Friday, September 07, 2007

Samuel Philip Viant

Sam Viant was born in Plymouth in on 5th January 1882,

His mother was Phoebe Viant a shop grocer, his sister was Phoebe jnr,and brothers Daniel, Albert.

Educated at Devonport higher grade school, Plymouth

As a young man Sam Viant started an apprenticeship as a carpenter, but because of family financial difficulties had to withdraw.

In 1901 Samuel Viant was according to the Census, a carpenter living with his family at 22 Exeter Street, Plymouth. Later in that year he moved to London to work as a carpenter.

On his arrival in London
Sam a committed " abstainer" became involved in Dr Clifford's Brotherhood movement meetings in Westbourne Park,

He becomes heavily involved in trade union issues and attended Paddington School for Social Science and undertook a Ruskin College, Oxford correspondence courses.

Sam is elected Vice Chairman of Paddington Trades Council Member and joins the Independent Labour Party (ILP), standing unsuccessfully in 1908 for Paddington Council (with the support of his hero Kier Hardie).

Viant was also active in the Co-operative movement during this period.

He moves to Willesden and in 1918 unsuccessfully contests a seat on Willesden Council and
the newly created parliamentary seat of Willesden West, at the 1918 General Election.
In 1919, his hard work is rewarded and he is elected to Willesden Council and becomes the pioneering Chairman of the Works Committee, Justice of the Peace (1928-1949).

Finally, Sam Viant is elected as Member of Parliament for Willesden West on 6th December 1923. Accordingly he became a member of the first Labour Government and the first Labour MP in West Middlesex. (James Patrick Gardner elected at same election for Hammersmith North)

In 1929 Sam Viant as appointed Assistant Post Master General, until the Labour Government fell in 1931 due to the Ramsay MacDonald debacle and Viant lost his parliamentary seat at the subsequent election.

He won back the Seat in 1935 and held it until he retired at the 1959 General Election.

In later life,
Sam Vian took to wearing a white and blue striped waistcoat, with buttons each bearing a tiny coloured portrait of Kier Hardie.
Sam Viant was a National Executive member (General councilman) of the Carpenters & Joiners Union Executive Committee.

He was Member of Parliament for Willesden until 1959
when Laurence "Larry" Pavitt becomes Labour MP for Willesden.

In 1960 Sam Viant was elected Mayor of Willesden

Sam Viant died on the 19th May 1964, aged 81

Len Snow former Mayor of Brent recalls " He was a pleasant, quiet man, with a bristly moustache, who persuaded us rather than bludgeoned us with his political views"

Sam Viant's Election Agent was Alfie Nunn (1881-1955) they were described as the "perfect team" born in Paddington, but aged four moved with his family to Kilburn. he joined the Labour Party in 1902. Local Willesden Councillor and Mayor 1945-1946


Hamilton Hall, Willesden High Street became headquarters of the Willesden Labour Party in 1922 run by the Harlesden Labour Club which affiliated to the Independent Labour Party in 1911.

Dave Barrett

In 1904 the first acknowledged Labour Councillor, Dave Barrett was elected for Church End ward,

Dave Barrett was born in Kensington on 1st March 1855, he worked as a labourer, and then became the "registration agent" for the Irish Parliamentary Party and as such was said to have been known in every constituency in England.

In 1890 he helped get the unknown Lloyd George elected by getting Irish voters to support him. He was also an official of the General Labourers Amalgamated Society and a member of the Bricklayers Union

He came to Willesden in 1901/02 and founded the National Democratic League

Barrett did some excellent pioneering work on the Willesden Council and Board of Guardians, including extension of the Workhouse (Central Middlesex Hospital) pay of staff and the Independent Labour Party's Socialist Sunday School at Leopold School

Dave Barrett died in obscurity in 1926 and is buried in the Roman Catholic cometary at Kensal Green

Information on Dave Barrett from Len Snow's excellent history of the Labour Party in Brent

 November 1940 Young Socialist
Socialist Sunday School

Hounslow branch
20 Heath Road Hounslow
Sec Mrs Tierney 39 St Stephens Rd Hounslow

West London Federation

Sec James M Hoyle  10 Walnut Tree Road, Heston