Help to build this part of the rebel road by sending details & photographs of statues in your area to Mark Metcalf at email@example.com or tel: 07952 801783.
A statue of Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s, is located in what was his constituency of Huyton on Merseyside. The statue was sculpted by Tommy Murphy (sat next to the statue), whose other works include the Hillsborough Memorial on the Old Haymarket in Liverpool City centre.
A sculpture of Tolouddle martyr George Loveless during the time he spent incarcerated in Dorchester Prison prior to being transported to Australia stands outside the Martyrs Museum in Tolpuddle. It is made from Portland stone and on the back it has the words from his trial at which
Loveless said: "We will, we will, we will be free."
The Tranent Massacre statue & information sign (below) are located in East Lothian, Scotland. Thanks to David Kelly for these photographs
Statues in Dublin
The following is a staue of Jim Larkin in Dublin with inscriptions.
Below are statues of James Connolly and also a Dublin docker
James Connolly Dublin Docker
Renton bull statue honours 5 Scots members of the International Brigades
Standing outside the MA centre in Renton in the Vale of Leven, an iron statue of a Spanish bull honours five local Communists who joined the International Brigades to oppose General Franco’s 1936 uprising against Spain’s democratically elected Republican government.
Brothers Patrick Joseph, Tommy and Daniel Gibbons, along with James Arnott and Patrick Curley were amongst 549 brave Scots who left their homeland to fight Franco’s fascist forces. 65 lost their lives including Tommy Gibbons, killed in the fight for Brunette in July 1937, and Patrick Curley, who was killed at the Battle of Jarama. Danny Gibbons was wounded at Jarama and later captured at the battle of Calaceite in March 1938. He was imprisoned and exchanged in February 1939 for Italian and German prisoners.
Patrick Joseph ‘Joe’ Gibbons was on a Barcelona-based ship that was torpedoed by an Italian submarine. Over 200 volunteers were lost at sea, but Joe kept alive two colleagues who could not swim by keeping them afloat for hours in the water till they could be rescued. He later went on to fight the fascists in numerous battles and was wounded by tank fire. James Arnott was to be repatriated.
The statue was unveiled by the Reverend Ian Miller of Bonhill Church on 27 August 2011 in an event organised by the Renton Community Development Trust.
Bessie Braddock (1889-1970), Liverpool
There is a magnificent commemorative statue of ‘Battling Bessie’ Braddock at Lime Street Station, Liverpool, and the city where she was a radical Labour MP from 1945 till 1970.
According to Prime Minister Harold Wilson: “Braddock was born to fight for the people of the docks, of the slums, of the factories and in every part of the city where people needed help.”
She inherited her socialism from her parents, with Sylvia Pankhurst describing Bessie’s mother, Mary Bamber, as the finest fighting platform speaker in the country. In 1921 Bessie made her first speech at a demonstration in support of the unemployed. The following year she married Jack Braddock, who later went on to become leader of Liverpool City Council. Both were members of the Communist Party but quit over its lack of commitment to democracy. Bessie herself became a councillor for St Anne’s Ward in 1930.
In 1945 she became president of Liverpool Trades Council and was elected as MP for Liverpool Exchange. She fought for better housing and educational opportunities, whilst also supporting trade unions. She was granted the Freedom of the City of Liverpool shortly before she died on 13 November 1970.
A very good book on Bessie Braddock’s life was published in 2011 and is available at
The statue of Bessie Braddock was sculpted by Tom Murphy and in 2010, Mark Metcalf wrote a piece for the Big Issue in the North magazine that covers the Braddock statue, Tom’s other works and the history of statues in general. Read Mark's article here.
Many thanks to Sharon Wentworth for sending in her photograph of Bessie Braddock.
1984/85 Miners’ Strike Memorial Sculpture, Stoke-on-Trent
North Staffs Miners’ Wives Action Group (NSMWAG) campaigned and fundraised for two years to make possible a magnificent sculpture dedicated to Joe Green and David Jones, two Yorkshire miners who were killed on picket lines during the year-long 1984-85 miners’ strike. In neither case were those behind the deaths found or held responsible.
The sculpture was the work of Frank Casey from St Albans and was unveiled by David Jones family at the Potteries Museum, Hanley in 1991.
NSMWAG have produced an hour long DVD on their fight against pit closures and the creation of the coal sculpture. Proceeds go to the National Justice for Mineworkers Campaign that continues to raise money to alleviate hardship among victimised families.
The 1984/85 Miners’ Strike Memorial Sculpture is located in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Bethesda St, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW.
For more details contact Brenda Procter at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on North Staffs Miners’ Wives Action Group see:-
For more details on Frank Casey see: - https://sites.google.com/site/frankcaseysculptor/gallery
Many thanks to Brenda Procter, Fred Hughes and Clare White for the photographs and information which appears here.
