Sunday, September 02, 2007

Dickie Bond

Cecil Bond, Cyril Bond, Dick Bond or more commonly know as Dickie Bond, was a leading member of the Communist Party in Uxbridge, his union the Electricians Union and later Pensioners Federation.

Born in Cowley, Uxbridge on Good Friday, 13th April 1900 he lived in a small cottage in Clements(?), in Cowley.

His father who could not read or write was a farm labourer toiling long hours in the fields for low pay for a farmer called Richardson.

His mother worked in the kitchens of Cowley House for Countess of Essex and Dickie recalled sitting at the back step of the House do living off left overs his mother could spirit away “When I came home from school I used to wait and see if she had brought any scraps from the kitchen….that was how it was, that's why I am a socialist"

He attended the Hillingdon Road School and greatly enjoyed it, Aged 12 his family moved a few miles down the road to Uxbridge.

In his early years Dickie attended Friends Meeting House and it was here he meet sympathetic educated people Dickie considered the Quakers a "very intelligent people" and his socialism grew from that.

In his Youth Dickie was a very keen sportsman, particularly cycling and he was proud to represent the British Workers Sports Federation in Moscow Workers Olympics in 1929 and again at the Paris Workers Olympics in 1930 The Federation had been established in 1923 under the auspices of Clarion Cycling Club, Labour Party sympathisers and trade union officials. Its goal was international unity and peace through sport.

Dickie recalled that during the general strike of 1926 how he use to act as a cycling courier between Uxbridge Strike Committee headquarters at the Uxbridge Labour Hall in Villiers Street and the TUC strike committee headquarters at Southall Labour Hall (where a young Sid Bidwell, later MP was also active) and Labour hall at committee. Dickie stated that Southall was always the strongest area trade union wise because of the commitment of the Railwaymen.

He recalled that the Uxbridge strike committee was lead by a “fine man” called Tom Dubberley the local leader of the railwaymen (NUR) .

Politically, Dickie Bond had originally joined the Uxbridge Independent Labour Party (ILP)an ILP who he recalled had about 20-30 members. The Uxbridge ILP held open air meetings at the traditional Saturday night meeting and speaking spot by the pump at the back of St Margaret’s church, Uxbridge and he recalled speakers such as Fenner Brockway entertaining the crowd.

Dickie recalled that a policeman would often be present at these open air meetings to take the names of speakers, and when he was asked for his name on one occasion he replied “That book must be full of my name”.

Their was also a small branch of the Social Democratic Federation in Uxbridge run by Albert Notley (Life Assurance salesman) and a Mr Barr a watch repairer).

Unemployed, Dickie became active in the National Unemployed Workers Movement and became Secretary of the Uxbridge branch and was involved in a Hunger march from Southall Labour Hall to Hyde Park with banners stating "Work or Full maintaince". the march started with 30 or 40 mostly from Hayes and Southall but picked up groups of unemployed along the way... "we shouted to passers by join the march..join the march and some did".

Dickie was also involved in the Uxbridge League Against Imperialism (LAI) (Reginald Bridgeman head of the national LAI was the local Labour candidate).

In 1929 Dickie joined the Communist Party in 1929 (after his visit to Moscow to participate in the Workers Olympics of 1929), Dickie spent the subsequent years until his death selling the Daily Worker and later the Morning Star regularly outside Uxbridge Underground station, “The Star is my bible”.

During the Thirties, Dickie found it hard to secure long term employment as an electrician because of his political views he was regularly victimised and blacklisted " when ever they got to find out who I was I was sacked, It was the same where ever I went".

He was awarded the TUC Tolpuddle medal for recruitment in 1934 (a medal which he continued to ware until his jacket lapel until his death).

Dickie was one of many who mobilised to defend the East End against Mosleys fascists at Cable street on October 4th 1936,. Dickie mobilised many of his union members to attend Cable Street.

However Dickie himself found himself and 20 tor 30 other anti fascists corned by a large Police presence, eventually the Police charged them with their batons forcing them deliberately into a large underground lavatory where they were locked in by the policemen.

During the Spanish Civil War Dickie helped with collections but like a number in the AEU and ETU members to recondition and construct motor cycles (many of them motor cycle ambulances) at Hayes Labour hall at Pump Lane lead by Sidney “Sid” Bennett (Fairey Aviation Engineering apprentice), and other like John Mansfield (also a Faiey Aviation apprentice).

