Fred, a softly spoken Christian Socialist

Further to your excellent tribute to Fred Knox who has died at the age of 92, I would like to record another area of his activities not mentioned in the article or at his funeral service at the Salvation Army Hall in Batley.

Fred Knox was a Christian Socialist, a member of the Labour Party, and key to the revival of the Labour Party in Birkenshaw in the early 1960s when Labour won the Birkenshaw seat on Spenborough Council in May 1962 for the first time in decades, was successful in winning Heckmondwike on the West Riding County Council in April 1964 for the first time ever, and Labour also gained Brighouse and Spenborough at the 1964 General Election.

An important influence on Fred Knox was the veteran Labour councillor, Tom Shaw, a fellow miner at Gomersal colliery and a tough and outspoken negotiator as a trade unionist, in the Labour Party, and in local government who became both the Mayor and a Freeman of Spenborough.

Tom Shaw, himself a magistrate, became a mentor to Fred Knox in his mining career and encouraged Fred to become a magistrate.

It was Tom’s own experience of the dangers of coal mining, the deprivation during and between two world wars, and being unemployed for 10 years as a victimised trade unionist, that made him determined to encourage younger people to become active in the community.

The softly spoken Fred Knox served his community with distinction across an incredibly wide range of activities and he never forgot his roots, the poverty and deprivation of his childhood and the solidarity and comradeship of the Salvation Army and his years as a coal miner.

I was privileged to campaign with Fred Knox more than 50 years ago in Birkenshaw and Spenborough on behalf of the Labour Party and during the past two years have enjoyed reminiscing with him over a cup of tea and a biscuit (he always insisted a cup of tea and a biscuit were inseparable) at his home in Birkenshaw about the remarkable life of this gentle Christian Socialist.


Town Street,