Died on the 17th June 2008 at the age of 65 (Green Party)
Brian Fewster was a stalwart of the
Green Party for almost thirty years. He joined the party in 1979
continuing to be active from then up to a week before his death despite
suffering from cancer. He was active in the Green Party locally,
regionally and nationally. Locally he stood in many local elections and in
the 1983 General Elections in the Harborough constituency. He also held
various positions in the Leicester Green party including Press Officer,
Website Manager and Newsletter Editor.
At a regional level he was the lead
candidate in the last European Elections where the party obtained over 5%
of the vote. At a national level he was on the Regional Council for
several years and attended most conferences. Brian had a very real concern
for people in general but particularly for those in the third world. This
lead him to work in Calcutta as a volunteer through Voluntary Services
Overseas. He was also involved in many other organisations fighting for
social justice including the World Development Movement, CND and the
Leicester Civil Rights Movement. Through these organisation's campaigns he
wrote many letters to people in power and attended many demonstrations,
whether in Leicester or London.
But perhaps his greatest love was
language whether writing poetry, reading a novel or correcting text. On
many occasions I was on the receiving end of his red pen. In fact I can
feel him hovering over me as I write his obituary. As National Elections
Co-ordinator I had responsibility for the production of two national
manifestos which Brian kindly agreed to proof read, a task for which he
deserves a medal. Brain was a kind, sensitive and caring person and he
will be sorely missed by many people in Leicester and further a field.
Source: Geoff Forse 2008
Born: Holborn, London, c1854 (I.L.P)
Arthur Field arrived in Leicester in
early 1890s he was an executive member of the Dockers' Union of London. In
1892, he was active in support of the abortive Social Democratic
Federation candidates in Latimer and Spinney Hill ward. The stood under
the guise of 'National Independent Labour' candidates. He delivered a scathing
attack on the Trades Council members who had been elected to the Council.
In his view they were not real labour men.
As soon, as they got within the shadow of the gilded
chamber they appeared to forget all their old associations, and one had
even gone so far as to be made an alderman... they had forgotten the cause
of labour and gone seeking after the fleshpots of Egypt, these were worse
than employers or capitalists. The Liberal party was a greater sham than
the Conservative, and consisted of nothing more than a party of soap
chandlers and sweating bootmakers.
Field was a member of the I.L.P.’s First
Council and a supporter of the socialist H.A. Champion. He attended the
inaugural conference of the I.L.P. in Bradford in 1893 where he sat as a
delegate representing Leicester even though no branch existed. He was on
good terms with Joseph Burgess, despite the fact the antipathy between
Burgess and Champion. He spoke at Leicester’s first May Day rally in 1893
where he urged all concerned to join the I.L.P. He was an itinerant
photographer and by ?1901 he was retired and living in Islington.
Sources: Leicester Chronicle,
15th October 1892
Born: Leicestershire, circa 1824 (Secularist and Comteian)
George Findlay was an old Chartist
who kept a second-hand bookshop in the High Street. He was the leader of
the Leicester Comteians. They were those who wished to transform
secularism into a religion. He corresponded with Congreve, Crompton and
Carson who were also occasional visitors to his home.
Sources: David Nash, Secularism,
Art and Freedom
Born c1811 - 1859 (Chartist leader)
Finn was a framework knitter and a
leading member of the Working Men’s Association of the 1830s. He was
self taught and acted as
a lay pastor to a working-class congregation of General Baptists and
was an able speaker. For many years he worked six days at the frame
and then travelled 20 miles on Sunday to preach. In 1838 he
expressed the view that:
"In a long course of years, there had been a downward
tendency in the wages of framework-knitters, and they now earned scarcely
sufficient to keep them in existence. Some persons seemed inclined to
attribute the distresses of the poor, in a great degree, to drunkenness
and early and improvident marriages. and most certainly these were
productive of great miseries in society; but the people were not as a body
drunken and improvident, and the chief causes of their depressed condition
must be sought elsewhere. He believed that the only effective relief were
measures to increase and protect the value of the wages of labour."
