Born: Leicester 7th
March 1885 (I.L.P. & Labour Party)
J.W. Wale joined the I.L.P. and was
elected to the City Council in 1927. For
many years he was chairman of the Parks Committee, being in charge of the
City’s Coronation celebrations. He was twice chairman of the Labour Group
and was its secretary for a number of years. He became Lord Mayor in 1949.
John Wale was the
proprietor of Wale’s china shop which was originally on High Street,
premises in Hotel Street after the war. (this was the same building used
in the 1840s as the Owenite Social Institution .
Joshua Walmsley was an early advocate of
the repeal of the duty on corn. He worked with Richard Cobden, John Bright
in the Anti-Corn Law League. He was president of the Liverpool Mechanics'
Institute in 1826. At this time, he got to know George Stephenson
and joined in purchasing the Snibston estate, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch,
where rich seams of coal were found. In 1835, Walmsley was elected a
member of the Liverpool town council and worked to improve the police,
sanitation and education of the city. He became Mayor in November 1838,
and was knighted on the occasion of Queen Victoria's marriage.
Walmsley favoured adult male
suffrage and started the National Reform Association and was its president
and chief organiser for many years.
With Lord Palmerston, Walmsley
unsuccessfully contested Liverpool for the Liberals in June 1841. At at
the general election of 1847, he was elected M.P. for Leicester with
fellow radical Richard Gardner. Both were
unseated the following year as a result of a Tory petition
to Parliament, alleging bribery by
the MPs' agents. In
1849 he was returned as M.P. for Bolton in Lancashire, but in 1852
exchanged that seat for Leicester, where his efforts on behalf of the
framework knitters had made him popular. Despite being branded as
Chartists by the Whig Leicester Chronicle, both Gardner and Walmsley were
elected again in 1852, and retained their seats, notwithstanding a second
petition by the Whigs and Tories.
In 1856, he put a motion before
the House of Commons proposing the opening of the British Museum and the
National Gallery Sunday afternoons. He told the commons that:
the exclusion of the
working-classes from the sources of instruction and enjoyment, on the
afternoon of Sunday—during the only few hours the poor man could call his
own—did not come with a good grace from those who, themselves having all
things richly to enjoy on every day of the week, yet opened their clubs
and news rooms, enjoyed their pictures, their statues, their parks and
gardens, ........, held their Sunday musical soirées and réunions.
This and his advocacy of a
national secular education was used to divide his support on religious
grounds. His motion had unleashed fury from the Leicester Sabbatarians.
For them, Sunday observance was paramount and though shops and pubs were
open on Sunday, they were hostile to anything that might compete with
church or chapel going.
During the election of 1857, the evangelising clergy, led by
J.P. Mursell and others, swung their support behind the Liberal
churchman John Harris. On Friday, 27th March, the nomination day, a crowd
of variously reported as 12-20,000 people came to the Market Place to hear
the candidates and question them. John Markham was cheered when he
asked Mr. Harris why was it a moral offence against God's holy law for
working men to enter a museum on Sunday, whilst 80 people were employed in
Leicester every Sunday on steam engines and at the gas works. He also
asked Harris if he would originate a Sabbath Observance Bill to restrain
bishops and clergymen of all denominations, from employing maid servants,
carriages and cabs on a Sunday. At the end of the speeches, a vote by a
show of hands was taken. According to the Mercury the:
‘greater part of the
assembled multitude voted in favour of Sir Joshua Walmsley and Mr.
Biggs….. the number of hands held up for Mr. Harris presented by far the
most miserable minority that has ever characterised a contested election
in Leicester for many years.’
Despite Walmsley’s overwhelming
support, a poll of those entitled to vote was taken the next day. Although
the radicals (and the usually Tory publicans), gave their support to
Walmsley and Biggs, the anger of the evangelising clergy, tipped the
balance in favour of the Whig wing of the party. Harris won with 700
Liberal and 900 Conservative votes, gaining a majority of 178. In a speech
from the balcony of the Bell Hotel, Walmsley told the crowd:
‘Yesterday, nine out of ten of the men of Leicester held up their hands
for me; and what would have been the result today if you, the hard-
working, honest-hearted men of Leicester, if your votes had had weight in
the balance? May this be a lesson you will never forget. Remember they
have defeated the man of your choice.’
There was popular anger at the
way the election had been stolen. Bands of framework knitters paraded the
streets, shouting Sir Joshua's name. Some of Harris’ supporters were
attacked and harassed and the police were used to clear Humberstone Gate
and a window in the hotel used by Harris was broken. After his defeat,
Walmsley’s supporters organised a massive demonstration, which was more
like a victory parade. It culminated in the presentation of a testimonial
to Sir Joshua signed by 6,750 women, and by 5,665 male electors and
non-electors. The demonstration was photographed by Frith the newly
The Testimonial contained a
graceful palm tree, beneath which stands lovely woman presenting a scroll:
the ladies' address. Her right hand supports flag, surmounted the cap of
liberty, and behind her reposed a noble lion. The inscription on the face
of a piece of rock beneath the figure ran: "Presented to Sir Joshua
Walmsley by the Ladies of Leicester, with address signed 6,750 of their
number, June 23rd, 1857." The shield of Leicester is also
judiciously introduced behind the lion. elegant arrangement of artificial
flowers surmounts the whole, and being placed beneath lofty glass shade
upon a cushion of chaste bead work, it has a very rich, the same time
light and elegant appearance. It contained an address by the Electors and
Non-Electors, and that of the Women of Leicester which was .
engrossed and illuminated on vellum and contained in rich
carved frames. The testimonial was exhibited to the public at the Three
Crowns Hotel. On the first day it was visited around 20,000 people.
defeat, Walmsley more or less retired from public life, remaining president
of the National Sunday League from 1856 to 1869.
Leicestershire Mercury, 3rd June 1848, 23rd February 1856, 28th
March, 4th April, 20th & 27th June 1857, 23rd February 1861,
A History of the County of Leicester: volume 4: The City of Leicester
(1958), Ned Newitt: Leicester's Victorian Infidels, 2019
Born: 25th February 1866,
Pontypool, Monmouthshire, Wales, died: 6th July 1933 (Liberal)
John Tudor Walters was an architect
and surveyor. He was elected to the Town Council for Wycliffe Ward in 1895
and became a champion of municipal working class housing. In October 1896,
he moved that the Council undertake a housing programme for the working
classes. This resulted in Leicester's first council housing which was
built in Winifred Street. He believed that when the Council had:
demonstrated their ability to house poor people
decently, and upon safe economic principles, further extensions would not
be difficult..... the next step would be to put into operation the powers
contained in the Housing of the Working Classes Act and abolish the courts
and slums, and build suitable dwellings in their place.
As the scheme progressed, Walters' initial optimism at being able to
provided working class housing at no cost to the ratepayer was found to be
misplaced. The extra costs were blamed on additional Government requirements.
The unwillingness of the Town Council to subsidise another housing scheme
stopped further council housing from being built until after 1919. The first tenants moved into the Winifred Street flats
during September 1900.
Walters was the co-designer of
Leicester's Y.M.C.A. building and was responsible for developing
Brightside and Bannerman Roads. He was a friend of the Wakerley and Sawday
families and was elected Member of Parliament for Sheffield
Brightside at the 1906 general election. He was knighted in 1912. He was a
supporter of Women's Suffrage and presided over meetings on the subject
in Leicester. He also supported the Humberstone Garden Suburb.
In the 1880s, he had married Mary
Eliza Hill from Leicester and settled at 42 Springfield Road. By 1901, he
was living at 1 Granville Road and he then moved to Glen Road, Oadby.
He was prominent in Wesleyan Methodist circles.
Tudor Walters served as Paymaster-General in the
Government of David Lloyd George from 1919 to 1922 and was sworn of the
Privy Council in 1919. He lost his seat at Sheffield at the 1922 general
election. He tried unsuccessfully to get back into the House of Commons in
1923 at Pudsey and Otley in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He did however
return to Parliament at the 1929 general election as Liberal MP for the
Cornish seat of Penryn and Falmouth. He was once again briefly
Paymaster-General from September to November 1931 under Ramsay MacDonald.
He stood down from parliament at the 1931 general election.
Sources: Census returns, Leicester
Chronicle, 10 October 1896, 6 February, 22 May 1897 & 17 October 1908.
Born: 21st Jan
1894, died: Feb 1986 (B.S.P., Communist Party, Co-op Party)
Prior to World War One, Rowland
Walton was a member of the British Socialist Party and claimed have first
attended the Secular Hall in 1912. He served as a private in the machine
gun corps from 1916 and in the early 1920s, he was a Trades
Council delegate from the Leatherworkers union. Somewhere about this
time, he became a member of the
Communist Party. He was the Communist candidate in the 1932 local elections
for Newton ward, standing against T.F. Richards. According to the Evening
Mail, he had a big personal following of children, and at one time a
procession of nearly 400, all wearing 'red favours,' paraded in the Bond
street area carrying posters on which were printed the words "Vote for
Walton," - he gained just 105 votes. That
year he had been censured by the Trades Council, by 30 votes to 15, for
conducting a meeting in opposition to the Trades Council's official May
Day platform. During the 1930s, he was very active in the anti-fascist
movement, though by the mid thirties he had left the Communist Party. In
1937, he was elected as president of the Leicester Co-operative Party.
In 1946, the Leicester Labour Party
rejected the request of the Co-op Party to affiliate since it fear that
"communist tendencies were prevalent in the Co-operative Party" and that
R.V. Walton was "embroiled in Communism" and Labour did not want to allow
Communist in through the back door."
R.V. Walton was active in the Friends
of Russia and similar organisations and more inclined to eulogize the
Soviet Union than many in the Communist Party. He was still on the Trades
Council in the 1970s. Although he was an active member of Leicester
Secular Society for decades, when he died his wife gave him a religious
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 31st
October, 1st November 1932, author’s personal knowledge,
Nicole Robertson, The Co-operative Movement and Communities in Britain,
1914-1960. OHA interview with Louie Croxtall, 1994.
Born: Leicester 1848, died 1918 (Socialist
Ben Warner was the son of the local
Chartist leader and framework knitter Joseph Warner. At the age of 12, he
was working as a winder and according to one of his descendants, he
married at 17 and his his wife taught him to read; he then got a taste for it. Although originally a framework knitter, by 1901, he
was working as a woollen glove hand.
During the 1880s, Warner, Homes,
Barclay & Chaplin were a group of Socialists active and prominent in the
hosiery union. Warner was a member of the executive of Leicester Area
Hosiery Union and later became its president. He was also its delegate to
the Trades Council. He was a member of the Socialist League. In 1889, the
Anarchist faction had assumed control of the League and ousted William
Morris as the editor of its paper. Ben Warner and his daughter Clara were
supportive of this faction.
At a dinner held to commemorate the
Paris Commune, those present (including Tom Barclay and Jimmy Holmes)
resolved to set a Socialist Club in Leicester. This became the Labour Club. Ben
was now active in support of the Anarchist-Communist group in Leicester and spoke on the platform with
George Cores at a rival Anarchist May Day meeting to that organised by
the Trades Council in 1894. The Leicester Anarchists lost popular support
and sank into inactivity as they became tainted by allegations of bomb
making and recolutionay violence.
Ben was a member of the Leicester
Secular Society. He opposed the Boer war and spoke for the The Leicester
Society for the Promotion of Peace in the Market Place. Ben died of the
Spanish Flu whilst visiting his son Walter in Swansea.
During her teens, Ben's daughter,
Clara , born 1874, was active in the Socialist League. On Sunday 14th
December 1890 aged 16 or17, she gave a lecture to the Socialist League
branch on 'Government' at the Spiritualist Church on Silver Street. She
also spoke at outdoor meetings for the Anarchist-Communist Group in 1892.
In May 1894, with Emma Lewin, she formed a union for the girls in the box
making trade. Although it produced a rule book, there is no evidence as to
whether the union was a success or not. Clara was still working as a box
maker in 1911, though she later became manager
of the Secular Hall.
Sources: Leicester Chronicle, 12th
May 1894, 26th
May 1900, Bill Lancaster,
Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism,International Institute of Social History (IISH):
Socialist League (UK) Archives, family members.
Freedom August 1892, June 1894, September 1899, International Institute of
Born 1804 Burton, Leicestershire,
died 1867 (Working Men's Chartist
In 1848, Joseph Warner formed the
Working Men's Chartist Association which claimed 300 members. It was at
odds with the main Leicester Chartist Council and the moves to create an
alliance between the middle class reformers and the working class
Warner told a
meeting in Burbage that he recommended organization to obtain the
Charter, assuring his hearers that
they never could nor never would obtain
their rights by moral force. He had no confidence whatever in moral force; he
had vowed to eternal heaven that he would never preach it any more. They
might preach their moral force until the sun and stars should set no more,
but that would never get the Charter. It must be got by something else -
by another power; but (he added) "I know there is a gagging bill, and I
will not tell you what."
