69 Cleveland Road, South Woodford: Published by W. H. Barrow-Wheeler, printed by Maysigns, 1959. This is an original campaign poster for Winston S. Churchill from his Woodford constituency during the October 1959 British General Election featuring a literal icon of the iconic candidate. This was last British election Churchill contested, which saw him reelected a final time as MP for Woodford for his final term in Parliament.
The poster, measuring 14.9 x 9.9 inches (37.8 x 25.1 cm) is printed in vivid royal blue on thin, coated white stock. Prominently centered is a 10.5 inch (26.7 cm) tall, blue, left-facing profile Churchill’s head and omnipresent cigar. The only words on the poster are the printer and publisher information at the bottom center. These posters were originally issued in stacked, tear sheet format, adhered at the top right and left corners. Hence this copy has 2 inch x .5 inch adhesive marks at the top right and left. Condition otherwise approaches near fine, the blue hue beautifully bright, the thin white stock surprisingly clean with only trivial wear to extremities.
The 84-year-old Churchill had first been elected to Parliament 59 years earlier in 1900 at the age of 26 while Queen Victoria was still on the throne. On 8 October 1959 the Conservatives won with an increased majority. Churchill himself won with a substantial 14,000 vote majority.
Churchill had represented the same constituency for three and a half decades. In the 1924 General Election, Churchill stood successfully for Epping. In 1945, Epping was subdivided and Churchill stood for the new (and politically more tenable) Woodford Division. Churchill's re-election by Woodford in February 1950 was decisive; his vote tally was double that of his challenger. Woodford would subsequently re-elect Churchill in 1955 and 1959 and he would serve Woodford as M.P. until October 1964.
Four and a half years before this final election, on 5 April 1955, Churchill had resigned his second and final premiership at the age of 80. During the last decade of his long life, in which the 1959 General Election occurred, Churchill passed "into a living national memorial" of the time he had lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he had served. Surely, few candidates for public office could ever claim such universal recognition that their mere profile on a campaign poster would suffice.
The publisher of this poster, as printed at the lower center of the poster, was “W. H. Barlow-Wheeler” of Woodford. Colonel William Hubert (“Hugh”) Barlow-Wheeler was an ex-Indian army officer and served as Churchill’s agent in his Woodford constituency. During the Second World War, Barlow-Wheeler was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for service in Burma. In January 1964, a year before Churchill’s death, he was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) “For political services in Woodford”.
Five years after this final election, Churchill died on 25 January 1965. That day, the Queen sent a message to Parliament announcing: "Confident in the support of Parliament for the due acknowledgement of our debt of gratitude and in thanksgiving for the life and example of a national hero" and concluded "I have directed that Sir Winston's body shall lie in State in Westminster Hall and that thereafter the funeral service shall be held in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.”
Churchill's state funeral was attended by the Queen, other members of the royal family, the prime minister, Harold Wilson, and representatives of 112 countries. It was the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Before the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Churchill’s coffin had passed through the countryside on a train. The Oxford don, Dr. A. L. Rowse, recorded “The Western sky filled with the lurid glow of winter sunset; the sun setting on the British Empire.”. Item #006131