Interview with Roy Hadwin

Project: ‘T Dan Smith: A funny thing happened on the way to Utopia’

Brief Description: Uncut interview with Roy Hadwin [Vickers TU official and business associate of Smith]

Notes: interviewers Steve Trafford and Murray Martin, camera Peter Roberts, location: in a pub


00:00 – Hadwin was born in Morecambe, moved to NE in 1934, father a commercial traveller, a tory. He became a socialist aged 9 or 10, becoming aware of inequalities, other kids going to school with no shoes when he was well fed

3-8:00 – Was a Labour Party member, not ILP though associated with them, but believed Trade Unions the most powerful political force. In 1942/3 he was involved in Apprentices section of AEU. The Apprentices strike started because Bevin wanted to send 1 in 5 down the pits; the ‘trots’ claimed credit for it but that wasn’t really true, the strike was spontaneous because the apprentices actually wanted to join the army rather than go down pits

9:00 – He didn’t meet Dan Smith and Jack Johnson until the early 50s, was not aware of their involvement in the strike of which he was one of the leaders, not elected but a natural leader due to being an articulate 18 year old amongst less articulate younger lads

12:00 – Was called up to army in 1945, sent to Trieste. Wasn’t involved in peace movement, though did refuse to go to Korea in 1947

17-21:00 – Got his education through reading. Rejects careerism among Labour MPs and TU leaders – need to have been on shop floor

22:00 – Was demobbed from army in 1947, returned to Vickers as fitter/turner (he’d worked their since age 14). Was soon elected shop steward, sacked for organising overtime ban, reinstated but moved to Elswick where he became works convenor

28-30:00 – Large number of strikes, mostly over work conditions. They’d had one 13 week strike but didn’t win. Vickers was full of characters who’d worked there their whole lives, fought for 8 hour day in Armstrong’s times

35:00 – Was still in army when Labour won 1945 election; great victory but then opportunity for socialism was lost, Labour just carried on from Tories. Did not nationalise banks etc and its nationalisations did not mean workers control. Hence public lost faith in Labour for not delivering

39:00 – Was elected to Council at same time as he became works convenor at Elswick. Elected convenor because he’d led a major dispute

45:00 – First met Dan Smith in City labour Party. But main contact only after he became councillor;  found common interest with Smith’s group in getting things done, council then doing little while city decayed. Had to take control of city party executive, block old-school councillors, get in new people with new ideas. City then clogged with traffic, houses falling down, no new shopping areas etc. Smith a natural leader, Roy became chief whip which was how he became Lord Mayor

51:00 – They wanted a C20th approach to City planning everything – sport, arts, education, transport. Not happy with end result because they lost power, eg Eldon Square should have been publicly owned, Bigg Market should not have had office block built in middle

58:00 – Asked when Smith went wrong, what Roy knew. He hadn’t believed it, never knew true story

65:00 – Asked about vested interests on Council, responds that always so, many of those who’d accrued property in city had done so by being on council. They’d introduced payments for councillors and moved meetings to evenings to make it possible for workers to participate

67:00 – Defends Wilf Burns as Newcastle’s planning officer – he’d take time to talk to people, to understand. Talks about plans that had existed to make Town Moor used by the people with lakes, forest, gardens etc. Plans sadly never acted on

74:00 – After Smith had left council, Roy became involved with him again when offered a job in his PR company, then involved in getting contract fro Labour Party PR. Took job because offered pay increase above the little he was then earning. Job involved doing publicity for marginal seats across the country

78:00 – They moved into other areas after losing LP contract. Roy reluctant to speak of some issues covered by press because he’d rather forget them

81:30 – Asked if feasible that MI5 was involved in Smith’s downfall. Not impossible, Smith was becoming nationally powerful and disturbing establishment

88 Smith had grander plans for replacing House of Lords with regional delegates. Supported common market, wanted European parliament

93:00 – Doesn’t want to dissect Smith, he did a lot for the City, maybe drifted off rails because he needed money. Roy thinks he doesn’t now have money and if he made it he must have been done by someone

101-109:00 – Argues that corruption is found everywhere, where is line drawn? They remained radical socialists but their good work tarnished by this. Can’t make progress without making enemies; Tories close ranks in times of trouble but Labour self-destructs. Gives activities of Thatcher’s son Mark as example of Tories closing ranks

116-124:00 – 1955-70 a progressive period for Newcastle. Details planning of housing redevelopment. Was this successful? Worst housing in West End was built by Tories but they too went for high-rise because advised this was needed for housing density. But this a mistake, semis would have allowed similar densities in fact

126-133:00 – Did they not destroy working class communities? No, capitalism does this, unless you can control whole economy can’t stop loss of employment that sustained those communities – shipyards, Vickers closures etc. Vickers once employed 25000, its site now being turned into parks. Councils have to clear up mess as industries close while the owners till live in their mansions…

Ends at 133:04

Support Amber

Collection • Gallery • Access • Education • Production

Support Amber

Collection • Gallery • Access • Education • Production