In June 1848, the Working Men's Charter
Association issued a leaflet called for a demonstration which was disowned
by the Chartist Council and opposed by the Chartist Henry Green.
In 1866, he was a speaker on
one of he platforms at the Reform League demonstration in Leicester in
favour of extending the franchise. He told the crowd:
They who accumulated the
wealth and manned their fleets — (and were told they were good and trusted
friends when they wanted them for the army and navy)— they who carried
their merchandise from shore to shore and from pole to pole — they who
brought the coal from the depths of the earth, and precious stones to
decorate the sons and daughters of loyalty — were not allowed to have a
solitary voice in the making of the laws! He asked any man who understood
and could read the English alphabet, whether that was a just state of
In 1867, a Mr Warner gave this
reason why the Working Classses did not attend church:
(framework-knitter), considered a silken cord was drawn across places of
worship, beyond which working-men must not pass, and that the Ministry was
for the middle-class, and not for them. If the working-classes were
striving for liberty, the ministers always combined with the wealthy
classes against them. ("No, no.") The clergy of the Church of England
always set themselves in array against the working-classes. How could they
then approach the temple of God when they saw the silken line drawn, the
crimson cushion, and the silks and satins, which made it appear more like
a theatre than a sanctuary for the worship of God.
Sources: Northern Star 14th February 1846, Leicestershire Mercury,
10th, 17th June 1848,
Leicester Chronicle 3rd November 1866, 9th March 1867
Walter was the son on Ben and
grandson of Joseph. He was active in the I.L.P and in April 1908, he was
appointed as an organiser by the Independent Labour Party's National
Administrative Council. He appears to have been employed to assist branches throughout the East Midlands.
At a farewell meeting, speeches were made eulogising his ability as a
speaker and his capacity for hard work.
In 1909 he became secretary
of the Leicester I.L.P. He frequently spoke in the Market
Place and further a field. The Labour Leader reported his giving an
inspiring address of the Meaning of Socialism. In 1913, he was
active in support of the British Socialist candidate in the bye-election
of that year. This followed decision of the national I.L.P. not to
stand a candidate against the Liberals. In 1910, he became the manager the
Secular Hall, however in 1913, he left his wife Lilian and she heard
nothing of him until 1920 when he was found living in Swansea.
Sources: Labour Leader, 5th March &
2nd July 1909, Leicester Chronicle, 21st June 1913, Western Mail, 2nd June
Jack Watson had shoe repairer's
business in Albion-street and had previously worked as a chauffeur in
Market Harborough. He lodged at 9, Gopsall Street with
Fred Sykes and both men volunteered
to fight with the International Brigade. They both travelled to Barcelona,
via France, two weeks before Christmas 1936.
Jack was killed in December 1937 on
the Pozoblanco front, aged 32. The Jack Watson recorded on the Internal
Brigade's Roll of Honour may be incorrect or refer to a different Jack
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail 16th
Watson was a conscientious objector during the First World War and was
sent to Wakefield and then to Dartmoor Prison. There were so many in
conscientious objectors in Dartmoor that an ILP branch was established in
the prison which he joined. He came to Leicester and lodged with the
George and Ruth Banton. For many years he worked for the co-operative
Wigston Hosiers and was active in the Wigston Magna Adult school.
In 1927, became district secretary of the WEA and
was still the honorary secretary of the WEA in the 1970s. He was a member
of the City Council for 13 years, a Labour whip and was chairman of the education
committee for five years.
In 1948, he was named as a
co-respondent in a divorce case. When he lost his appeal for a new trial,
he announced his resignation from the City Council. He said:
"This step became inevitable in view of the attitude of the Leicester
Labour Party." He was a director of Enderby Co-operative
Society and was agent for the Harborough Constituency. He continued to
help out at Vaughan College until a week before his death.
Sources: Leicester Mercury, 15th
September 1958 & 19th October 1989, Market Harborough
Advertiser and Midland Mail, 14th March 1941, Nottingham Journal, 24th
Born: Leicester, died:
February 1985 aged 87 years (Labour Party)
being demobilised from the Royal Flying Corps in 1919, Percy Watts joined
the Midland Railway and served as a main-line driver for 44 years. He was
secretary of Leicester No 4 Branch of the NUR for 25 years and became
president of the Trades Council 1956. In 1953, he was elected to the City
Council and represented Humberstone Ward until he was defeated in 1960. He
returned to the council as representative of Latimer ward in 1964 and
became an Alderman in 1970.
In 1953, he attempted to persuade the
City Council to allow organised games to be played in the parks on Sunday.
His motion was defeated on a free vote. He was a life member of the Trades
Council. He became Lord Mayor in 1971 and died in his home at Lily
Born: 1914, died: Spain 25th
September 1938 (I.L.P. & Communist Party)
moving to Leicester, Roy Watts had been on Portsmouth Trades Council,
chairman of the Portsmouth and District National Clarion Cycling Club and a
member of the I.L.P. Guild of Youth. He later joined the Young Communist
League and worked in Leicester as a furnishing salesman at the Co-op,
lodging with R.V. Walton. He was one of over two thousand Britons who
volunteered for the
International Brigade who fought for the Spanish Republic during the
Spanish Civil war. Details of his time in Spain are hazy. He arrived in
probably, on foot in Figueras and was taken to hospital for fever.
We know he was wounded and once taken prisoner. A letter addressed 'Albacete'
from May '38 was almost certainly sent from somewhere in Catalonia whilst
the Republican Army recovered from it's horrendous withdrawal at the hands
of the Nationalist onslaught in Aragon.
In a letter to R.V. Walton,
(with whom he had lodged in Leicester) he describes
some of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War:
“I have served and been into
action with the anti-aircraft artillery, infantry and transmission
units. I have been in most of the territory in loyalist hands, and was
taken prisoner once. Apart from a slight touch of fever and a small
piece of shrapnel, which took me to hospital three times, I have so far
come through it all comparatively unscratched.”
“I have learnt to love this
country. The beauty of it is breathtaking. It is a sickening experience
to pass through these lovely Spanish towns after the Fascist shellings
and bombings. I know that such an experience would soon stimulate those
at home to oust those responsible for aiding aggression and war. Since
our advances, the Fascist fury seems to know no bounds. I had the good
luck to secure a copy of the Leicester Mercury the other day and I
noticed that a Leicester Fascist had challenged you to a debate......War
being what it is, one cannot make any forecast with certainty, but I
expect and hope to be back in England by Christmas.”
Even the date of his death during the Ebro
offensive is unclear - with some reports claiming it was on the last day
of action (22nd/3rd Sept) and others whilst the Battalion was still in
reserve, but suffering from terrible bombardment by German planes (20th
He was 24 years old when his was
killed during the Battle of the Ebro. It was the International
Brigades’ last action and they were withdrawn midway through the battle.
There are different dates for his death. One report gives the dates as
between 21-23rd September 1938, whilst another report suggests that he was killed on
September 25th, in the Sierra de Caballs when a fascist plane
scored a direct hit on his position. (Serra de Cavalls)
This mountainous area in Catalonia was the scene of bloody battles In nearby Serra de Pàndols
stands a monument to those who died in the battles on Hill 705 during the Ebro offensive.
She was the youngest daughter of John
and Joan Watts of Danetts Hall. Her father died when she was one year old
and the family were plagued by financial difficulties and eventually had
to sell the Hall.
By the time she was 15, Susannah had to
find a way to support herself and her mother. She was able to scrape a
precarious living, relying upon an annuity and what little she could earn
from her writings and translations. She had published pamphlets and
poems from an early age and she wrote all her life, mostly in
unfashionable genres, and to support good causes. She pictured herself as
a slave to publishers, "fagging and scribbling whole summers &
winters." She wrote in many genres - poetry (some for children),
hymns, fiction, translation, and a guide-book, as well as compiling an
anthology and editing a periodical. In 1804, she penned the first guide to
Leicester: A Walk Through Leicester.
Susanna was a woman of strong
convictions. In 1822 in association with her friend Eleanor Frewen Turner,
she was conspicuous in her support for the Leicester Ladies Committee in
raising funds for the ‘distressed Irish’. Later the two friends would
again collaborate in efforts to establish the Leicester Lunatic Asylum.
Elizabeth Heyrick, she shared
compassion for victims of social injustice and they undertook a crusade to
bring about the abolition of slavery. They organised the Leicester boycott
of sugar produced by slave owners in the West Indies. She visited local households and shops to persuade them not
to use sugar produced in the Caribbean, claiming that, "abstinence from
sugar would sign the death warrant of West Indian slavery."
They also worked on a periodical called
'The Humming bird; or, Morsels of Information, on the Subject of
Slavery', which brought together different ideas on the antislavery
moment. It was the Hummingbird that published Susannah's "Address to
the Ladies of Great Britain, On Behalf of the Negro-Slaves, Particularly
Susanna was evidently stung William
Wilberforce's dislike of women campaigning against slavery. She countered
the suggestion that she and her co-workers were ‘brazen-faced’ with an
On a Gentleman saying that,
Some ladies, who were zealous in the
Anti-Slavery Cause, were brazen faced.
Thanks for your thought – it seems to say.
When ladies walk in Duty’s way,
They should wear arms of proof;
To blunt the shafts of manly wit –
To ward off censure’s galling
And keep reproach aloof:-
And when a righteous cause demands
The labour of their hearts and hands,
Right onward they must pass,
Cas’d in strong armour, for the field –
With casque and corselet, spear and shield,
In 1833, she was involved in collecting
signatures for the London Female Anti-Slavery Society’s nation wide
petition against slavery. A note in her hand records that she succeeded in
collecting 3,025 signatures from Leicester ‘time not allowing more’. That
year, the Act for the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire was
finally passed, with effect from 1st August 1834. Twenty million pounds
was allotted as compensation for former slave owners. When the Act came
into effect, there were scenes of public rejoicing and street celebrations
in Leicester. Susanna marked the occasion by writing and publishing a hymn
of celebration. The proceeds from the sale of the hymn were to be used for
rebuilding churches in Jamaica.
In 1828, she founded and conducted a
charity called the "Society for the relief of indigent old age." It was
based on the principle of "relieving the wants of that numerous class
of our poor, who, sinking under the weight of old age, are reduced subsist
upon an allowance too scanty to provide food, clothing, and lodging."
She continued to administer this until 1840.
Susannah Watts was a staunch Anglican,
but in 1841, she used her money to pay the church rates of the dissenters
John Manning and
Albert Cockshaw (the founder of Leicestershire Mercury) who were refusing
to pay. She believed the pursuit of dissenters over Church-rates was
counter productive and she paid not just to save them from prison, but to avoid the creation of
more church-rate martyrs.
Sources: Leicestershire Mercury, 22nd May, 1841, 19th February 1842, Leicester Chronicle, 12th January 1833, Shirley Aucott, Susanna
Lily Webb was active in the NUWM in
the early 1930s. In March 1932, she was fined 5/- for distributing
handbills protesting against the means test without the consent of the
City Corporation She told the court: “If this is an offence, I make no
apology for breaking the law. This bye law has been used to prevent the
unemployed fighting from against poverty and starvation.”
Fred West went to St Martins School
and worked in the Boot and Shoe trade before becoming a municipal employee.
During the First World War he supported a ‘Peoples Peace.' He
supported the Worker's Suffrage Association and told its 1916 Leicester
conference that "the flower of the young manhood had been taken
for the battle-fields of Europe." In his opinion the flower of the
young womanhood would be needed to fight the political fight. In 1927, he
became president of the Trades Council.
His father was a leather salesman and
Wesleyan preacher from Banbury who came to Leicester with John Butcher,
circa 1873. Father and son went to work at the CWS factory in Duns Lane,
but Frederick soon left to work in the print trade. He also became a
Wesleyan Methodist preacher and spent some years as an evangelist in
London and was a life long abstainer and non-smoker. He became a union
member at the age of 27, became president of the Typographical Society and
president of the Trades Council in 1902. He was a delegate to the Labour
Representation committee. He was opposed to high salaries of council
officials, street betting and the 1905 Education Act. He was a Labour
candidate for Spinney Hill.
