OH209 Interview with Wally Jenkins (Bristol Politician) Part3
Kieron Costello [KC]: This is a second interview with Alderman Wally Jenkins and carried out by Kieron Costello from the museum service on Monday 23rd August 1999. Wally, in our previous conversation we ended round about the period of the second world war and I was wondering, because you entered politics in the early 50s is just to fill in the background of some of the things you think were of concern to Bristol people between say 1945 and 1950. You know that immediate post war period – what were the sorts of political and social items on the agenda at that time?
Wally Jenkins [WJ]: Well I think what we were suffering from was clearly the fact that we’d just come through a 6 years of a world war and I think it was a question of thank God for that, let’s put our feet down, we’ll never grumble again, all we want now is a little bit of fire in the grate and we want a little bit of food and we shall all be happy. And everyone began, just for a few moments of time began to sit back and say ‘ooh, thank God that’s over’. And then of course the realisation that erm, what was going to happen, were we going to continue with the same old mould as before the war when for example (and I quote myself) when I was brought up as a child having to queue up for a pair of Lord Mayor’s boots at the age of 11 because my father was an invalid and they were in fact size eights and I took size fives and we were just treated as being born as labouring fodder. And were we going to tolerate that sort of situation or were we in fact going to make some progress? Because during the war as a result of wartime legislation the trade unions for example had been released from the controls of the employer and the defence regulations (I think we talked about that earlier) and in consequence of that there was a certain amount of organisation taking place – in fact a great deal of organisation. And those organisations started to look around and pick themselves up and begin to think about it, so what did people have to worry about? I suppose what dominated our lives was the continuing shortages, because rationing as you know, Kieron, continued well in to the 50s. In fact bread was not rationed, as an example, during the war at all, and yet even after the war, 3 years after the war bread went on rationing. And I think we had to start to realise the realities of the situation we were in as a nation that we’d eaten the Argentinian Railways in exchange for a matter of a, a few thousand, tens of thousands of tons of bully beef. We’d transferred the railways that were owned British and clearly whilst the benefits of those railways were not coming into the working class pockets, they were certainly coming into the economy of this country. And there was an example of where we’d given away those railways in return for some old tins of corned beef, during the war. And there’s a, and the rubber plantations for example in Malaya that was another great source of …… Because of the ravages in the Japanese war we reached the situation where rubber had dried up and synthetics were being produced but on a scale during the war but not into production. Shortages of everything! And in fact we had very severe winters which came at that time which didn’t help. There was food rationing, there was electricity rationing, there was no fuel, everyone had therefore was not immediately thinking about planning the future but was trying to deal with the genuine situation that had arisen, not by any one’s particular fault other than we’d got in to a world war, that we were trying to get over the facts of the, of the war and trying to establish ourselves in to a position of….. So what did we in fact do? I think then it was organisation. Because, for example, (and I quote this now and I wouldn’t have quoted it a few years ago when I was in employment) but erm, I well remember in my f-f-f company, the firm I worked for a local firm, finding a letter addressed to the, in a waste paper basket, addressed to the Managing Director which was coming from the Citizen Party. And it was addressed to all the firms in Bristol from the Tories (which was Citizen the Tory party) asking them ‘good God don’t let these socialist take over. Please help us with funds’. And every firm in Bristol had been circulated with that. I was fortunate to find one of these letters and [he sniffs] that helped me along the road in a bit of a debate so…
KC: Do you think that was something that made you decide to go into politics?
WJ: Well I don’t… No I got in to politics actually as a result of trade union activity. I mean I think when I was a kid I mentioned earlier that I I I left school at 14 and by the time I was about 16 my income was about 18 shillings or something like that and that was deducted literally from the 25 shillings of public assistance that my mother was getting. I was literally being forced into being an adult at 16. A father a mother a sister and myself. Father’s total income was 10 shillings a week, a pension from J S Fry and Sons. And I think at an early age I started to think, and seeing some of the situations around me, I began to think whether or not this was a position which was tolerable, which in fact which was fair. I always seem, I don’t know I’ve got to say it myself; I always used to seem to want to see the other side and see if it was fair. And er, this didn’t seem to be fair to me, that there was this class of people who were in my book a lot of them very honest and for example my mother and I think she was typical of the working classes and if she didn’t, was a ha’penny short (half penny) in a shop, she’d walk across Bristol if she didn’t have it and they they said they would trust her. The next day she would walk a half Bristol to pay the half penny. And I think that, that was instilled in some of us, honesty, trying to get a fair deal. I think I began to think we weren’t getting a square deal and as consequence of that I was….. I would join the company of Gardiner’s as a boy. I mentioned earlier to you that I got involved with a chap who was trying to organise a trade union, and as a consequence of that I carried the trade union subs and from that naturally it, the earliest age I could join was 14 something, I joined the union. And by the time I was 16 I was paying the levy for the Labour Party because you weren’t allowed to pay a levy from your trade union contributions unless you were 16. And when I was 16, first day I put my… And it was from there I started to develop in to the trade union movement. And I mentioned earlier that erm, we had offered our services on election times, I got sent to down into the St Paul’s where they, ‘cause I was chairman of my trade union branch, with my fellow officers and about eight ten of us went down there to St Paul’s and discovered that during the war because it was all moribund, that the local communist party had literally moved in and taken over. We ousted them by Christmas and that was in the, I think that was in the September. We ousted them by Christmas. And the officers of my trade union branch although they weren’t technically entitled to join St Paul’s, joined the St Paul’s and we took over the offices – I was chairman by Christmas. And I think there it was just carrying on the flag and this chap Jack Knight who I think I mentioned earlier, he er, he was the agent. He was paid two thirds by Bristol Central and one third by Bristol West. He had an office at the bottom of St Jacob’s Wells Road and as a result of my contact with him [he sighs] I think I b-brought a bit of life, though I say it myself, in to the ward party. We organised football sweeps which were slightly illegal, we funded, we we started to run monthly dances, and about a fortnight before the results of the local elections we used to put posters round saying we’d organise a victory dance in the local hall – this was a fortnight before the election had taken place. And we ran these dances in what is now the Empire Sports Club in St Agn, in St Min-Mina area alongside St Agnes Park. And we ran monthly dances there with local artists and dance and fun - raffles. We raised quite a bit of cash, in fact we were almost paying the salary of the …… Because although there was football, and we used to pay ten per cent to the collectors of these footballs, then the little group of us who were in St Paul’s were selling these tickets, but we didn’t take our 10 per cent. We used to allow this to go into the ward funds. The main proceeds of the football was going to the division, and our 10 per cents was going straight into ward funds and we were raising quite a bit of cash. So we became quite healthy and the result of that we er, I started drift in. There was a, I then first of all I took on the responsibility (‘cause no one else would) being agent for the local candidates. And in fact I acted as election agent for the three then sitting councillors on three successive years. One of them was a Dr Dorothy Hawkins who was a physicist employed at Bristol University and she had her domestic problems and she also had a bit of an accident, I think it was connected with her work. She had decided she’d pack up but she particularly by that time foun-found an association with me although she was a lecturer and I was the boy who was the labourer down the street. And er, she was rather keen that I entered local politics; and I took her place. This was something I would not tolerate until Jack Knight and her one night came to my home and pestered me and pestered me. So I took the de-decision then (that was in 1952) to run in her place. That was a by-election ‘cause she resigned and I was elected, [he stutters] I was returned un-unopposed. And that was in fact will be fifty ss.. I think it will be fifty ss.., fifty, no getting on for 48 years, 46 years on September the 16th this year, maybe forty, forty some years ago and that was when I was first elected unopposed. So I drifted into politics if you like although I had political fixed views by the time I was nineteen, twenty. ‘Cause I was chairman of my local branch at 20 and I was chairman of the regional branch by the time I was er 22, and I was on the executive of my union – ousted one of the old fogeys who I didn’t please the old school but er I was the kid who could put the world right in 5 minutes, it would take me half an hour now. I remember an occasion in the 1950s when (he stutters)
KC: Yeah, carry on
WJ: I was going to say something different now.
