Westmorland Labour Party history is handed over for safe-keeping

The Westmorland Gazette: Lord Clark hands over the archives to Peter Eyre, the assistant county archivist Lord Clark hands over the archives to Peter Eyre, the assistant county archivist

A TREASURE trove of historical information relating to the Labour Party in Westmorland has been officially handed over for safe-keeping.

Minutes, election posters, leaflets and photos, are now in the possession of the Cumbria Archives Centre at County Hall in Kendal.

They relate to the Westmorland and Lonsdale Constituency Labour Party, which still has an active branch and members locally.

Virginia Branney, vice chair of the Westmorland and Lonsdale CLP, said of the party's history: “One thing that struck me is the prominent role played by women party members in local politics, perhaps surprisingly for a Labour party in a rural constituency.

“In more recent times, for example, Avril Dobson, Jean Ewing and Marilyn Molloy have served as mayors and leading councillors.

"Then there was the redoubtable Dr Elizabeth Kemp who was active for many years. And in 1935, Evelyn Short stood as the Labour parliamentary candidate.”

The records were handed over at the County Hall in Kendal, by Lord David Clark of Windermere.

Lord Clark is a former Labour MP and briefly Minister for the Cabinet Office following Tony Blair's landslide election victory in 1997.

Lord Clark commented: “I’m delighted the local Labour Party records will now be kept safely and be available to scholars and anyone else who has an interest in local history and politics.

"The Labour Party in Westmorland dates back to the early 1900s but, sadly, many of the official records from the last century have been lost.

"Old minute books, photographs and election leaflets can languish in people’s attics and often end up being thrown away. For an historian, what might seem to be junk can be a treasure trove. Fortunately, Labour Party records from the latter part of the last century have been gathered and can now be preserved for posterity.”

Others involved in the handover and pictured included Jean Ewing (former Mayor of Kendal and chair of South Lakeland District Council; Tony Rothwell, former Mayor of Kendal and district councillor for Kendal Glebelands ward, John Bateson, former Mayor of Kendal.

Gazette records from February 1921 reported how a meeting at the Workingmen’s Institute suggested forming a Labour Party branch in Kendal. It was proposed by a Mr Borthwick, then vice-president of the Kendal Trades and Labour Council.

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