Born: ? died Bray, Co
Wicklow, Ireland May 29th 2015 (Communist Party, Labour Party, Fabian Society)
Nanette Whitbread was one of a number of academics in
Leicester who argued against selective education and made the intellectual
case for comprehensive schooling. She began her career teaching history at
the Archway County Secondary School for Boys in North London. This
school was the inspiration for, Edward Blishen's acclaimed novel
Roaring Boys: A Schoolmaster’s Agony, published in 1955. Nanette used
to say that, when she was there, you could still identify many of the
teachers described in the novel.
Following the end of her marriage to Maurice Whitbread,
she came to Leicester and from 1966 taught at the City of Leicester School
of Education which later became Scraptoft College. It was then that she
began helping Brian Simon with the task of editing the progressive
education magazine FORUM. She and Brian then worked on the journal
together, each being responsible for alternate numbers, until Brian stood
down in 1989. Nanette then continued in her role as Co-Editor until
she, in turn, stood down in the summer of 1996. Brian Simon wrote at the
time that: True to the journal's original brief she has retained her
faith in comprehensive education and its potentialities, bringing a sharp
analytic mind to bear on the elucidation of its problems through thirty
She wrote many articles on education for Forum and some
for Marxism Today (How Abilities are Formed, May 1967 and Social
Change, December 1977. In 1972 her book The Evolution of the
Nursery-Infant School was published and a review observed that her
book shows that we need a fully comprehensive nursery and infant school
provision in every place so that the democratic vision of Robert Owen and
Susan Isaacs may be realised before this century reaches its last decades.
Nanette was concerned to develop a pedagogy for the
non-streamed classroom, but was aware that the advances achieved by local
authorities could be undermined by the state which wanted a return to
selection. She wrote:
Education has a significant function in either ensuring consent to the
status quo and hegemony of the ruling class or fostering the critical
capacity of pupils and students, enhancing their self-image of capability
so that they will have the confidence to work for their own success and
for the transformation of society when they recognise both its injustice
and its mutability.
In 1967, she was a founder member of the History of
Education Society. Nanette was also a member of the Association of
Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education (ATCDE). In 1976 it
merged with the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions (ATTI),
to form the National Association of Teachers in Further & Higher Education
(NATFHE) For a number of years Nan was the only representative from the
East Midlands on the National Executive Committee and in 1986, she
became the Association's national president. Despite her left wing
credentials, she was seen by some to take the side of the more cautious
majority on the executive rather than that of the emerging grass roots
radicals. In the 1980s, she was a member of the Advisory Committee on the
Supply and Education of Teachers
She joined the Labour Party and became a longstanding
member of Harborough CLP Management Committee from the early 1980s until
the 2000s. For many years
she lived in East Langton.
Sources: FORUM, Volume 15
Number 2, Spring 1973, Volume 39, No. 1, 1997, Volume 58, Number 2, 2016,
Marxism Today December 1977
George White was the chairman of the
Leicester Union of the Working Classes during the early 1830s which
campaigned for universal suffrage and for the rights of trade unions. It
described the 1832 Reform Act was the "Whig Reform Fraud."
In a letter to the Poor Man's Guardian George White wrote:
The manufacturers of this town have for a series of
years oppressed and impoverished their workmen by giving them miserably
low wages; to counteract this, we entered the Trades’ Union, the
principles of which are to cultivate good understanding amongst the
working classes, and to improve their morals. Through the medium of this
Union, we have in small degree ameliorated our condition gaining an
advance of wages. The masters have since come to a resolution to break up
the Union, and have issued hand bills, stating that they will discharge
every individual in their employment who will not sign declaration against
the Union. They have since acted on that resolution, in consequence of
which there are 1,300 out of employment; we therefore solicit you to use
your influence among your friends, and the working classes of the
metropolis, to assist us in opposing the phalanx that are arrayed against
us. In addition to the manufacturers, we have the Corporation (whose
character this time is well known) opposed to us.
The Leicester Union of the Workings Classes met at the
Crown and Cushion either on Churchgate of Belgrave Gate. In 1832, White
moved this resolution:
That we hold with horror and detestation the
sanguinary attempts made by the Whig government to support the "Irish
Chuch Establishment," and pledge ourselves to use out utmost exertion for
the abolition of that blood stained scourge of Ireland, the Tithe Laws.
Other members of the LUWC were John Digby, James Hart,
Mr Weeks, J. Colley, R.A. Miller, George Sparks, George Abell Barsby, G.
Hughes and Daniel Brooks the secretary.
Sources: Poor Man's Guardian, 17th November
1832, 23 February 1833, 2nd
Born: 1866, Leicester,
died 1921 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
George White was the son of a boot
and shoe riveter and although he had no formal education, he taught
himself to read and write. Initially, he followed in his father’s
footsteps and also became a riveter. In December 1890, George married Emma
Polkey, a tailoress. George was called ‘sticky’ because he was crippled in
one leg and walked everywhere with a stick.
By 1904, both George and Emma had
lost their jobs because of their union membership. That year, George
supported George Bibbings’
election to the guardians and lobbied the Guardians for better treatment
for those on the ‘test.’ During the winter of 1904-5, White organised,
with the help of
Amos Sherriff, Bibbings and
Charles Harris, a series of
demonstration or processions designed to draw attention to the plight of
the unemployed and to raise money for the workless by a series of street
collections. These demonstrations usually culminated in a Market Place
By May 1905, he was secretary of the
unemployed committee and the daily meetings of the unemployed were
dominating the local press. This all culminated in the march of around 470
unemployed men to London in June 1905 which he helped organise and lead.
Despite his disability, he marched with the unemployed all the way to
London and back, sending progress reports in letters home. George’s son,
tried to join the marchers but was reported absent by the school
authorities and taken home after reaching Market Harborough. This march
was the first unemployment protest march of the modern period and set a
precedent that others would follow.
After the introduction of the
Distress Act, George White was appointed as clerk of the Distress
Committee and became responsible for investigating individual cases. In
addition to being a keen amateur photographer, he was secretary of the
Anti-Sweating League, the Unemployment Committee and the Gypsy Lane
Working Men’s Club.
The end of George White’s life was
tragic. During the summer of 1920 he left his wife and family and returned
to live with his mother, after being accused interfering with young girls
in the offices of the Distress Committee. In January 1921 he died on the
doorstep of the Belgrave Gate offices of the Committee after cutting his
throat. In a letter he said he could not endure the continued harassment
he received and pledged his undying love to Sarah who he asked to forgive
him. George ‘Sticky’ White was buried in Welford Road cemetery on 10th
January 1921, aged 55 years.
Sources: Bill Lancaster,
Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism, Jess Jenkins
Not much is known about Fred
Whitmore, except that in 1933 he stood as a Communist Party candidate in
He held several open-air meetings chaired by
Claude Boat, the local Communist
Party organiser. At the meetings, he delivered a fairly succinct digest of
the Party's policy at the time. He declared: "We want scholarships, not battleships: free milk for schoolchildren,
not free tram rides for councillors," He told his audience that
the Labour Party was no longer a workers' party and this was proved
by the Labour Party's attitude on the Means Test.
He advocated the immediate confiscation by the City
Council of all empty houses, to be used for relieving over-crowding In
working class areas. He called for the immediate building by direct
labour, of municipal owned houses to be let at a rental of not more than
10% of workers' weekly wage. He also declared that there should be an
immediate reduction of Council house rents.
On education, he wanted smaller class sizes with no more
than 30 children in each class. He was in favour of increased expenditure
on education and the immediate restoration of government cuts.
He came bottom of the poll with 144 votes whilst
George Parbury won for
Labour's with 1,367 votes. It is possible that this Fred Whitmore is the
same one who became a member of the Fire Brigades' Union's national
executive and was elected as chairman of Leicestershire and Rutland area
committee of the Fire Brigades Union in 1955.
Sources: Leicester Evening
Mail 30th October, 2nd November 1933, 25th July 1955
Rothwell Northhamptonshire c1830, died ? (Chartist))
Thomas Cooper’s view that despite their lack of formal education:
“Leicester’s working men may be said to have created a new local
literature.” William Whitmore was a working class poet, Chartist and
house painter, paper hanger and stainer who contributed poems to Cooper's
Journal in the early 1850s.
In 1850, he was one of the founders of the All Saints
Open Discussion Group, which was for many decades a hub of radical thought
in Leicester. In a letter to Thomas Cooper he wrote:
A few of us, all workingmen,
commenced a Discussion Class last Saturday night in the All-Saints’ Open
Room - that cradle of Leicester Chartism. We made a very fair start, and
are choosing our subjects from the list that you gave in one of the back
numbers of the “ Plain Speaker." ..... It has often struck me as being a
strange anomaly, that our numerous Societies, having for their objects
Reform and Progress, should be so disunited and make so little progress,
when, if their efforts were conjoined, they might all in turn speedily
gain their various ends. I trust that this plan will not share the fate of
most good plans, which are just acknowledged to be good, approved of, and
Like Cooper, Whitmore had a keen interest in European
politics and collected money to support those fighting for democracy in
Europe. This is reflected in his 1850 poem'To
Mazzini and Kossuth' which was published by Cooper.
'Twas the old story! Liberty uprose
And gloriously her world-wide march begun -
But to be crushed again by banded foes,.
That year, Cooper also published his poem Shakspere's
Birthday, In the Future. In 1853, Whitmore was one
of several 'working men' to initiate an annual celebration of
Shakespeare's birthday, in which he delivered a lengthy dissertation of
some of the bard's English characters. This event was, organised under the
auspices of the All Saint's discussion group led by
Joseph Dare and the event was still going strong in 1874 when Whitmore
delivered a recitation from Hamlet. Like his friend
William Jones, during the
1850s his poetry moved away from being explicitly Chartist: there were no
more calls to arms or commemorations of martyrs, but more celebrations of
In a 1852, Whitmore published a small book of verse
entitled 'Firstlings.' Whitmore
then came to the attention of the Christian Socialist, Tom Hughes, one of
the founders of the Working Men's College and Hughes sponsored the
publication of a further selection of verse in 1859 under the title
Gilbert Marlowe and other poems. This was published by Macmillan.
Whitmore also found a patron in
James Francis Hollings who was a councillor, mayor, magistrate, three
times Lit and Phil President and Mechanics’ Institute President. Following
the death of his wife from typhus, Hollings hung himself from a bedpost in
John Bigg's home in Stoneygate. Whitmore's poem in Hollings' memory was
published in 1863 by F. Hewitt and was widely praised. Although by now
Whitmore's passion for literature was predominant, he was active in the
Leicester Emancipation Society which sought the abolition of slavery and a
committee member of the Mechanics Institute.
All this time Whitmore continued as a painter and
decorator and his business must have prospered, since
in 1871 he was employing five men and two boys. The 1881 census
lists him as a draper on Leicester Road, Oadby. Although Whitmore had
become known as one the ‘Leicester Poets,’ his rewards were never enough
to remove him from the world of work. By end of the the 19th century, his
poetry had lapsed into obscurity.
Sources: Cooper's Journal and
Unfettered Thinker 26th January & May 25th 1850, Star of Freedom 7th
August 1852, Leicester Chronicle 18th April 1863, Leicestershire Mercury,
30th April 1853, Leicester Guardian 5th December 1863, Marcella Pellegrino
Sutcliffe, Victorian Radicals and Italian Democrats
Born at sea off
Newfoundland, c1830, died 5 June 1901, (Temperance Missionary and Peace
William Wicks never knew his parents
and although his father came from Leicester, he grew up in Devonport.
Wicks became a shoemaker and signed the pledge at the age of 14. He became
Secretary of his local Temperance Society and came to Leicester in 1870 as
a Temperance Missionary. He held that post for 19 years addressing
hundreds of meetings and retired in 1889 following an accident. He was
also to the fore in the campaign against capital punishment and his boast
was that he has “three times cheated the hangman.” (1894) He was
equally opposed to war and was a member of Leicester Peace Society and
active in the campaign against the Boer war. He lamented the opportunity
for refusing to pay war taxes and circulated anti war petitions. He wrote
that anyone who claimed to be a Christian and supported the Boer War was a
hypocrite and humbug.
Wicks was a Unitarian and famous for
his kindness. Although he was self taught, he wrote short stories and was
a frequent correspondent on anti war and many other issues.
Sources: Leicester Wyvern, Nov 30th,
1894, A Reconstructed World: A Feminist Biography of Gertrude
Richardson, Barbara Ann Roberts
was a supporter of the radicals, John Biggs and
MP. and lived in Carley Street. She
was an organiser and
principal speaker at a series of meetings held on the issue of
women’s rights which were held in the Town Hall in 1855-7. These
began with a series of women only meetings on the price of bread held in
December 1855. Anne Wigfield said
she only went to the first meeting to listen, but her speech was well
reported and she soon became the principal speaker - often at great length.
