Born: Leicester 1907, died: January 1987, (Labour Party &
Albert Hall was educated at the
former Milton Street Board School before starting a five-year
apprenticeship with a local wood working firm. In the late 1920s, he
managed to escapeLeicester's slums in Fleet Street and get a council house on
the new South Braunstone estate. He then became one of leaders of the
Braunstone Tenants' Association. During the 1930s he helped produce the Braunstone Gazette
which was distributed free to tenants on the estate. He was very prominent in the
campaign for local community facilities and lower rents. He was also an active
anti fascist and resigned from the Labour Party in
protest over the party’s initial support for non-intervention in Spain. He
was an active member of the Spanish Aid Committee and took in Czech
refugees from the Sudetenland.
In 1950, Albert moved a resolution at the Trades Council
protesting at the TUC's ban of electing Communists to the TUC bodies. It
was lost 61 - 42. He was a member of the Communist
Party member from the late 1930s, but left the party in the mid
1950s in the wake of the Hungarian invasion. He was an organiser for the
Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers for 26 years and Trades Council
President in 1954 & 1970-1.
In the early 1960s, he lent his support to Arnold Wesker’s Centre 42 activities. This culminated in a
very successful arts
festival sponsored by the Trades Council in 1962. He was a member of the
Phoenix and later Haymarket Board as well as a governor of Charles Keene,
South Fields and Leicester Polytechnic. In the early 1970s, he was active
in opposition to the government’s legislation on trade unions.
Sources: Leicester Mercury, 1st March
August 1982, 12th January 1987, interview Leicester Oral
History Archive, author’s personal knowledge
Born: County Durham, died: June 1992 aged 53 (Labour Party)
Hall was an instrument maker and member of the E.T.U. He was elected as
both a City and County Councillor. During the 1950s, he was a RAF
electrician and witnessed Britain’s nuclear tests on Christmas Island. He
suffered ill health as a result and in the 1980s, he became a leading
light in the campaign for compensation for nuclear test victims.
Following his death from leukaemia,
his case for compensation was raised in parliament by Keith Vaz MP.
However, successive governments have refused to acknowledge any link
between the tests and the ill health of ex-servicemen. His son Colin also
served on the City Council.
Sources: Leicester Mercury, 4th
Arnesby, 1764, died Bristol: 1831
Every man must have a natural right
to use his limbs in whatever manner he pleases, that is not injurious to
another. In like manner he must have a right to worship God after the
manner he thinks acceptable ; or, in other words, he ought not to be
compelled TO CONSULT ANYTHING BUT HIS OWN CONSCIENCE.
Robert Hall was one of the 14 children
and his father was the local Baptist Minister. He was educated at Mr
Simmon’s school in Wigston, then at Dr Ryland’s school in Northampton,
then at the Bristol Baptist College and finally as a Scholar to King’s
He became a minister in Bristol , where
he also taught, but then moved to Cambridge, where he revived the local
chapel, wrote books and pamphlets and became famous for his eloquent
preaching. After a breakdown in health he returned to Leicestershire in
1806. As he recovered he returned to preaching and was appointed as
minister of the plain, red-brick Baptist Chapel in Harvey Lane in 1807. In
the early 19th century the Baptists were the most numerous nonconformist
body in Leicester, although the Unitarians were more influential
dominating local politics.
Robert Hall was active with those who
agitated for peace in the wars with France and America, for the relief of
poverty, for parliamentary reform and religious emancipation. In 1793 his
celebrated Apology for the Freedom the Press and for general Liberty
was published which discussed the right of public discussion,
of political associations, the reform of parliament, the rights of man. A
number of his sermons were printed as tracts including: On the
Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes (1810)
He was, with many other Whig supporters,
a signatory in 1813 of a requisition demanding the use of the Town Hall
for a meeting to demand parliamentary reform. The requisition was refused
by the Tory Corporation, so the meeting was held at the Bowling Green Inn.
In 1818, the Leicester framework
knitters in Leicester were agitating for better pay, better conditions and
limitation of machine made goods. Robert Hall was active on their behalf.
He was a leading proponent of disguising what was effectively a trades
union (which by law was not allowed to pay workmen who were on strike) as
a friendly society which could make payments to its members who were
actually out of work because they were on strike. In 1821, with the unrest
showing no signs of abating, Robert Hall published anonymously a pamphlet
“The Question at Issue between the Framework Knitters and their
Employers”, which attracted the wrath of William Cobbett in his
Political Register. Although he was quite prepared to advise radicals and
to write in their support, he kept put of political meetings and speech
He was, however, famous for his
preaching. Apparently he would start in a low voice with a hesitating
manner, but “as he proceeded”, said one listener, “his voice gained
strength and flexibility, his utterance became more rapid, and so neat was
his delivery that I have distinctly heard twenty or thirty syllables in
one breath”. Shorthand writers attempted to take down his sermons, but
failed. He poured forth a torrent of words while his body gently swayed
and “his spirit seemed to be abstracted into the image he was creating“.
His audience contained not only his
congregation, but also strangers visiting Leicester. Public speakers,
barristers and Judges at Assize all made a point of hearing him. It was
not uncommon for visitors to come from London by Saturday’s Mail Coach,
attend his service and return to London on Sunday night. Apparently, John
Ryley, the first editor of the Leicester Chronicle which was the
mouthpiece of the radical Whig opposition in Leicester, moved from
Cambridge to Leicester entirely for the purpose of enjoying Robert Hall's
Robert Hall's health was always poor and
suffered extreme pain from a number of conditions. He bought laudanum by
the pint to ease the pain, taking a full wine glass at a time.
In 1826, he moved to Bristol , where he
died of heart failure aged 67.
Sources: A. Temple Patterson,
Leicester 1954, John Webster
Morris: Biographical Recollections of the Rev. Robert Hall
Born: Burton-on-Trent, 1877, died: December 1933 (I.L.P.&
father was a railwayman involved in the 1886 strike, for which he was
subsequently victimised. As a result, the family moved to Leicester and
his father began business as a coal merchant. Although Herbert went to
Ruskin College, he went into the family business. Despite this, he was an
advocate of the municipalisation of the coal trade (including his own
business). He became member of the Fabian Society and was a believer in
He active in the Labour movement in
1904 and was elected to Board of Guardians in 1907. He was subsequently
elected to City Council in 1913 for St Margaret’s’ ward which had a very
high proportion of landlord owned property and contained some of
Leicester's worst housing conditions. With many landlords now raising
rents, Hallam's election manifesto now advocated that the corporation
should initiate a housing scheme.
“The outstanding fact was that in St.
Margaret’s children died three times as fast as the children in Spinney
Hill ward? Why? Because men like Mr Yearby (a Conservative councillor)
represented themselves and their property owning friends, instead of
protecting the lives of children.”
