Tuesday, October 20, 2009

John Mansfield - "Mr Hayes"

John Mansfield - Mr Hayes

John Mansfield was born 1920 in the Regents Park area of Camden Town, London. He was the son of a former World War One military and later railway policeman.

John moved with his family to Hayes in 1932 aged 12 and attended the Townfield school, Hayes.

After leaving School he became a toolmaker at the local aircraft builders factory, Fairey Aviation, Hayes. He soon became active in the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU the engineering union).

The Communist Party played a key role in improving production at Fairey aviation through the Works Committee during the Second World War. He recalled how the Communist party and the unions at Fairey had “turned over” management to improve “productivity” during a critical period in the War and how important this was for the war effort.

Many years later John recalled with great pride his involvement in a major Communist Party workers pageant in central London (possibly as part of the second front campaign "An Agreement with the Peoples" Pageant held on 20 June 1942, Empress Stadium ?) in his“clean” overalls and representing aviation workers.

John became Branch Chairman of the Communist Party in Hayes with Frank Foster as District Secretary, the other key figure was Robert Good of the Brass and Mechanics union, the Convenor at EMI.

The Communist Party in Hayes initially met during the War at Len’s cafe (Len Frampton was a Communist Party member) but later at the Communist Party offices at East Walk, Hayes and also at the Communist Parties, Thames Bookshop at 83 Station Road, Hayes. Later the Communist Party office would be consolidated at Southall and remained open well into the 1980’s.

The West Middlesex District of the Communist Party (which covered mainly engineering factories from Slough to Acton) was established in 1950 covering Hayes, Southall,

Greenford, Uxbridge, Yiewsley, Ruislip, Northwood, Sudbury, Acton,Chiswick, Ealing, Isleworth, Twickenham, Feltham, Heston, Staines, Slough with fifteen borough branches and sixty branches with a combined membership of 1,744.

Other Communist Party factory groups were at EMI, Firestones, Gillette, Tecale

mit, McLeans, AEC , Napier (Napier's at Acton had 150 CP members at one point), Hoover, Park Royal vehicles, Electronics, Old Oak Common rail depot, Chiswick & Fulwell London Transport depot.

Initially, Abe Lazarus was the West Middlesex District secretary, a "slave driver" according to Joyce Mansfield.

John was a regular contributor to the Hayes News. This weekly publication, while owned by a prominent local Hayes Labour Party activist, Ernest Harding, was seen by the local Labour Party as pro Communist Party. Not least because local Communist party activists Jack Maling, who worked at EMI had a regular column which he used to great local effect under his initials JJM.

John, stood as Communist party councillor and parliamentary candidate on a number of occasions in Hayes, but was for the most part content with being a thorn in the Hayes Labour Members of Parliament side, particularly right wing Labour MP’s, such as Arthur Skeffington and Neville Sandleson (who later defected to the SDP).

John, as a council tenant was also very active in Hayes and then later Hillingdon Tenants Movement, he sat on the Hillingdon Borough Tenants committee well into the 1990’s. He was also an officer of Hillingdon Trades Union Council for many years.

John lived with his devoted wife Joyce at 80 Attlee Road, Hayes (Barnhill council estate) for over 40 years.Joyce Mansfield was born in 1919 at Cambridge, then her family moved to Oxford. Until the age of 13.Joyce Mansfield joined the Communist Party in 1943. She worked at local Hayes co-op store, Uxbridge Road store for 11 years and was a member of USDAW, the shop workers union.

John was softly but forceful spoken, very approachable man, who did not suffer fools gladly, he was one of the most determined, committed and important members of the West Middlesex Communist Party.

John Mansfield remained a committed communist to the end, he and Joyce were huge supporters of Peter Fagan and John McDonnell Hayes Labour parliamentary candidates for the constituency and at every parliamentary elections, the Mansfield's house was used as a Labour Barnhill ward committee room.

In later years John's opinions were sought after by many and he was held in high esteem,which ensured him being labelled on more than one occasion as “Mr Hayes”.

John Mansfield died 2004 ? (or 2003) and it was fitting that

local Hayes Member of Parliament John McDonnell gave the oration at his funeral. Joyce never recovered from the death of John and died soon after.

John Mansfield was a true titan in the Hayes Labour Movement.