KC: [He laughs]. What struck me from what you were just saying about being elected unopposed; if the communists were trying to infiltrate within that particular ward, why didn’t they put up a candidate to oppose you do you think?
WJ: I don’t think they had the organisation at that…., because they too had been affected by the war. Their fortunes had revived obviously when the Russians started to change sides and came in and the Russian front started and the whole attitude of the Communist Party actually went in to complete reverse. I think they [he stutters] first of all recognised that it was to be a period of 9 months because her (the lady who I was following) she would have been normally re-elected and she would have finished her term the following May, so this was to be from September to May. The other fact was that the Labour Party’s majority in St Paul’s in those days was almost unbeatable. Because during the war there had been no elections you see, because of the standstill. [He coughs loudly] And the only election during the war was in fact Jenny Lee. And Jenny Lee broke the party whip as a matter of interest, and she wanted to fight Lady Apsley. Lady Apsley, her husband who was a member of parliament for Bristol Central and he got killed in an air crash – I don’t know whether it was in the war or not I don’t remember that. But she deci… she was in a wheelchair, she was an invalid. And she decided to fight her husband’s seat. And she, in the opinion of Jenny Lee and others she hadn’t had any experience and it was just relying on the fact that, and I’m not being cruel, but she was an invalid, and her appeal, her husband had been killed in a crash, she was a Conservative and so on. And Jenny decided to contest the election and she was turned out of the party at the time. And I was a young kid then who canvassed with Jenny Lee so there was no way the party were going to get involved with me at that time. Other notables in the City was people like the late Alderman Saint John (sic) St John Reade the old education er, he also was expelled at that time or at least was put aside. I was only a kid I wasn’t involved directly in the Labour Party at that time. But er, that was the only breach so when you say why didn’t they try, (a) I don’t think they had too much organisation there and they knew that although we didn’t have an organisation, the traditional past of the candidates in Bristol Central and in St Paul’s in particular er that I think was clearly something they thought well for 9 months they weren’t going to start running. Plus the fact of course it might have brought out some of the little things that were happening into the open.
KC: Tell me, what was St Paul’s as an area like in 1952 when you were first elected?
WJ: Well it was still reflecting what it had been like before 1939. I mean if, for example if take the erm, M32 and you come to the far end of it as you traffic lights join the city shopping centre – Bond Street there. Just on the right of that, just as you approach the junction, there’s Paul Street, just before that there was a little archway and until recently an archway was still there. Now if you went to that archway you found about 20 houses all in a courtyard with a, a well in the centre. And there was literally no sanitation and the well was there. And on the left of that just at the same stretch of road there was what we called the vinegar section. And we call it the vinegar section because at the bottom of Wade Street was Purnell’s and Panter’s and they were, they actually made vinegar amongst other things and pickles and it smelt like vinegar in that district. So we called it the vinegar section because that was the, where we had a lot of strength in the local Labour Party - Hill Street, Dale Street and there’s one other I forget. And incidentally when they demolished it I paid the city two and sixpence (half a crown) for the street nameplate just as – because they were going to throw it on the tip – and I had to make a nominal payment, and I’ve still got the nameplate. It’s a Victorian cast iron plate weighing about half a ton – that’s an exaggeration but it’s a thick plate, it’s about 3 foot by about 18 inches and it’s about half an inch thick and it’s got Hill Street written on it. I’ve still got that in my garden at home. Erm, but that those areas there, those houses you went in the front door of this very tiny cottage and you went through the back garden, well it wasn’t a back garden it was about 6 foot square of rubble and you walked out, walked in the house nex…, on the opposite street and you came up the front door of that one. There was no no division even between the 2 streets, you went in one house and walked right through, came out the other. And they were terrible conditions, partly, terrible conditions before 1939 and of course during the war there was literally no maintenance done and buildings and housing at all. And what with the bomb damage, and there was damage round those areas. Those areas were shocking in 1940, 1946 when the war finished in the 50s when I moved in. One strikes me again in that same area, on just before you hit the traffic lights there was a very tall Georgian building and I received a letter from someone who was living in one of the flats (they were divided into floors and flats). I received a letter as a councillor for St Paul’s in 1955, 56 asking to support their application for housing because of the terrible conditions they were living in. And I always used to make it a policy that every time I got an application for support for housing (and that was one of the things that kept councillors busy – I used to have queues, literally queues in my house in the evenings looking, wanting support for council housing in the early 50s), and as a result of that I went and visited that house. I knocked the door, I asked for the family concerned and the old chap who I could hardly see ‘cause it was as black as pitch in the doorway, said ‘up top stairs’. So I started to climb immediately in front of me was a flight of wooden staircase, I could just see that from the light of the street and then as he shut the door it was complete blackness, he said ‘if you go right top’, and as I started to go up the top I discovered about 2 flights up because it was about a four store building, that the bannister, the bannister that protects me falling off the edge of the step had disappeared, and I nearly went over the top of it. And I got to the top there was about a four foot sq.. [he mutters] five foot perhaps maximum five foot square areal (sic) where there was a side door ?? through the flat they were living, and what I didn’t know because it was black, was that on that was their gas stove and there was about a foot spare round the edge of it, so as I got up the top of it I bashed my legs on, on the gas stove. The noise brought them out. I went in there and it was absolutely filthy. The place was in a terrible state. There was a candle, that’s not an exaggeration, and there was actually on the on on the table spread over with newspaper. I was asked if I would like a cup of tea, and I said ‘no thank you, I’ve just had one’. [He chuckles] It made me ill. And that’s was the, those conditions was in 1950s end of the 40s. And you could duplicate those around the Wilder Street area all round those areas. Some of those little houses were kept spotless, the f-f-folk that lived in them were beautiful people, but some of the poor devils that had drifted in society lived in some of those hovels that were in a terrible state. That was just after the war; primarily I say in a mess before 1939 with no maintenance at all plus the effects of war for 6 years.