Hallam too was strongly influenced by
the ideas of Town Planning. He opposed streets being laid out on the grid
iron system of heavily paved streets running parallel and at right angles.
His proposal, in 1914, that the Council should undertake a housing scheme
was agreed by the Council, but delayed by war.
In August 1914, he spoke
out against the war in the Market Place arguing that:
We must stand firm in demanding
peace. It is not the Russian people who are causing the war; it is a
clique of diplomatists. War is not going to make either the workers or
capitalists make a penny better off- it would make it worse for everyone.
Should England range herself on the side of Russian diplomatists? No! The
time is now ripe for a rearrangement of the balance of power in Europe.
The advancing democracies of England, Germany, France and Italy should
unite in helping to check the reactionary forces of Europe.
He stood as the Labour candidate for
Loughborough in the 1918 general election and was heavily defeated.
In 1921, he became Vice Chairman of
the first Housing and Town Planning Committee and after the death of Cllr
Arthur Wakerley (Liberal) in 1924, he became its Chairman and was
responsible for the planning and building of the Saffron Lane and the
South Braunstone estate. He held this position until a month before his
death. He was very opposed to pressure from government to build smaller
council houses. He was an advocate of the parlour house which had two
living rooms downstairs.
“Let me give you an idea of how a
parlour should be furnished. This is it: a table a few easy chairs and all
the books you can afford. By this simple method of furnishing, the parlour
would become a place in which the various members of the family would
retire when they had important work to do. Gas and electricity should be
laid on in all houses and there should be a continuous supply of hot
water. Electricity will soon be used in every household, and so reduce the
housewife's hours of labour to those of the miner. Why should we demand 6
hours a day for men and be content to let women work twice or three times
He was regarded as being an
intellectual and was described by the Tory Leicester Mail as: ‘the most
gentlemanly socialist we know….’ He is commemorated by Hallam
Crescent, Braunstone Estate.
Sources: Howes, C. (ed),
Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial, Institutional and Social Life, Leicester
1927, Leicester Pioneer, 9th January, 13th March,
1914, Leicester Evening Mail 6th December 1933
Henry Hancock was a elected to the
Guardians c1912 and became chair of the board in 1924. He was a Labour
candidate for Belgrave in 1925 and eventually won Westcotes in 1927 (Lab
Born: 12th February 1865, died:1948 (I.L.P.&
Hand was the eldest child of a large family and attended Charnwood Street
Board School, he was at work as a part-timer at the age of 8 and left
school aged 11. After a series of dead end jobs he was apprenticed as a
carpenter and joiner, joining the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and
Joiners in 1886. However trade depression meant that he had to seek work
in Sheffield and Birmingham. Returning to Leicester he worked as a
journeyman until the outbreak of war. Early in 1915, he set up in trade on
his own account as a joiner and shop-fitter.
In 1886, he joined the Amalgamated
Society of Carpenters and was branch secretary for nine years. He was a
founder of the Leicester Labour Party in 1903 and became Vice Chair of the
Labour Party in 1907. He was elected councillor for Abbey ward in 1909 and
served until 1945. In 1914, he was the co-sponsor, with Herbert Hallam, of
a proposal for council housing in Leicester. In 1918, he became president
of the Labour Party, succeeding George Banton. In 1924, he became the
chairman of the Labour Group on the City Council and was made an alderman
that year. He was Lord Mayor 1928-29. He was vice chairman of the Housing
Committee during the 1930's. He was a prominent member of the City of
Leicester Working Men’s Club (Bond Street) Speaking in the Market Place in
1923 he is reputed to have demanded ‘Homes for the homeless, boots for
the footless.’ He studied music in his spare time at Vaughan College
and sang in St Luke’s and later St Saviour’s choir. He is commemorated by
Hand Avenue, Braunstone Estate.
Sources: Howes, C. (ed),
Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial, Institutional and
Social Life, Leicester 1927, Leicester
Pioneer 20th June 1924
Charles Harris became the president
of the Trades Council in 1892. He was also elected to the Board of
Guardians for Wyggeston in 1905 and campaigned for the unemployed with
George White. He was re-elected in 1913. He was a member of the Labour
Party executive 1910.
December 1905, aged 65 (Co-operator)
Henry Harrott was a frame smith. He was elected to the
board of the L.C.S. in 1872 and on his death had been its secretary for 18
Sources: Leicester Pioneer 23rd December 1905
Born: Bradford 1854, died: 1918 (I.L.P., S.D.F., B.S.P. and
E.R. Hartley spent most of his life
in Bradford. His started out as a half-timer in a factory later becoming
an apprentice butcher, eventually setting up in business on his own. He
became a Socialist in 1884 and was involved with the formation of the
I.L.P. In 1895 he was elected to Bradford Council and elected again in
1898, becoming an alderman.
After 1901, he gave his allegiance to
the S.D.F. after a disagreement with the I.L.P. He was involved with the
Clarion vans and was an unwearying propagandist, visiting Leicester
several times. However, his propaganda work was always enlivened with a
dry caustic humour, which was always disconcerting to opponents. This gift
of humour made him much sought after as a lecturer. His parliamentary
contests were numerous and unsuccessful. There were many that considered
that his relentless opposition to anything in the way of canvassing helped
him to loose votes that he might otherwise would have obtained. This did
not apply to bye-elections where the fight was a rushed one, but to steady
fights for the SDF in East Bradford in 1906 and 1910. He was a candidate
for the I.L.P. in Dewsbury (1895), Newcastle (1908 & 1913) and stood for
the British Socialist Party in Leicester in 1913, after George Banton was
prevented from standing. He polled 2,580 votes, somewhat less than
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 1st
Charles Hassell born Leicester, 24th October 1889 Died: December
Harold Hassell born Leicester 19th September 1883, died October 1948 (Secularist)
Both Charlie and his brother Harry grew up in Northgate
Street where their father had a fruiterers' shop. Before WW1, Harry Hassel
worked in the shoe trade whilst Harry was a tram conductor. Both brothers
Charlie Hassell was member of the No Conscription
Fellowship and the I.LP. During World War One Charlie was a
conscientious objector and the 26 year old was given non combatant status
by the tribunal in May 1916 and assigned to the Army's Non Combatant
Corps.. However, he wanted full exemption from military duties and for his
non co-operation was given Field Punishment no. 2 at Glen Parva barracks.
At a court martial at Richmond Castle in July he was given 112 days in
Durham Prison for disobeying an order, but was transferred to the Home
Office Scheme after three months and sent to Warwick, Dartmoor and
Knutsford. He was not discharged from the army until 1920. After the war
he became a shop worker and volunteered for A.R.P. durring WW2.
