Wednesday, July 04, 2007

First Socialist Public Meeting in Hillingdon

In July 1907 The London Standard announced that the London Clarion Scouts planned an “invasion” of Uxbridge, however the project was abandoned because of “inclement weather”. It then fell to the Southall Clarion Scouts to carry through on the plan and accordingly embarked upon the journey to St Margaret’s church Uxbridge on Saturday July 13th 1907 with the aim of initiating out what was the first socialist meeting ever held in Uxbridge at the old pump outside the church,

The local paper covered the event accordingly
“The meeting one of the first open air meetings held in Uxbridge was held outside St Margaret’s Church, the chief speaker being Councillor Horace Lucia (Southall) he explained that they (Socialists) aimed at the nationalisation of all means of production, distribution and exchange - not in order to rob anybody in any shape whatever, but in order to prevent the people, the workers being robbed as they were at present.

Socialism, he claimed, concerned life at every point, and would certainly sweep away the present unwholesome and unsanitary conditions in which so many of the working classes had to live, a condition, too which meant that they were underfed, badly clothed, and ill housed. He urged that the land, machinery, and other means of producing wealth. Should be utilised for the benefit of the whole nation, and not, as now, for the enrichment of a comparative few, while the mass of the people never knew how they were going to live from week to week.

Finally, he urged that if the people wanted social reforms carried out, they must look to no party but their own for they would get nothing which they did not strenuously claim and work for on their own behalf.

In November 1907 the Uxbridge gazette reported on the following regular events on Saturday night at the pump at St Margaret’s
Church Uxbridge , “The visitor to Uxbridge may see on any Saturday night just how the local people like the teachings of Socialism. Be it understood that the Uxbridge Socialist Society assembled themselves (with important speakers) in the triangle just outside the Church in Windsor Street and mounted on a box painted in flaming red, proclaimed to the public some of the advantages of Socialism. But the funny part of the whole business is that the Uxbridge people wont see the Socialists emphasise (ie) that “Socialism alone is the salvation of the masses” one of our staff went out of curiosity to watch the proceedings and the following transcript from his notebook will show pretty clearly the kind of reception the red flag has received

SOCIALIST ORAITOR: “the capitalists are..
THE CROWD: “Three cheers for Sir Frederick” (The local Tory MP)
SOCIALIST ORAITOR: “The wage slaves of England”

THE CROWD: “Good old Joe”

SOCIALIST ORAITOR: “You sweated workers”

THE CROWD: “Rot, Ailens, Jews”

SOCIALIST ORAITOR: “Think of your present conditions, I heard a man just now he had lost his job “

THE CROWD: an egg or two is thrown

THE CROWD: “Tariff Reform”
THE CROWD: Then a none too musical voice rises to song “If I could only take your hand” The notes are rendered in the slowest possible manner the musical susceptibilities of one of the socialists are hurt.
SOCIALIST ORAITOR: leaves the box and a colleague fills the vacancies.

SOCIALIST ORAITOR: “ ill sing you a song (he says) The red flag and he gets no further.
Boisterous laughter is all that is heard, discard reigns. Supreme despair on the faces of the red flaggers.
A Policeman walks round with a merry twinkle in his eye
ONE VOICE: “Three cheers for Joe”
THE CROWD: in unison they come back ONE VOICE: “And now three cheers for John Burns”
THE CROWD: “Boo - Boo - Boo - ray” When this has been repeated some half a dozen times.

THE CROWD: Sing God Save the Queen, two or three times

All then becomes quiet the Socialists have departed the crowd follows suit The Socialists however, before they went promised to return on Sunday morning.

The Secretary of Uxbridge Socialist Society was in 1907 Mr A.D. Notley of 8 Tachbrook Road, Uxbridge, who became a well known Uxbridge Socialists family.

At the end of September/early October 1908 a Socialist Van (This must have been a Clarion). The “Vanners” “entered upon a three day match with lungs and wit at Uxbridge, for about three hours each evening the pavement under the Market House rang with the heavy shock of the wordy warfare, and it
must be admitted that the Socialist Orator held their own remarkably well”

Albert Notley, born Meadham, Suffolk founder member of Uxbridge Social Democratic Federation later Party (SDF/SDP) Life Assurance Agent.

The other Social Democratic Federation member Dickie Bond recalled was Mr Barr who had a watch repair shop in the market house, Uxbridge.

A local Uxbridge branch of the Social Democratic Federation (DSDF) was established in early 1908 and meet at the Ram Hotel on Wednesday nights one of the first meetings was on “The coming down fall of our present social system” Public House.

Both the Notley and Barr family were involved in trade union activities into the 1980's