KC: And what about the people? What sort of occupations did these people do who were your constituents in St Paul’s?
WJ: Well I suppose there was a great variety because St Paul’s, you see St Paul’s ward in those days stretched from the (there’ve been boundary changes brought about lots of changes) but it was to the right, coming from town to the right hand of Stapleton Road, Old Market – right up Old Market Street, down Lawford Street, along Lamb Street, right along Stapleton Road, on the left hand side, and then it’s, it it went down a side street just before you got to the Wagon and Horses and went cut then into that became St Philip’s and St Jacob where I actually lived in Goodhind Street. And cut then back to Newfoundland Road, and it did a sort of slice out there, went down Newfoundland Road right to St Werburgh’s and then went right across to Stokes Croft. So you had a pretty, some of those houses in, for example in City Road, if they had been, I had the case that in the 50s that some of them be compulsory purchased because they could have then been restored to a Georgian facades were beautiful and they weren’t too bad. A lot of them had been picked up by private landlords since and been developed but after the war they were looking very very shabby.
And of course City Road always had a bit of a reputation even before any suggestion of er, immigrants coming in here at all. Because it was always a district which er; taxi drivers from Avonmouth used to drop some of their customers from the sailing ships – I didn’t say anymore – well ships that came into Avonmouth and City Road was always had that tinge. Some of the houses on the other hand in City Road (and this was part of the St Paul’s ward) were absolutely immaculate and were lived in by families of …. I mean in those days were regarded as second, sort of middle class who really had quite a few pounds in their pockets, and they were beautiful houses. So you had that extreme, and of course in those areas you had dentists, and you had er doctors and so on. Doctors’ surgeries and dentists….. And they were, they lived in their practices and they were, they were, it was quite up market. The fringes of Montpelier (which are still part of the St Paul’s ward) some of those houses were – ‘cause that’s in fact in York Road and that’s where my wife lived. And and they came up from South Wales and the valleys in the 30s because of the depression, but they lived in York Road when I first met my wife in Bristol. And that’s we’ve been married now 56 years so that’s how she [he mutters] long time. Erm, and those houses then had not degenerated into the situation they have now. Erm, some of them, some of them are obviously very nice still, but in those days that’s really a class district. Richmond Road Montpe… in Montpelier and York Road was actually well kept houses, truly some of them were split into halves because they were large 3 storey houses. But they, a lot of them were single families. What happened was that when the slum clearance that had started in the 30s in Bristol, erm, started to be p-p-pick up again in the 50s and got on to the early 60s, some of these central areas became cleared and the, by that time we’d had the arrival of immigrants and the first batch in fact it was here was not West Indians at all they were from India and Pakistan. Some of them in fact bought some of these old houses and let them out so much a room to incoming West Indians. And that, then when some of that got controlled, and when some of the slums were being cleared, they started to gravitate into the fringes which was Montpelier and Richmond Road. And when you say what did they do, what sort of class if you like, because class was a word easily understood then, erm you had sort of middle class in the fringes, you had a lot of labouring of course and you still had the running down of the defence industry, and you had the sort of attempts to bring about employment. Measures were taken to ease off with the contracts, they weren’t all immediately con…., stopped overnight because that would have been industrial chaos. And that was still phasing out into peacetime situation. And of course the problem then began to develop of unemployment because lack of raw materials. Because we were still I say, well into the 50s before we were allowed to have a single brick to put a new shop up in Bristol. I mean, that really started to function, focus I think, the functions of the mind if you like, of re-development. Because the whole of our shopping centre which was then on the 14 acres of Castle Street – a plateau raised up on with 14 acres – with shops that whilst they were extremely attractive and Saturday night was a social event in Bristol before the war, a lot of them apart from Marks and Spencer’s, Co-op and Home Stores, most of the shops were very small very tiny shops. And to attempted to put back on that 14 acres, the amount of shopping that was being applied for by those developers who were picking up the pieces of the war, there was just not enough room up there. The 14 acres would not have accommodated the shopping area, so the reality of that was you had to go down on to Broadmead. And of course the Castle Street traders recognised that they were paying high rates in Castle Street because that was the shopping centre of Bristol and they wanted to stay there because that was where all the people went… And there was tra…, there was a protection amongst the shop keepers, there was an organisation set up, I forget what they called themselves, they were an organisation of shop keepers. And they fought desperately to prevent Castle Street not being developed. Erm, to the extent that down in Broadmead it was argued that that was a marsh and would not take foundations. So to prove the point the first shop to be built in Broadmead was the, what it now Thomas Cook’s er the estate ag… the the sorry travel agent. That was taken over by Swears and Wells which was a fur shop. But that shop was actually piled and built by the city to prove that er, that was a load of nonsense you could build shops down there. The opposition reached a stage where when eventually an arrangement, an agreement was held that some of these shops would take accommodation in Broadmead, that on the edge of Castle Street, the right hand side going up from Old Market, the right hand side of Castle Street where the Co-op was built, all those windows of the Co-op had to be opaque so that they couldn’t be seen as being shops in Castle Street. A breakthrough came from that when the Stationery Office opened which is now in Wine Street, and they were the first ones to have clear windows because they began to realise how foolish that was now Broadmead had developed you see by then and the thing got silly. But you had to have opaque windows that was how positive the developers that went down into Ca….. ‘Course the big boys started to move in and er, Woolworths came to us and said ‘look we’ll come in to your new high street – we had our Castle Street premises, but we will lay down conditions. The conditions are that we will have our traditional shop front and we will have concessionary rents for the first 18 months.’ And in order, they said ‘if you don’t have a Woolworths in your high street, you won’t have a high street.’ And that has a certain amount of practicality about it in those days; and that was the concession that was given. Once the concession was given of course it spread a little bit so then for the first year or two they got some cheap accommodations. And of course it inhibited the designs because there was then laid down a plan and we had to seek consent from central government for development schemes which I eventually played a little part in the end. Erm, and having sought consent we tried to get shopping. The only shopping centre that was had any substance was Bedminster because whilst there had been a little bit of damage in Bedminster, the situation was that most of the shops had survived and that was where the main Bristol shopping centre was. The other adjunct to that was the erm, the Gloucester Road area, there was quite a few shops there. So when we started applying for temporary shops it took us I think about (I’m quoting from memory now I don’t have any references in front of me it’s entirely from my memory which is going as I’m getting older) but I think it was 1954 that we got the first consent to build some prefabricated shops and that is now on the site, what is now the site of the Holiday Inn in Old Market Street [he stutters] it isn’t called the Holiday Inn now, they’ve changed the name. But the inn in Old Market Street, Lower Castle Street erm we put up I think it was 4 shops there - temporary constructions. And that was the first consent to rebuild (1954 55) [he coughs] and the blitz would have ….. and they would have been destroyed, they were destroyed way back in 1940, in the blitz of November 1940 [he coughs]. Fifteen years they were in fact a, we got our first consent – four temporary shops. And I remember one of the shops was a radio shop because again you couldn’t buy radios during the war and records and things and that was one of the things people started to try to stock up on and it was a radio shop one of them, I can’t recall the others. [Pause]
