All material on this website is subject to copyright
Items CANNOT be downloaded for any financial gain, commercial publications, social media or any other internet website or publication without permission
8th March 2011
This page is dedicated to Victor Yates, MP for Ladywood
If you have any photographs or memories of Victor please send them in
Yates lived up the road from me in Umberslade Road, Selly Oak. In the
early sixties I was about 13 and he must have been close to retirement.
I did some gardening for him. I was just there to pick up the odd half
crown for weeding and trimming his roses (he was proud of them), but I
recall him being friendly and making sure I got a cup of tea. His house
was modest but very well kept. I don't remember seeing anyone who could
be a wife or mother.
local MP in Selly Oak was a Tory called Harold Gurden. I just remember
him calling himself a 'Nutritionist' on his election papers. However, I
knew that he owned a small dairy in Hubert Road called 'Wacaden', the
'den' being part of his name.
I have many memories of Victor Yates, although only a lad I recall the many times he was in our front room at 381 Monument Road, it being the labour party committee rooms for many elections, including the general election of 1960? Not sure of the date, but Hugh Gaitskell was the unsuccessful labour party leader.
I can hear Victor playing our piano and singing to the tune of 'under the bridges of Paris’ the song he composed that went something like 'Vote labour on polling day the Tories won't get their way, they put up the prices to such an extent, they put up the rates and they put up the rent'.
Other local names that come to mind and spent many hours plotting and planning in our front parlour, Ada Billington, Garnet Boughton, George Jonas, Sid Watts and the labour party agent, Norman Smith, true working class heroes of our generation.
I seem to have spent a great deal of my young years stood outside polling stations all day to collect the polling cards and getting paid the sum of 10 bob, the Tories paid their lads 12 and 6 pence, but at the time it was a matter of principle!
of Victor F Yates, M.P. for Ladywood 1945-1969
was published in The Birmingham Gazette 27th July 1945, the day when all
the Election results were issued. My Dad, Bill Barnett was standing on
Vic's right, then on Dad's right is Edgar Watkins, who was to run the
Boys Club in Ladywood Community Centre later on and he also became my
brother-in-law when he married my sister, then on the extreme left of
the picture is a Party Member called Jack Coles.
don't know any of the other names.
knew Vic Yates for most of my life, as my father, Bill Barnett, was
Treasurer of Ladywood Divisional Labour Party for as long as I can
remember, I have a copy of his Election address for the local election
of 1930 so I obviously go back that far. I can remember, as I grew up, my mother
telling me that Vic Yates was a staunch Pacifist, as he had lost two
brothers in World War 1,and seeing him wearing a White Poppy on
Armistice Day which were supplied by the Peace Pledge Union, my mother
always wore one as well as she had lost her fiancée and a very close
friend during the War.
my first real memory of him is after I passed my 11+ and went to King
Edward’s VI Grammar School for Girls, Handsworth. We were sitting in
class one day when the Headmistress walked in with a group of people, and we all immediately stood up. I wonder how many children
would do that these days. One of the group was Vic Yates who gave me a
big smile and went talking to my teacher. He was telling her how my
mother had been ill all summer and my teacher was upset that she knew
nothing about it. I later learned that these people were School
next memory is of a trip to Weston-Super-Mare on 4th
September 1938, this was organised by Vic and he took bookings on Friday
evenings at our house in Barford Road. The fare was 9/6d for Adults and
5/- for children and this included a packed lunch.
arranged by Vic Yates, supplied the lunches and I must admit this lunch
still stands out in my memory. I had never had cakes like it. I wonder
if anyone was present on that day. I might add there was note to say
that the Outing had been arranged on a day when it was High tide in the
afternoon, anyone knowing Weston will realise how important this was.
next big event was The General Election 1945, when of course Vic was
elected as MP for Ladywood, I was Literature Secretary at this time and
was used to ordering booklets and pamphlets at 25 a time, but The Labour
Party had an Election Manifesto “Let Us Face The Future“ and Vic
said order 300, I said “ Are you sure?” but I was soon ordering many
this Election I met my husband
Jack Ridgway who had come into a Committee Room to offer his help, we
were married in August the following year and we still have the tea tray
which Vic gave us as a Wedding Present, we celebrated our Diamond
wedding last year.
one more memory amongst many was when my sister Maisie married Edgar
Watkins In December 1948 which was 25 years after my Mom and Dad were
married, they had a joint celebration and Vic Yates was there to help
them celebrate and there was a photograph in The Birmingham Mail of the
five of them.
photograph shows his two sisters, his older sister is on his right and
his younger sister with her daughter is kneeling in front with her
My mother and father are on his older sisters right, they are Clara and Bill Barnett, I wonder if anyone remembers my dad,
he was well known in Ladywood for his Labour Party work.
Incidentally, I met my husband in the 1945 General Election as we were both working to get Vic elected,
we celebrated our Diamond Wedding last year.
was a close family friend; in fact we still have his wedding present.
hope some of you will also have memories of Vic Yates and I would love
to hear from anyone with memories of him and my Dad, Bill Barnett.
Top of Page