Papers of Jack Brocklebank, including records of the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This small collection is dominated by papers relating to Mr Brocklebank's work as a trade union organiser and leader. There are several files relating to his period as a member of the Executive Committee of the NUAAW (later Agricultural & Allied Trade Group of the T & GWU) between 1970 and 1983 (U DBK/1-6). Other files and volumes cover meetings (with some financial accounts) of District Organisers (U DBK/7), the York County Committee (U DBK/8-15), the North Yorkshire District (U DBK/16-20) and the East Riding District (U DBK/21-22).

Going further afield, his work with the Agricultural Executive Committee for the North Riding of Yorkshire is documented in file U DBK/23, whilst that for various Agricultural Wages Committees (for the East, West and North Ridings, including South Yorkshire) is at U DBK/24-28. There is one file relating to the North East England Advisory Committee of the Forestry Commission, dating from the 1970s.

Two files at U DBK/30-31 cover his association with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (both as Liaison Officer, and member and later chairman of the Northern Regional Panel), whilst his membership of the Central Housing Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is covered in files U DBK/32-33. The former files include several letters from Agriculture Ministers Fred Peart, Cledwyn Hughes, John Silkin and Jim Prior between 1968 and 1971. The latter files include letters from several Ministers for Housing & Local Government between 1953 and 1970: Harold Macmillan, Henry Brooke, Anthony Greenwood, and Paul Channon.

There are North Pennines Rural Development Board papers between 1968 and 1971 at U DBK/34-36, and one file relating to the War Agricultural Emergency Committee for the North Riding of Yorkshire (1945-48) at U DBK/37. Another file, U DBK/38, includes some papers of Wath Rural District Council between 1948 and 1972.

The section of miscellaneous files and individual items includes several files which contain numerous press cuttings, articles, speeches, and some letters to the press by Jack Brocklebank (U DBK/42-45) and a small number of personal letters (U DBK/47), plus various items relating to Joan Maynard (U DBK/49). An artificial file of biographical items is to be found at U DBK/54.

Finally, papers relating to the estate of Arthur and Mary Jane Tweedy, of Kirkby Fleetham, of which Mr Brocklebank was executor, are at U DBK/55.

Administrative / Biographical History

John (usually known as Jack) Brocklebank was born in Leven in East Yorkshire on 3 September 1911, the son of a bricklayer and a domestic servant. The sixth of nine children, he left school at 14 and began work as a farm boy at Routh near Hull. He later moved to another farm at Catwick, also in the East Riding of Yorkshire, before running his own smallholding. He joined the National Union of Agricultural Workers (which later became the National Union of Agricultural & Allied Workers) in 1927, and soon became chairman of the local branch. In 1942, after an interview in London (his first trip outside Yorkshire) he was appointed NUAW regional organiser for the North Riding of Yorkshire. By now married to Ada, and eventually with a family of four daughters, he spent the rest of his life based at Dishforth near Thirsk in North Yorkshire.

Brocklebank was extremely successful in organising NUAW activities in the North Riding and beyond, and in building up union membership. His own status grew steadily, as was evidenced by the number of bodies and committees on which he was either asked to sit, or to which he was elected. In 1964, for example, he was appointed Northern Region Liaison Officer to the Minister of Agriculture, the first ex-farm worker to be appointed to such a position. This covered much of Northern England, including North Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland, and Cumberland. He served under seven ministers in this capacity. He also had a long-term interest in housing, particularly for agricultural workers, and was first invited (by Harold Macmillan) to join the Central Housing Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Housing & Local Government as early as 1953.

He worked with successive NUAW leaders, including Bill Holmes, Alf Dann, Harold Collinson, Reg Bottini and Jack Boddy. Union membership nationally peaked just after World War Two and thereafter, with mechanisation, went into long-term decline. This eventually led to merger with the Transport & General Workers Union, when the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers (as it had become in 1966) became the Agricultural & Allied Workers National Trade Group of the T & GWU. Another close associate, both politically and in trade union terms, was Joan Maynard (1921-1998), who was NUAW district and county secretary between 1956 and 1978, national vice-president of the Union 1966-1972, and Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside between 1974-1987. Like Brocklebank, she was also a Justice of the Peace, and a parish and county councillor in North Yorkshire.

In 1969 Mr Brocklebank was appointed chairman of the Electricity Consultative Council (North Eastern Area) (of which he had been a member since 1957, and chairman of the Harrogate local committee since 1959) and Deputy Chairman of the North Pennines Rural Development Board. These two appointments led him to resign as NUAAW regional organiser in 1970. After the abolition of the Rural Development Board he resumed union work as a member of the National Executive Committee until the end of 1983. In the late 1970s he also became a non-executive director of British Sugar.

Brocklebank was active in politics for much of his life on behalf of the Labour Party, was a founder member of the Thirsk and Malton branch, and its chairman for nearly 20 years. In 1947 he was elected to the Wath Rural District Council, near Ripon (later part of Harrogate Borough Council), and to a seat on the North Yorkshire County Council between 1952 and 1955 and 1964 to 1970. He was Deputy Mayor of Harrogate in 1978/79 and in 1982 was made an Honorary Alderman after serving for 34 years as a district councillor. He also served on Dishforth Parish Council from 1946, acting as chairman for some 30 years. He was appointed a magistrate in 1946 and served on the bench at Wath court until 1981, acting as Chairman from 1975.

He was for many years press correspondent for Dishforth, reporting local events in the 'Ripon Gazette' and the 'Darlington & Stockton Times'. He was a governor of both Dishforth village and Dishforth Airfield schools - the latter for over 40 years.

He was awarded the MBE in 1954 and the CBE in 1964. He died in June 1994 at the age of 82, when his popularity and the esteem in which he was held was evidenced by the large attendance at his funeral in Dishforth.

Arrangement

U DBK/1-22 National Union of Agricultural and Allied

Workers: sections and committees, 1922 - 1990

U DBK/23-54 Miscellaneous, 1919 - 1980

U DBK/55 Arthur Other Tweedy and Mary Jane

Tweedy, 1894 - 1973

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation. Some items maybe closed under Data Protection

Custodial History

Presented by Mrs Ada Brocklebank, Green Pastures, Dishforth, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, 1 September 1994

Related Material

Papers of Bert Hazell [U DX/246] and Frank Robinson [U DX/245]

Draft biography of Joan Maynard MP [U DX/248]

Personal Names