Both brothers were stalwart members of the Leicester
Secular Society. Ernest Hassell, known as "Harry", worked as a sole cutter
in the boot & shoe trade and lived at 74 New Park Street. He was
Vice-President of Leicester Secular Society from 1923 to 1938, and
President from 1939 to 1948. He was also a Trustee of the Leicester
Rationalist Trust during this whole period. When Harry died in October
1948, the minutes of the Society record that his death came as a
misfortune of the first magnitude and that the Society had lost a guiding
Sources: Leicester Secular Society minutes, British Army
WWI Service Records, 1914-1920, Census returns.
Born: Stafford, 4th March 1863, died: March 1946
Hawkins came from a working class background and left school at the age of
13 to become a machinist in the boot and shoe trade. In her early twenties
she was taken on by the Equity shoe factory and was active in the No 3
branch (woman’s branch) of NUBSO. She was a founding member of the
Leicester I.L.P. and in 1894 was vice president of the women’s I.L.P.
In 1901, Alice
and her husband Alfred (also from Stafford and
born c.1858) joined the Leicester Secular Society. Alice was a member of
the Clarion Cycle Club and in 1902 a newspaper reported that she was
accused of “outraging public decency” by riding in rational dress.
In 1905, both Alice and Alfred played
a prominent role in the organisation of Leicester's famous unemployed
march. In 1906, she was a founder member of the Women’s Labour League,
though, less than a year later she deserted the W.L.L. for the more
In 1907, she attended the W.S.P.U.
rally in Hyde Park and following a march on the House of Commons, she was
arrested and sent to prison. On her release, she invited Sylvia Pankhurst
to speak in Leicester and the Leicester branch of the WSPU was formed soon
after. It is thought that Alice is the subject in one of Sylvia
Pankhurst’s painting made at the Equity shoe factory. She wrote that “...
at night I held meetings for the local WSPU, amongst whom, only Mrs
Hawkins, as yet, dared mount the platform.”
Alice and her Leicester colleagues
began a tireless campaign of speaking at factory gates, market squares and
village greens throughout Leicestershire and parts of Northamptonshire.
Alice and her fellow suffragettes used their bicycles to travel to the
nearby countryside and neighbouring towns. In 1909, Alice, with the
support of Gladice Keevil of the Birmingham WSPU, spearheaded a bicycle
drive to increase membership in the WSPU by targeting supporters beyond
town's boundaries. It was so successful that enough new members were
recruited to establish a new WSPU satellite branch in Loughborough. In the
summer of 1910, Hawkins and others suffragettes set out every Sunday
morning to rural villages including Syston, Shepshed, Castle Donington,
Kibworth, and Melton Mowbray, ranging from 6 to 30 miles away. Once they
arrived at their destination, they held open air meetings, greeted
supporters, distributed WSPU literature and solicited donations.
Alice went to prison five times for
various militant actions which included chaining herself to railings,
throwing a stone through a Home Office window, pouring ink into letter
boxes and making a disturbance when Winston Churchill held a Liberal
meeting at the Palace Theatre in 1909.
Her husband, Alfred was a committed
socialist and supported her in the suffragette campaign. On one occasion,
he followed Winston Churchill to a meeting in St George’s Hall, Bradford
and heckled him over the issue of votes for women. The stewards threw him
out the meeting and down a flight of stairs breaking his leg. The Men’s
Political Union successfully sued the Liberal party and gained £100
compensation. Alice’s presence in the branch ensured that the WSPU in
Leicester did not become a totally middle class organisation, despite the
national direction of the movement.
In 1911, Alice Hawkins became
president of breakaway Independent National Union of Boot and Shoe Women
Workers, which was led by her colleague Lizzie Willson. Both women were
already delegates to the Trades Council. In 1913, Alice wrote:
I have worked at the shoe trade from the age of
thirteen. I was married in 1884, and am the mother of seven children, of
whom five are alive. I early began to find out there was something very
wrong with the lives of women workers. Twenty years ago I joined the I.L.P.
and my trade union, and have worked for the uplifting of my sex ever
since. For the last eight years I have been organiser and hon. president
of the Women's Boot Union, but was never satisfied with the conditions of
women's labour as compared with men's. I joined the militants in 1907 to
fight for the weapon which men have to push their trade union principles
into the only place - namely, Parliament - where it was possible to better
their conditions. I have been four times in prison, three times in London
and once in Leicester, where I hunger struck as a protest against being
treated as a common criminal.
I was in London on Black Friday and the following Tuesday. I have spoken
in Hyde Park, and been in several processions. I am still working in my
trade union as president and organiser, and am doing good work by rousing
them to a sense of their needs.
By 1913, the Suffragettes had been physically assaulted
several times during meetings and the windows of their shop on Bowling
Green Street had been broken. Public speaking had become so dangerous for
the Suffragettes, that the Leicester Watch Committee asked the WSPU to
refrain from any further public meetings. Alice Hawkins refused and under
the watchful eye of the police she continued to speak in the marketplace
and hold parades around the town. The Leicester Mercury even suggested
that the second wave of letterbox attacks around the town centre in May
1913 was a direct response to Alice Hawkins and her daughter being
attacked by an angry mob in the marketplace.
Alice Hawkins was arrested for damaging the Royal Mail
with a "deleterious substance" (Brunswick black ink). She pleaded guilty and
was sent to prison for seven days. In her defence she claimed it was a
political offence and refused to take food. But primarily due to failing
health and a request by her close family, she declined to hunger-strike
and was spared the indignity of being force-fed.
Like Mrs Panhkurst, Alice
supported the First World War and in 1918, she appeared on platforms with
Jabez Chaplin to condemn the 'cowardice' of the I.L.P. However it
seems unlikely that she joined the short lived Women's Party, founded by
Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst in 1917. After the war, she continued
with her involvement in the local Trade Union and Labour movement.
In 2018, a statue of Alice was unveiled in the new
market square, behind the Corn Exchange, to mark her contribution to the
campaign to win the vote for women.
Sources: The Suffragette, 24th
January 1913 Leicester Pioneer, 4th
July 1913 & 16th August 1918, Richard Whitmore, Alice
Hawkins and the Suffragette Movement in Edwardian
President of the Trades Council 1936,
delegate from the Transport And General Workers.
Died c1983 Communist Party
From 1926 to 1940 Arthur Haywood worked as a tram driver for Leicester
City Transport. He started on the trams in the year of the General Strike
and his first pay packet was strike pay.
was a former pupil of Moat Road School and was well-read, cultured and
played the violin. According to his grandson, he was a very strict,
obstinate and opinionated man who loved Russia and idolised Stalin. This
caused no end of family rows and rifts.
August 1940, he was sacked from his job on the advice of the Chief
Constable. Arthur appears to have lost his job on the very day he was
given his 15yr Gold Medal for safe driving. His dismissal was raised in
the House of Commons by Willie Gallacher MP, the Communist member for West
Fife. He asked: Is the Minister aware that there is nothing whatever
against this man so far as his employment is concerned, and that he has
said or done nothing against the law of this country? Can the hon.
