Harold Riley

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Harold Riley (1934 – 2023) DL DLit FRCS (Hon) DFA ATC

Harold Riley was born in Salford in 1934 & sadly passed away in 2023. Riley attended Salford Grammar School. He sold his first painting to the City Art Gallery when he was 11.


In 1951 he won a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London. However after a one year postgraduate course at the Slade he won a travel scholarship to Italy. Followed by a British Council Scholarship to study in Spain and went on to study in Florence and Spain before returning to Salford, where he has lived ever since. Thus Harold was awarded honorary doctorates by the Universities of Salford, Manchester and Florence and completed his National Service as an Officer in 1957.

In 1960 Harold returned to Salford, where he used to live & work. He believed his main work was to document the city and his life-cycle in Salford in paintings, drawings and photographs. Having deep affection for his home town cemented a friendship with L.S. Lowry. Which began when Harold was a student; together they worked on a project to record the area and its people. A project which Harold continued until the end of the twentieth century.

Harold’s commissioned painted portraits include Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Pope John XIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, American Ambassador Elliot Richardson, United States Presidents John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford .


Harold is famous worldwide for his sporting pictures. Particularly of golf and soccer. His golf images are in private and public collections throughout the world. His football pictures have centered largely around his links with Manchester United with whom he played as a junior, before going to University. The club has an extensive collection of his work, but the majority remains in his Archive.

Thanks to Salford City Council, an Archive and Studio have been created for him in a conservation area around the old Fire Station in Salford. Here Harold will continue to work and his drawings, paintings, and photographs of the city will be housed here as well as his extensive collection of sports studies. However a Charitable Trust has been set up called The Riley Educational Foundation, to look after his life’s work.