Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The life and works of Oliver Heywood

A casual stroll around Albert Square in Manchester reveals statues of many prominent figures in the history of the city. The large memorial to Prince Albert rests happily alongside a bishop (James Frasier) and a politician (William Gladstone). Also within this square stands a statue of Oliver Heywood, a prominent banker in Manchester and the city's first Honorary Freeman.

Statue of Oliver Heywood, Albert Square
Oliver Heywood was an English banker and philanthropist. Well known for his works in the city of Manchester he was part of the Heywood family who founded Heywood’s bank in the 18th century. At the age of 35 he took over from his father as senior partner of the bank and had a successful career fulfilling his legacy, making himself extremely wealthy in the process. This wealth allowed him more time for charitable and philanthropic works and he gave money freely to the worthy causes of Manchester and Salford in the areas of education and health as well as childcare.

He was one of the first of Manchester’s prominent figures to accept a position of Trustee for the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes in 1871. Through his 21 year tenure he took a keen interest in his role, regarding it as an honourable position, and visited many of the services operated by the charity. He formally opened Bethesda in 1890 and on his death in 1892 his name was perpetuated by a cot, which was endowed in the Home. 

Bethesda was opened By Oliver Heywood on the 4th January 1890
Heywood’s public work and philanthropy was acknowledged by Manchester when he was made a freeman of the city in 1888. The decision to commission a statue in his honour was made in 1892 after his death, with an inscription reading, "erected by the citizens of Manchester to commemorate a life devoted to the public good". His generosity and gentle guidance was always highly valued by the charity and he joined a long list of Manchester business men who were integral to the beginnings of the Refuge’s work.

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