Records of Mrs Pearl Lilley as a Member of the British Soviet Friendship Society

Scope and Content

Collection contains the records of Mrs Pearl Lilley, member of the British Soviet Friendship Society Nottingham branch, General Secretary of the BSFS 1969-1975, and vice-president of the society from 1975.

Records include a minute book of the BSFS [Birmingham branch?] covering the period 1949-1953, letters of Mrs Lilley received in connection with her work on behalf of the society covering the period 1956-1988, programmes of soviet arts events in the UK in the 1960s, press cuttings relating to the society in the 1960s, invitations and tickets relating to BSFS activities in the 1960s and 1970s, soviet pin badges collected by Mrs Lilley in the context of her work for the society in the 20th century, photographs of BSFS activities and events in the 1960s and 1970s, a run of the society's journal covering the period 1961-1992, letters of Mrs Lilley as the organiser of the Northern and Midlands area of the society in the 1960s, publications of the society in the period 1963-1986, papers relating to national council meetings in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, a file relating to the retirement of Mrs Lilley as General Secretary in 1975, and a file relating to the receipt of the Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples medal for her work on behalf of British-Soviet relations and cultural exchange in 1975.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mrs Pearl Lilley, born in 1915, was a socialist with strong soviet sympathies during the 1960s and 1970s. Her political and cultural beliefs led her to join the British Soviet Friendship Society as a member of the society's Nottingham branch. She served as organiser of the Northern and Midlands Area of the society and as a member of National Council representing Nottingham. In this capacity she arranged many visits of soviet figures, soviet film screenings, dinner dances and public meetings in Nottingham. Her local efforts led her to be appointed as General Secretary of the BSFS in which office she served between 1969 and 1975. In this office she undertook visits to the USSR, arranged meetings and events for soviet dignitaries in the UK, exchange visits between the UK and the USSR, and much more. Her hard work was acknowledged on her retirement in 1975. The Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples was given to her for services to the promotion of international relations between Great Britain and the USSR. She received the Order's medal from Ambassador Nikolai Lunkov during a ceremony at the Soviet Embassy on 15 Dec 1975. At home the BSFS voted to award her life membership and she was made an honorary vice-president of the society in Aug 1975.

The society was founded in 1946 to promote friendship and understanding between Britain and the USSR. John Platts-Mills was one of the founding members and served as the society's first chairman. His work at the request of Winston Churchill during the war years had seen the establishment of various youth friendly societies intended to promote cultural relations with the USSR. Following the war, this initial work became more formalised in the establishment of the British Friendship Society and its various regional branches. Other notable members of the society include former chairman Reverend Stanley Evans. From 1958 the society's head office was situated at 36 St John's Square, London, and strong regional branches could be found in Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 the BSFS and its regional branches were disbanded, although some branches such as that in Manchester re-opened under a re-constituted name. Whilst material relating to the society has survived within the personal papers of its members and branch records exist for Nottingham, Birmingham and South-East Essex, most of the early records of the national council have been lost.



Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Deposited by Mrs Burrows, daughter of Mrs Pearl Lilley, in December 2012

Related Material

The following related material can be found at the Hull History Centre:

John Platts-Mills [U DPM/2/68, U DPM/4 and U DPM/5/2];

Visit of BSFS to USSR [U DX347];

Reverend Canon Stanley Evans [U DEV/1/24, 31, 38, 49];

Reginald Francis Orlando Bridgeman [U DBN/9/1 and UDBN/18/8];

Lt Commander Edgar Philip Young RN [U DYO/2/33 and 35, U DYO/4/97, 111-113, 124, U DYO/13/18];

Robin Page Arnot [Ref U DAR/2].

Records of the following branches of the BSFS have been deposited with other archives repositories:

Birmingham, Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography Service [MS 1824];

Nottingham, Nottinghamshire Archives [DDPP 11];

South-East Essex, Essex Record Office [D/DU 1590].