He was prominent, along with
John Markham, in 1838 with a proposal for co-operation between workers and
employers to regulate conditions in factories in a joint union. It looked
back to an era of craft guilds, but was unacceptable to the employers in
an age of naked capitalism.
He assisted in the formation of the
Chartist organisation in Leicester in 1838 and was elected to the
committee. He favoured co-operation with the middle class
radicals and became chairman of the Working Men’s Anti-Corn Law
Association which gave its support of the People's Charter. However,
he was more active against the Corn Laws than as a Chartist. In 1848, he
was lecturing on the "baneful influences of a State Church
Establishment," to the Progressive Reform Association.
Leicestershire Mercury, 9th June,
6th October 1838, 3rd June 1848,
31st March 1838, 6th June 1840, South Midlands Free Press, 15th January
1859, A. Temple Patterson,
Owenite Social Missionary
On July 29, 1839 in Leicester, George
Fleming, an Owenite propagandist, opened a Social Institute in Hotel
Street. The hall could hold two hundred people and was above a grocer's
shop. Here Fleming taught not only Owen's principle that the formation of
character depended on nature at birth and the action of circumstances, but
asserted that in the “New Moral World” it would be in the interest and
happiness of everyone to act upon the precepts of Christianity. But he
took care to add that he meant the religion taught by Christ and not the
Christianity professed in modern times. A report of the hall's opening
ceremony appears in the Owenite journal, New Moral World, signed by W. P.
Throsby. The following evening Fleming gave a two-hour lecture on the
Owenite system and “the audience, among whom were many respectable
females, teachers of infant and private schools, could not be restrained
from manifesting, by enthusiastic cheering, their appreciation of the new
system”. The charge of the Leicester district was then undertaken by
the Social Missionary, James Rigby, who: joined deistic doctrine with
his socialistic teaching, and who was violently attacked in an address at
the Leicester Theatre (April 1840) by the notorious man Brindley. When
the Social Institute closed and the Mechanics Institute was found to be
too restricted intellectually, the inquiring minds found a home in the
Discussion Class conducted by Mr. Dare in the Leicester Domestic Mission
Hall in All Saints Open.
Sources: David Nash, Secularism,
Art and Freedom
Born: Chelsea 1866, died: 10th September 1946 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
was the first woman elected as a Labour Councillor in Leicester. Her father occupied a
position as H.M. Inspector of Schools in Madras, India. She studied for a
B.Sc at University College, Bristol and obtained
an Honours Degree in 1895. Later, while living in a workman’s flat in St.
Pancras she qualified in sanitary inspection, midwifery and also studied
Sociology at the School of Economics.
At the age of 18 she had joined the
Catholic Church and thereafter affected a semi religious outfit. She came
to Leicester in 1909 and was elected to the Board of Guardians in 1911.
During World War One she was in charge of a small rescue home for girls in
Le Havre under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A. She was elected
unopposed for St Margaret’s’ ward in 1923 and served for 23 years. Her
motion to the Council in 1929, that no married woman should be debarred
from permanent employment with the City Council because she was married
(it was not supported by Mrs Swainston, Leicester's first woman
She was a stern critic of the
inadequacies of the Council’s slum clearance policies during the 1930s.
Although there was some justification for this, it was no doubt fuelled by
her antipathy towards Dr Charles Killick Millard, the Chief Medical
Officer of Health who was an advocate of birth control and voluntary
In the early 1930s she was reprimanded by the Labour Group for opposing
the Council's promotion of birth control. She was Vice-president of the Leicester
Temperance Society. A portrait of her hangs in the City Rooms and she is
commemorated by the Emily Fortey School.
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 5th
January 1932, Howes, C. (ed), Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial,
Institutional and Social Life, Leicester
1927, Leicester City Council Minutes 1929.