International Brigades statue, Belfast
The International Brigades who fought in Spain in the 1930s are commemorated with a statue in Writers’ Square Belfast. Designed by Anto Brennan, it was erected by the International Brigades Commemoration Committee and unveiled on 13 October 2007 by Bob Doyle, a member of the Brigades and a life long militant. Accompanying Bob was Jack Jones, President of the IBMT and former general secretary of the TGWU and who also fought in the International Brigades, and Jack Edwards, a Liverpool volunteer. 78 men born in Northern Ireland participated in the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War. At least 18 families of Irish veterans were present at the unveiling.
For more details see: - www.irelandscw.com/org-Oct07-1.htm
For more on Bob Doyle see his obituary at
Many thanks to Richie Browne, Unite regional co-ordinating officer, for this photograph.
International Brigade Memorial Sculpture – Jubilee Gardens, London
The International Brigade memorial was unveiled by Michael Foot on 5 October 1985, one day after the 49th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street in east London in which Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, assisted by the Metropolitan Police, were prevented from marching by anti-fascist groups. It was to prove a mortal blow for fascism in Britain. However in Spain a much greater battle had started on 17 July 1936 when General Franco’s nationalists took up arms against the democratically elected Spanish Republic.
Franco could count on the military support of fascist Germany and Italy. Anti-fascists internationally recognised that this was a struggle with massive international implications and many – estimated at over 30,000 - were prepared to volunteer and fight on the republican side. Many were killed in an ultimately unsuccessful fight that in its aftermath paved the way for the Second World War and saw Franco rule Spain until his death in 1975.
The memorial sculpture by Ian Walters is in bronze.
The inscription on the front reads: INTERNATIONAL BRIGADE. In honour of over 2,100 men and women volunteers who left these shores to fight side by side with the Spanish people in their heroic struggle against fascism, 1936-1939.”
The inscription on the reverse side of the plinth reads: “This memorial, unveiled by Michael Foot, 5th October 1985, was made possible by the support of many democratic organizations, individuals and the Greater London Council.”
The inscription on the left side is taken from Byron’s ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ and reads: ‘Yet Freedom! Yet thy banner, torn, but flying.
Streams like the thunder-storm against the wind.”
The inscription on the right side reads: “They went because their open eyes could see no other way.” It is from the poem Volunteer by C. Day Lewis in 1938.
For more details see:-
Many thanks to Jim Thatcher, UNITE member and blacklisted construction worker, for sending in his photograph of the sculpture.
John Fielding - Queen’s Park, Bolton
The son of a cotton worker, Fielding was born at Redlaur, near Blackburn in 1849. He took up the same profession at aged 12 and remained a mill worker until 1874, when he replaced his father as secretary of the cotton spinners association, In November 1874 he became secretary of Bolton Trades’ Council.
He successfully united the two trade union branches of the cotton spinners’ into one organisation, the Operative Spinners’ Association. According to the Bolton Journal the Association was ‘second to none in the kingdom for wealth and power.’ The paper praised Fielding for his ‘energy, great gasp of thought and forceful character’ that ‘lifted his fellow workers……to the proud position they now occupy in the industrial world.’
When he became in 1879 a Bolton J.P he was one of the first trade union leaders to be appointed to the magisterial bench.
When he died in 1896, his many friends and admirers wanted to get together to maintain his memory. A memorial over his grave was considered but discarded in favour of a statue to mark his true value and in recognition that a workman’s life is just as important as those of soldiers, politicians and the wealthy. The 6’ statue, costing £250 and sculpted by J.W Bolden, stands next to that of Benjamin Disraeli, Britain’s first and to date only Jewish Prime Minister. In 1984, the heads of both statues were removed by vandals and when discovered were quickly restored.
The inscription on the pedestal reads:-
J.T. Fielding J.P.
For over 20 years The Secretary of the Operative Cotton Spinners Association and United Trades Council of Bolton and District.
UNITY AND EQUITY WERE THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF HIS LIFE
Erected by the trade unionists and public of Bolton and presented to the Borough, July 11th 1896.
Tens of thousands attended the unveiling, undertaken by Lord James of Hereford, a sponsor of factory legislation, of the Fielding statue on 11 July 1896, at which speakers attacked the ‘sweating’ processes and poor employment practices that were driving down wages in the cotton industry.
The ‘discovery’ (*) by the Rebel Road project of the Fielding statue has come as a bit of surprise to radicals in Bolton. The Lancashire town has a long-running (Bolton) Socialist Club, where the meetings of Bolton Trades Union Council take place. Unite member Martin McMulkin is secretary of the Trades Council and admits; “I’d no idea we had a statue here in Bolton of a trade unionist. Other people I spoke to also had no idea. I’ve little doubt we will now do something to mark John Fielding’s achievements in the future.”