KC: Do I understand then Wally from the way you’ve been talking about the 50s here and the move to Broadmead that you had something to do with the planning committee as one of your first [they talk over each other]
WJ: Well, when I, when I first elected, [he stutters] first attended my first Council meeting in September of 1950,50,52 I think it was erm, in the old Council House in Corn Street, but it’s interesting that I’d become active in the Labour Party by then [he coughs]. I was by that time chairman of my ward, I was chairman of the division and I was also attending meetings of the regional party, and I began to establish a little personality if you like within the Labour movement in Bristol. So by the time I went into, 1950s I went into the Council, for the first 12 months if you’ve got any sense you don’t speak, you listen. And that’s I think where folk today don’t learn the lessons. And of course in those days we were very privileged because those of us who went into, were going in as, on in dribbles one at a time. When Avon County (and I’m jumping the gun now), but when Avon Council came along you had to find 64 new ones and they had to scrape around to find them, so people were being rushed into positions of authority without the training that some of us who were fortunate enough to be dribbled in because we were then meeting giants, what I regard them as giants of the local political scene. People like Alderman Hennessey, Alderman Charlie Gill and a fellow named Rowitt, Alderman Rowitt. You had Johnny Milton the name of is perpetuated in the ward [he stutters] Alderman Milton Ward at Southmead Hospital because he was chairman of what was then locally owned hospitals, because we ran our own health service. Erm, and all those giants were there, Charlie Gill, Harry.
KC: What about Charlie Gill and Harry Hennessey? Why did you think they were such powerful figures? How did they have this reputation?
WJ: I think that probably because they were rebels and rebels make good stories. And local newspapers take up anything that smatters of news…, of worthiness. They always tell a story which is someone was interested in why this happened, they don’t want to know the good things they want to know some wicked chap’s doing something. And I think old Hennessey in particular had received a lot of publicity in my childhood. And Hennessey was, established himself in Bristol for what was known as his ‘rent court’. Now under the old 19, I think it was 1926 er Landlord and Tenant Acts (that may not be the appropriate term, but that was what it was), Landlord and Tenant of 1926 erm, laid down that, a standard rent for all rented properties below a certain, er rateable value, and all the houses in Bristol area, working class areas were below that rateable value anyway. So they were all covered by the Rent Act and what happened was, you established a rent, and I forget the formula, although I used to know it by heart. You took the rateable value that was applicable in 1926, you used a factor to multiply that and you could then put on a very small percentage, and you could add a small percentage again for repairs and maintenance. Having got that you got what was called a standard rent, now no landlord officially could charge more than the standard rent. But that was completely ignored by the Rachmans of this world, and I use that term probably not understood by younger folk but Rachman was a notorious Londoner who ran slums in London and used protection rackets to break down doors if you didn’t pay the rents, and it became a term that was used over the country. And all landlords who were rogues (and there were a lot of them about in the late, in the 30s and certainly in the…, when Harry Hennessey began to perform). 20s and 30s and they ignored completely. So what Hennessey used to do was, he was a warehouseman in the Co-op so he didn’t have a lot of money, his wife was also very active, that’s the Mary Hennessey Clinic out at East….., out at Knowle was named after his wife and she was very active in health services. Harry and his wife had no children but they devoted their lives both of them; Harry died at the age of 82, she died quite middle aged. But Harry was elected in 1921 first of all, he wasn’t elected, he fought his first seat in 1921 and he got elected sometimes in the 20s, late 20s I think – I’m relying on memory now. Erm, and Harry was a champion of the working class. He, out of his own pocket, he used to pay I think ‘twas 3 or 4 shillings a week to rent a small room in the Kingsley in Old Market Street for Monday evenings. And he would then offer advice to all those people who were being, having their rents put up, when before the landlord realised he was shooting his bolt because he was going to expose something, he started to bang the rents up [he mutters]. And they used to go along to Harry because Harry had got a bit of publicity in the press and so on about how these cheating landlords. And by, after he’d been doing this for about ooh probably 6 months, 12 months I’m not exaggerating to say that there were queues in Old Market Street waiting to see Harry Hennessey at his court. And what Harry used to do was go into the, was to obtain all the information from them, look at their rent book because some of them didn’t have rent books and that was an offence, so that was the first thing Harry would note. He would then check the details from their rent book, he would then take their name and address and tell them to come back next week and in the meantime having collected all this data he would go in the City Treasurer’s office and obtain from the City Treasurer the necessary information in relation to the rateable values so he could do his calculations as to what the standard rent should be for that premises. Now it so happens that if a landlord was charging more than the standard rent, for a period of 18 months (he might have been charging it for 10 years) but the maximum was 18 months - recovery. So if for example the standard rent should have been 10 shillings and it was 15 shillings, then 5 shillings for 18 months could be claimed back. And that could be claimed back by not paying any rent until that 5 bob, 18 months of 5 shillings had been taken up. So they could live literally re…, a third (if it was 5 bob over the top) a third of 18 months that would be 6 months they would live roughly 6 months rent free; and from then on would pay a reduced rent. Imagine the affect that was having, Harry was getting solicitors’ letters and was getting threats and there were all sorts of things. But H-harry established a reputation because Harry was, I got to know him very well, I didn’t know him then very much in those days but except that my mother went to see Harry and I got talking to Harry and Harry…. And after a little while [he coughs loudly] about 16 I used to go down there occasionally on Monday evening and sweep up after him, and got to know Harry as a boy in that sense. Turned out later that he was a distant cousin, I never knew this until just