This week I went to a meeting organised by the London Socialist Historians Group to hear Rosie MacGregor, a long standing Nalgo and UNISON colleague, speak about her recently published book on the life of Angela Gradwell Tuckett. Rosie had told me about the book when we met by chance at last November’s demonstration and parliamentary lobby against the government’s trade union bill.
Angela Tuckett was born in Bristol in 1906 into an well off, politically aware family which had a strong Quaker influence. She was a feminist, the first woman solicitor in Bristol (she worked for her father’s firm), peace campaigner, qualified pilot, journalist and author and folk musician. She was also a keen hockey player who represented England and was a member of the national team that played in a tournament in Germany in 1935. Rosie explains that the team: “had to pass through a cordon of Hitler youth all giving the Nazi salute as they entered the stadium. Obviously (unlike the rest of the team) Angela did not return their salute.” This got her into trouble with the authorities (from both countries) and she was never again selected to play for England.
A few years earlier in 1931 she joined the Communist Party after seeing the plight of hunger marchers and later became head of the Legal Department of the National Council of Civic Liberties (now Liberty). She then joined the staff of the Daily Worker (now the Morning Star) before moving to Labour Monthly.
A loyal and unquestioning member of the Communist Party, she moved to Swindon in 1962 when she married her second husband, Ike Gradwell, who was also a member of the Party. She died in Swindon in 1994.
Rosie’s excellent, honest and well researched account brings Angela to life, warts and all and is a great tribute to a campaigner who hated injustice and wanted to build a better world based on socialist principles.
‘Angela Remembered The life of Angela Gradwell Tuckett’ by Rosie MacGregor is published by WaterMarx on behalf of the White Horse (Wiltshire) Trades Council, price £7.50. ISBN 978-0-9570726-3-3.