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Trades union leader at Warley presentation in 1975

By dan shaw  |  Posted: April 20, 2013

The Warley trades union officials relax with Len Murray (centre)

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THIS selection of photographs, dating from August 1975, has been brought to us by Doug Round of Rowley Regis.

Readers who worked at Accles and Pollock in Oldbury may remember Doug as he started work there in 1948, leaving in 1985, and was shop steward for the Electrical Electronic Telecommunications and Plumbing Union and a member of the Joint Trade Union and Management Plant Committee at the works.

The pictures were taken at a presentation evening of the Warley Trades Council, held at the Regis Hall in Old Hill.

Guest of honour for the evening was Len Murray, then general secretary of the Trades Union Congress.

In our main picture Doug has provided names for the men on stage. From left are, Frank Weston, Alf Hurst, Sid Dunn, Doug Round, Len Murray, Fred Summers, George Johnson and Dick Etheridge. They were being presented with gifts, items of lead crystal ware, for services to the trades council.

Len Murray was born in 1922 at Hadley, near Telford, Shropshire, the son of a farmworker.

He was orphaned at the age of eight and went to live with relatives, attending Wellington Grammar School.

He studied English at Queen Mary College, University of London, but dropped out after a year.

He joined the army in 1941 and was commissioned into the King’s Shropshire Light infantry in April 1943. He landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day but was badly wounded six days later and in October 1944 he was invalided out of the army.

Murray briefly worked as a storekeeper at an engineering works in Wolverhampton (do readers know which one?), then sold the Daily Worker on street corners. His old headmasters persuaded him to return to university and he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at New College, Oxford, gaining a first.

In 1947 he became an assistant in the economics department of the TUC and in 1954 he became head of department. He became assistant general secretary in 1969 and general secretary in 1973.

His period in office saw one of the most turbulent times in British industrial history. Murray was a moderate, seeking consensus, wary of being too closely tied to the Labour Party and careful to maintain trade union autonomy. He later admitted to having underestimated Margaret Thatcher, thinking she would bow to the pressure of events and seek compromise rather than refusing to change direction.

Murray retired early as TUC general secretary in May 1984.

A privy councillor since 1976, he was made a life peer, as Baron Murray of Epping Forest, and died in May 2004.

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