She was an able speaker who used passages from the bible to argue her
case. She was described as: "a stout short person, dressed in antique
black, and quite put George Buckby in the shade in power of voice and
variety of action while speaking." In 1855, she began a
meeting opposed to high bread prices
by giving out the following
lines, which she sang:
Ye women of England arise,
Your country now calls for your aid.
To fight for the glorious prize,
With laurels that never can fade. "
Your cause is uplifted on high,
Your banners of glory unfurled.
Come forward ! come forward ! we cry,
And rescue a perishing world.
She told the Dear Bread meeting
"They seldom found men
possessing riches willing to assist the distressed, and she thought the
resolution she had to move was very appropriate to the occasion; for the
present distress came home to the working classes of the country.
.......God never designed that one man should live well while others
hungered. He appointed that men should eat their bread by the sweat of
their brow; but they could not do that now, for the bread was taken away
from them by the oppressor. It was for them to wrench it from the
oppressors. (Yes, yes) They could do it by moral means. God had put it
into the power of every Englishwoman to raise her voice against
In March 1856, a petition was
presented to Parliament, by Lord Brougham in the Lords and by Sir Erskine
Perry in the Commons. The petition called for property rights for married
women. Though it was submitted and closely associated with female literary
writers, in Leicester its supporters were working class women who went
onto the streets to collect signatures.
Subsequent women only meetings,
held in 1856-57, were
in support of Eskine Perry's attempt to amend the law with a Married
Women's Property Bill. Thomas Emery acted as secretary to these
later meetings. The press
reported that the audience in the body the hall was consisted
exclusively of women belonging to the working class, most of whom were
middle-aged, and apparently married. Ann Wigfield's lengthy speeches at
these meetings were well reported. They are eloquent and well argued,
though full of biblical allusion. They were even reported in the
As the law stands,
he can turn her out of doors, and possess himself of everything in the
house, and take her wardrobe; so that she is only allowed one garment to
cover her with. That is according to law. (A voice - 'Shame!') .... Any
of you may work at a warehouse or factory, and if you get £1 or 10s. a
week, the law (as it stands) allows your husband to take it from from
you. (A Voice - He should not have mine.) If you seek refuge in another
friend's house, it is in the man's power to discharge them from
harbouring you, and if you have a chair or table of your own he can take
them from you, and by law you are compelled to sit down by that. (A
Voice - 'We are not though; oh, no.') It is correct. But this is not the
only thing, for I have been acquainted with men who have deprived their
wives of their children. (A Voice— I've been deprived of five.') If you
seek your redress you cannot help yourselves in the least. Don't you
think these laws want altering?
... she believed that
the time was now come for the women to stand for their rights as
Chartists stood for the charter, and the corn law repealers stood for
the repeal of the corn laws.
On the promise that the
Government would legislate, Perry agreed to withdraw Bill from
Parliament. Whilst the eventual Marriage and Property Act fell far short
of what the petitioners from the Law Amendment Society wanted, it did
establish the principle that some women had a legal right to dispose of
By 1861, Ann had gone
to live in Trinity
Hospital and was working as a nurse. She spent the rest of here life
there and in the 1870s, he was active in support of Liberal candidates.
She died at Trinity Hospital.
Mercury, 8th & 22nd December 1855, 19th
April 1856, 1st August 1857, Leicester Chronicle 16th February 1884 South
Australian Register (Adelaide, SA) 28th July 1856, Census returns.
Born: Leicester, September
1932, died: 2002 aged 69 (Labour)
Bob Wigglesworth grew up on the newly
built Braunstone Estate. He left school, aged 14 years, and worked in
various gents’ barber shops, a mattress factory, a shoe factory and as a
rubber worker at Dunlop’s St Mary’s Mills. In later life, he worked as a
school caretaker at Alderman Newton’s School. In the early 1970s, he was
briefly associated with Militant, though by the 1980s he was seen as being
on the right of the Labour party. He was a City Councillor 1973-1976 for
Aylestone and 1978-2002 for Eyres Monsell where he lived. He became Lord
Mayor in 1992 and served as vice chair of the Housing Committee for many
years. He was a plainspoken, but kindly man who worked diligently on
behalf of his constituents.
Sources: Leicester City Council,
Roll of Lord Mayors 1928-2000, author’s personal knowledge
J. S. Wilford, was secretary of the
Anchor Tenants who in the early 1900s established the Humberstone Garden
Suburb. He was an enthusiastic advocate of the housing co-operative and
was the one appointed to collect subscriptions from the workers at the
Anchor Shoe factory.
Born Great Glen, 1828,
died: 25th June 1914 aged 85 (Co-operator)
Samuel Wilford was one of the seven
elastic web weavers at Abbey Mills who founded the Leicester Co-operative
Society in 1860. Their first subscription was 3d each. Sam Wilford was
'number one' on the books of the society. He continued to work as an elastic web
Sources: Leicester Co-operative Society, (1898)
Co-operation in Leicester
Leicester, 23rd December 1879, died May 1950 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
W.E. Wilford was born in Vine Street.
Leicester and was the eldest of a family of six. His father worked in the
boot and shoe trade and his blind grandfather told of the early days of
dear bread and the struggles of the Chartists and Radicals for popular
liberty. With the aid of a scholarship, he attended Alderman Newton’s
School and started work at the age of 13 as an errand boy. He continued to
study in his spare time. At the age of 23 he commenced business as a
factor in boots and shoes and owned various retail shops. After a
university extension course, he won a university scholarship. He was an
omnivorous reader who was influenced by Blatchford, Tolstoy, Kropotkin,
Carlyle and Shakespeare.
In 1901, at the age of 21, he was
chosen as the secretary of the Castle Ward Liberal Association and was
regarded as a rising hope of the party. From 1903-8, in the wake of the
Boer war and in the midst of recession, he was secretary of the Citizens
Aid Committee. He organised meals for children during the winters of
1904-06. This caused him to think about the causes of poverty and to break
with the Liberal Party.
He helped establish a Labour Church
in Castle ward and Ramsay MacDonald, George Lansbury and Margaret
Bondfield were among those who lectured there. He was elected to the
Council in 1912 for Latimer Ward and served for 8 years as Labour whip.
Whilst on a family holiday on the east coast in August 1914, he was
mistakenly arrested as a German spy. In 1916, he organised "ye olde
Englishe Faire" in the market place to raised funds for the war wounded. He became Chairman of the City Health
Committee in 1922 and for may years he was secretary and whip of the the
Labour Group on the council. He became was Lord Mayor in 1931 and was awarded the freedom
of the City in July 1949. In the early days of the NHS he issued a
statement which "excited some controversy" and was later described as an
attack on Aneurin Bevan's dictatorial methods.
Sources: Leicester Pioneer 10th
October 1908, 11th August 1914 and 11th July 1924,
Leicester City Council, Roll of Lord Mayors 1928-2000, Howes, C.
(ed), Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial, Institutional and Social Life,
Leicester 1927, Leicester Mercury, 22nd May 1950
Born: c1820 (Universal
Community Society of Rational Religionists, Rational Society)
In 1839, the young Thomas Willey was secretary
of the Leicester Owenite socialists. He
described the activities of the branch:
Our Sunday lectures are well attended and the
proceedings give satisfaction. Last Sunday Mr Adams late Coventry lectured
in our Institution to a good audience on the "Effects of Competition on the Morals
the People" proving.....by a clear train of reasoning ....... that is a
principle productive of the most injurious consequences to mankind and
that co-operation only can effect that state of
moral superiority which we destined to arrive at.
The progress of the Owenite Socialists was viewed with
alarm in some quarters. Andrew Irvine the vicar of St Margarets (known as the Rev Quixote) wanted the full weight of the law of
blasphemy applied to the Owenites. Supported by the Leicester
Journal, he complained to the Mayor. Irvine was also in communication with
the Bishop of Exeter, Henry Philpott, who had begun to wage war on the Socialists from the House of Lords.
(In 1831, Phillpott, who opposed the Reform Bill, was burnt in effigy in
his cathedral yard)
In early in 1840, Philpott presented various anti-socialist petitions and
felt that it
was outrageous that Leicester Owenites were
planning to open a school. Although he believed the number of Socialists in
Leicester did not exceed 300-400, he claimed that "many more
drank very copiously every Sunday of these blasphemous and pernicious
draughts." He attacked Owen and suggested that Socialist lectures
might be illegal because they promoted the unconstitutional overthrow of
In a letter to the Bishop, written in July 1839, the Rev Irvine claimed that
one of his fifteen year old Sunday-school teachers was taken by Willey to
socialist institution, whither
he took him more than once to hear some blasphemous address. He there gave
him a paper containing many scriptural texts, chiefly denouncing God's
judgment against the Canaanites..."
probably made the argument that a
God who would order the extermination of all the Canaanites by the
Israelites cannot be a loving God, and therefore cannot be worthy of worship,
Nineteen year old Thomas Willey was employed as a clerk
by the Midland Counties Railway Company, which was soon to run trains
Leicester. The Bishop of Exeter gave the House of Lords an
account of how the Rev Irvine got him sacked from his job. Apparently,
Irvine complained to the railway company: "It will satisfactory your
lordship learn that the clerk in the railroad office, who tried corrupt my
Sunday school teacher, was immediately examined the board of directors,
and, as he avowed a resolute adherence to his principles,..., and that the
law that would punish him was a bad law - he was dismissed from his
Willey described Irvine's letter as utterly
unfounded, and so grossly exaggerated. Although this debacle was
widely reported in the national and provincial press, Thomas Willey's
letter setting out his side of the affair which he sent to the
London press is not to be found. However the Stamford Mercury gives this
account of a subsequent meeting at the Social Institution
On his entering the room, pianoforte was being
played, which continued until the service commenced: this was singing a
socialist hymn by a very good choir of singers; after which the Morning
Chronicle was produced, and the whole of the above-mentioned debate read,
the lecturer occasionally making remarks upon it as he proceeded. Another
hymn was then sung, and lecture given on Socialism by respectable-looking
young man named Willey, in which he stated, that the Bishop Exeter could
not have taken a better step to make their principles known than the
course he had adopted, which he hoped the Bishop would follow up: the
Lords might pass what laws they liked, but he defied them ever to put down
TheLeicester Socialists having endured one
attack in the House of Lords, were now confronted by the professional
anti-socialist John Brindley who gave a series of very well attended
lectures in Leicester. Brindley was an excellent debater who could play
upon his audience, deal with hecklers and pick up points from his
opponent. According to the Social Missionary, James Rigby:
The Branch, until within the last few weeks, had had
no opposition to encounter; and....was like a gentle stream running
through a peaceful valley. Suddenly, however, Mr. Brindley appeared among
them; and this he might liken to a hawk making a descent upon turtle
There was significant attendance at these lectures and
the Owenites who wanted to build a new moral world, were clearly
wrong-footed by a man who accused them of immorality and blasphemy. Before
Brindley returned for a second series of lectures, Thomas Willey travelled
to March, where Brindley had some problematic financial dealings and
effectively dug the dirt on him. Rather than confront him in a debate,
where Willey knew Brindley would prevail, the Socialists issued a handbill
at his lectures and challenged Brindley to sue them.
“I have affixed a stigma on the character of Mr.
Brindley, in the eyes of the Leicester public, that I DEFY him ever to
efface. He will therefore now take his farewell of this town—it will never
be his interest to pay it another visit.“
The subsequent career of Thomas Willey has yet to be
discovered. It is possible he became a surgeon.
Sources: New Moral World 2nd Nov
1839, 23rd May, 24th June 1840, Leicester Journal 21st February 1840, Leicester Chronicle, 22nd
February 1840, Stamford Mercury 21st February 1840
He had no formal education and his
first job was in a trimmer’s shop in the hosiery trade. He worked there
for three years until he was 14 and started in the boot and shoe trade in
a finishing room. At the age of 17 he joined NUBSO and eventually served
on the union executive and on Arbitration Boards. He attended the old Soar
Lane Adult School and his ‘schooling’ there helped to crystallise his
ideas on Co-operation.
In 1878 he joined the Leicester
Co-operative Society and began to take a deep interest in the practical
application of the ideas of Co-operation. In 1906, he was elected to the
Board of LCS and was for a time its treasurer. He retured from this post
in 1935. He was also on the managing
committee of Equity shoes in its early days, he was a founder and
secretary of of the Morning Star Sundries Society and was a supporter of
various other Co-operative enterprises. After being a foreman, he became
manager of the Brockton Heel factory and remained so for seventeen years.
He was an active member of the Robert Hall memorial Chapel.