Gentleman give any reason why the police should advise that a competent
worker,... should be removed from his employment? Gallacher did not
manage to elicit a reason for his sacking which remains a mystery to this
day. In 1944, Arthur moved to Coleorton and he died alone, divorced, near
Sutton on Sea around 1983.
Sources Hansard, 13th
August 1940, R Haywood
President of the Trades Council 1967,
delegate from the U.S.D.A.W. and also full-time official.
Born: Thringstone 1817, died 18th May 1885
Born in humble circumstances, he owed his education to
his father’s knowledge and was a bread winner from an early age. Even when
he attended Dames School in Thringstone, he took stockings to mend. From
the age of 13 or 13, he worked in Nottingham’s lace factories and in 1860,
he and his wife moved to Leicester where he worked as a stockinger. He was
member of the Methodist New Connexion domination
Benjamin Hemmings and Daniel Merrick were members of a
short-lived Co-operative Society started by Thomas Cook in the
Amphitheatre, Humberstone Gate. It was set up to sell the ‘essentials of
home consumption.’ It sold potatoes from a yard on London Road and had a
place for the sale of flour in Bowling green Street. Benjamin Hemmings
joined the committee of the LCS in 1868 and became its president in 1870,
being re-elected every year until his death.
Although a naturally cautious, modest and unassuming
individual, he played a significant role in the society’s development and
expansion. Beginning with the opening of branch stores and ending with the
opening of the High Street Central store. During the period of the
society’s financial difficulty (1877-80), he retained the confidence of
the members. In middle age he was a foreman in a hosiery factory. After
his death, portraits of him were available at the High Street store.
Sources: Leicester Co-operative
Record, June 1885 (obit), Leicester Co-operative Society, (1898)
Co-operation in Leicester
Born: Leicester, 11th February 1911, died: 30th
Jan 1979 (Labour Party)
Henig was educated at the Wyggeston Boys School. On leaving school he went
to work in his father's Company, Henig & Sons Limited, Wholesale Textile
Distributors, Burley's Way of which he later became a Director.
He was elected to the City Council in
1945. After losing his seat in 1947, he returned by way of a bye-election
in North Braunstone in 1949. He was secretary and whip of the Labour group
from 1949 until 1962. In 1965, he became the leader of the group, however
within a year or so he was made chairman of the Association of Municipal
Corporations and had to give up being leader and chairman of council
committees. He was twice president of the Labour Party, its treasurer for
eight years and became an alderman in 1958 and Lord Mayor 1967. He served
on a long list of other public bodies as well as holding major offices in
the Leicester Synagogue. He retired from local government in 1970 and
became chairman of the English Tourist Board. He was described as one of
the most dynamic and forthright councillors of the post-war years.
Sources: Leicester Mercury, 31st
January 1979, Leicester City Council, Roll of Lord Mayors 1928-2000
Born Leicester: 1789, died: 1831 (Anti
slavery and radical campaigner)
born, Elizabeth Coltman and her father, John Coltman, was a manufacturer
of worstead cloth and a Unitarian. Her mother Elizabeth Cartwright was a
poet and writer. As a young woman, Elizabeth was exposed to radical
politics and the writings of Thomas Paine. She met John Wesley when he
visited the family house and soon after became a practising Methodist.
She had a natural ability for painting landscapes and in 1787 she married
John Heyrick, a lawyer and a descendant of Robert Herrick the poet.
When he abandoned the legal profession to serve in the 15th Light
Dragoons, Elizabeth followed, residing with him in barracks in England and
Ireland. He eventually to returned to Leicester and take up an appointment
as a Captain with the Leicestershire Yeomanry. According to her
biographer: "The marriage was said to have been stormy, but she mourned
fervently, with lifelong observance of the anniversary of his death. They
had no children."
death in 1795, when she was only 25, she moved back into her parents home,
renounced all worldly pleasures and became a Quaker in 1809. For a
period she ran her own school in her home, but this was not sufficient to
absorb all her energies and she found outlets for her compassion in many
charitable works as well as social reform. In this she may well have been
encouraged and influenced by her friend, Susanna Watts, who was 20 years
deeply concerned for the welfare of the long-term imprisoned and she had
became a prison visitor. In 1809 she stopped a bull-baiting at
Bonsall in Derbyshire by purchasing the bull.
By the 1820s, she had became one of the
most prominent radical women activists.
as becoming a prison visitor, she wrote political pamphlets about a range
of issues, from the Corn Laws to the harsh treatment of vagrants. However,
her overriding interest was in the abolition of slavery in the British
colonies. In the early 19th century, campaigners who wished to see an end
to slavery in the British West Indies had two approaches to the problem.
Some wished to push for an end only to the slave trade, on the
understanding that eventually the existing slaves would die and with them,
slavery itself. Others, like Elizabeth, wanted a complete and immediate
abolition of the institution of slavery.
Heyrick was a strong supporter of complete emancipation for enslaved
Africans. In 1824 she published a pamphlet anonymously entitled
Immediate, not Gradual Abolition, which was influential in encouraging
public opinion to support the cause. She criticised the principal
anti-slavery campaigners, William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson, for
what she regarded as the overly slow and cautious way in which they had
led the campaign in parliament up until that point. For her the call for
gradualism by these men was “the very master-piece of satanic policy”.
West Indian planters, have occupied much too prominent a place in the
discussion of this great question. The abolitionists have shown a great
deal too much politeness and accommodation towards these gentlemen."
of slavery in our West India colonies is not an abstract question, to be
settled between the government and the planters; it is one in which we
are all implicated, we are all guilty of supporting and perpetuating
slavery. The West Indian planter and the people of this country stand in
the same moral relation to each other as the thief and receiver of
pamphlet was widely distributed and caused much discussion in public
meetings in various parts of England. Wilberforce gave out instructions
for leaders of the movement not to speak at women's anti-slavery
societies, most of which supported Heyrick. In his view:
"....for ladies to meet, to publish, to go from
house to house stirring up petitions were things unsuited to the
female character, as delineated in Scripture."
1824, the ladies organised a boycott of sugar from the West Indies. This
was done to promote public awareness of the issues of the slave trade and
to hit the profits of the planters and importers of slave-produced goods.
