Papers relating to the British Soviet Friendship Society visit to USSR

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers relating to a visit by a British Soviet Friendly Society delegation to USSR in 1952.

Administrative / Biographical History

In Britain during the inter-war period, Communist groups such as the 'British-Soviet Friendship Society' and the 'Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR' were actively promoting cultural exchanges between Britain and the USSR. The Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR, founded in 1924, was recognised as a British counterpart of the 'Soviet Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries' (VOKS), and, in principle, aimed to recruit new members from the limited ranks of the intelligentsia. The British-Soviet Friendship Society, established in 1927, which tried to attract supporters from a wider base, mainly from the working class, had a membership of about 12,000 individuals along with some 50,000 affiliated members in 1954.

Alderman Harry Watton visited USSR in September 1952 as leader of the delegation organised by The British Soviet Friendship Society. Included in the delegation was the News Chronicle journalist/artist "Vicky" as an unbiased observer. The delegation (see U DX347/4) got off to a bad start with a three day delay in London due to visa problems - eventually they sailed to Ostend and then by train via Prague having missed the intended flight. The group sent 12 days visiting museums, schools, hospitals and other locations including the Kremlin and the offices of Pravda they also visited Tbilisi in Georgia.

Conditions Governing Access

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Deposited by Jean Thomas and Harry Watton, June 2011

Related Material

British- Soviet Friendship Society, 1941-1972 [U DEV/1/24, 31, 38 & 49, U DBN/18/8, U DYO/2/33 & 35, 4/97, 111-113 & 124, 13/18]

Robin Page Arnot [U DAR]

John Platts-Mills [U DPM]