1847, died: 1910 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
'Charlie’ Freake worked as a laster before trying his luck for several years in
America. He returned to Britain in the early 1870s and went back into the
boot and shoe industry in London, where he was soon caught up in union
activity.. He was in office in the London metro branch of NUBSO from 1875
onwards, becoming full-time secretary in 1879 and subsequently full-time
president. He was a member of the International Arbitration League and was
a member of the London County Council for nine years.
In the 1894, he allied himself with
socialists, like T.F. Richards, against Inskip. He became General
president of the NUBSO in 1899 and moved to Leicester. He was subsequently
elected to Leicester Town Council in 1904 for St Margaret’s ward.
Freake was a man of tough fibre,
resilient and sanguine. In appearance he was typical of the ‘respectable’
Victorian trade union leader, with his beard, stained with snuff and beer,
and the long frock coat which he was still wearing in the first decade of
the 20th century.
“A man of dignified presence and
considerable personal magnetism…with a certain brusqueness of manner…not
cultured or polished rhetorician, but his rugged eloquence often made
greater impression than any refined oratory could have done.”
He was buried in Welford Road cemetery.
Sources: Leicester Daily Post, 1910,
George Freeland c1945
Born: 3 September 1911 in Kibworth Beauchamp, died on 15
April 2000 in Oadby, at the age of 88. (Communist Party)
Theodore George Crane Freeland went to Kibworth
Beauchamp Grammar school and gained a BA (Hons) in English at London
University in 1932. That year he became a probationary teacher teaching in
Leicester. From 1940-1945 he served with the Royal Artillery and on his
demobilisation he returned to teaching in Leicester.
By the mid 1950s he had become the headmaster of Taylor
Street school which at that time served the slums of the Wharf Street
area. It was at
Taylor Street School that he abolished streaming and became one of the
earliest pioneers of non-streaming in the junior school in this country.
He chronicled his experience in 1957 in a chapter entitled "Purpose and
method in the unstreamed junior school" in New Trends in English
Education. In 1958 he wrote:
Current educational changes, like those of thirty
years ago, have been mainly at the secondary level. Unhappily, since the
war, their chief effect on the junior school has been to imprison its
curriculum within the limits of 11 + requirements. Teachers have done
their best to educate the children under their care despite this pressure.
But, all too often, thorough teaching of the basic skills has been
obscured in favour of helping children to a knowledge of how correctly to
answer certain types of examination question.
Later he wrote:
My previous experience as a teacher had already
convinced me that streaming was a form of organisation which disrupted the
school community, children, teachers and parents alike-and one only to be
tolerated if an overwhelming case could be made out for it on educational
grounds. I could not find one. On the contrary, I saw education as a
social process and could not square the all-round development of all the
children with the narrow rigidity imposed by streaming. Having taught a
number of lower-stream classes I had become convinced that by basing our
approach on the idea of an intelligence which was innate, fixed and open
to accurate measurement at an early stage, we were in fact imposing an
artificial ceiling on the potentiality of a significant proportion of the
By 1959, with slum clearance underway in Wharf Street,
he had become headmaster of the new Mowmacre Hill junior school and
had been president of the City of Leicester Teachers' Association (N.U.T.).
It was in 1959, that he became a member of the editorial board of the new
education journal Forum with Brian Simon. In the 1960s, he
became headmaster of
Alderman Richard Hallam Junior School from where he retired in the 1970s.
Sources: John Freeland, Ancestry,com, The Junior
Forum Spring Issue, 1959, Non-Streaming in the
Primary School-the next steps Summer 1970.