For them, direct action was the way forward. Elizabeth argued that
abstinence from sugar by only 10% of the population would defeat the
interest and machinations of the 'West Indian gentlemen.' "It is
therefore a grave error to disdain simple individual action through
abstinence and to prefer the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of legislative
visited local grocers' shops to persuade them not to stock sugar and
claimed that 1,500 families were 'abstaining' from the use of West-Indian
sugar. She was helped by Lucy Townsend, Mary Lloyd, Sarah Wedgwood and
Sophia Sturge. Later that year, together with her sister Mary Ann Coltman
and Susanna Watts, they launched an anti slavery periodical, The
message was clear cut. She described the West India planters as being like
thieves and those who bought their produce, like receivers of stolen
goods. She asked, why petition Parliament when we can take swifter
action ourselves? She wanted all slavery ended forever. She criticized
the mainstream anti-slavery figures for being slow, cautious and
accommodating. They also met with opposition and ridicule from the Tory
supporting Leicester Journal which did not support abolition at
".... neither John nor his family
will pay any kind of attention to the prejudices and passions of these
canting hypocrites. We have no wish see sugar, coffee, rice, &c. &c.
doubled and trebled in price; the West Indies depopulated, and their
merchants ruined; and both the trade and the islands fall into the hands
of our French, Dutch, and American rivals. That these would be the
following consequences, if the doctrines the emancipationists of the
dear blacks in the West Indies were attended too."
she became treasurer at the inaugural meeting of the Female Society for
the Relief of Negro Slaves and the Leicester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society
branch was formed the same year. In 1830, the Female Society for
Birmingham submitted a motion to the National Conference of the
Anti-Slavery Society calling for it to campaign for an immediate end to
slavery in the British colonies. She published several more anti-slavery
pamphlets, sometimes addressing women specifically.
the author of more than twenty pamphlets and other works on subjects as
diverse as bull-baiting, prison reform, war, the plight of the poor,
vagrancy, wages, corporal punishment and election reform. Towards the end
of her life she became involved in the campaign against capital
Heyrick never lived to see the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.
She died on 18 October 1831 and is buried in Leicester. Her admirers in
the USA included Benjamin Lundy, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick
Douglass, and Lucretia Mott. For Mott her work became an argument for
women’s participation in public life and social reform. Garrison praised
her on his visit to Britain in 1840, for instance in a public speech given
at Glasgow. A Brief Sketch of Heyrick’s Life, published anonymously
in 1862 and probably by her niece Alicia Cooper, called her “one of the
noblest pioneers of social liberty, not only for her own sex, but for
mankind at large.”
Sources: Shirley Aucott, Susanna
Watts, Dr Isobel Grundy, Women’s Writing in the British Isles from
the Beginnings to the Present, Leicester Journal, 24th & 31st
July 1829, A. Temple Patterson,
Leicester 1954, Wikipedia
In 1907, George Hern and his team of
12 assistants formed the Anchor Tenants Building Society which was
responsible for the construction of the Humberstone Garden Suburb. Hern
modified the layout drawn up by Raymond Unwin. George died in October
1911. A beech tree was planted in his memory at the bottom of Fern Rise.
Born: 1866 died: July 1945 (I.L.P. & Labour Party)
Alf Hill was a village boy, born in
Welwyn, Herts. He became an apprentice clicker in the shoe trade at the
age of 13. After completing his apprenticeship, he came to Leicester in
1885, joining N.U.B.S.O. No. 2 branch in 1890. He was elected branch
president in 1898 and president of the Trades Council in 1901 and 1916. He
was a delegate to the Trades Council from 1893-1943. He was described in
1903 as a prominent member of the local Peace Society,
he has always, in and out of
season, raised his voice in favour of peace and to oppose militarism.
a Town Councillor for Wyggeston ward 1905-19, being made an alderman in
1919. On the first Sunday in
August 1914, he felt compelled to leave his
religious work (he was a Primitive Methodist preacher) and take part in a
political demonstration on a Sunday.
“No orator thrilled the crowd as
Alfred Hill did. He spoke with a fervour and passion that told of the
fierce earnestness of his soul, against the black hellish horror through
which the nations of the world have since passed. He spoke for peace, as
a man inspired, and no jingo raised his voice for war on that memorable
day. In the war that followed, he never wavered in his stand for peace
and although it meant a certain amount of unpopularity and brought on
his shoulders a certain amount of abuse, he came through as a man who
could stand for great religious and political principles.”
He was elected to Parliament for
Leicester West in 1922, taking back the seat for Labour from J.F. Green of
the National Democratic Party (pro war, anti-Labour coalition). In 1923 he
stood down in favour of W. Pethick-Lawrence because of illness. He was no
relation to T.R. Hill.
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 27th
Born: c1836, (Leicester Democratic Association, Leicester Republican
Joseph Hill was active on the radical
wing of the Liberal Party and a supporter of P.A. Taylor MP. He lived and
Rudkin Street near Wharf Street and was a clicker in the boot and shoe
trade. He was active
in support of the nine hours movement in 1871 and anxious to increase
working class representation. In 1871, he was secretary of the
Leicester Democratic Association which became the Republican Association
the following year. The objects of the Republican Association were the
repeal of primogeniture, game laws, the creation of equal electoral
districts, universal suffrage, secret ballots, the payment of M.P.s,
triennial parliaments, direct, rather than indirect taxation, a national
poor rate, and the dissolution of the House of Lords and the
disestablishment of the Church of England.
The Republican movement in Leicester
sought to work within the Liberal Party and although it was only
short-lived, it was the precursor of the socialist groups of the 1880s.
However, Hill was not a supporter of the Paris
Commune and condemned the extremes of the ‘Communists’ and the party of
‘order.’ In 1873, whilst he criticised the founding meeting of the
National Republican League for meeting on a Sunday, since there were many
Christian republicans. He was, however, a supporter of the Sunday opening
of museums. The Association had a large working class membership.
Sources: Midlands Free Press, 3rd
June & 13th June 1871, Leicester Chronicle 22 April,
3 June 1871 1871
Born: 22nd May 1885 died: 1968 (I.L.P. & Labour
Hill attended Melbourne Road Board School entering as a new boy on its day
of opening in 1892. He was active in the Labour Movement from 1905 and
became president Leicester branch National Union of Clerks in 1909. By
1914, he was president of the Trades Council and was secretary of the
I.L.P. in 1917. He was Vice President of the local branch of the Union of
Democratic Control which sought to put a reasoned case against the First
World War. He was a conscientious objector and, in 1917, he had his
conscription deferred as a result of a petition to the military tribunal.
However, at the end the period of deferment he had to go ‘on the run,’ to
avoid call up. At this time he wrote for the Leicester Pioneer under the
pen name ‘Robert Dale.’
From 1919, he acted as agent for the
Harborough Constituency and from 1926-32 was secretary of the Trades
Council. He was also a director of the Co-operative Society during this
period. He stood for Spinney Hill in 1920 and lost. He eventually won
Westcotes ward in 1926, but was defeated in 1929. He was eventually
elected back to City Council 1930 for Westcotes Ward as a result of a
He commenced his career in a
commercial office and held jobs connecting with the building and
shopfitting trades. He was director and secretary of Harry Hand (Shopfitters)
and also of the City Sheet Metal Works.
He became chairman of the City
Council Labour Group 1937 and was the longest serving chairman of the
Finance Committee, holding the post from 1934 until 1955. He was
re-elected in 1945 and became Lord Mayor in 1951. He was awarded a C.B.E.
in 1955 and the freedom of the City in 1956 and continued on the City
Council until 19?. His daughter Mrs Janet Setchfield was also a councillor
and also became Chair of Finance and Lord Mayor.