• The information on this came from The Lefties Guide to Britain: from the Peasants’ Revolt to Granta Restaurant that was edited by Peter Clark and published by Politico’s Publishing in 2005.
Much of the information on this page comes from the Friends of Queen’s Park website at
www.friendsofqueensparkbolton.co.uk. See also the website of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association at www.pmsa.org.uk
Samuel Bamford, Middleton Cemetery behind St Leonard’s Church
One years' imprisonment for treason in Lincoln gaol was the fate suffered by Samuel Bamford for leading the Middleton contingent on 16 August 1819 to St Peter's Fields, Manchester where armed cavalry charged on a peaceful pro democracy crowd of 70,000 demonstrators, killing at least 18 and seriously injuring over 700 people. The 'Peterloo Massacre' is now annually commemorated in a 'Campaign for a fitting memorial to the martyrs of democracy.' See www.peterloomassacre.org
Bamford was born in Middleton on 28 February 1788 and became a weaver and then a ware-houseman but it was as a radical poet and writer that he became best known and his Passages in the Life of a Radical (1840-44) is regarded as a historically important guide to the conditions of the working classes after 1815.
Bamford was convinced after Peterloo that the superior physical power of the state would always overcome radical militancy and although he continued to campaign for radical reform he opposed any activism involving physical force.
Bamford died on 13 April 1872 and was given a public funeral that was attended by thousands. The huge obelisk memorial to him that was paid from public subscription was unveiled at Middleton Cemetery in 1877 and includes an inscription: ‘Bamford was a reformer when to be so was unsafe, and he suffered for his faith.’ Sadly Middleton Cemetery behind St Leonard's Church, much of which was erected in 1412, is now quite badly overgrown.
To read more on Samuel Bamford see:- http://gerald-massey.org.uk/bamford/index.htm
Robert Ascroft Memorial Statue, Alexandra Park, Oldham.
A bronze statue of Ascroft was erected in 1903 by public subscription in memory of 'The Workers Friend' who acted as the legal advisor to the Association of Operative Cotton Spinners * (AOSC) that represented male mule spinners between 1870 and 1970 and which had 18,000 members at the time of Ashcroft's sudden death in 1899 at aged 51. The high density of union membership amongst cotton spinners meant AOSC members could negotiate significantly better wages and working conditions than other British industrial employees such that mule spinners became known as the Barefoot Aristocrats.
Ascroft was a skilled negotiator who ensured that the 1892 Brooklands Agreement - one of the earliest and most famous of the agreements between capital and labour for the purpose of providing machinery for the settlement of disputes without having recourse to strikes or lockouts - that emerged out of a bitter dispute helped place industrial relations in the cotton industry on a more balanced footing.
Ascroft was also a leading campaigner for better working conditions and between 1895 and his death he was one of Oldham's two Conservative MPs.
Many thanks to Alan Bedford, a Unite safety rep at BAE Systems in Middleton, Manchester for information on Ascroft. "I can't imagine in years to come that anyone in a trade union will want to put up a statue to the current lot of Conservative MPs," said Alan.
.Mary Macarthur, Cradley Heath
The successful strike by women chainmakers at Cradley Heath in the Black Country in 1910 is commemorated by a statue of Mary Macarthur, who led the strike, and a monument to the strikers in a park named after Macarthur.
Monument to the women chainmakers in the Mary Macarthur Park
Diana Holland next to the Mary Macarthur statue in the Mary Macarthur Park
It took artist Luke Perry more than two years to create the statue which stands at 10ft and weighs nearly three-and-a-half tonnes. It was unveiled in 2012.
The strike is celebrated at an annual Chainmakers Festival that is organsied by the Midlands Trades Union Congress. There is live music, comedy, stalls, speeches, street theatre re-enactments and fun fair rides along Cradley Heath High Street where many of the women lived and worked over a century ago.
Chainmakers were highly skilled and badly paid. Writer Robert H Sheard described their lives in his ‘The White Slaves of England’ book. 'At Anvil Yard...I could see nothing but sorrow and hunger and grime, rags, foul food, open sores and movements incessant and laborious.'
Non-union women workers, who earned less than the unionised men doing the same jobs, were especially poorly paid, earning well under 10 shillings (50 pence) a week.
Cradley Heath High Street during the 2015 Chainmakers Festival
Trade union organiser Mary Macarthur started the fightback by establishing in 1906 the Hammered Chain Branch of the National Federation of Women Workers.
There was further progress when the Chain Trade Board - established by the Trade Boards Act 1909, which created the first boards legally able to set a minimum wage - agreed a 100 percent pay rise. Many smaller companies though sought to avoid paying up and exploited their female employees illiteracy by tricking them into signing contracts that started the new rates six months later.
