Friday, 10 October 2008

Memories of campaigning for the Liberals in Redcar during the early 1960's

We received the following from John Stevens Liberal Candidate for Cleveland in 1964:

Many congratulations on a wonderful result! It set my time clock going!

May I indulge myself in a little flight of memory?

I became PPC for Cleveland in 1960 after helping to form Darlington Young Liberals. Cleveland Division covered Eston Redcar Guisborough Loftus and the Villages down to Hinderwell.

It was fairly lonely at the Parliamentary level but I did kick off the Redcar Liberals on a pretty successful run of local Govt wins - the most surprising of the results that I recall being a very near miss in Dormanstown. Labour had a real fright there as they were used to majorities in the thousands. There were at that time (pre-reorganisation) 6 Town Wards and we won three! This was, I think, in 1962. I lived in Mersey Road (No 126)

One oddity was that I met (at the age of 30) some old boys of 80+ in Eston who had worked for Herbert (Lord) Samuel who was Home Secretary in the great reforming Administration of 1907. I wrote to Lord Samuel who was then very ancient, asking him to the Liberal Annual Dinner in Redcar. He had to decline because of "the infirmities of old age" - I wish I'd kept his letter..... but what a tenous rope of history it all makes!

I polled about 12,000 (17%) which in 1964 was a fairly good result for Libs. (Lab (Tinn) gain from Tory (Proudfoot) My agent was Steve Cooksey from Leeds

Moved South 1965 with my then work and left politics to bring up my family: was a Founder Member of SDP and served 16 years on Colchester BC retiring in 2000 (my wife is Constituency Chairman)

Back in the Sixties a schoolteacher called Hargreaves was Hon Sec: John Fletcher was Chairman (His Dad was N Y CC Chair): My memory for names is not great but one or two of your (very much!) older members may remember our campaigning days in Redcar - there was a good sense of breaking new ground - and Lib Dem progress since the Sixties has been great! Please pass my very good regards to anyone who may have a memory of those days!

And thanks again for that good by-election and for stirring my memory so well!

John Stevens

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