This is a scene of the outskirts of the village of East Ruston, found near the coast in Norfolk. The setting is a sand and gravel pit with the houses of the village just identifiable through the trees in the background.
This small sand pit was most likely used for local supply. The workers would have provided this by the cart load, moving the sand by horse and cart along the road through to town, to be sold for local use by building firms and in tile-making. Into the 20th century, the alternative form of transport of railway would become the main means of moving the sand throughout the country.
Here we can see the two figures in the foreground shovelling sand onto the back of the cart. In these days the back-breaking task of digging sand was carried out entirely by hand by poorly paid workmen known as dobbers. Horses were used in this heavy work and young boys were often employed to tend to the horses.
Manual methods of sand excavation continued even after mechanical methods were available because it was an easy way for sand to be dug. During the 1930s the first mechanical diggers and excavators appeared.
Alfred Hayward was a painter of landscapes, portraits and figure subjects in oil and watercolour, and also a mural decorator. His landscapes, in particular, show a strong influence of Impressionism, and his loose application of watercolour was especially suited to his studies of such aquatic subjects as the River Thames and the city of Venice, which he worked in on several occasions. Indeed, he had a great love of Italy and of travel in general and, in the years before the First World War, went as far afield as the West Indies and Central America.
Alfred Hayward was born in Hackney, London, on 21 February 1875, the second of five children, and the eldest son, of the tax collector and farmer, Richard Hayward, and his wife, Susannah (née Blake), a former draper’s assistant. Within a few months of his birth, the family settled at The Mount (also known as Quiddleswell Mount), Hooe, a village near Bexhill-on-Sea, in Sussex. He was educated privately.
Hayward studied at the National Art Training School, South Kensington, from 1891 to 1894, and at the Slade School of Fine Art, under Fred Brown, Wilson Steer and Henry Tonks, from 1895 to 1897.
He began to exhibit in London from 1896, and mainly at the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the New English Art Club (becoming a member of the last in 1910). During these years, he lived at a variety of addresses, mostly in Chelsea, including the King’s Road (1901-11) and Church Street (1912-14). In 1912, he married Cicely Kettle, the daughter of a New Zealand judge, and secretary to the Impressionist painter, James Bolivar Manson, who was then Clerk to the Tate Gallery (and would later become, in the Tate’s own evaluation, its ‘least successful’ Director). The Haywards would have one daughter.
Before the First World War, Hayward travelled not only to France and his beloved Italy (first visited in 1909) but beyond Europe, and took in the West Indies and Central America. He also showed work internationally in Paris, Rome, Venice and Pittsburgh.
From the outbreak of war, in 1914, Hayward served in the Artists’ Rifles, becoming, in 1916, a Second Lieutenant in the Anti-Aircraft unit of the Royal Garrison Artillery, and, in 1917, a Lieutenant. During the last few months of the war, in 1918-19, he worked as an official war artist, producing studies of soldiers at Charing Cross Station and more formal portraits. He also assisted William Orpen in the laying in of his official war portraits.
Hayward returned to Chelsea at the end of the war, and embarked on the most successful decade of his career, during which he often painted with his former teacher, Wilson Steer, and their friend, Ronald Gray. In 1923, he fulfilled a commission from the Bank of England to produce a decorative panel representing the First Governor for display in the Royal Exchange. Then, in the January of the following year, he held his first solo show, an exhibition of Venetian paintings and watercolours, at the Leicester Galleries. He was elected to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1928 and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1929.
Following the death of his father in 1931, Hayward inherited Quiddleswell Mount, Hooe, and made it his home. His income is said to have dipped sharply during the 1930s, but he continued to paint and to show work, including at a solo show at Wildenstein Galleries, in London, in 1936. He also painted the safety curtain for the stage of the De La Warr Pavilion, in nearby Bexhill-on-Sea, in 1939. By that date, he had separated from his wife, and she was living in London with her former employer, James Bolivar Manson; she later changed her name by deed poll to ‘Elizabeth Manson’.
Though he was awarded a Civil List Pension in 1943, Hayward remained in financial straits and so sold Quiddleswell Mount in 1948. He then moved to Hampton-on-Thames, where he lived at various addresses, the last of which would be 14 Manor Gardens. In his later years, he taught painting and drawing from life at the City and Guilds School of Art. He retained respect within the artistic community, and was elected an Honorary Life Member of the NEAC in 1957 and an associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1960, also becoming a Freeman of the City of London. In November 1962, a dinner was held in his honour at the Chelsea Arts Club, of which he had long been an enthusiastic member. Retrospective exhibitions of his work were held at the Federation of British Artists in 1964 and 1967, and at the Edward Harvane Gallery, also in London, in 1970. He died on 2 January 1971.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Imperial War Museums.