before he died. And my grandfather whose name was Dunk D –U-N-K (it’s a Dutch name originally I think) erm, his sister had married into a family and somehow or other their relatives was linked with Harry and there was a certain second cousin distance if you like. I didn’t know that ‘till after, ‘till he died that was many years afterwards erm, well into the 60s when Harry heard. I got to know Harry, now Harry when I knew him then was a h…, I began to look up to him a hero. He was the chap who was saving all these people these wicked landlords and that I think generated a respect for him. Erm, strange chap, he was quite contradictory within himself. I’ll give you an example. There was in Bristol what was known as the Unemployment League or Movement and they used to march because the mass unemployment of the 30s, that was when the riots in Old Market Street of 1932 which I witnessed as a child (quite a story there). Erm, and 1932 Harry wa-was actually on the official committee, they didn’t necessarily chuck Harry about, because Harry was a councillor, but Harry was a, Harry was involved. In fact I remember after the war, and I’m going on this a bit now, but during the war there was in fact built, I believe they were built in the first world war for er, refugees. There were some hutted encampments down at, adjoining the City Ground known as the White City. And there were squatters moved into them because after the war I say there’d been all this demolition I can’t, I could quote a figure but it might be wrong of the number of houses destroyed in Bristol – you can look them up, it was quite substantial. And those that had been damaged beyond repair, plus the slum clearances that was halted in ’39, plus the dereliction which was brought about by the situation of the war – tremendous shortage of housing and they were in squatters camps. So after, during the war Harry was a member of the, after the war Harry was a member of the Housing Committee in Bristol and the Housing Committee decided enough was enough, they were offering tenancies to some of these people which they wouldn’t take and it was a pretty [he mutters] the place was built for 1918 or something like that and er it was deteriorating, it was a hell of a mess, it was a health risk, they decided to evict them. Now Harry was in the committee that afternoon as a member of the Housing Committee and he voted for the eviction, because clearly it had to be done. But that very next day Harry went down to the hutted camps and led them in Old Market Street up in to the council chamber and in the end there was an almost, that was apart from the ’32 riots, there was almost riots in the chamber because some of them broke into the chamber and so on. And Harry led them and that very afternoon he was one of the Housing Committee who actually voted for the clearance of the camp. So that was Harry. I remember an old lady in my ward, in St Paul’s, when the slum, when the clearances started to take place in the 60s, there was what I regard as a political dirty trick carried on by, I’m being political now, but I’m expressing a personal political view. When Harry erm, was involved in slum clearances and of course he had his housing rent, whenever people got the closing order on their property what happened was that because of the deterioration of the war we got into the 50s and we got to a state where housing stock in Bristol was in such a terrible state that people were living in absolutely unfit conditions. And recognising that a life of a standard brick in some of those old houses we recognised as maximum of 70 years life and it was porous and crumbled after that.
Most of the houses we are talking about were built more than a hundred years before that. And strangely enough, and I was very critical at the time a lot of these slum houses in St Paul’s was owned by the church ecclesiastical commissioners, [he sighs]. That’s another story I could tell but we won’t deviate. Harry gets to a point where he was advising some of these people and what happened was you see that the government of the day directed the local authority health inspectors to inspect all properties over a certain age and they had to make a report. When they, and then they had to declare whether they were fit for human habitation. When they moved in as a result of the government’s insistence, they had to declare unfit these properties and had to provide the owner with a list of deficiencies and gave them a short period (2 or 3 months perhaps) to effect those repairs, bring them to their standard or they would issue a demolition order. Now if in fact you owned your own old cottage and some old ladies did in ? parts of Bristol you really didn’t understand what was happening. And when you had ‘put this right’ they had no money, they had no money to live on leave alone…., and the property was in such a state that it would cost hundreds of pounds, and that was a lot, a fortune then especially is she was an old lady, she couldn’t do the repairs. So after the period, the statutory period was up a
the demolition notice was served. Now if the notice was served on the owner it might have been old lady, she in fact had the responsibility of having that house demolished and meeting the cost – and meeting the cost. So what the City recognised this problem and what the City decided to do was in those cases where the house was completely gone to a state where it couldn’t be recovered, the old lady would be relieved of the responsibility of pulling it down by buying the house from her for one pound. This was a nominal sum of one pound, purely being paid to er alleviate the old, take away from the old lady the responsibility of meeting the cost of demolition that she couldn’t do and there’d be court action and there’d be trouble. The Conservative Party at that time and there was a chap, he’s dead now although I liked him afterwards – Alderman Duggan. He seized on this and he produced leaflets and he distributed them all around the edges of these areas not only in the areas concerned, but in areas that would not have been declared unfit. ‘This wicked council is forcing you to sell your house for a pound – pound a house’. And that became the cry and of course it was blown up and these rumours had been printed in the newspaper, demolition paying this old lady a pound for her house, she’d lived in it, brought up a family, they’d all [he mutters]. Imagine the emotions of that. And the Labour Party suffered a great deal, a great through that. It brought about the creation of, in areas like Easton, the Easton Home Defence Association and that was to fight this er, clearance. All brought about, at least stimulated by this ‘pound a house’ business. Now Harry was involved right up to his ? in that you see, he was on the stomp [he mutters]. And he used to be on the Downs on Speakers’ Corner every Sunday evening where I went up there with my wife when we were 1945 I was way into the thing then you see. My wife and I used to go up on, listen to Harry and the old fascist bloke who used to get up there, I can’t think of his name now, erm, name’s gone. But he he used to get up there and of course the communist would get up there and it used to be real fun and games. We always used to be up there. My wife used to have a red dress and he used to point to my missus, my my wife and call her Mrs, Mrs, Mr Attlee’s glamour girl. But that’s a, I’m going off a little. But you say how did I in fact respect Harry? Charlie Gill was in fact chairman housing. And Char-Charlie Gill, I think I mentioned before to you he was a miner’s agent showing the marks on his back with the chains when he, when he was a kid – he was chairman of hou-houssing. And Gill Avenue is named after him in Oldbury Court – Gill Avenue by the side of Oldbury Court there. And Harry, Harry and him of course giants in the housing game and of course that was one of the issues because [he sighs] all these houses were being demolished. We had to deal with that situation so the consequence was these two got a lot of prominent publicity, and when I went on of course I, this was Charlie Gill and this was…. Almost regarded them as stars.
