Gibson Papers

Scope and Content

The papers in this collection represent only a very small part of Charles Gibson's public life, but they span more than fifty years. They consist of notebooks from courses attended (c. 1911-19), texts and notes for speeches, press-cuttings (c. 1910-15, 1949-68) and the draft of an autobiography, 'Memories of a Cockney MP'. They reveal something of his education, his early activities as a union official and his engagement as a Member of Parliament in the business of his constituency.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles William Gibson (1889-1977) was born in Fulham, London, the eldest son of a fromer agricultural labourer from Little Dunmow, Essex. He was educated at St Peter's Church of England School in Kennington Lane, attended Sunday meetings of the Boys' Brigade at the Moffat Institute, Esher Street, and later followed courses at Morley Working Men's College and the London School of Economics.

On his father's death in 1904 he found himself the breadwinner for a family of seven children. Gradually, during employment in a series of manual jobs, he became convinced of the usefulness of trade unionism to working men, and in 1912 he joined the Workers' Union. From then until his election to Parliament in 1945 he was employed as an official in the union movement: in 1912 he was appointed secretary and in 1914 full-time district organiser of the London District Committee of the Workers' Union; in 1921 he became secretary of the Metropolitan District Committee of the National Federation of General Workers; and in 1928 - when the Workers' Union was absorbed into the Transport&General Workers' Union - until 1945, he was group secretary for the building trades in the London and Home Counties area.

Gibson's political activities began when he joined the Independent Labour Party in about 1909. he served as a Labour member of Lambeth Borough Council between 1919 and 1922. After defeats in 1919, 1922 and 1925, he was elected in 1928 to the London County Council and, except for 1931-34, represented Kennington continuously until 1964. As a member, he concentrated much of his attention on the problem of housing, serving on the Housing Committee as Vice-Chairman (1934-39) and as Chairman (1943-50). In 1941/42 he was Vice-Chairman of the LCC. In 1945 he was elected as Labour Member of Parliament for the Kennington division of Lambeth, and in 1950 for the Clapham division of Wandsworth, sitting until 1959. He died in 1977.

(From John Burt's Forward to the handlist, 1978)

Access Information

Items in the collection may be consulted for the purpose of private study and personal research, within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Special Collections Reading Rooms.

Acquisition Information

Presented in 1977 by Mrs Jessie Gibson.


Prepared by John Farrant, September 2002.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available in the Library.

Conditions Governing Use

COPIES FOR PRIVATE STUDY: Subject to copyright, conditions imposed by owners and protecting the documents, the Library can supply, at a charge, photocopies, photographs or digital copies.

PUBLICATION: A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Head of Special Collections, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner.

Geographical Names