Sources: Leicester City Council, Roll
of Lord Mayors 1928-2000, Howes, C. (ed), Leicester: Its Civic,
Industrial, Institutional and Social Life, Leicester 1927, Mrs Janet
Mary Hill with Hugh Gaitskell in 1956
Born: 1888 died: (I.L.P. & Labour
Before she married Rowland Hill, Mary Stretton worked as
a tailoress. She had been active with her mother, Annie Stretton,
in the Women's Labour League before WW1. Although the W.S.P.U. ceased
campaigning during the war, the fight was continued by Sylvia Pankhurst.
Her East London Federation of Suffrage
Societies had become the Workers' Suffrage Federation.
Initially it campaigned for universal suffrage and agitated among
parliamentarians, with the assistance of Keir Hardie.
With the outbreak of
World War I, the WSF began also to attack participation in the war.
Sylvia Pankhurst's orientation toward working-class women and her
willingness to work with the radical wing of the socialist movement made
it attractive to many women socialists of an earlier generation
who had serious reservations about the WSPU. In Leicester is had support
from Miss Gittings.
In 1916, Mrs May Hill became secretary
of the short-lived Leicester branch of the Workers' Suffrage Federation. It held a series of open air
meetings and in November 1916, a conference of Suffrage and Labour
organisations was convened by the Leicester Branch of the Workers' Suffrage
Federation at the Foresters' Institute and was attended by delegates
organisations. Sylvia Pankhurst was the main speaker. The I.l.P. and W.S.F.
held joint meetings in 1917 at which Sylvia Pankhurst spoke.
By the end of
the war, Sylvia Pankhurst had become a somewhat sectarian revolutionary socialist
and the W.S.F. had become the Workers' Socialist Federation which now rejected parliamentary
elections. This was a rather ironic position for someone who had gone to prison to
get women the vote.
May Hill remained active in the Women's Section of the
Labour Party and in 1951 as Mrs T. Rowland Hill, she became the Lady
Mayoress of Leicester.
Womens' Dreadnought, 2nd & 23rd Dec 1916
19th July 1870, died: 1937 (Liberal)
Teddy Hincks left school at an early
age and was apprenticed at a shoe machinery firm. He became branch
secretary of the A.S.E. at Gimson’s Vulcan Road works at the age of 27 on
10th July 1897. Three days later, he and his colleagues were
locked out. They were out until January 1898 and he gained prominence as
strike leader. He became a delegate to the Trades Council and was elected
to the Town Council for Castle ward, as a Liberal, in 1900. He became
chairman of three standing committees at different times. (Watch, Health
and Libraries Committee) He became secretary of the Charity Organisation
Society in March 1903 and held the position until his death. He became
Lord Mayor in 1929.
Sources: Leicester City Council, Roll
of Lord Mayors 1928-2000, Howes, C. (ed), Leicester: Its Civic,
Industrial, Institutional and Social Life, Leicester 1927
Born 1838, died: 1912 (Liberal, Co-operator & architect)
Hind was an architect by profession
and for many years a member of the L.C.S. board. He was elected to the
C.W.S. committee in 1877 and died in office. He was an Anglican, a Poor
Law Guardian and member of the Town Council, as well as a governor of the
Royal Infirmary. He was the architect responsible for design of the Co-op
Central Stores on High Street, completed in 1884. (now part of the Shires)
He also designed the Victoria Model Lodging House on Britannia Street.
Sources: Leicester Co-operative
Society, (1898) Co-operation in Leicester,
Leicester: A Souvenir
of the 47th Co-operative Congress, Manchester 1915
Born c1910 (I.L.P. & Labour Party)
Len Hollis was active in the
Co-operative movement, the I.L.P. and Labour Party from an early age until the
1970s. He was Secretary of the I.L.P. Guild of Youth until he was 25
organising rambles and social events. He was an active anti fascist during
the 1930s. Member of the LCS board during the 1950s and later became its
president. Len Hollis Court on St Peters Estate is named in his memory
Source: OHA interview with Len Hollis
Leicester, 1850, died: 1911 (Liberal Party, I.L.P.)
James Holmes entered the trade as a
winding boy, progressing from hand frames to being a Cotton’s Patent
Knitter. By the mid 1880s, he had operated every kind of knitting machine
then in existence In the mid 1870s, he was elected to the executive of the
Framework Knitters’ Union and soon afterwards became the unofficial leader
of the power machine men. He became an official of the union in 1881. In
1885, the machine knitters seceded from the old union and he became the
architect and first secretary of the Leicester and Leicestershire
Amalgamated Hosiery Union. He was the first full-time paid official in the
hosiery trade since the days of Nottingham’s Gravener Henson 50 years
earlier. In 1886, the was a major strike which led to a series of
disturbances where blacklegs were struck by missiles, windows in factories
broken and 15 people arrested for rioting. It ended with concessions being
made on both sides.
Holmes was an exceptional organiser
and a powerful orator. In the early 1870s, he spoke on Republican
platforms and was a supporter of Charles Bradlaugh. He chaired Bradlaugh's
Leicester meeting in 1877 on the 'Relation of Population to Poverty' which
was about birth control. This was soon after Bradlaugh's celebrated trial.
During the 1870s, he was a prolific lecturer for
the Secular Society, however in 1881 he declared himself to be a
spiritualist, giving a series of lectures on the subject.
He was a member
of the Town Council for four years, having to retire due to pressure of
work. He was also a newsagent. In the 1880s, Holmes was a friend of Tom
Barclay and sympathised with the early Socialists. He was a founder member
of the I.L.P. in the 1890s and was a supporter of the co-operative
movement. He was a member of the TUC parliamentary committee in the late
1880s and a shareholder in the Leicester Pioneer Press in the 1900s.
His life ended in disgrace when it
was discovered, as he lay dying of cancer, that he had embezzled union
funds on a grand scale, investing in about 200 houses in and around
Leicester. They were all heavily mortgaged and the union realised little
on their sale. One admirer of Holmes described this as “a sad ending to
a brilliant and honourable career in the championship of Labour.” His
union position was filled by Jabez Chaplin.
Sources: Midlands Free Press 5th
February 1881, 13th & 20th February 1886, The Wyvern
22nd October 1897, Bill Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation
Died: March 1961
served as City Councillor from 1945 to 1949. She was councillor for St
Margaret’s and chairman of the Public Baths and Cleansing committee.
She was a member of the Union of Shop and Distributive and Allied Workers
and a business woman in the textile trade. In
1958, she moved the proposal to build St Margaret’s baths, the first new
swimming pool built in the City since 1914.
