Saturday, January 04, 2014

Thomas Williams and the Hammersmith South by-election of 1949

The London Sound Survey site carries a wide selection of archive sound recordings and other resources dealing with the history of the city.

Among them is a recording from the Hammersmith South by-election of 1949. It carries the victor's speech by Thomas Williams, who had just held the seat for Labour. Note that he does not thank the police, as now appears obligatory.

Williams went on to hold seat at the 1950 and 1951 general elections. Following boundary changes, Williams won the new Barons Court seat, defeating Sir Keith Joseph by 913 votes.

In 1959 he lost Barons Court to the Conservatives, with a certain S.H.J.A. Knott coming third as an Independent Liberal. Simon Knott is a name that will be familiar to London Liberals of a certain age.

But that was not the end of Thomas Williams. Two years later Edith Sumerskill, the Labour MP for Warrington, accepted a peerage and stood down from the Commons. Williams won the subsequent by-election and remained MP for the town for the next 20 years.

In 1981 he was appointed a circuit judge and stood down from the Commons himself. This caused the famous Warrington by-election that Roy Jenkins narrowly failed to win for the SDP.

Thanks to @floratrype on Twitter, who alerted me to the London Sound Survey site by tweeting this rather wonderful Latin lesson from Eltham College in 1938.

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