Realising they had been duped around a thousand women, inspired by Mary Macarthur, began strike action to force their employers to pay the newly agreed minimum hourly wage of 2.5d (1 p).
Strike funds were collected and when MacArthur, aware of the media's power, encouraged Pathe News to cover the strike this produced worldwide public sympathy and donations. The £4,000 collected maintained the struggle for 10 weeks at the end of which a famous victory was achieved when all the employers agreed to pay the minimum rate.
At the 2015 Chainmakers Festival, Macarthur’s victory speech was wonderfully recaptured by actor Lynn Morris. ”You no longer need a Mary Macarthur. You will find your own leaders and voices, but a word of warning on this glorious day, take heed for that which has been so hard won can be so easily lost. So keep the unity, keep the union and keep together.” Morris said today’s young women should use Macarthur as inspiration.
The Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland told the crowd the women Chainmakers are being replicated today by “women workers in hotels, who after decades of campaigning are beginning to make gains because they are getting organised through Unite.
Actress Lynn Morris (playing the role of Mary Macarthur) in front of the cast at the 2015 Festival
“The Cradley Heath women Chainmakers show that if you are organised and in a union you can win in the most difficult of circumstances. They also by helping found the national minimum wage showed unions are not going to allow a race to the bottom.
“It is important that we keep alive the memory of those brave women of over a century ago and this Festival is a marvellous way of doing so.”
For more information on the strike go to http://www.cradleylinks.co.uk/1910strike.htm
See also The Cradley Heath Women Chain-makers’ Strike of 1910 by Margaret Bradley
William Wilberforce, Hull
There is a statue of William Wilberforce outside his former home, which is now a museum. This is located within part of Hull’s Museum Quarter incorporating the Nelson Mandela Garden. Close to the Museum is a pub named after Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a native of Kingston upon Hull. Born to a prosperous merchant family in 1759, Wilberforce was just 21 when he became MP for Hull, switching four years later to represent the larger county seat of Yorkshire.
It was following a dramatic conversion to evangelical Christianity that, at the suggestion of the prime minister, William Pitt the Younger, in 1787 he became the parliamentary leader of the abolition movement. Wilberforce made his first Parliamentary speech on the issue in 1789. The slave trade was enormous and British ships transported 2.6 million of the 12 million slaves that from the late fifteenth century were taken from Africa to the Americas.
For British slave traders it was a three-legged journey - the 'triangular trade' - whereby guns and brandy were traded in Africa for slaves, who were then transported under horrendous conditions to be sold in the West Indies and North America and following which traders returned to England with cargoes of rum and sugar for sale.
William Wilberforce Statue outside Wilberforce House
The slave trade was thus highly profitable. In 1700, a slave cost around £3 in traded goods and could be sold for £20. The trade partly helped finance Britain's subsequent industrial revolution.
There were many slave uprisings. In 1791 slave leader Toussaint l'Ouverture - one of the greatest military leaders ever - led a successful slave revolution in Haiti. This, in part, prevented the abolition bill of the same year being passed in Parliament. The following year a similar bill, which had popular support, was successful but only after the legislation was weakened by the inclusion of the word ‘gradual’, plus a requirement for more research into the trade. Slave traders exploited this and with Britain at war with France from 1792 to 1805 the abolitionist campaign floundered.
William Wilberforce pub in Hull City centre
Wilberforce reintroduced his bill into Parliament in 1804. Having sounded out public opinion he published an influential tract in 1806. In 1807 he gave one of the greatest Parliamentary speeches of all time. He was subsequently backed an overwhelming vote that outlawed the trade in slaves on British ships. Slavery though remained in British colonies. In 1812, Wilberforce worked on the slave registration bill that failed to obtain Government backing. In 1823, Wilberforce published another tract attacking slavery. Two years later, Wilberforce left Parliament. Just three days before he died on 29 July 1833 the emancipation bill received its final reading and slavery would be abolished - although not without the traders being heavily compensated! In 2006, Tony Blair expressed on behalf of the British Government "deep sorrow and regret" for the slave trade.
The William Wilberforce pub on Trinity House Lane in Hull city centre is a Wetherspoon pub that serves a range of refreshments, including real ale, and a variety of food.
The Wilberforce Statue and House is located within part of Hull’s Museum Quarter incorporating the Nelson Mandela Garden (above).
There is a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement, within the Nelson Mandela Garden (right).
Hull City Council has an extensive website on Wilberforce at http://www.hullcc.gov.uk/museumcollections/collections/theme.php?irn=159
Perhaps you know of a statue in your town or city that commemorates a trade unionist? If so, please get in touch, as so far the research undertaken would indicate there are very – far too – few such statues.
Contact - Mark Metcalf at email@example.com or tel: 07952 801783.