View Full Version : Pete Curran Jarrow's first Labour MP

Just Passing
23 Feb 10, 2:24 PM
Peter Francis Curran first Jarrow Labour MP
1907 – 1910
(The first Labour MP in the North East)

Curran House Sheltered Housing in Saxon Way (old Queens Road in Jarrow)


Charles Palmer (Liberal) defeated Pete Curran at the 1906 election

Charles Palmer died 1907 creating a bye-election
Pete Curran was elected Labour MP for Jarrow
(note: In 1884 only men who occupied property or land with an annual rateable value of 10 allowed to vote. Only 24% of adults could vote). In 1918 all men over 21 in Britain were given the vote and only house-holding women over 30 allowed the vote.
In 1928 all women over 21 got the vote, making them equal with men)
In spite of coming from a very large Irish family, Peter Curran did not get the bulk of the Tyneside Irish vote in the 1907 election (the Jarrow Labour party still fights in green)

At the General Election in January 1910 Pete Curran was defeated by Palmer’s son Godfrey Mark Palmer who became Liberal MP for Jarrow
Pete Curran lost by less than 100 votes
Pete Curran was in ill health while campaigning and he died within a week of the election.
He was buried at Leytonstone Roman Catholic Cemetery.
The funeral procession was led by the Stepney Gas-worker’s brass band.

Peter Francis Curran was born about 1860 in Glasgow to a large Irish Family (I have found very little information on his early years – I found a reference that he was born Patrick Curran?)

I think he married a Marion Barry?

Most information about him can be gleaned from the 1901 (census)

1901 Census
17 Blenheim Road. St. Johns. Walthamstow. Essex (now part of Greater London)
Pete Curran age 41 General Organisation Secretary of the Gasworkers and Labourers Union born Scotland
Marion Curran wife age 30 born Scotland
Johanna Curran daughter age 16 Relief Stamper born Scotland
James Curran son age 13 born Scotland
May Curran daughter age 11 born Scotland
Pete Curran son age 1 born Walthamstow. Essex
Phillip Curran son age 10months born Walthamstow. Essex

In the late 1880's came the politically minded leadership of Will Thorne and Pete Curran of the Gasworkers Union, and not often heard of in connection with the Labour Movement. They were at work amongst the woollen operatives of Bradford and the north preaching 'New Unionism' and it was seen as a ray of hope for the oppressed workers.

“The politics of Labour (Author Pete Curran. Publisher James Leatham 1891)
(I have not seen this small booklet so cannot add from it)

Pete Curran Secretary of National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers
left the Fabian Society because he was against the Boer War.
Speaking at a Socialist Congress in 1900 Pete Curran stated:
Great efforts are now being made in England to convince the Trade Unionists that the Colonial policy is in their interests, for it creates new markets and thereby increases the possibility of work and raises wages. But the English Trade Unionists are not to be caught with those fine words; they answer: so long as there are children in England who go hungry to school, so long as there are workers who wander about in rags and die in wretchedness, the English workers have no interest in exporting to the Colonies the goods they produce. And if the "Jingoes" rejoiced in the fact England has become a great country on which the sun never sets, then I say that in England there are thousands of homes on which the sun has never risen.
The reference to "Jingoes" is related to the Boer War which brought the question of Imperialism to a head, splitting the socialist ranks.

At the third annual conference (Newcastle, 1903) Pete Curran, in accordance with the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee, moved the following resolution:
“In view of the fact that the L.R.C. is recruiting adherents from all outside political forces, and also, taking into consideration the basis upon which the committee was inaugurated, this conference regards it as being absolutely necessary that the members of the Executive Committee and officials of affiliated organisations should strictly abstain from identifying themselves with, or promoting the interests of, any section of the Liberal or Conservative parties, inasmuch as if we are to secure the social and economic requirements of the industrial classes Labour representatives in and out of Parliament will have to shape their own policy and act upon it regardless of other sections in the political world; and that the Executive Committee report to the affiliated association or bodies any such official acting contrary to the spirit of the constitution as hereby amended.”
Curran declared that the delegates would remember the resolution brought forward at the Trade Union Congress at Plymouth (1899) by the Society of Railway Servants declaring that the time was ripe for a parliamentary Labour group to act independently.

In August 1907, the general workers in Belfast went on strike.
The strike wasn’t specific to a particular industry, nor, for once, was it wholly sectarian in nature
The UK Liberal Government met the strikers, peaceful pickets, with troops, rifles and fixed bayonets
The peaceful pickets became less peaceful, and threw stones and bottles at the soldiers
A month previously, two new Members of Parliament had been elected for Jarrow and, a fortnight later, Colne Valley
It was Jarrow’s Peter Curran who led a ferocious parliamentary onslaught on the use of armed troops against striking workers, and whose Parliamentary activity and leadership brought about an enduring change in public attitudes and the attitudes of parliamentarians to the responses to peaceful industrial disputes.

Pete Curran Speeches in 1908 (Hansard 1803 – 2005)
http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/people/mr-peter-curran/1908 (http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/people/mr-peter-curran/1908)

‘Voices From The Past in the Life and Times of Pete Curran’ MP for Jarrow 1907 – 1910 (author Ron Curran : formerly Scottish National Officer for NUPE) Biography: Published 2009 (sponsored by the General Federation of Trade Unions)
(I have not read this book as yet so cannot add from it)

Feel free to put any input into this story of Pete Curran
(Is it true he was born Patrick Curran?)