In Memoriam: Harold Riley (1934 – 2023)

The University of Salford is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Salford artist, Harold Riley, on 18th April 2023 at the age of 88.

Harold was born in Salford in 1934. In 1951 he went to London to study at the Slade School of Art, and completed scholarships in Spain and Italy, before returning to Salford where he lived and worked until his passing in 2023. He dedicated the majority of his practice to documenting life in Salford and Greater Manchester – from both everyday urban streetscapes to portraits of local sporting stars – in particular at Manchester United FC. His works capture the rapidly changing landscapes across Greater Manchester over 60 years.

The University of Salford Art Collection holds more than 100 paintings, drawings and mixed media artworks by Harold, both gifted and commissioned/purchased – including a number of Chancellor portraits. These include Chancellors HRH Prince Philip (1967-90), Sarah Ferguson (1991-95) Martin Harris (2005-09) and Vice Chancellors John Horlock, (1974-81), John Michael Ashworth (1981-90), Michael Harloe (1997 – 2009).

Further afield, Harold also achieved success with portraits of Nelson Mandela, President John F Kennedy, Pope John Paul II, and other important public figures.

Early in his career Harold struck up a friendship with perhaps the region’s most well known painter, L.S. Lowry –  from whom he drew much inspiration throughout the following decades.  Lowry is said to have helped broker Harold’s first artwork sale to Salford Museum & Art Gallery, who hold a number of his works in their permanent collection.

Harold was also instrumental in another significant acquisition for the University – a large collection of paintings, printmaking and studio ephemera by South African artist Albert Adams (1929 – 2006). After forming a friendship at the Slade the two artists remained in touch, with Adams spending his first Christmas in the UK in Salford. The connection ultimately led to the Albert Adams archive being offered to the University Art Collection through the Art Fund and Adams’ surviving partner, Edward Glennon.

Harold’s lifelong dedication to the city was recognised with an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) from the University in 1977, and by receiving the Freedom of the City in 2017. He is survived by his wife, children and three grandchildren.

The University is digitising the entire artwork collection on a rolling basis, and a selection of Harold’s images can be viewed here on the online catalogue. Works can also be viewed by appointment. Photographs of Harold can also be viewed in the University’s digital Archives.

April 2023


A chalk and gouache image depicts an industrial skyline, with clouds of smoke billowing from chimneys into an orange sky. In the foreground, a couples walk across snowy paths.
Harold Riley, View of Manchester from Salford, 1975.Image Courtesy the Artist’s Estate. Photography by Museums Photography North West.
A gouache painting shows a street of dark brick houses with arched doorways. The stone street leads down to a view of a boat on the docks.
Harold Riley, Street by the Docks, 1977.Image Courtesy the Artist’s Estate. Photography by Museums Photography North West.
An oil painting depicts Prince Philip sitting with in a gold chair, facing the viewer, one leg crossed over the other, and his hands in his lap. He is wearing a brown suit with a blue tie.
Harold Riley, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1st Chancellor 1967-90. Image Courtesy the Artist’s Estate. Photography by Museums Photography North West.