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail 4th
January 1935, Leicester Co-operative
Society, (1898) Co-operation in Leicester, Leicester Co-operative
Magazine June 1923, census returns
Willson was engaged in ‘social work’ with the Misses Edith and Catherine
Gittins. She was one of the first to take an active part when the Infant
Welfare Centres were inaugurated in connection with the Leicester Health
Society. She was an executive member of the Infants’ Nursing Home and was
involved, with the Co-operative Guild, in the committee which instituted
nurseries for working mothers in Rutland Street, Melton Road, Talbot Lane
and St. Martin’s during the First World War. She was also a member of the
Women’s National Council which was associated with putting forward the
women’s point of view on housing and improving facilities for women in
public parks. She was a Labour member of the Board of Guardians for three
years, representing Westcotes.
Mrs Willson joined the Co-operative
Guild in 1906 and at that time there was the only one branch in the
district. In c1915, she became the Secretary of the Leicester District
Committee of Co-operative Guilds. By the mid 1920s there were 19 guilds in
Leicestershire. Mrs Willson was the first woman elected to the board of
the L.C.S. c1921.
Elizabeth Willson surrounded by men at the 1908 NUBSO conference. It appears that she was
the only woman delegate.
Born: Islington, London
1875 (Trade Union Leader, Labour Party)
Elizabeth Willson worked. like her
younger sister, as a shoe heel builder. She lived with her family at 161
Sheridan Street, close to the CWS Wheatsheaf shoe factory. Although the Leicester Women’s Branch of NUBSO
was set up in 1904 for women workers in the shoe trade, it was not allowed
to have women officers. In 1906,
after considerable agitation, the union eventually allowed women to stand for
position and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Willson was elected secretary of the
branch of over 1,000 women.
In 1910, Elizabeth was elected to sit on the
Executive Council of NUBSO and was the first woman to do so. In 1911, members of
the women’s branch took part in a go-slow at Black's shoe factory which led to
men members loosing money and making a claim from the union for financial
support. This led to a bitter row within the union resulting in Lizzie and
Alice Hawkins (president of the branch) being dismissed by
the union’s general secretary.
It was suggested at the time that the
real reason underlying the row was that Miss Willson was
not wanted on the Council, and therefore must be got rid of. Miss Willson
is too energetic to suit the old reactionary members who compose the
NUBSO Executive Council was accused by Lizzie and her supporters being
autocratic and domineering and of demanding absolute surrender and
obedience to their dictates. Alice Hawkins said that they were being
treated like little children.
The officers and members of the Women's Branch seceded
from NUBSO and set up the break away Independent
National Union of Women Boot and Shoe Workers with Elizabeth Willson as
secretary in offices at 72 Rutland Street. A large majority of the Women’s
Branch joined. In 1919, the Union organised a public meeting at the Corn
Exchange to press their claim against a minimum wage of 30/- and for equal
pay with men. By 1923, the union had a membership of 1,240.
The independent union continued in
existence until 1936 when it was formally dissolved. The Union
blamed its dissolution on the "loss of membership brought about
by the great antagonism we have had to contend with during the whole of
the 25 years we have been a registered Union." The threat of
unemployment led to members being "coerced to leave the Union, in order
to retain their employment, and transfer or join a union whose rates of
pay are cheaper."
In 1919, Lizzie Willson chaired a meeting of the League
of Church Militant at De Montfort Hall at which George Lansbury was the
speaker. The League was a non-party organisation open to members of the
Church of England with aims including the establishment of equal rights
and opportunities for men and women both in Church and State.
Sources: Leicester Daily Post, 5th &
6th September 1911, 14th March 15th October & 4th December 1919, Leicester
Evening Mail 16th & 25th July 1936. Richard Whitmore,
Alice Hawkins and the Suffragette Movement in Edwardian Leicester, Alan Fox, A
History of the National Union of Boot and
Shoe Workers, 1958
Leonard Wincott was born in 1907 at 143 Dorset Avenue,
Leicester one of eight children. Wincott had a discontented childhood. In
his autobiography he complains of his need to work from a young age
selling copies of The Leicester Mercury and his schooling at Catherine
Street Infants. His home life was less than ideal as his father was a
violent drunk but he idolised his mother who he reveals in his
autobiography looked after all of the children and helped to put up money
for illegal abortions for those in the local area.
In 1923, having few options in life, Len made
an unsuccessful attempt to join the circus. He then joined the Royal
Navy as a boy seaman
aged16. In 1931, he was a rating on H.M.S. Norfolk when the National
Government proposed wages cuts to all Navy personnel. The cuts affected
everyone from Officers to ratings, however, the cuts were not applied
equally to all ranks. those on the lowest wages, below decks, were hardest
Sailors of the Atlantic Fleet, arriving at Invergordon
(on the Cromarty Firth in Scotland) in the afternoon of Friday 11
September, learned about the cuts from newspaper reports. Wincott, then a
24-year-old able seaman, organised meetings which prevented the cruiser
from moving. The mutiny lasted for two days (15–16 September 1931).
Wincott, with another able seaman - Fred Copeman - became a member of the
Norfolk's strike committee. Although the mutiny was entirely peaceful, the
Royal Navy imprisoned dozens of the ringleaders and dismissed hundreds
more, Wincott among them.
Shortly after being discharged from the Royal Navy, he
became involved with the Communist Party speaking at meetings up and down
Britain. During this time according to The National Archives, he was being
followed, and his mail was intercepted by MI5. Partly as a result of
being under surveillance by MI5, he decided, in 1934, to move to the
He ended up in the Leningrad International Seamen's
club. Having survived the siege of Leningrad,
he was accused of being a British spy and duly arrested by the NKVD in
1946. He then spent twelve years in a labour camp. He
was not forgotten in Leicester and in 1956 during Nikita Krushchev's his
visit to Britain, the Trades Council called on him to release
1957, Wincott lived in Moscow and published a book in 1974 entitled the
Invergordon Mutineer. In died in Moscow in 1983
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 18th April 1956, Victoria Barton - Leicester & Leicestershire
Record Office, Len Wincott, Invergordon Mutineer, Weidenfeld,
London 1974, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Born: Gainsborough, Lincs,
12th Dec 1794, died: Leicester 28th May 1866
For many years, J. F Winks was
regarded the thermometer of middle-class radical opinion in Leicester. He was a Baptist lay preacher, a publisher of books for
the General Baptist Association, a politician and an opponent of
cock-fighting and the use of the gibbet. He was described as a fiery
fighting spirit always spoiling for a fight in the name of justice and
Winks was the son of a respectable Gainsborough tradesman and
started out as a draper's assistant. Thomas Cooper became part of Winks' ‘Mutual Improvement
Society’ and Sunday Adult School which aimed to teach the Gainsborough, poor and
‘utterly uneducated’ to read.
In 1823 he became a Baptist
lay-preacher, first at Killingholme and then at Melbourne, Derbyshire.
In 1825, wanting to make Christian literature more widely available, Winks set
up a printing press at Loughborough i where Thomas Cook was one of his apprentices.
In 1831, having recently moved to
Leicester he became a leading spirit in the reforming Leicester and
Leicestershire Political Union and became known in the Tory press as the ‘Loughborough
Renegade.’ About his time he became a pharmacist.
As a result of his campaign against
the use of the gibbet, the ultra-Tory Leicester Herald nicked
named him ‘Gibbet Parson Winks.’ The last recorded use of the gibbet in Britain was on
Friday 10th August 1832, when James Cook, convicted of a
gruesome murder, was executed in front of Leicester prison. Afterwards,
according to the Newgate Calendar
“The head was shaved and tarred,
to preserve it from the action of the weather; and the cap in which he
had suffered was drawn over his face. On Saturday afternoon his body,
attired as at the time of his execution, having been firmly fixed in the
irons necessary to keep the limbs together, was carried to the place of
its intended suspension.”
His body was to be displayed on a
purpose-built gallows 33ft high in Saffron Lane near the Aylestone
“thousands of persons were
attracted to the spot, to view this novel but most barbarous exhibition;
and considerable annoyance was felt by persons resident in the
neighbourhood of the dreadful scene. Representations were in consequence
made to the authorities, and on the following Tuesday morning
instructions were received from the Home Office directing the removal of
In 1835 he moved his operation to
Leicester, where he rented extensive premises in High Street, next to the
Huntingdon Tower, on the site of the present Shires shopping centre. Winks
edited, printed and published a huge number of books and periodicals which
all advanced the denominational interests of the Baptists. These included
the The Christian Pioneer, The Baptist Reporter, and Missionary
Intelligence, The Baptist Children's Magazine, The British
School Book, for Reading and Recitation. Many were aimed at a working
class readership and were full of Christian homilies.
Winks was also one of the first men in Leicester to speak out publicly
against cock fighting (outlawed in 1849), bull running (outlawed in 1835),
as well as dog fighting and badger baiting (both of which not being
outlawed until the twentieth century). He was active in the campaign against
the compulsory payment of local rates to the Church of England and in 1837
his goods were seized and auctioned to pay the rates he owed in St Martin’s
parish. That same year, he issued anti-Tory handbills and ballads during
the parliamentary elections.
In 1838, Robert Owen came to lecture in Leicester and
for a time Socialism became the general topic of conversation. Winks
responded quickly with a lecture on ‘Owenism vs. Christianity’ in which he
accused Owen of attacking ‘every maxim of wisdom and prudence which the
whole civilised world had held sacred for ages, and had even endeavoured
to sweep away the word of God itself to make way for his wild and
In 1839, Winks was appointed pastor at Carley Street Baptist Church, a post he held until his death. In the
1840’s Winks and Thomas Cooper renewed their friendship in Leicester.
However Winks advised Cooper not to get involved with the Chartists.
According to Cooper, Winks believed in the justice of universal suffrage,
but kept aloof from the Chartists. He was a member of the Leicester
Complete Suffrage Association in 1842, but tended to support William
Biggs' more limited proposals on the franchise.
In his capacity as a Poor Law
Guardian, Winks opposed plans to enlarge the workhouse in 1847, favouring
an extension of out-relief and a national uniform poor rate. In 1848, the
‘anti-workhouse’ list was carried by an overwhelming majority and he later
became the first dissenting minister to be allowed to preach in the
workhouse. In 1848, he became part of a gradual and hesitating
co-operation between middle class radicals and the Chartists resulting in
a ‘Great Reform Meeting,’ in April 1848 and October 1851. It was the
formation of this alliance, between middle and working class radicals
which enabled two radicals to be elected to parliament.
Winks must have liked public debates. In 1843, the
Leicester Journal wanted the magistrates in intervene to stop his debate
with Lloyd Jones, an Owenite Social Missionary, on grounds of blasphemy.
Jones was to prove the falsehood and pernicious influence of
Christianity, and the truth and beneficial influence Socialism. In
1852 he debated with G.J. Holyoake, the Secularist. In
1856, Winks scored a notable victory over the
infidels when he baptised his old friend Thomas Cooper.
1857, Winks broke with the radicals when he withdrew his support for Joshua Walmsley MP, after Walmsley
the Sunday opening of museums. Instead, J.F. Winks backed the
Whig churchman John Harris; after a sharp contest Harris, won with 700
Liberal and 900 Conservative votes, gaining a majority of 178. Winks had
Sources: Leicestershire Mercury 25th
August 1838, Leicester Journal 10th
November 1843, The Reasoner 21st July 1852, Thomas Cooper, The Life
of Thomas Cooper, 1872, A. Temple Patterson, Radical Leicester,
Leicester 1954, J.F.C. Harrison,Chartism in Leicester,
published in Chartist Studies Asa Briggs (ed) 1959, The Newgate
Died: July 2006 Aged 54
(International Marxist Group, International Socialists)
Paul Winstone gained a BA in Social
Sciences from Leicester University in 1973 and during the 1970s, he was
active in various Trotskyite groups, notably the International Socialists
and the International Marxist group. As a member of the latter he was
briefly a member of the Labour Party, during I.M.G.’s entrist phase. He
was very active in the campaign against the National Front, favouring the
physical force tactics rather than the broad non violent demonstrations
organised by the Inter-Racial Solidarity Campaign and Unity Against
Racism. He was consequently involved various Anti Fascist Committees and
the local Anti Nazi League which was then favoured by the ultra-left in
the late 1970s. He was also active in the Troops Out Movement and was a
supporter of Sinn Fein.