Born: Blaby 1876 died: March 1953 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
William Freestone was the eldest of a
family of 12, the son of a builder’s labourer and, from 1886, lived in
Aylestone Park. Initially he worked in the boot & shoe trade, but after
being laid off, at the age of 20, he worked for 12 years as a builder’s
labourer. He served on the Executive of the Builders’ Labourers’ Union. He
was elected to the Board of Guardians in 1925 and to the City Council from
1927. He served for 25? years and was Secretary of the Aylestone Park
Adult School for 22 years
Sources: 1933 election address
March 1877, died February 1946 (W.S.P.U., Conservative)
Elizabeth Frisby was from a prosperous background. Her father was a boot
and shoe factor or agent and the founder of Joseph Frisby, Ltd, Multiple
Footwear Stores. She later became a director of her father's firm. The
family lived in Knighton Park Road and
employed a cook and a maid.
Elizabeth became a very radical and militant
member of the local WSPU. She joined circa 1910 and volunteered for
‘danger duty.’ She was arrested in London, along with other Leicester
activists in 1910 and in 1911 served 5 days in prison for assaulting a
prison officer. In 1913, she was a
volunteer at the WSPU headquarters in London and a year later was a
participant in the most audacious local act by militant suffragettes. Along with Kitty Marion and Ellen Sheriff, she burnt down
Blaby Railway station in July 1914, causing £500 worth of damage. (see
Ellen Sherriff for more details). She may well have been a participant in
the early failed attempts to burn down Stoughton Hall and Neville Holt
Hall. There was also an attack on Evington Golf course, where a bonfire
was set ablaze on the green and message "No Votes, No Golf" was etched
into the turf. Her father was chairman of the club. Telephone lines in the
Stoughton road area were also cut.
On the outbreak of war, Mrs Pankhurst suspended all
militant activity and pledged the support of the WSPU to recruiting and
the war effort. This zeal was shared by Miss Frisby who swiftly
returned from holiday in Antwerp to organise and open a Clothing Depot for
the families of reservists. In January, 1916, her family gave a Y.M.C.A.
hut to the training camp at Seaford, Sussex, and, together with her sister
(the Lady Mayoress), took charge of it. She continued with her voluntary work
throughout the war and in 1918 received an MBE for her contribution. She joined the Knighton Women’s Conservative Association in 1921,
becoming a local Conservative councillor and JP in 1927. She became the
first woman Lord Mayor in 1941. She never
owned up to her involvement in the burning of Blaby railway station.
Sources: Richard Whitmore, Alice
Hawkins and the Suffragette Movement in Edwardian Leicester,
Shirley Aucott, Women of Courage, Vision and Talent, Census returns,
Leicester City Council, Roll of Lord Mayors 1928-2000
Born Leicester, 1846, died: 1918 (Leicester Women’s Liberal
Fullagar was a daughter of a Belvoir Street doctor. Despite being engaged
for seven years to the son of a local vicar, she never married. In the
1880s, she became active in the emerging middle class women’s groups and
in 1888 was elected to the Board of Guardians as the Charity Organisation
Candidate. She was thus the first
woman in Leicester to be elected to public office. Although for three years she was
the “only woman in a room of men,” she was later joined by other
Liberal women including Dr Mary Royce, Charlotte Ellis and Dorothy Coy. At the end of her first term of
office she was presented with an illuminated address by the Mayor in
recognition of her services.
In the 1890s, she became a member of
the National Union of Women Workers and campaigned for the registration
and training of midwives and for the establishment of Bond Street
Maternity Hospital. She remained on the Guardians until 1904, when she was
defeated by one vote. Although, Fanny Fullagar and her colleagues from the
middle class Women's Liberal Association were pioneers for the
representation of women in Leicester, they did little to challenge the
social injustices at the heart of the poor law. They were often seen as
too discriminatory in only offering charity to the 'deserving' poor.
Although she was originally a member of the Church of England, she later
became a Unitarian.
Sources: The Wyvern, 30th
June 1893, Isabel Ellis, Records Of Nineteenth Century
Aucott, Mothercraft and Maternity,1997
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© Ned Newitt Last revised:
August 23, 2018.