Personal and political papers of Fred Westacott (1916-2001), communist,1920-1995

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This extensive collection comprises papers of Fred Westacott (1916-2001), recording inconsiderable detail his political activities throughout his life, and particularly his involvementwith the Communist Party of Great Britain. The papers include minutes, circulars and congress filesfor the East Midlands district of the party. The collection also contains research and lecturenotes, tape recordings of talks and speeches, correspondence, photographs and private journals andpapers. There is a substantial quantity of socialist and communist pamphlet literature and ephemera.Principal series present include:

  • Personal papers of Fred Westacott (FW 1);
  • Personal papers of Kathleen Westacott (FW 2);
  • Records of the East Midlands District of the Communist Party of Great Britain (FW 3);
  • Records of the Welsh District of the Communist Party of Great Britain (FW 4);
  • Records of area branches of East Midlands district of the Communist Party (FW 5);
  • Records relating to Fred Westacott's membership of the Chesterfield and District Trade UnionCouncil (FW 6);
  • Records relating to Fred Westacott's membership of the Derbyshire Association of Trades Councils(FW 7);
  • Records relating to Fred Westacott's membership of the Amalgamated Engineering Union (FW 8);
  • Circulars and printed material of the Young Communists League (FW 9);
  • Circulars and printed material of the Communist Party of Great Britain (FW 10);
  • Circulars and printed material of the Labour Party (FW 11);
  • Circulars and printed material of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (FW 12).

Administrative / Biographical History

Fred Westacott was born in the South Wales mining town of Tredegar on 19 September 1916. He wasthe sixth of eight children of George Henry Westacott, a bricklayer, and Sarah Ann his wife (neGunter). Westacott was educated at Dukestown County School until 1931 when he reached 14. Aroundthis time, he became interested in politics and with some friends formed a youth socialist societyin Tredegar that later became a branch of the Labour League of Youth. In 1936, he left Tredegar forSouthampton where he worked as a fitter and a toolmaker in the aircraft industry. After a period ofinvolvement in local branches of the Labour Party, Westacott joined the Communist Party in December1936. He became a member of the Amalgamated Engineering Union in 1937 and was soon a branch chairmanand a district committee delegate.

During the Second World War, Fred Westacott worked on Spitfire production until his factory wasbombed and he was transferred to South Wales to undertake other engineering duties. He becamesecretary of the Caerphilly Branch of the Communist Party and of the Welsh Committee of the ShopStewards Movement. He was for a period full-time organiser in the industrial department of thedistrict Communist Party office. His refusal to return to industrial work led to army conscriptionon 1 April 1943 and he was drafted into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at Old Dalbynear Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He established a branch of the Communist Party in MeltonMowbray. He was sent to Italy to join the Chemical and Metallurgical Laboratory of the CentralMediterranean Forces near Naples.

He was demobilised with the rank of corporal in 1947 and married Kath Powell (died 1975), ateacher from Melton Mowbray, in the same year. He returned to work, first for the British ShoeMachinery Company, then for Imperial Typewriters, and finally for BTH. He became the first secretaryof the Leicester Borough Committee of the Communist Party and in 1948, the East Midlands districtorganiser of the party. In the 1948 Leicester City Council by-election he stood as Communistcandidate for the Braunstone Ward and in the 1950 General Election, stood as candidate for the NorthEast Leicester parliamentary district.

The Westacotts moved to Nottingham in 1949, where they remained until 1958, when he becameCoalfield Area organiser of the Communist Party and moved with his family to Chesterfield,Derbyshire. He stood as Communist Party candidate for the Mansfield (Nottinghamshire) constituencyon four occasions; 1966, 1970, February 1974 and November 1974. In 1971 he was made East Midlandsdistrict secretary of the party. He was also a member of the executive committee of the ChesterfieldTrades Council, a delegate to the Derbyshire County Association of Trades Councils and the TradesUnion Congress, and a member of the branch committee of the Amalgamated Engineering Union.

Westacott retired from full-time work with the Communist Party in April 1982 but remained forsome time a member of the district committee and its secretariat. He died in May 2001.

Communism first found its national voice in Great Britain at the Communist Unity Convention (alsocalled the First Congress) in London, 31 July-1 August 1920. The Communist Party of Great Britainfirst sought parliamentary representation at Caerphilly in August 1921. The party was divided intodistricts and within them into branches. The Nottingham branch, for example, was formed in 1928. TheEast Midlands district included branches in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire.

Arrangement

The collection has been divided by document type into series. Within these series, items havebeen arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

ACCESS: Access restricted pending full listing andprocessing; prospective researchers should contact the Department for advice concerning availableseries.

LANGUAGE: English

Other Finding Aids

  • This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright on thedescription belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Separated Material

  • Other collections relating to the Communist Party of Great Britain and other organisationswith which Fred Westacott was involved are recorded on the National Register of Archives(http://www.hmc.gov.uk/NRA/nra2.htm).

Conditions Governing Use

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

COPYRIGHT: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advancein writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk).

Custodial History

Fred Westacott began work on preliminary sorting and arrangement of his substantial personalarchive during his final years. He was generous in allowing access to researchers. The collectionwas acquired by the University of Nottingham's Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections inJuly 2001.

Related Material

  • Manchester University, Labour History Archive and Study Centre: Reports, membership papers,correspondence and minutes of the East Midlands district of the Communist Party of Great Britain,1960-1975. Reference: CP/CENT/ORG/4/2