In 1986, he started work in the Chief
Executive’s Office of Leicester City Council, working for a time as the
European Development Officer and eventually becoming the policy officer
with responsibility for Race and Faith issues. In this post he was often
an articulate and effective spokesman for the council, sometimes promoting
policies that would have been anathema to him 15 years previously. Shortly
after his death, he was described as a ‘committed Christian’ (much to the
surprise of those that had known him earlier). He was Vice Chair of the
TGWU branch and a member of the International Socialist Group (Socialist
Outlook), the successor organisation to I.M.G.
Sources: author’s personal knowledge,
Croft, Leicestershire 2nd March 1810, death London 16th December 1882 (Chartist, Leicester Glove Union,
National Association of United Trades)
Thomas Winters was the able and self-educated secretary
of the Glove Union. His experience in trying to improve the situation of
local framework knitters led him to see the need for united action between
unions across the country. He became a pioneer of the
National Association of United Trades Association which was a precursor of
the Trades Union Congress.
In 1844, Winter gave
evidence to the
Muggeridge enquiry into condition of framework knitters. He related
that from 1835, stoppages for frame rents had increased dramatically,
driving the framework knitters into destitution. He believed these
stoppages were illegal and he sought legal and legislative remedies.
Winters said his union
was formed in November 1843 and had about
1,200-1,300 'subscribers.' He also described how the union
safeguarded its funds by rotating its auditors, treasurers and other union
failure of the legal case brought by William Chawner in 1845, Thomas
Winters and George Buckby petitioned parliament to abolish frame charges.
This resulted in the private members 'Ticket Bill' which was promoted by
Sir Henry Halford (a Tory M.P. for South Leicestershire)
The Bill, whilst not abolishing frame charges, did
require middlemen to display the prices they were being paid by the
hosiers to the workmen. Winters was active in
trying to get co-ordination between the framework knitters of the three
counties: Leics, Notts and Derbys on this issue. He also instigated
successful legal action against those middle men who gave wages in bread
in defiance of the Truck Act.
Winters was an active Chartist and in
1842 he was a committee member of Thomas Cooper's Shakespearian chartists.
After Cooper's arrest, he became involved with Cooper's defence fund.
He was a supporter of
Feargus O'Connor's brand of Chartism, so much so that in
1841 he had named a son, William Feargus Frost Winters, after the
Chartist leaders. (In 1852 he named another child Halford after Henry
Halford) Winters remain loyal to O'Connor when other Chartists had
In 1844, the short-lived Leicester
newspaper the Chartist Pilot published this letter from Winters which
Fellow workmen-the present crisis
demands your serious and undivided attention. For years you have toiled
and laboured for other men’s gain, you have fought and struggled hard and
long against the black oppressions of the manufacturers and
bag-undertakers, whose constant study has been to devise the best means of
extracting from your earnings the largest amount of money, regardless of
reason, honesty or Christianity. Your helpless wives and suffering
families have groaned and died beneath the wicked machinations of your
stint and full-frame rent masters. Have you not suffered sufficiently in
your comforts to raise your tyrants to opulence and independence? Let your
miserable cots and comfortless hearths answer. How long shall a
respectable manufacturer of Belgrave Gate be allowed to take from your
meagre earnings from eight to ten shillings per week for frame rent, &c.
If you are men! stand erect in the noble character of man, and firmly
declare before high heaven that you will break off the manacles of social
slavery and determine one and all that while your masters can erect large
factories and build numbers of houses (who some time ago were nothing but
wandering beggar boys) out of the toil, sweat, and vitals of your poor
children, determine that you will have a better price for your labour, or
not pay such exorbitant charges.
men! how long will you suffer yourselves to be fleeced in this manner by
these professing Christians. How long will you cringe and bow to the foot
that kicks you? Let me exhort you to neither court the smiles or fear the
frowns of man, but bind yourself in one noble phalanx against oppression.
Let the war whoop of justice be raised in every town and village of the
county. Buckle on the armour of determination, arm yourself with truth and
reason, march forward against the citadel of corruption with one
heart and mind to conquer and to conquer.
With George Buckby, Winters was a delegate to the 1846 National
Association of United Trades conference in Manchester. This was a
federation of trade societies which aimed to provide mutual assistance and
to initiate legislation; in addition it aimed to provide conciliation and
arbitration in disputes. Its ranks were solidly Chartist and has been
described as Chartism's contribution to trade unionism.
In 1847, the framework knitters agreed to promote a bill to
regulate frame rents again in co-operation with Sir Henry Halford. A
committee of three, Thomas Winter,
George Buckby and Joseph Warner, was set
up to promote it.
Sometime during 1847, Thomas Winters moved to Lambeth and became
an agent for the United Trades Association. He frequently spoke on
its behalf at trade union meetings.
In 1850, he was a member of the United Trades Association's Central
Committee and during the 1850s he maintained close links with Leicester
and with the framework knitter's campaign to regulate frame rents.
All of this was overshadowed by the turn of events surrounding a long
running strike at a tin plate factory in
the Association had become closely involved with supporting the tin plate
workers. The employer was determined to defeat the strike and he sought to
prosecute six local strikers and three committee members of the United
Trades Association for a 'conspiracy to raise wages.'
Although trade unions were no longer illegal, they were also not yet
legal, since most of the activities they undertook could be judged
The legal action was protracted and expensive. Thomas Winter was among
those initally found guilty, however in November 1851, after three trials,
the case against him was dropped through lack of evidence. The two other
Central Committee members were not so lucky and were duly sentenced to
three months hard labour, whilst the six strikers were given one month's
With the secretary William Perry in prison, Winters helped keep the
organisation going. However the strike and the legal costs had
drained the Association's resources and weakened its ability to organise.
In 1858, Thomas Winters became secretary, but by
this time the Association was in a state of decline. The 1861 census lists
Winter as an insurance agent and he ended his days as a gatekeeper at
Sources: Globe, 13 August 1842,
Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties 6th June
1845. 24th December 1847, Leicestershire Mercury,
21st February 1846, Leicester Chronicle 29th November 1851, Chartist Pilot 20th April 1844, Northern Star, 19th November 1842, 4th January 1845, 24
October 1846, 12 June 1847, 21st December 1850, Reynolds's Newspaper 16th
May 1852, 16th May 1858, A. Temple Patterson,
Leicester 1954, George Barnsby: Socialism in Birmingham and the Black
Country, census returns, August family tree.
Born: 3rd July,
1885, Bury St. Edmunds died: 1933 (I.L.P.& Labour Party)
Wise was educated at Cambridge and joined the Civil Service in 1908.
He rose from being a junior clerk in the House of Commons to that a State
served on the National Health Insurance Committee (1912-14) and during the
First World War he was Assistant Director of Army Contracts (1915) and
Second Secretary to Ministry of Food (1918). During the 1919 Peace
Conference he was a British representative on the Supreme Economic Council
in Paris and provided economic expert advice to Government delegations at
various international conferences. He left the Civil Service in 1923.
He was a member of the Independent
Labour Party and unsuccessfully contested Bradford North in the 1924
general election. He was elected for Leicester East in May 1929 and was
strongly opposed to the £67,000,000 cut in unemployment benefits and the
other cuts proposed by. MacDonald, and his Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Philip Snowden in 1931. In the following general election he lost his
seat. Following the I.L.P.'s decision to disaffiliate from the Labour
Party, he helped found the Socialist
League at the Labour Party Conference held in Leicester in 1932. It was to
be a socialist grouping within the Labour Party and was
a direct precursor of the post-war Tribune Group. Wise died on 5th November 1933
aged 48 while taking walk at Cambo, Northumberland. He was the author of:
Consumers' Co-operation in Soviet Russia, Manchester: Co-operative
Union Ltd, 1929
Sources: election address 1929,
Gloucester Citizen 6 November 1933
London 24th October 1935,died:
15th June 2020
Woody Wood died at his home in Biddulph Street aged 84 after a short illness. In
the 1950s, Woody was an electrical engineer in the regular army and during
his time in Ghana he became aware of the enormous
differences in wealth and power between black and white people.
Once back on civvy street, he started to explore political ideas. He soon
realised that conventional party politics was not for him and joined what
was known as “the alternative society.” He found what he was searching for
in the radical co-operative movement.
Woody subscribed to his own
philosophical political vision which was about a ‘Third way’ not
capitalism and not socialism, but a different radical way.
He expressed this through his lifestyle politics, above all in the income
and capital sharing groups in which he participated. Of paramount importance to
Woody was his commitment to equality, social justice, localism and 'living
He moved from London to a housing and workers co-operative in Burnley.
After serving his ‘apprenticeship,’ he came to to Highfields, determined to create something similar
in Leicester. In 1978, he became a
founder member of the “Some People in Leicester” group which developed
into a housing co-operative, income sharing, worker’s co-operative
and car sharing group.
He worked as an electrician and plumber in the Alternative
Services Co-operative He also helped to run Littlethorn books, a radical bookshop. In
1999, Woody and his partner and daughter were part of an income sharing
group called Snowball (because they hoped that it would) which had grown
out of the London squatters' movement in the 1970s. At that time it was one of about half-a-dozen formal, income-sharing pools in Britain.
During his lifetime, Woody was a member
of many different organisations, including campaigns for Direct Democracy
and Regional Government. Woody became involved with South Highfields Neighbours
in 1992 - then called HART (Highfields Association of Residents and
Tenants) and worked tirelessly in the community until shortly before his
death, always positive, always looking to involve more people. He was part
of the People’s Centre on Evington Road, the help desk at Sparkenhoe
School and Stoneygate Youth Club.
He became President of the Secular Society in 1993 and
worked on the maintenance on the Secular Hall for many years. In a society
that he saw as promoting competition, greed and division, he tried to show
that a different, more human way was possible. The Corani Housing
Co-operative still exists.
Sources: Mandy Taverner and Hertha, The Guardian 22nd
September 1999, author's personal knowledge.
Edward Wood, of Kirby Muxloe was in
business in Leicester as a boot factor and became chairman of Freeman,
Hardy and Willis. He entered the Council in 1880, was an Alderman and was
Mayor of Leicester three times, 1888-89, 1895-96 and 1901-02. He was a
Chairman of the Gas Committee and a Chairman of the Water Committee. He
was a Justice of the Peace. He assisted with the joint administration of
the 1896 Trades Council Distress fund with Trades Council officers and
later became a friend of Ramsay MacDonald and was persuaded to put money
into the Labour Leicester Pioneer. He was leader of the Leicester Liberal
Association and proposed that following the loss of West Leicester to the
Tories in 1900 there should be a pact between Labour and the Liberals.
This ensured the election of MacDonald in 1906. He was commemorated by the
Sir Edward Wood Hall, now part of Leicester University.
Sources: Bill Lancaster,
Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism
In about 1870, the young minister Joseph Wood came to
preach at Oxford Street Congregational Chapel. Although his preaching
attracted a substantial following, his sermons did not meet with universal
approval so his supporters opened the Wycliffe Church for him. (the old
Collegiate Church). Joseph Wood was very aware of social problems and was
described as a ‘leader of thought’ in the town. When the first School
Board was formed, following the 1870 Education Act, he was elected and
became the Board's first vice-chairman. He later became the chairman.
For a time he was editor of the Leicester Daily Post,
but he did not make a financial success of it and the paper passed out of
his control. His increasing liberality of thought eventually led him to a
Unitarian standpoint and, in 1885, he accepted an invitation to the Old
Church meeting in Birmingham. By 1890, he had become a Socialist and
occasionally returned to Leicester to lecture on behalf of the Socialist
League. It was his view that is was:
“the duty of a Christian
minister to preach liberty, equality and fraternity, in the fullest
deepest, broadest and most literal sense. The idea of brotherhood as
given to the world by its great Socialist, was an idea involving such
issues and such a radical reconstruction of society that the ordinary
aims of Liberalism looked pale by its side.”
Charlie Woods was the full-time
organiser of the Leicester Labour Party from 1947 onwards replacing
He was a native of Leeds and was a
former railwayman. For 12 years he was secretary of the NUR joint
committee at Leeds. For six years he was a member of Leeds City Council. He
was a Labour agent in Leeds in 1945.
John, born: Billesdon, c1801, Mary born
John Woodford John Woodford was a framework knitter and one of the
founders of the Leicester Co-operative Society. The Society grew out of a
meeting held at his house in Brook Street. Co-operative histories give his
address as 15 Brook Street, however the 1861 census shows him at no 7.