Dickie recalled the witch hunt of Communists in 1941 lead by Labour Minister Herbert Morrison at the outbreak of the Second World War.

“I was working on Government work as an electrician, in the Liverpool dock yards (Cammell Lairds), one of the organisers of my union, Frank Foulkes a member of the Communist Party member, he was the local organiser, he came to me one day and said look Dick, I have been given instructions by the Police, that with your history, if your not out of Liverpool in 24 hours, your going to be arrested under (Regulation) 18b, for my political outlook"

"He said the only thing I can do now is take you to a certain place outside Liverpool (a little cottage that acted as a safe house), where they had all the food and everything for me, if your going to have a drink (he gave me money), If you go and have a drink tell them your one of the evacuee from London

"I was down there Down there about two or three weeks, I could not send a letter to my wife,or send her money, He had to do that"

After some weeks , he came down in his car, you’ve got to do some work….Russia had come into war (22nd June 1941) and the whole political complexion changed, so I went back to work as electrician ....I would have been arrested, if it was not for Frank Foulkes.... he saved me a lot of trouble".

Unsurprisingly, Dickie never ever went back to Liverpool.

One other war time recollection was working "up North" with a young electricians apprentice and young Communist league member called Frank Chapple later the ultra right wing General Secretary of the Electricians Union.

Just after the end of the war, Dickie did secure permanent work (20 years) as an Electrician for the London County Council based at County hall but looking after local schools and health establishments, he became Chairman of the former London County Council Shop Steward Committee (and remained at Electricians Trade Union member for fifty five years).

After the war he worked with fellow Uxbridge Communist Fred Glitz and left wing L:abour councillors to address the shortages of housing and in 1946 helped squatters (many bombed out or newly returned soilders) to occupy Coaxden Hall, Providence Road Nursery.

Dickie also stood for the Uxbridge Town council as a Communist along with Glitz.

He served on the Electricians Trade Union (ETU) National Executive Committee and was on the London District Committee, President of North West Region and Chairman of Acton, Hayes and Uxbridge ETU branches

In the 1940's Dickie became involved with Hayes Trades Council for fifteen years ibefore its amalgamation to form Hillingdon Trades Union Council

He was a member of the London Co-operative Society (LCS) for 22 years, and was Chairman of District 28 of the LCS he was elected to the London Society’s West Area Education Committee.

After the War Uxbridge elected Labour MP Frank Beswick as its MP who was according to Dickie a good local Labour MP.

Active in the co-operative youth movement the Woodcraft folk at Providence road school, in the 60's-70s. Dickie Bond recalled that their were quite a lot of progressive people involved in co-operative movement locally including Mrs Dubblerley (later Mayor of Uxbridge).

In later years Dickie was active in the Uxbridge & District branch of the National Association of Old Age Pensioners.

Among his not so well known interests were poetry and folk music, particularly Peggy Seger and Ewan McColl his favourite song being “Where have all the flowers gone?”. Dickie was inspired to write a Ballard which he was to hear Peggy Seger sing. It was the Ballard of the Migrant Labourer

“A building is more than concrete,
It’s also part of them,
Who build but seldom inhabit,
Its also part of men.
Part of the sinew and muscle, the skill of their hands and brain.
Part of their hope in the morning, gone with the evening again.

His wife Nancy, was alsoa keen Socialist, Women’s co-operator and Labour party member. She was a founder member of Uxbridge Labour party, and on occasions a Labour Council candidate at which she was not only attacked by local Tories as a "Communist" but some inside the Party who tried to have her expelled for criticising Labour Party policy. Nancy died in 1969,

During the Miners strike of 1984-1985 he was charged with two counts of making a street collection without permission of the commissioner and with using a megaphone to obtain money (Hillingdon Miners Support Group raised over £ 6,000 from street collections with another £6,000 from local union branches (total of about £50,000 today)during the strike). Dickie appeared in court for the first time two days before his 85th birthday. He participated along with many from Hillingdon the Kent NUM the Ramsgate solidarity march for the Miners with Kent NUM friends who had picketed West Drayton Coal depot during the dispute (from the offices of the Trade Union Support Unit based in West Drayton)

After the strike he stated “The strike may be over but the struggle goes on for all of us the class struggle goes on all the bloody time"

Dickie was from my recollection a s
mall man, well dressed man, always wore a suit and and trilby hat, and had even in his later years a strong powerful voice

Michael Walker

Interview and Morning Star article 1985