KC: Could we just get back actually to that squatters camp that you mentioned. Was it the Bristol City ground?
WJ: Bristol City ground.
KC: Yes I see. Were you aware of any other squatters’ camps that existed in this city at that time? I’ve never heard of them myself, I would be interested in….
WJ: [He talks over KC] Not, not that I can recall. Erm, not in, not in the period we’re talking about. I mean if you go back [he sighs] back in the 18 hundreds, 1880s, 1870s and 1860s there was miners’ squatter huts, or huts provided for miners all along Newfoundland Road. In fact there’s some old photographs about somewhere showing those old hutted encampments. They were to, they were dealing with the Easton pits which one of the, the house I was brought up in ‘till I was 11 years of age, had a wheel in the back, at the back of the house. There was an entrance to a pit in Beaumont Street, and and of course there was entrances in Easton not, matter of just up the road in ch…, area of St Gabriel’s Church. There was a mining shaft there. And the miners’ huts way back. And of course I’m, I’m I’m quoting, I’m relying on memory, I believe those squatters huts (and this can be looked at and checked up) but I think they were actually built to house refugees, Belgian refugees in the first world war. And they were, they were handed over, because after all there were only 25 years between the wars. I mean as kids that was a generation, that was a, was a millennium wasn’t it?
KC: Because I remember actually there were Belgian refugees taken into a Bristol Sailors’ Home during the war.
WJ: Yes, that’s right. In all the areas of Cotham and round there, and definitely in Cotham they took a lot of them in. And there’s a long history could be written on that. But that squatters’ camp I believe was built for Belgian refugees. But it was there in ’39 you see ’40, ’45 and they they moved in because they didn’t have houses. And that, before the prefabs started to be brought into the locations. [Pause]
KC: Yes, ok, it’s working yes. So you were saying that Harry was actually chair of….
WJ: Harry er, immediately after the war, I believe he was the first chairman Sir John Inskip Tor.., Conservative leader. [he coughs] The redevelopment of ???? during the war there were certain schemes produced and er, there’s an interesting book which if anyone’s interested in this subject is a very slim volume but it’s worth digging out of the library if anyone’s interested. Erm ,it was published by the chocolate factory Fry’s and it talked about the redevelopment of, after the war. And the consequence of that is erm, it illustrates there quite clearly that there were plans afoot during the war for redevelopment because they recognised that the destruction of the city centre had taken place in 1940, 41 and therefore by 1945 we’d had slum, we’d had these derelict areas. So in the war period there were prepare, preparatory schemes produced, some of them were a bit out of this world [he chuckles] some of them, there are sketches and drawings of them about you can see them really talk about the futurist situation here. It’s what we would still think is Star Wars. But er, having said that there was a lot of preparation going on and the development plan, and of course the Town and Country Planning Acts were being amended to bring into the legislation the right, what you had to develop a, you had to hold enquiries you had to have, set up development plans and all those…. Although there was planning legislation in being it was all being amended and brought up to date so that brought about delays anyway. Because the parliamentary process being what it is you know, if it started yesterday it’s about 3 years before it becomes statute. And therefore there was that period when planning permissions were [pause] organised in the sense they had to be developed. And er, we got to a point where Labour Party started to take control after the war and gradually we took control of the City Council and I think it was, it was Sir John Inskip who was then had to vacate the chair of the Planning Committee and Harry became chairman. Now Harry was chairman for quite a number of years and because I had literally grown up with Harry, when I came on the council, naturally I knew him as well as anyone, and then being on that committee. Just as a matter of interest, by the time I got on the council 1950, 1953, by 1955, 56, 56 I was president of the district party, and I’d moved up through the ranks by then, and was known. So by the time I came on council whereas the normal young chap would be put on to the Allotments Committee and the Cemeteries Committee and left there to earn his spurs, my first committees was Finance, Planning, Estates (which is no longer, that used to be a very powerful committee) erm, straight away. Erm, so I was pitched in with the big boys right from day one because of my; [pause] in party meetings I’d made my mark, at least I’m not blowing my own trumpet but that was, that was reality. So consequence was I was on planning as early as 1954 and I packed up in, on my own volition in the 80s.
KC: Getting back actually….
WJ: So what I’m saying is, Harry was chairman. So Harry therefore had rapport and although his official Vice Chairman – he died last year I think, Bill Bagnall. Harry and Bill were friends but not exactly [he chuckles] together on attitudes I think, [he stutters] nothing wrong but….. So consequently I had a greater influence with Harry even as a young chap, a newcomer, than Bill did to some extent. So Harry used to ring me, we always had the agendas sent out to us on a Monday evening. And they were, in those days the Planning, it was Planning and Public Works Committee which controlled all land in the City under its public works set up, and planning, all that except the corporate estate which is a separate subject which was the Lord Mayor’s Chapel, freeholds of buildings in the town that was, came about through historical reasons into what is known as the Estate and that was invia…, you couldn’t sell that off unless you used the proceeds to buy another piece for the Estate. There was all sorts of restrictions on that. But all the other land that the city owned with the exception of housing, the housing, the housing and lands was controlled by the Housing Committee but still subject to planning. But all the rest of the land was controlled by our committee, the parks, the baths, the open spaces, the er, all the streets, sewerage er (water was private) but sewerage was that committee; er roads, you name it, all controlled by the Planning and Public Works Committee. It controlled the council, that’s why in later years Walker and I never took the chairman of finance committee although we’d both became vice chairmen in our own rights because the real powerhouse was the Planning and Public Works Committee - because of all these other powers. And [he stutters] the leader chose to take where the central power was, so [he mutters]. I was there without that consideration as a boy you see, well 30, just under 30 I was, 30 I was on the Planning Committee. So Hennessey, we get our agendas on the Tuesday night, I’d take them to bed, Monday evening, take them to bed Tuesday night, read them before I went to sleep. Because they were, because of all that responsibility, I’m not exaggerating to say that the actual pile of paper would probably ooh, 4 inches 5 inches thick – paper. And that was the first you’d seen it except the chairman who’d done an agenda conference with it the week before, before it’s printed. But you as an ordinary member hadn’t seen it. So 11 o’clock at night Harry Hennessey would ring me and he always started the conversation by saying ‘Comrade!’ I used to say ‘Hello Harry’ and Harry he’d say ‘look item so and so tomorrow’ and I used to say ‘fine, just a minute’, get my papers turn to this volume and ‘yes Harry what’s that?’ ‘Well I want to move so and so and so and so tomorrow. Will you second?’ And I’d say ‘well a minute’ have a look at it, if I thought it was reasonable ‘I’ll do that Harry, I’ll second it’. ‘Right’ he’d say ‘so there’d be no chance’ [he stutters] ‘I’ll, I’ll move that from the chair and you second’. ‘I’ll do that Harry’. So we’d get there next morning, I’m all ready; ready to jump in behind Harry and second his motion on this particular item – ha – and all of a sudden he moves something entirely different. And I’d be left up in the air. Now by that time I’d done my homework, I’d more than convinced myself that it was right to do what he was going to do in the first place, so I would vote against him. ‘Course that, Inskip used to love that, and Inskip and I struck up an affinity. He used to say to me ‘we’ll form our own party’. Jenkins he used to call me ‘Jenkins, we’ll form our own party’ because he used to vote against his party, while he was leader [he stutters] he was a character, but honest I mean sincere, once you - straight down the line. His brother was a government er, minister in one of the Tory governments way back, you know Inskip. Attorney General I think, I think he was the Attorney General. Anyway Harry, H-H-Hennesey was a, er I-I-Inskip was a solicitor. [He mutters] I’ll break what I’m saying tell I’ll tell you a little story - Inskip, show you what I thought about him. I was elected in 1950s and in ’54, the Christmas of ’54. I lived in a little terraced house which I was buying on a mortgage, so I eventually had to…..part of Easton. And on Boxing Day a Rolls Royce driven by a lady pulls up outside of this little cottage in Easton. Out gets the lady, knocks the door, I come to, my wife goes to the door. ‘This, this Councillor Jenkins’ house?’ she says ‘Yes’ she says ‘I’m Mrs Jenkins’. ‘Oh, you’ve got 2 children’. One, one I think we had one then, two, two. And she said ‘Sir John’ and he leans out of the window and waves to her. And she said ‘Sir John would like you to have these chocolates for the children.’ Now I didn’t know, I’d only been on the council a few months at least I got to, so ‘cause I say I used to be a bit [he chuckles] knew more than I aught to. Ha, and er [he stutters] and none of them knew about that. Now that always left an impression on me, that my 2 kids had a box of chocolates on on Boxing Day. And he took the trouble because he lived out on the fringes; took the trouble to get his daughter to drive him in and hand out these chocolates. That was Inskip. Harry took over from Inskip and of course Sir John died eventually but er there was quite a lot of characters about at that time; men of stature on both parties, men of stature who I had a great deal of respect for in both parties. There were others in, I won’t say ?? there were one or two in my own party, but there were a lot of other side that I had a great deal of respect for. Because some of them you see were not really true blue Conservatives, they were the original Liberals. And when in the 30s the Labour Party started to show some teeth, and in the 40s in particular, then clearly the 2 opposition parties had to think about it. So there was a merger between the Liberals and the Conservatives and called themselves Citizens, so they became the Citizen Party. Of course there was still that rump even in the 40s of the original Liberals. The classic example was Alderman Percy Cann who at the time didn’t want it known, it was anonymous, but I’ll spill the beans now, it was his money that built the Parkway New Chapel at Brookland on the end of the M32, that’s a story in itself. And I did the er, I did the er, [he sighs] obituary at his funeral, er particularly at the request of his relatives. I was able to, I think I might have mentioned this to you before, but I was able to reveal to them that he was the Grand Dictator of Great Britain, that was the title given to him as the Loyal Order of Moose. His father owned a factory I think it was of boot and shoes in er in the midlands. And he was national chairman Alderman Hennesey was, er Alderman Cann was chairman of the national the travellers’ association, he used to travel the country selling his company’s boots and shoes and was a sergeant major during the First World War receiving the wounded into Bristol and making sure they were put into hospital and entertained as it was the walking wounded, but that’s going off the track. But making the point again that there were those people there who I cut my political teeth on, if you like, in local politics in local council politics because they were, they’d been there years, they knew their stuff, they were genuine, sincere; great deal of friendship from both parties on both sides. That doesn’t happen today, I think it’s one of the things happened in society generally.
KC: What’s quite interesting about this sort of Labour - Conservative opposition in a sense is that you often go against your own party just as they did and would it be right in thinking there was a sense some consensus? And I’d also be quite interested in a sense if we look at planning of the development of Broadmead from Castle Street. What the differences would have been let’s say a Labour approach to that and a Conservative one, if there was any indeed.
WJ: Well I would obviously have to speak from my own experience there and er certainly wasn’t a great deal of difference between Gervas Walker and myself. Gervas was chairman of planning when Labour Party was out of control for short periods, and he was the shadow chairman, we didn’t use those term in those days, but he was the planning spokesman when, in opposition. So him and I were alternating, either I became a spokesman on opposition or I became the chairman or vice versa. I think I had more of the chair than Gervas did actually. But er, Gervas and I had very little, I think if there was a fundamental difference, and they did arise from time to time, one of them was that Gervas was more inclined to take notice of minority groups [pause] than I was. And that didn’t mean to say that we ignored minority groups; but having taken a view we were prepared to stand by it. And whilst if there, if the compromise didn’t affect the principles then er, yes by all means – compromise. But if there were certain basic principles I was inclined, and I say I in the sense, collective sense of the party because I was representing their point of view, was prepared to stand by basic, fall back to a set given line and say well no we believe that’s right and we’re going to stand by it. But Gervas was inclined to want to get consensus with minorities because minorities in the main, at least a lot of them were members of the Conservative Party. Erm, I fell out with him very much on a planning issue when it came to the City Centre Docks. A lot of nonsense was talked about that at the time. [Pause] Gervas was in the chair and I, he then lost the election and I took over and took over literally what he had been doing. We got to a stage where we were talking, we were developing the City Development Plan which included the City Docks. By that time the Avonmouth Docks was was beginning to (he stutters] Portbury was beginning to come into [he mutters] beginning to think about Portbury. Still using the City Docks, but when you recognise that it’s 6 miles from Neptune’s statue to the mouth of Avonmouth and it was a river that reduced itself to a foot of water at the most, and the mud, and you had to rely entirely on tides; and the ships were getting bigger, and ships were not and even even the corvettes that used to come up to the City Docks were getting too big or dangerously navigatable except on very high tides up to the river. Then clearly the whole question of shipping emphasis was going to have to move away commercially and and that’s what was in the process. So we were producing a situation where we knew that the City Docks would cease to be a commercial dock that was patently obvious. After a little while it became even obvious to the ship owners and so on, who in the early days were not too keen. And the consequently we were developing a scheme for the City Docks. Now in getting some sketches out, and drawings for (we got Sir Hugh Casson who died back last week, we got him involved, I met him on quite a number of occasions) and er we produced sketch plans and what of possibilities. They were not fixed ideas at all. They were just what might happen here. And one of the little sketches showed part of the, behind Neptune filled in. Now that was never the ultimate intention. But what the old, we had a public relations chap Jim Crook (he’s dead now); he used to publish (and I incidentally started that publication) the Civic News. Because I used to go to my chief, I used to go to my executive meetings in Birmingham to the National Metal Mechanics and always we used to have handed out there the Birmingham Civic News, well it wasn’t called Civic News but the equivalent. And I thought that was a good idea and we ought to have it in Bristol. And by that time I was on the Public Relations and Publicity Committee and floated the ideal (sic) in in there, and er we got a Civic News. But he published a Civic News on some of the proposals, and there was this, there was a photograph of this plan showing the dock filled in, right. And that was on of 50, and it, it was never the intention, never the intention, because we were talking about building a high bridge so the ships could come up. I’ve got slides, got a fascinating set of slides at home which shows all those proposals.