Mary Woodford Mary Woodford, along with Ann Wigfield were involved with the
Anti-Dear Bread campaign of 1855. (see
George Buckby) Along with Mrs Beadham they held possible the first
women only meeting in Leicester. It used the Town Hall and was so crowded,
the mayor's parlour had to be used to. The only men present were
Joseph Elliott, the press and the
hall keeper. Mary Woodford moved the resolution:
"That the females Leicester...... are deeply
impressed with the conviction that the present high price of provisions is
controlled principally through the buying and storing-up of the people's
food, and that such practices place the working classes of this country in
the deepest state of destitution and want, and demands immediate
Legislative interference. This meeting deems most essential that an
address be presented to her Majesty, ..... to intercede with her
Government order that check may be put upon the monopoly of the food of
A second meeting was held a couple of weeks later which
began with the singing of "England Arise." (it appears that Edward
Carpenter merely revised the lyrics of an existing hymn).
Mary was also the chairwoman of meetings held on the
issue of married women’s property and aggravated assault on women which
were held in the Town Hall in 1856 & 1857. These again were women only
meetings, with the exception of Thomas Emery who acted as Secretary. Ann Wigfield
was also an organiser of the meetings. Mary told the meeting that
“Many men when they came out of prison would sell
up their wives property and then go and live with other women. And
beating was not the only way in which men published their wives. Many
poor women were pined and starved to death.”
Sources: Leicestershire Mercury,
8th & 22nd December 1855,
18th April 1856, 1st August 1857,
Shirley Aucott, Women of Courage, Vision and
Born: New Radford, Notts,
August 1859 (Liberal Party, Labour Party)
Although H. H. Woolley never had a
formal education, he was Secretary of the Leicester and County Saturday
Hospital Society for many years. He came to Leicester from Northampton in
1876 and was a skilled boot maker at the CWS Duns Lane plant. After
spending two years in France from 1883, he returned to Leicester and as a
result of the strike at the CWS works in 1886, he became one of the
initiators of the Leicester Co-operative Boot Manufacturing Society
or Equity Shoes.
In 1885, he became treasurer of NUBSO
and in 1891 became full-time secretary of No 1 Branch whereupon he gave up
his job at Equity. He became president of the Trades Council in 1896.
1893, he was elected to the Town Council as a Trades Council candidate for
Castle ward and was re-elected in 1896. His
father, J.H. Woolley, was a Liberal town councillor during the same period.
In 1894, Harry Woolley gave his support to I.L.P. candidates and eventually
joined the I.L.P. Although he resigned his seat c1899, he as the Labour
candidate for Wycliffe ward in 1907. He was a longstanding member of
the Secular Society.
In March 1903, he was elected
as Secretary of the Saturday Hospital Fund, having previously been engaged by
Sir Edward Wood to prepare the ground for the new society which was to
raise money in workplaces for the local hospitals. He continued as
secretary until he retired at the age of 70 in 1930. He was made a J.P. in
Sources: Leicester Pioneer 26th
October 1907, Leicester Co-operative Society, (1898) Co-operation in
Leicester, Bill Lancaster, Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism,
Greening, Edward O., A Pioneer Co-partnership, 1923, Howes, C.
(ed), Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial, Institutional and Social Life,
Born: New Radford, Notts circa 1833,
died: 22nd Sept 1906 (Liberal)
J. H. Woolley was a boot and shoe
worker and father of Harry and Samuel Woolley. He spent his early years in
Northampton where he joined the union and in 1876, he moved to Leicester
and worked at the CWS factory in Duns Lane. He was elected president of the Trades Council in
1884. He was a founding member of the Leicester Co-operative Boot and Shoe
Manufacturing Society and was a committee member. In the 1880s and 90s, he
was a member of the Board of the Leicester Co-operative Society and edited
the Leicester & District Record which was the organ of co-operation
in the town.
In 1891, J. H. Woolley was
elected as Liberal Labour Association candidate in the local elections for
Westcotes. Both he and his son were on the Council at the same time.
He was president of NUBSO No 1 branch from 1891-2 and as a trade union
official, he was Inskip’s main lieutenant
on the NUBSO executive. Although, he was
initially a advocate of arbitration rather than strike action, by 1894, he was opposing Inskip and supporting the
socialists’ calls for co-operative ventures and the banning of overtime.
Nevertheless, he was described by the Wyvern in 1895 as a staunch
Liberal. He was also an active member of the Secular Society.
In the wake of the set back for the
union during the 1895 lock-out, Joseph wrote:
“As an object lesson to the
workers in the late lock-out in the boot and shoe trade, it stands
unique (Equity) in the example it sets before them of how best to unite
the interests of Capital and Labour by employing themselves. When this
is done, the need for trade unions will cease to exist and strikes and
lock-outs with all there attendant miseries will be relegated to the
limbo of the past.”
Paradoxically the L.R.C. pact with
the Liberals in 1903 meant that all the old Lib-Lab candidates could not
be accommodated, as a result he lost his council seat when his ward
organisation had to accept an ‘orthodox’ Liberal candidate.
His wife, Elizabeth (born c1838)
worked for a time as a laundress and was later a member of the L.C.S.
education committee and Co-op Women’s Guild. She died in 1909. Hid daughter
Clara (born c1866) was a hosiery worker and active in the Co-operative
Women’s Guilds in the 1900s.
Sources: The Wyvern, 20th
September 1895 & 22nd July 1898, Leicester Co-operative
Society, (1898) Co-operation in
Leicester, Bill Lancaster, Radicalism
Co-operation and Socialism, Greening, Edward O., A Pioneer
Born: New Radford, Notts
1860 Died: 1948 (Co-operator and Secularist)
S.G. Woolley’s was the younger bother
of Harry and the son of J.H. Woolley. He first joined a trade union at the
age of 15 and NUBSO soon after it was formed and later became a student at
the Working Men’s College. Following the strike at the West End boot
factory of the C.W.S. in 1886, he launched the movement amongst his fellow
employees that resulted in the foundation of the ‘Equity’ Boot factory. It
was he that called the founding meeting held at St Margaret’s Coffee House
in Church Gate in 1886.
Both he and his wife Elizabeth were
members of the Secular Society and he was a member of the Secular Cricket
Club that attempted to play cricket on Sundays during the summer of 1885.
Their games were obstructed by the police who did not intervene when he
was assaulted by a mob. The following day, the Secularists attempted to
take legal action against one of the crowd, but it was rejected by the
The Secularists drew attention to the Abbey Park byelaws
which prohibited any interference with those playing at cricket on
the Pasture. The bye laws gave the police powers to remove obstructers and
to take their names and addresses. Instead the police did their best to
hamper the Sunday cricketers.
Sam Woolley was a life long non-smoker and abstainer and was
elected to the board of the Leicester Co-operative Society c1918.
Sources: Leicester Chronicle, 4 July 1885, F.J. Gould,
A History of the Leicester Secular Society, 1900
Born: Davenport, 23rd May
1876, died: 1944 (Co-operator)
Worley was the son of Henry Worley, an engine fitter, whose father had
pioneered the Devonport Dock Society. Joseph Worley entered the service of
the co-operative movement at the age of fourteen when he joined the
Plymouth Co-operative Society. From his earliest years in the movement,
Worley extended his education in co-operative history and allied subjects.
He regularly attended the co-operative summer schools, first as a student
(at the first co-operative summer school in Castleton in 1913) and then as
a teacher. He took an active part, also from very early in his career, in
the practical affairs of his own society. In 1899 he helped to establish
the Plymouth Printers, a co-operative venture, and he served as chairman
of the education committee of the Plymouth Society. In 1905 he was
appointed secretary of the Bridgwater Co-operative Society and in 1909
transferred to the Plympton, becoming their manager-secretary.
Worley was always to the left of
centre - later in life he lectured for the National Council of Labour
Colleges - and he showed his political attitudes in an early commitment to
the cause of unionism among co-operative employees. He joined the
Associated Union of Co-operative Employees on the formation of the
Plymouth branch in 1900 and when a district council was formed for the
West country, Worley was elected president. Later, after he had moved to
Leicester, he sat on the Midland district council. In 1915 he was elected
to the executive council and continued to serve until 1917 when army
service caused his retirement.
It was his appointment in 1910, as
the first propaganda agent for the Co-operative Productive Federation,
which brought him into prominence in the national movement. Within a few
years he was generally regarded as an ambassador for co-operative
production throughout Europe and he represented the C.P.F. at the first
Russian Co-operative Congress after the Revolution. In 1922 he succeeded
Robert Halstead as secretary of the Federation, a position he held until
his death in 1944.The offices of the C.P.F. were in Leicester in Horsefair
Street. Also in 1922 he was elected to the central committee of the
International Co-operative Alliance and he represented Britain for many
years at international conferences. He served on the board of the
Leicester Society from 1922 until 1937, when he retired for reasons of
health; he was a member of the joint parliamentary committee for many
years; a director of the Co-operative Press, and president of the
Co-operative Congress in 1938.
In 1930 he was chairman of the
special committee of inquiry which recommended the establishment of a
National Co-operative Authority, and he was himself a member of the
Authority from the time of its formation. At this time he was editing The
Co-operator's Tear Book and the Co-operative Productive Review. A fluent
speaker, he also expressed in writing his life- time of experience in the
co-operative movement in A Social Philosophy of Co-operation, which
was published two years before his death.
During the 1930’s, he frequently
spoke on anti-fascist platforms in Leicester along with others figures
from the left. His last public act was typical of the man. During World
War Two, he moved the vote of thanks to the chairman at a public meeting
called jointly by the education department of the Leicester Co- operative
Society and the British-Soviet Friendship Society, addressed by the Dean
of Canterbury (the Very Rev. Hewlett Johnson). The Leicester Labour
Party had threatened to discipline one of their aldermen, Sydney Taylor,
for taking the chair and ‘J.J.’ as he was always known, was present in
Taylor's support. He died within two hours of reaching his Leicester home
on 18 November 1944 and was buried at Welford Road Cemetery on 22
November. His wife and a son survived him.
Sources: Dictionary of Labour
Biography, Co-operative Magazine
Born: c1782 died 31st May
1860 aged 78 years (Chartist)
George Wray Whitting of Talbot-lane was generally known
as George Wray. He came from a well-to-do family near Wrotham in Kent,
however his mother died when he was two years old and his father emigrated
to America and was not heard of again. George was consequently brought up
by relations, who apprenticed him to a shoemaker at Wrotham. His master
was a Jacobin and George was entrusted to take presents to the political
prisoners held in Maidstone gaol.
After his apprenticeship he moved to Glasgow, where he
was chosen as secretary to the United Trades during the agitation for the
repeal of the Combination Laws. He finally settled in Leicester in 1832
after the passing of the Reform Bill and became a member of the Working
Men's Political Association. (Chartists)
He was chairman of the All Saints Open Association of Chartists, which in
1842 ran a school. Thomas Cook was the president and Wray was treasurer. He was fiercely critical of
the Chartist leader
Thomas Cooper and wrote a letter to him
“You are a man of great talent, but little judgement possessing
neither honour or honesty and as regards politics, that you have not one
spark of Chartist principle in you.”
He had little time for Cooper's successor
In 1843 he wrote to the Mercury saying:
I should like to know how Bairstow can for one moment
after this, ever think of gaining the confidence of any portion of well
thinking men. For my own part I would kick all such leaders out of the
ranks of Chartism; for the man that can act as he has done, and face it
out in so barefaced a manner, would sell me and the whole fraternity of
Chartists, if he could get a good price for us.
In 1843, he was 'strike president' during a dispute with
John Hardy boot and shoe makers.
George came back to the fore among Leicester Chartists in the borough in
1849 and lamented the decay of Chartism once employment had returned.
He was chosen by the Chartists to represent Leicester at
the 1851 Convention.
Holyoake's Reasoner shows him as a subscriber to
Bronterre O'Brien's testimonial. When
the Chartist leader John Frost returned from imprisonment and gave a
lecture on the Horrors of Convict life at the Temperance Hall in 1857,
Wray proposed the vote of thanks.
He was also president for several years of the
Shoemakers' Association, by whom he was respected for his uprightness
and fidelity of character, and universally esteemed all knew him.
He has left a poor widow to lament his loss, whom he had been married 44
years. He was buried in the Welford Road Cemetery.
Sources: Leicestershire Mercury, 26th
March 1842, 9th June 1860, Leicester Chronicle 25th March 1843, 24th
Born: Cheadle, Staffs, 18th
August 1818, died 18th September 1881 aged 63 (Owenite,
Liberal, Republican & Secularist)
Michael Wright was the son of a small
farmer and went to work in a tape factory at the age of seven. At the age
of 17, he moved to Leicester and became a follower of Robert
Owen. He then went to live and work on the unofficial Owenite Community at Manea Fen where he spent 18 months before the community collapsed in 1841.
Wright then went to Manchester,
working in a weaving mill joining in the anti corn law agitation, where he
married in 1843. He then moved to Erdington and Birch’s Green and then to
Foleshill, where became a manager for a silk weaving firm. During these
years, he was active in the Chartist agitation. At the request to T.W.
