Friday, May 08, 2009

Leonard Spencer and the Uxbridge Independant Labour Party

Uxbridge Independent Labour Party (ILP) was established in November 1911, its headquarters were at Rockingham Hall Rec, Uxbridge.

At it's inaugural meeting on 23rd November 1911, the chair was taken by Chair Robert W Hudson. The speaker at this meeting was Dr Charles A Parker who spoke on the private ownership of land.

Robert W Hudson 1 Swimbridge Terrace, of Rockingham Road, was chairman of Uxbridge Independent Labour Party and L.W."Leonard" Spencer its Secretary.

Councillor Henry Palmer of Hayes was also active in supporting Uxbridge ILP

Not everyone was pleased to witness the arrival of the ILP, the local pro "Tory" Uxbridge Gazette was not enthusiastic about this development stating witheringly and mockingly in its
editorial that "The ILP housed and directed as an everyday institution of Uxbridge, will soon cease to be a bogey to anyone".

At the December 1911 meeting of Uxbridge ILP, Mr J.T. Wescott Secretary of Hammersmith Independent Labour Party (ILP) spoke on the strike wave and industrial unrest sweeping Britain and noted
"How the general unrest which has its local manifestations had led to the Establishment of that branch of the ILP".

The ILP and Labour Party stood a number of candidates for election to the local Uxbridge council during this period including.
James Cochrane (electrician - Oakleigh, Watford Rd)
Thomas Rowley (Insurance Agent -Tachbrook Rd)
Frederick Rolfe ( Working Tanner-Coss Street)
Ernest Cave
W.A Herbert

The ILP acted as the overtly political wing of the Party while the broader Labour Party was spearheaded by the Uxbridge Labour & Trades Council which had been established in 1910.


L "
Leonard" W. Spencer was born in Guildford 29th July 1889, educated at Collegete School at Reading, He was the son of Mr. T. B. Spencer, of 66, Kidmore Road, Caversham, Reading.

Aged just 17, he left home to open a business in Uxbridge, living later at Belmont Road, Uxbridge. Leonard Spencer went on to helped establish and became the first secretary of the Uxbridge Chamber of Commerce, while also participating in the establishment of a local parliament (debating society).

As an early motor cyclist enthusiast he was reported to be the first person to have ever successfully motorcycle up Snowdon, he also toured Norway and Iceland as a young man.

Spencer had been a keen supporter of Mr Edmund Dene
Morel (later Labour MP for Dundee and married to Mary Richardson) agitation over the brutal rule of King Leopold in the Belgium Congo (Now the Democratic republic of Congo).

Spencer became a Christian Socialist believing "that there was no incompatibility but rather the fullest harmony between Christianity and socialism".

He went on to become the founding Secretary of the Uxbridge Independent Labour Party (ILP) and in 1910 he had been elected to Uxbridge Council as a Labour candidate along with Edwin Westcott. While on the council he was involved in the plan to build some of the first Uxbridge Council houses and it was stated that these "were definitely a monument to the energies and the eloquence of Mr Spencer".

When World War 1 broke he
considered it his Christain duty to serve and he was one of the first to enlist as a Cyclist Orderly in the (London Cycling Regiment) later 13th Kensington Battalion in order to defend the sovereignty of "little countries overseas".

He wrote home stating "he would not come home for the world until victory was won" and encouraging others to follow him and enlist.

At Ypres, during the Battle of Neuve Chapel
during March and April 1915, A battle which represented the first large scale organised attack undertaken by the British army during the war. Spencer's Battalion took major losses, he underwent a terrible ordeal, suffering from hunger, thirst and sleepless nights. He only took off his clothes to wash and slept every night with his motorcycle by his side (probably providing a vital courier service). He served without respite for seven months.

he Regimental History of the Kensington's Regiment describes their experiences during Neuve Chapelle. C Company was involved on the first day, and advanced at 9 a.m. to the village cemetery, where they had to take cover amidst churned-up graves. On the 12th of March, their C.O. (Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis) noted that by 12.25 p.m. the German bombardment of their positions (in the old front line) was "Perfect Hell".

It seems that this "perfect hell" had finally undermined Leonard Spencer's fundamental Christian beliefs, it was stated later that he had rediscovered his beliefs before his untimely death, shot through the head by a German snipper on the 1st September 1915.

Private (and Comrade) L.W. Spencer is buried at Longuenesse St Omer, France.


James Gardner MP for Hammersmith North (elected 1923) was eight years Chairman of West London Independent Labour Party (ILP)