In 1960 she told the press
“I shall be very pleased to see the day when every house in the city has
its own bath.” Alas, this was not to be, as she died the following
Born: Sileby 27th Jan 1818, died: September 1907
(Secularist and bookseller)
the Luddite disturbances, William Holyoak’s family migrated to the little
town of Chard, in Somersetshire. He tried a variety of occupations before
settling down as a tailor's apprentice. His only schooling was received at
Chard, but he supplemented these scanty lessons by a good deal of reading.
On the return of the family to
Leicester, they frequented the Bond Street Chapel. But when William had
the tenacity to ask questions on theological subjects, and when the
minister and deacon gave him unsatisfactory replies, he turned to
Secularism. The 1841 census finds him working as a tailor and living in
Halford Street with Josiah Gimson, John Taylor (also a tailor) and Henry
Layton Knight, an Owenite Social Missionary and Knight’s 15 year old wife,
Margaret, and baby. This maybe this is the ‘sort of vegetarian colony’
that is referred to in his 1902 interview
George Jacob Holyoake (no relation),
now a prominent advocate of Freethought, visited Leicester in 1843, just
after his imprisonment in Gloucester Goal for blasphemy and roused the
liveliest interest among Holyoake and his friends. They also owed a great
deal to the influence of the venerable George Bown, a reformer whose
memories went bade to the days of the French Revolution and Thomas Paine.
At this time Holyoak would have been a member of the Owenite Rational
In 1844, Holyoak became secretary of
a branch of the Anti-Persecution Union which met in the Owenite Social
Institution in Leicester and was set up to defend those being prosecuted
for blasphemy. It was an offshoot of the Rational Party branch and
Jonathan Bairstow of the Chartists wanted to make common cause with the
Union since so many Chartist were also in prison. Nothing formal seems to
have resulted, though Holyoak had chaired a meeting to protest at Thomas
From 1846 onwards, Holyoak continued
tailoring and bookselling, and many radicals must have
learned the rudiments of Rationalism through publications bought at his shop in Bond Street, or at 18, Belgrave Gate, or, still
later, in Humberstone Gate.
In 1853, 1861 and 1867 it was he who
called and organised the meetings to re-start the Secular Society. He
stuck to the Secular Society through all its ups and downs, taking part in
its business and discussions, and occasionally reading papers at its
meetings. He assisted in the movement which promoted Sunday music in the
parks, and in the agitation for the Sunday opening of museums and picture,
In 1885, he pubished ‘Cyclostyle
edition’ of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. The duplicator was
only invented in 1880 and Macmillan who had acquired the copyright
regarded Holyoak’s printings as a serious threat to their business and
threatened him with a court action. The affair drew the attention of G.J.
Holyoake who came to his namesake’s defence.
Excluding one year, he presided at
the Bookstore connected with the Secular Institute from 1881 to 1902. He
wrote poetry often with a Secular message and, with the aid of the duplicator,
he was able to distribute it via his bookshop and Secular Society. He
retired in 1902 and continued to live with his son in Humberstone Gate.
Sources: Leicester Reasoner, Leicester
Chronicle, 14 September 1907.
Leicester Pioneer, David Nash, Secularism, Art and Freedom
Maurice Hookham graduated from the London School of
Economics and Political Science in 1935 and that year visited the Soviet
Union returning again in 1941. For five years he worked in local
government publishing A Plea for Local Government in 1949.
He researched methods used by local Soviets in the USSR plan the municipal
He became a lecturer in Government at the University
College, Leicester. He wrote extensively. In 1965, as president of the
Association University Teachers, he joined students in opposing a
Government suggestion that students should be given loans instead of
grants. He told the Leicester Mercury that:
Psychological worries and strains among students are disturbing enough
as it is. If students anxieties are increased by money troubles and need
to pay back a loan, the problem could stampede into a real crisis. I think
what is behind the Minister's suggestion is that student grants are
costing so much. That, and the thought that we are handing to young people
on a plate three years easy life at university without any incentive to
His publications included Philosophy of
Equality and Inequality (1976), Reflections On The Russian
Revolution, (1967) He also contributed articles on Higher Education to
Marxism Today. He is remembered by the Department of Politics and
International Relations Maurice Hookham Prize for the best final year
Sources: The Leicester Mercury, 18
Born 22 May 1915, died 1971, Leicester (Communist Party)
Born Hilda Henriette Kuttner in Hampstead to a mother
with the last name of Allen, she married Maurice Hookham early in 1935 in Wandsworth.
The Hookhams visited the USSR in 1936. A year later, she
became organiser for the National Union of Students and had already joined
the Communist Party. Known widely as `Kutty’ in her youth, as she had
acquired the nick-name at school as a contraction of her unmarried name.
When he had been ambassador in Moscow, Sir
Stafford Cripps had become friendly with Maurice Hookham. Thus it
was Cripps who now selected Kutty as General Secretary of the
Anglo-Soviet Youth Friendship Alliance had been created in the summer of
1941 out of broad solidarity with the Red Army. Whilst she had kept her
Party membership discreet, in the hope of future career development, it
was actually not a secret, thought the US State Department quickly
ascertained that she was a member and would make much of the supposed
In 1944, she was appointed Secretary of the World Youth
Council and was the main British contact for the subsequent World
Federation of Democratic Youth. Given the break-up by Britain and the US
of bodies associated with the wartime alliance, WFDY now became a target
of McCarthyite harrassment. Kutty’s name was widely banded about in
early 1950s courtrooms in America as evident for supposedly underhand
practices. She was once labelled the most dangerous woman in the world!
This led the Hookhams to move towards a quieter life from the late 1950s.
As Hilda Hookham, she produced a series of articles and books with
connections to China and the Soviet Union.
This included: A Short History of the
Philippines (1969), A Short History of China (1972),
Tamburlaine the Conqueror and the Builders of Trans-Siberian Railway.
Sources: Graham Stevenson: Communist
Born: London 1834, died:1911 (Liberal)
John Page Hopps was a
well known radical and a Unitarian minister at the Great meeting from 1876
to 1892. After studying at Leicester Baptist College, in 1856 he became
minister of a Baptist meeting at Hugglescote, Leicestershire. However, the
following year he moved doctrinally and geographically to liberal
non-denominationalism in Birmingham. Before coming to Leicester, he had
been minister at the Upperthorpe chapel in Sheffield and then the St
Vincent's Street Chapel, in Glasgow. He was elected to the Glasgow School
Board and was a prominent advocate of secular education.
In Leicester, he was
particularly noted for the huge Sunday evening meetings he held in the
Floral Hall which attracted very large numbers of working people through
flowers, music, and popular preaching. He wrote hymns which are still sung
by many denominations.
His radical beliefs
led him to support the Democratic Association’s campaign for Liberal
school board candidates and he had good relations with the Secular Society
where he sometimes lectured. In 1877, he became first President of the
Women’s Suffrage Society and a supporter of the Leicester Women’s Liberal
Association’s attempts to get women elected to the Board of Guardians.
