North West HISTORY journal
No 46, 2021 - 22
For the second year running, our journal has been put together courtesy of email, zoom and telephone. The members of the Editorial board and the Committee of the North West Labour History Society are keen to get back round the table, perhaps at the Working Class Movement Library, surrounded by possibility and sources of inspiration.
Our dear friend and comrade, Veronica Trick, who who died unexpectedly earlier this year, was encouraged by Ruth Frow to research the story of her grandmother, Ellen Tooley, and we reprint it here in commemoration. Veronica was endlessly curious and interested in people - those she met and those from the past, she wanted to know the how and especially the why. Our authors share Veronica’s curiosity. What’s the inspiration, the catalyst ,the thing that starts us off? June Turner, volunteering as a guide at Todmorden Town Hall, wanted inform herself about that well respected family, the Fieldens. She exposed uncomfortable truths whilst delving into the family’s business affairs. John Fielden, a child labourer who became an MP, was feted for his championing of shorter working hours and the extension of the franchise yet he actively sought to increase his fabulous wealth by the exploitation of enslaved African people. Chris Clayton has written on many topics but this one is a personal passion, she loves her football. Greig Campbell listens to the stories that people need to tell and shares them. Ruth and Eddie would surely approve.
A good photograph tells its own story and the photographer may remain unknown but how much more meaning is added when we understand the motivation of the photographer? Many readers will be familiar with the work of Shirley Baker but for others, Evelyn Ashmore may provide a welcome introduction. Baker’s distinctive photos recorded a period of great change in Salford.
There is no room for nostalgia; many of those Victorian terraces had become substandard. We should feel some anger for the tearing apart of those communities and the shoddy quality of the replacement housing they were offered. They deserved better. The Unity Wellbeing Centre in Nelson, thanks to Kevin and Gary Webb and Charlotte Bill, is packed with interpretation of the history of the building and the inspiring people connected with it. I suggest a day out to discover more - there’s a cafe!
My thanks go to the people who contribute to the production of this journal; all members of the Editorial Board, particularly the indefatigable, multitasking James Rees, Mike Carter for design and great patience, authors, advertisers, subscribers and readers. Many thanks are due to David Hargreaves who seized and transformed the role of Book Review Editor some years ago. He’s relinquishing that title but we may expect his name appearing in the contributors’ list in future journals. And, taking over that role, welcome back, Eddie Little, actively seeking titles for review and reviewers to write those reviews.