Hodges, (who had been a fellow socialist at Manea Fen and who became mayor of
Leicester 1865-67), he moved back to Leicester to manage Hodge’s factory
on Welford Road which had recently been started for the manufacture of
In 1864, there was a strike at Hodges
factory and Wright opposed the union’s claim because he believed that
“the trades union was overstepping it legitimate bounds and was attempting
to tyranise over and dictate to employers as to how they should conduct
their business.” He then went into the manufacture of elastic web on
his own account and made a substantial amount of money.
Wright was a total abstainer for the
greater part of his life and a vegetarian. He was attracted to the
Secularist doctrines formulated by G.J. Holyoake and was described as
being less extreme as many in the ‘Secular Party.’ He was active in
re-establishing the Secular Society in 1867 and in the Leicester
Republican Association. He also became one of the leaders of the
anti-vaccination movement. In January 1870, a working men's conference
assembled at the Temperance Hall to discuss the burning question of
education. Michael Wright advocated the programme of the National
Education League, which aimed at excluding theological teaching from the
Board schools. He was elected to the Board of Guardians in 1873 and gave
his support to the working men candidates in the local elections. He was a
major shareholder in the Secular Hall.
In 1855, Charles Bradlaugh and others
had formed the National Sunday League and from then on there was a running
battle between Freethinkers and Sabbatarians. It was centred on the
question of Sunday opening of art galleries and museums. During the 1870s
Wright agitated for Sunday opening of the museum and in 1874 the Leicester
MP, P.A. Taylor, brought a bill on Sunday opening before parliament. The
Secretary of the Lord’s Day Observance Society did not want art galleries
to be open at any time because they felt that the nude statuary and
paintings were likely to inflame the passions. It was not until January
1891 that the Museum and Free Library were eventually opened to the
In 1870, Michael moved his business
to Quorn. (It continues there to this day under family ownership) The
family lived on Leicester Road Thurmaston. In January 1874, at his son’s
wedding, Wright announced the union of his workpeople with the firm. A
system of co-partnership was to be adopted by which his workers would be
paid a share of the profits. Such a system had already been instituted by
Josiah Gimson. However, Wright was also an active
member of the Elastic Web Manufacturers’ Association which, during the
summer of 1874, began a
seven week lock-out of the workforce. This was intended to break the power of the
weavers’ union. Bitterness and wage cuts following the lock-out. G. J.
Holyoake’s view that Michael Wright efforts to introduce industrial
partnership failed because it was not supported by the workforce conceals
the legacy of resentment and mistrust that must have existed after the
strike. His sons Philip (died 1900) and Thomas were both active Secularists.
Sources: Midlands Free Press, 10th
January 1874, 24th September 1881 (obit), F. J. Gould, The
History Of The Leicester Secular Society, 1900, Bill Lancaster,
Radicalism Co-operation and Socialism, George Jacob Holyoake, The
History of Co-operation, 1875, David Nash, Secularism, Art and
Albert Linwood Wright became the
assistant priest at St Mark’s in 1897. In 1903, he went to South Africa
and became rector of East London West, Cape Colony and Chaplain of Native
Convict Station, East London St. In 1911, he became Rector of
Boksburg, in the Transvaal. He saw
service in France in 1917 as chaplain to the South African forces.
He returned to Britain and in 1918
and he succeeded Canon
Donaldson as the rector of St Marks. Like his predecessor, he was a member
of the I.L.P. In the early 1930s he was active in
the campaign against aerial bombing. “I do not call bombing from the
air the Englishman’s way of playing the game.” He also played a role
in helping the Hunger Marchers in 1934 at a time when the official trade
union movement was hostile to the NUWM. He took and active interest in
housing and slum clearance and opposed the removal of entire
communities to the outskirts of the City.
Apart from being a very forceful preacher Can on Wright
was also a writer of note. Among his plays was a pageantry work performed
at most churches and a play "The New Jerusalem and the Slums" which was
performed at St Marks.
In 1939, he became the Lord Mayor's chaplain and told
the congregation at the Cathedral that "We must do what we can to
extinguish class distinction in this city. Our new Lord Mayor is a man of
the people." (Alderman
George Parbury) Referring to the war the Canon said : "We must put
our whole heart and soul into our cause. We shall not be untrue to the men
who died in the last war if we take up the cause again. We seek a new and
During the Second World War, he wrote a regular weekly
column for the Leicester Evening Mail.
Sources: Daily Herald, 23rd March
1923, Leicester Mercury, July 1932, Leicester Mercury 13th November 1939.
Leicester Evening Mail 26th October 1950
Peter Wright was a lecturer at the
City of Leicester School of Education. (later Scraptoft College and
Leicester Polytechnic) he was part of the very significant group of local
Communist intellectuals involved with the fight for comprehensive
education. He made the occasional contribution to the education magazine
Peter had served in Yugoslavia during the Second World War with
the partisans and spoke Serbo-Croat. From
January, 1945, to October, 1947, Major Peter
Wright was employed as Assistant Military Attaché at Belgrade. In 1950 as
a result of the Tito-Stalin split, the Yugoslav newspaper “Borba” alleged
that Peter Wright was one “several suspect personalities within the
British Communist Party" participating in the counter revolutionary
campaign against Yugoslavia,. Apparently his name (and those of four
others) was mentioned during the show
trial of some of the followers of Chetnik leader Draza Mihailovich who had
been executed by Tito's regime in 1946. It was a bizarre accusation since these Communists were accused of helping a Royalist,
who fought against Tito and who sometimes collaborated with the Germans.
Although the British had backed Tito
as the most effective force against the Nazis, the Yugoslav press report
caused questions to be asked in parliament. British McCarthyites like Lord
Vansittart, used the report to advocate the banning of Communsts from
various positions. However the reply was given that His Majesty's
Government are satisfied that in none of these cases was anything done
which was contrary to the national interest.
Peter was active against the
colour bar at the Admiral Nelson pub on Humberstone Gate. Following a
sit-down demonstration in the upstairs lounge bar, the landlady called the
police who arrested Peter and three others. He told the court that
“It was our intention to protest over this colour bar by speaking to
people in the bars and telling them about the landlord’s actions.”
He said that there was a large crowd at the bar but they were not being
“I was later asked to leave and did so. I then saw a Nigerian student
being pushed violently down the stairs....There
was a crowd at the entrance door which began to surge forward. Policemen
started to push them back and during the struggle one of the officers fell
over and I tripped over him."
Peter Wright bound over in the sum of £20 for 12 months to be of good
behaviour having being found guilty of committing a breach of the peace by
fighting and behaving in a disorderly manner. Shortly after the colour bar
was lifted. In later years, Peter was very active in CND and
voiced his opposition to
the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia.
HC Deb 05 April 1950 vol 473 cc1170, Belfast News-Letter, 30th January
1950 Leicester Mercury prob 9th November 1964
Thomas Wright who lived in Burley's
Lane was a principle figure in the Leicester branch of the
National Union of the Working Classes. This was set up as a result of
working class disillusion with the 1832 Reform Bill.
Wright was chairman of the Framework
Knitters committee set up in 1933 which had attracted donations from the
likes of Earl Howe, Sir Henry Halford and Richard Harris. The intention
was to raise £15,000 to acquire 2,000 frames which would be let to men who
would undertake to not to work below a fair price. The 'gentlemen' would
also act as trustees for the frames and the cost of the frames would be
from 9d to 3/6 per week. The Committee also sought to support knitters who
could not find work for a fair price. The would be allowed 6/- a week and
it was paid for by those in work paying 1d per week. The scheme seems to
have come to nothing as nothing is heard of it after 1833.
Wright's involvement with the shceme may have been
affected by his prosecution for selling unstamped newspapers.
From 1816, all publications had to bear a government stamp and retail at
7d (3p) each. The Poor Man's Guardian claimed the newspaper stamp was a
tax on knowledge; it had the significant motto 'Knowledge is power'.
Published at the low price of a penny per weekly copy it bore the explicit
heading: Published contrary to 'law' to try the power of 'might'
In 1833, Thomas Wright was summoned before the
Magistrates for selling the Poor Man's Guardian. He was fined £20 or six
months in the Borough House of Correction, further charges were then
brought and he was fined another £10 or three months in prison. In 1832 a
man named Francis Moore had beem sent to prison for three months for
selling unstamped 'Paddy's Watches' (Almanacs) on Braunstone Gate.
Sources: Leicester Chronicle,27th October, 3rd November 1832, 12th January,
15th June, 13th July, 1833, Poor Man's Guardian,
23rd February 1833,
Leicester Journal, 22nd February 1833, A. Temple Patterson,
Warwickshire 1851, died: (Secularist and cricketer)
Thomas Wright was the youngest son of
Michael Wright, the ex-Owenite shareholder in the Secular Hall) In 1884,
after his father's death, he became president of the Secular Society.
During the 1880s, he was very active in challenging the
kill joy attitude of the Sabbatarians in Leicester in realm of sport and
music. During the summer of 1885, the Secular Society's cricket team
team attempted to play cricket on a Sunday on Abbey Pasture. Initially
they were stopped by the police, but it became apparent that the police
had no powers to stop them since there were no byelaws prohibiting cricket
on Sunday. Instead Church militants were dispatched to break up the games.
On Sunday 28th June, shortly
after 2pm, Thomas Wright proceeded to the Pasture and stumps were fixed. A
thousand people, including a number of Sabbatarian roughs, hustled round
and hindered play and police stood and watched. A second wicket was
pitched and the same tactics repeated. A drunk seized Mr. Wright and
suggested they should have a ------ swim together, and the crowd added
suitable volleys of oaths. Mr. Stephen (representative of The Standard)
tried to shield Mr. Wright, but was chased across the Pasture by the
orthodox mob. The following day the magistrates dismissed a summons
against one of the crowd who had assaulted another Secularist
The Secularists drew attention to the Abbey Park byelaws
which prohibited any interference with those playing at cricket on the
Pasture. The bye laws gave the police powers to remove obstructers and to
take their names and addresses. Wright called upon the ' police to put the
byelaws into force, against those who persisted in "wilfully obstructing,
disturbing, and annoying them in the proper use of the Cricket and
Gradually the Secularists managed to play for longer,
though on one occasion when the policed decided to intervene by standing
between the bowler and batsman; this tactic led to a police constable and
sergeant being hit by balls. Inconsequence the police then removed the
Secularists' stumps. In August, after someone picked up the ball and threw
it into the river, the Secular cricketers demanded that the police take
the man's name and on Monday morning a summons was taken out against the
man for maliciously damaging the ball, but the magistrates refused the
application. The attitude of the Council acknowledged that the Secularists
had the right to play, but urged them to desist nonetheless. See
F.J. Gould on the
observance cricket wars .
In January 1888, Thomas Wright, as president of the
Secular Society, was summoned by the Chief Constable for holding a musical
concert on a Sunday at the Secular Hall. The Corporation had just secured
an Act of Parliament which prohibited music on Sunday, Christmas Day or
Good Friday anywhere except a place of worship. As a result, the Secular
Society gathered a petition and asked the magistrates grant a seven day
license for music, so as to give to all the public halls in Leicester "the
advantages already possessed by the places of worship in the borough." The
petition gained the signature of the chairman of the Watch Committee which
was probably enough to secure the licence. However, it was a licence for
music and singing only: dancing on Sundays remained strictly forbidden.
Like his father and brother Philip,
he was involved with the family elastic web business. He lived at 'East
View' Regent Road. (in between 61 & 63) and later moved to Springfield
Road. Although he became a partner in his father's firm at the age of 21,
he left the firm soon after and set up in business. He later went back to
work for the firm as a commercial traveller until debts from bad
investments force him into bankruptcy in 1910.
Sources: Leicester Chronicle 4th,
11th July, 1st August 1885, Leicester Journal 21 August 1885,
Leicester Daily Post 12th November 1910, F. J. Gould: The History of the Leicester Secular Society, 1900
The Wynnes were all active in the
Communist Party. Charles Wynne was secretary of the Anti-fascist committee
in 1934 which published a manifesto that year. He was Secretary of Leicester Peace Council
in 1937. John Wynne was an
active anti-fascist activist in the 1930s and was on the Leicester
British-Soviet friendship Committee during WW2 (Charles G Wynne, 64
Evington Drive 1938) Margaret Wynne was secretary of the Leicester
British-Soviet friendship Committee during WW2. The president was Mrs Swainston, the first woman elected to the City Council. (she was initially
an independent, but later became a Tory)
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 27th
October 1934, 22nd