The Bill Moore Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection was assembled by Bill Moore during his work as an organiser for the Communist Party of Great Britain and during his retirement. The collection reflects both his interests in left-wing politics and his long standing interest in the history of Sheffield’s labour movement.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bill Moore (1911-2008) was born in Scunthorpe on 5 March 1911. His mother died shortly after his birth and he was brought up by his paternal grandparents in Attercliffe, Sheffield. In 1917 his father and two uncles were killed in action. In 1922 he won a scholarship to King Edward VII School. It was here that he made his first stand for peace when he refused to join the school Army Officer Training Corps. In 1930 he was awarded a Kitchener War Memorial Scholarship to study history at Oriel College, Oxford. During his Oxford career he stood up again for peace when he voted for the famous Oxford Union resolution “Not to fight for king and country” in 1933. After leaving Oxford he studied for a diploma in Education at London University between 1933 and 1934.

After witnessing the economic and political turmoil of the 1930s and the impact of mass employment Bill Moore joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and began working with the Sheffield University Communist Party Group. His interest in the peace movement continued and in 1935 he became Secretary of the Sheffield Peace Committee. It was during these years that he also began tutoring for the WEA, teaching a course on ‘Current History’.

During the Second World War he was called up into the Royal Armoured Corps where he taught driving and maintenance of tanks. Three later he was accepted for Commission in the Royal Artillery. Due to an injury sustained during regimental games he was unfit for the Second Front. In 1944 he applied for overseas service and joined The West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) in Egypt where he became an Education Officer. After the War ended he accompanied the troops back to Nigeria to be demobilised before returning to England in 1946. Bill was proud of that fact that that during his army career he had never fired a shot in anger.

During the post war years Bill obtained several short-term teaching positions at schools in Rotherham and Sheffield. His wife Frances, whom he married in 1937, was also a teacher. During this period Bill retained his interest in history and continued his political activities for the CPGB. In 1948, for example, he joined the Communist Party Historians’ Group where he was appointed to serve on the Local History Committee. Bill’s commitment to the Communist Party History Group and its successor the Socialist History Society continued to the end of his life. It was a role which combined his two great interests politics and history. In 1950 Bill stood as a Communist Party Candidate in the Neepsend (Sheffield) by-election where he polled 729 votes. That same year the city of Sheffield hosted the Second World Peace Congress which was attended by Pablo Picasso. Bill was a steward at this event. As his political role with the CPGB grew, he left teaching in 1952 to become a full-time Communist organiser in the West Riding of Yorkshire. That year Bill and his family relocated to Leeds where he remained for over two decades serving respectively as the West Yorkshire Area Secretary, later the Leeds Area Secretary (1955-56) and finally the Yorkshire District Organiser (1965-1976). It was a demanding role which involved a great deal of travel. Bill recalled that during this period he was ‘knocking up nearly 30,000 miles a year visiting the sixty-five branches’ which comprised the Yorkshire district. He was also for many years, Branch Chairman of Leeds Central Branch of Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union. During the 1960s Bill stood as a Communist Party Candidate in Leeds at various local elections.

In 1972 Bill and Frances Moore returned to Sheffield where Bill took over responsibility for Sheffield Communist Party Bookshop. After his retirement from paid work in 1976 Bill began recording the memories of veterans of the Sheffield Labour Movement. These oral history recordings are a key component of the Bill Moore Collection. In 1977 Bill was a co-founder of the Holberry Society for the Study of Sheffield Labour History and he also rejoined the Committee of the Communist Party History Group serving as chair between 1983-1991. After the History Group was reconstituted as the Socialist History Society in 1992, Bill served as chairman during its first year of existence and remained actively involved with the group until he died. In October 2005 the Socialist History Society paid tribute to Bill Moore with a day conference at the Working Class Movement Library, Salford. Bill Moore died July 2008.

Conditions Governing Access

For access conditions contact archives@sheffield.gov.uk

Note

This description will be updated when the listing of the oral history tapes has been completed.

Other Finding Aids

A box list is available for consultation at Sheffield Archives

Archivist's Note

Janette Martin compiled this collection level description in April 2010

Related Material

Bill Moore previously deposited at Sheffield Archives on Engineering Trade Unions (Acc. 2002/120).

The Len Youle collection, also held at Sheffield Archives, contains similar material on the inter-war labour movement in Sheffield.

Material held in the Bill Moore Collection, notably the records of the Communist Party History Group and the National Unemployed Workers Movement, complements records found in the Communist Party of Great Britain Archive held at The Labour History Archive and Study Centre (LHASC) in Manchester.

The Working Class Movement Library in Salford also holds a vast amount of printed material relevant to British Communism, as does the Marx Memorial Library in London.

Hull History Centre holds the papers of the Communist Howard Hill, who was the CPGB Sheffield District organiser for many years.

Bibliography

This collection includes the working papers of several pamphlets written by Bill Moore including:

Sheffield and Rearmament (1937)

Origin of Sheffield Shop Stewards Movement (1950)

Samuel Holberry (1979)

Samuel Holberry and the Chartist Movement in Sheffield (1980)

The General Strike in Sheffield (1981)

Feb 6th All Out – Unemployed Struggles in the 30’s (1982)

Peace Movement in Sheffield 1900-1921 (1982)

How Sheffield Chartists were betrayed (1984)

Cold War in Sheffield (1990)

Old Comrades (2001)

History from Below (2005)