“Oliver Heywood,” by Albert Bruce-Joy
Oliver Heywood Oliver Heywood, detail

Oliver Heywood (1825-1892), by Albert Bruce-Joy (1842-1924). Unveiled 1894. Sicilian marble on a granite pedestal. Albert Square, Manchester. "It has been said that there is such a 'setness' and a solidarity about Mr Bruce-Joy's statues that they never suggest the possibility of their stepping down from their plinths," commented the editor and art critic Marion Spielmann (24); but this surely does not apply here, even though the statue alone is about 3.2m. high (Wyke, Sculpture of Greater Manchester, 20). Spielmann himself praised Bruce-Joy for producing instantly recognisable likenesses, and in this case it is easy to see the disarming modesty and gentleness in the subject that inspired not just esteem but affection. Writing not long after Heywood's death, William Arthur Shaw described him as "probably the most lovable and beloved of Manchester's sons," explaining:

Oliver Heywood was the first upon whom the distinction of the honorary freedom of the city was conferred. He was the second son of Sir Benjamin Heywood, and, after his father, conducted the affairs of Heywood's or the Manchester Bank until in 1876 it became the Manchester and Salford Bank.

As has been truly said, his life was an open volume to the public, though none had ever shown himself more unassuming.... "By his death," says a contemporary, "Manchester loses one of the best of her representative sons — a gentleman” by birth and instinct who devoted the years of a long life to deeds of charity and benevolence, and whose place it will be impossible to fill." (79-80)

It comes almost as a shock to read that Heywood was a banker, but this was in the days when, as William de Bedoyere has written, "Bankers were Good" (3), and Heywood followed the family tradition of supporting good causes, especially educational ones — Shaw wrote about him in connection with his long and devoted chairmanship of the governors of Manchester Grammar School. He was also an abolitionist, even though the family fortunes had once been derived from the slave trade (see Wyke, "Statue of Oliver Heywood"). Everyone agreed that, as the inscription on the monument claimed, his life was "devoted to the public good."

Photographs, text, and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Bedoyere, William de. "When Bankers were Good." The Manchester Historian. 4 February 2012. 1-3. Print.

Shaw, William Arthur. Manchester Old and New. London: Cassell, 1894. Internet Archive. Web. 1 April 2012.

Spielmann, Marion Harry. British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today. London: Cassell, 1901. Internet Archive. Web. 1 April 2012.

Wyke, Terry. "Statue of Oliver Heywood, Albert Square, Manchester." Revealing Histories: Remembering Slavery. Web. 1 April 2012.

Wyke, Terry, with Harry Cocks. Sculpture of Greater Manchester. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004. Print.

Last modified 1 April 2012