WJ: And what what happened was you see everyone took up ‘we’re not going to lose our [he stutters] maritime heritage. We’re going to have the water into the middle of the City blah blah’. And of course this was taken up by, I won’t mention their name but one of them is still in being. And they took it up and started barging. Eventually we got to a stage where we had a referendum. And when the referendum was (one of the rare ones since the war), and when we had that referendum the City Council won the day; right? But Walker was in the chair at the time of the referendum, a public meeting was called to deal with this at the Colston Hall. Now what was happening was, we were proposing, because the Minister of Transport said if you’re going to keep your water you’ve got to build your bridge, like Avonmouth Bridge, at a given height. So we had to ramp up from Temple Meads to get that height; and we designed the bridge – I’ve got some slides. And er that erm, that bridge was showing the fact that we were going to keep water in there; and the railways factories. The result of that ref….., of that, of course there was a hell of a lot of demonstrations in public because we were going to have the plebiscite, we were going to have the referendum so everybody was campaigning, there was…. And of course they were out on the streets. And Walker was holding tight to the scheme, as far as I was concerned him and I were united on what we, because we knew ??? we knew we were going to have to do certain things. Because one of the conditions that was laid down in the eventual bill before the Lords and the Commons ?, was that within 11 years we had to provide gates which allowed water to flow (much better course than it is now) into the A-Avon and Kennet, Kennet up the Feeder Road. We had to do about 11 million pounds worth of civil engineering works down there as a condition of closing this harbour for international shipping. ‘Cause right up to the day in the 60s, if one of the international ships that was, had the draught on high tide, that was very very tight, the Russian ships in particular, wanted to cause an international incident he would, we weren’t letting ships in there, and he could have demanded the right to come in, because we didn’t have that bill. When we got the act eventually, we had to promise to do 11 million pounds worth of work. They got an amendment to that and several years afterwards and we didn’t have to do it, but that was one of the conditions and all that was being argued. Now on the day, e-e-evening meeting that we were going to attend, I was going to sit on the platform alongside of Walker. And Walker was going to run the meeting, and I was going to sit as an Aunt Sally be.., and because clearly…… And Billy Bell who used to, he now lives in the Channel Islands, he was his vice chairman, Bill Bell, Councillor Bell used to run a cou…, run a couple of er petrol stations (that’s another story). And he actually ran those stations and he he was, it was Billy Bell, Gervas, the officers and myself we’d sit on the platform. I was going to sit up there because they had the mob, they were going to…, our blood was on the stones, although we won the day in the referendum eventually, but we were, they were really howling you know in that sense. That day we had a deputation from, I think ‘twas one of the German cities, and Gervas Walker and I and the City Engineer and the City Valuer (housing chap) Bob Wall [pause] 3 reporters from local newspapers had previously done a trip to the continent to look at all the road patterns because we were preparing our [he mutters] to see the autobahns. We went from Belgium right the way through to Switzerland on autobahns and motorways. Helicopters and all sorts. Guests of the German government and Swiss [he stutters] seeing these, and what we had in fact developed there was certain concepts of road patterns and so on. Now all this was being challenged and a deputation from one of the German towns who got interested in us when we were over there, asked to come over. And we had seen in Han-Hanover or Hamburg, Hamburg, in Hamburg in the centre of the city they were redeveloping ‘cause clearly Hamburg was flattened, they were redeveloping the city and they had an exhibition of models, and as new sections were being designed so they were putting the new models in. So we decided we’d do that in Quakers Friars. And we set up the planning exhibition in Quakers Friars, which is now not there – pity; that’s where all the models were. And when you asked me the other day about models, I don’t know what they done with them, but you might you might enquire what they did with all the models because that was the models of new Bristol, most of which wasn’t built. But huh that’s the models, I’ve got slides of most of them. But having said that we were going to entertain them so we took them to lunch and we took them round our exhibition to show what we’d done to copy them. And we thanked for the way in which, and they were very impressed. And that afternoon without my knowledge Walker had arranged a private meeting, prior to the evening meeting, with the biggest protestor group. And there was one solicitor chap who was a pain in the neck in my view, who was leading the bandwagon. He was a barrister and he knew all the… know how he was going to lead the opposition, and he did. And he arranged to meet them that afternoon. Now him and I were in the thing from beginning to the end, we were parties, and he did a deal with them that he would introduce certain aspects – it’s what I said about compromise. He would do a deal with certain issues and would announce certain changes at that meeting [he mutters]. And I was told about it an hour before the eve…. the public meeting at half past seven in the evening at the Colston Hall. I went and asked him ‘is this true Gervas? Did you do a deal?’ ‘Oh yeah, I wasn’t doing much…’ Ooh to me that was, you know, a breach of trust between him and me and I refused to sit on the platform.
KC: Did you take any advice on that?
WJ: No. I make my own decisions. Oh no, I wasn’t that sort of [he mutters] ‘Cause I’d done a deal with Walker and in those days a man had a lot of honour however.
KC: Who was actually the major party when this incident took place?
WJ: Gervas was in the chair, Gervas was chairman of Planning, he had the chair. Although [he stutters] and we were, I say we were together, and we were dealing with it, but he did the deal. That; I carried the can for Walker and his party several times, which it wasn’t my fault but rather than break a trust I took the stick. I’d rather not go on with it; I was going to tell you a story but there’s one I won’t tell you.
Recording finishes suddenly [01:11:25] Continuation see OH209.1