Sunday, January 30, 2011

Maud Brown - National Unemployed Workers Movement

Maud Brown

Maud Brown was the women's organiser of the National Unemployed Workers Movement (NUWM) and in that capacity helped lead the great hunger marches of the nineteen thirties.

In 1929 a Women's section of the NUWM was established on the initiative of a Mrs Youle of Sheffield Women's Section of the NUWM.

Maud Brown became the head of the new department, according to Richard Croucher who wrote a comprehensive history of the NUWM "her appointment marked the beginning of a rapid and qualitive improvement in the movements work among women".

Maud Brown, was unlike many other leaders of the NUWM not a member of the Communist Party

With the failure of the Government to abolish the "not genuinely seeking work" clause or address other unemployed grievances It was decided that the
"hunger march" of march 1930 consisted of some 1,100 men included twelve contingents coming chiefly from Scotland, Durham, Northumberland, Plymouth, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, derby, south wales, Staffordshire, Midlands and Kent would include

It was also agreed that for the first time a women's contingent . This contingent from the derelict textile areas comprised of eight women from Barnsley and fourteen from Bradford. This decision may partly be explained by the appointment of Margaret Bondfield as Minister of Labour.

They set off from Leeds with Maud Brown at the head of the Women's contingent and arrived in London on may day to be greeted by 50,000 supporters May Day. However, the women's contingent marched separately according to Margaret McCarthy Secretary of Burnley NUWM "to avoid scandalous gossip".

The women's contingent was met in London by the London Committee of Action set up to support the Hunger March. This committee presented with a red scarf

After the rally in Hyde Park many of the marchers sought accommodation In Fulham Workhouse, after a major stand off with the marchers and the huge crowd who supported them, they were allowed inside, almost immediately a huge red flag was hoisted, despite the protestations of the workhouse master.

In 1935 the NUWM published "stop this starvation of mother and child", Maud Browns booklet presented a wealth of medical evidence to show the close relationship between poverty and mother and child morbidity.

At her eightieth birthday in August 1968 Maud Brown spoke of her role in the unemployment movement and her part in Aberdeen, when tenants hauled rats from homes at councillors. Her special job was to throw the only live one.

Nan Macmillan stated of her role in the hunger marches that she organised them with "courage and fearlessness".

Hilda Vernon speaking at Brown's eightieth birthday she did so "With a stern sense of duty, a kind heart and a sense of humour"

Michael Walker

29th June 1975
died aged 86

Maud Brown (below)