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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


Vic 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.


The 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.


Derek Perry


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!


Happy days.


David Hollingsworth


Memories of Victor F Yates, M.P. for Ladywood 1945-1969



This photograph 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.


I don't know any of the other names.


I 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.


However 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 Governors.


My 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.


Kunzles, 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.


The 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 more.


During 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.


Just 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.



This 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 daughter.


My mother and father are on his older sisters right, they are Clara and Bill Barnett, I wonder if anyone remembers my dad,

as 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,

and we celebrated our Diamond Wedding last year.


Vic was a close family friend; in fact we still have his wedding present.


I 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.


Eve Ridgway (Barnett)



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