Politically he was an advanced Liberal, a strong supporter of Irish Home
Rule (a position that was unpopular with his Leicester congregation), of
land reform, of anti-vivisection, and of the peace movement. In 1877, he
gave his support to the opening of the free library on
Sundays: "if a strong body of ratepayers desire the use of public
property on the Sunday, they take dangerous ground if they resist it on
Hopps ran for
Parliament in Paddington as a Radical Liberal against Lord Randoph
Churchill in 1886. He believed that the:
“undue aggregation of capital
must be met by the aggregation of labour, in other words by unionism on
the one side, and co-operative industry on the other. What ultimate form
this co-operative industry is to take is, of course, a problem for the
statesman as well as the social reformer. …The foulness of the sweaters’
dens, and the hard unfriendly mechanical relations of the sweaters’
‘boss’ to his hands, may be replaced by the cleanliness, the order, and
the genial associations which might spring up in a co-operative clothing
or cabinet-making company. Of course behind these excellent enterprises
lies the double danger of successful competition by the sweaters, and of
driving the trade in cheap sweater-made goods abroad, where the standard
of living among the workers is even lower than among us. But such
experiments are always worth trying, as doing much to bring out the
gentler and more human forces of society in place of the grinding and
Rejecting belief in the resurrection
of the body, he was also an early advocate of cremation. He also
corresponded with Oscar Wilde and was later involved with Spiritualism. In
1892 he left the Great Meeting because of continuing tension with his
Sources: The Star, October 1888,
12th May 1877, Isabel Ellis, Records Of Nineteenth Century
Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism, R. K. Webb,
Oxford National Dictionary of Biography
Born London 1856, died: Leicester, January 1909 (Liberal)
Hornidge worked in several trades before he became a laster in the shoe
industry in London in 1876. He had several spells of unemployment during
which he went on the tramp in search of work and moved to Northampton. In
1891, he was elected President of the Northampton branch and a member of
the Board of Conciliation. He was fiercely opposed to the
‘anti-arbitrationist’ militants within the union and within two years he
had became General President of the union. After six years as president,
he resigned from the post in order to succeed William Inskip as general
secretary in opposition to T.F. Richards.
He was a staunch Liberal-Radical and
earnest and conscientious in his beliefs. In fact his forthrightness, his
unwillingness to deviate from the stand he had taken and his views on
arbitration made him many enemies. He was sapped and weakened by bronchial
asthma which was the cause of his periodic disappearances from the Union
scene. At conferences he spoke only briefly and infrequently, but despite
his chronic illness he was unwilling to lay down his office. Finally he
was asked, by a deeply sympathetic, but uneasy, union conference to
resign. Having done so, he relapsed into an invalid condition and remained
bed-ridden until his death a few months later at the age of 52. He was a
member of the Secular Society and is buried in Welford Road cemetery.
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 2nd
January 1909, Richards, T.F. & Poulton E.L., Fifty Years: Being The
History Of The National Union Of Boot And
Shoe Operatives, Alan Fox, A History of
the National Union of Boot and Shoe
Howard was born in the South of Scotland of working class parents. He went
to Glasgow University with the aid of a scholarship and graduated as a
Master of Arts. He was a teacher for a short time before becoming Labour
organiser for Gloucester. In 1919, he came to Leicester as Labour
organiser, acting as the secretary of the City party. During the inter-war
years, he was in charge of Labour’s election campaigns and his skills as
an organiser helped the party recover from the 1918 defeat and to expand
the electoral base of the party during the 1920s.
This culminated in the 1945 election
victory when for the first time there were three Labour MPs and a Labour
controlled City Council. He retired in 1947 and wrote a history of the
party in Leicester which was published to mark its 50th
anniversary. He was not on the left of the party and remained dismissive
of ‘popular fronters’ and other left groups. Despite being considered
something of an eligible batchelor in Labour circles, he never married,
though he had a long friendship with Edith Scott.
Sources: election address 1924,
Leicester Mercury 21st October 1931
Born: circa 1870 Uppingham, (I.L.P. & Labour Party)
was orphaned at an early age and attended board
schools. After leaving school he became an apprentice electrical engineer
and then an apprentice auctioneer and land agent in London. He returned to
Leicester, where he had relatives and secured a partnership in a hosiery
firm which was not successful. He then returned to being an auctioneer and
travelled the country. In 1898, he became a
clerk in a trimmers and dyers factory, he later became a commercial
traveller in the hosiery trade.
He said he was a politician as soon
as he could read and was a radical of the ‘most advanced type.’ He heard
MacDonald make his first speech at the Temperance Hall and said “If
this is Socialism, I have been a Socialist for years.” He joined the
I.L.P. and quickly became prominent. He was elected to the executive and
became minute secretary. He was an I.L.P. delegate to the meeting called
by the Trades Council which launched the Labour Representation Committee
and he was made its first secretary. It was claimed that the success of
the L.R.C. in Leicester was largely due to his organising ability. In
1906, he was Ramsay MacDonald’s election agent.
“Within the year practically all the
trade unions of the town had formally affiliated with the Committee…From
the very first the members of the Committee were unanimous and
enthusiastic in maintaining a definitely independent attitude. This policy
has given to the Party an influence far greater than its actual proportion
of members on the local governing bodies and had led many of the workers,
who were at first very critical, to throw in their lot with the Party.”
He was a member of the Shop
Assistants, Warehousemen and Clerks Union and represented his society on
the Trades Council. He was president of the Trades Council two years
running (1907-9), president of the WEA and a member of the Town Council
until 1910. Following the takeover of the ‘Leicester Pioneer’ from the old
company by the L.R.C., he was one of those who guaranteed the expenses of
the first three numbers out of his own pocket. He was on the committee of
the new company from its formation and became secretary. He was elected as
a City Councillor for Latimer Ward in 1907.
During the war, Hubbard became President of the
Leicester and District Branch of the Union of Democratic Control. The
U.D.C. was a pressure group formed in 1914 which called for a full
examination of the war aims in public and by Parliament. Whilst the Union
did not call for an immediate end to the war, it strongly opposed
conscription and wartime censorship along with other restrictions on civil
Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 9th
February 1907, The Labour Party Conference 1911, Official Souvenir,
Bill Hynes became president of the
Trades Council 1969, delegate from U.S.D.A.W. City Councillor for Wycliffe
Ward elected in 1973 and 1979.
Born 9th May 1951, died: 31st March
1999 aged 47. (Labour Party, International Marxist Group, Socialist
Son of Bill Hynes, Bernie Hynes was
secretary of the Leicester Anti- Nazi League and a leading member of the
Troops Out Movement. He often visited Ireland, assisting Republican
prisoners and their families. He worked in the gas industry and was a
member of Leicester Trades Council.
Source: author’s personal knowledge
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© Ned Newitt Last revised:
June 09, 2018.