But We Shall Rise Again

But We Shall Rise Again, Reg Groves

found: secondhand bookshop

date 1938

This history of the Chartists from 1938 allows a thread to be drawn from Chartist John Arnott’s life and death in Somers Town, prior to his confinement in the nearby workhouse, and the activism of the book’s author, Reg Groves, in Somers Town in the early 1920s. At the age of 18, Anglo-Catholic and Socialist Reg Groves was drawn to the church of St Mary’s in Somers Town, because there were figures there who followed the revolutionary vicar of Thaxted, Conrad Noel, who strove to win the Church to socialism. The years was 1926, year of the General Strike, and Groves organised strike meetings at the church. He became close to Stewart Purkis, Billy Williams, Bert Field and Ruby Rayner, all of whom were members of the Clearing House branch of the Railway Clerks’ Association and worked in Somers Town. These Communists issued Pit and Factory Papers from the railway, garment and other industries, such as ‘The Headlight’, for St Pancras and Somers Town railway goods workers. Groves met with political allies in the Express Dairies Café at Euston to debate and conspire. There were many disputes and plenty of workers to politicise – for example, the Idris Ginger workers at the factory in Pratt Street, who had struck in 1911.

Disillusioned with the regime in Soviet Russia, Groves went on in the early 1930s to develop Trotskyism in Britain, but was by now operative around Balham in South London. 

This copy of the book was owned by Glyn Evans, a Communist activist in Somers Town.

By Esther Leslie

Idris strike song