwork
    is a treat. Your recent blog post about his paintings and sketches provoked curiosity and appreciation…..and now the murals. What a legacy.
    Many thanks!

  8. rose pomeroy permalink
    February 2, 2017

    It’s lovely to see these. Thank you.

  9. Charlotte Dinwiddie permalink
    February 3, 2017

    What wonderful murals! As a protest (thank you Donald Trump), I’ve been posting art by artists from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen on my FB page . And the link to these murals was a “birthday gift” from a childhood friend who lives in London (I live in NY, USA.)

  10. Sonia Murray permalink
    February 3, 2017

    Thanks for showing us these!

    The mural on the west wall is so attractive that a charity organization might like to use it for birthday or other greetings cards. I’d be happy to buy some if they do!

  11. February 3, 2017

    Hanmmersmu Mall and the Dove are favourite places for me. I would love to see these masterful 1950′s murals.

  12. Rosemary Pettit permalink
    February 4, 2017

    Thank you for this, sent to me by a local resident in Hammersmith. You may be pleased to know that the modern extension in front of the Town Hall is to be cut back in size, the platforms and rigging removed and a square restored so that the Town Hall can be seen to better advantage. Ceremonial steps up to the first floor – and the Alfred Daniels’ murals – will be put in place.

  13. Geraldine Moyle permalink
    February 5, 2017

    The mural on the west wall ~ with Thames barges & swans ~ is of Hammersmith Creek, which was once navigable as far as King Street & culverted in 1936.

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