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Last updated:24 April 2015

Hilda Crompton

(Summary of Tape 147)

Hilda Crompton was born in Lincolnshire in May 1893.

In 1920 she went to Sheffield with her husband.

The years 1919-1924 were years of extreme poverty. They knew a man who had to ask the Board of Guardians for assistance to bury his baby. There were 33,000 out of work in Sheffield, her husband amongst them.

Image from the Co-operative Women's Guild membership card

Co-operative Womens Guild membership card

She helped to organise demonstrations and did canvassing for the Labour Party. She joined the Co-operative Women`s Guild; her mother also was a member. It was wonderful.

She got interested in politics, and joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1928. This was at a May Day rally in Nottingham. She listened to the CPGB speaker, and took a leaflet. They then sent a speaker who explained how the system worked. She started up the Alfreton (Notts) branch of the CPGB. It had had its ups and downs.

She was now interested in older people, whom she thought were very badly treated.  She worked for older people as far back as 1928.  The Co-operative Women's Guild and all of the Co-operative Movement did the spade work for the present welfare system.

In 1930 she and her husband lived in a house belonging to a mine owner. She spoke out in favour of nationalisation of the mines. Her husband got the sack as a result, and they had to leave the house.  He was out of work for 6 months, and then had to take a job with 10 shillings less pay, and had to pay bus fares to get to it.

They got a council house where she had now been living for 52 years.  They had 29 shillings a week, for three of them, and had to pay 7/6 rent out of that.

She felt bitter because she could not have a vote, being a woman [until 1928].

She was active in the anti-fascist movement in the 1930s, and supported the International Brigade, and did collecting for Spain. She thought that it was Spain then, but could be us next. She remembered collecting from a Catholic priest, who gave her a large basket of food. As she left he told her he would do anything to stop the rise of communism.

During World War Two she had two evacuees (2 boys) from Birmingham. She felt the evacuation policy was all wrong but tried to make them comfortable.

She had been in the OAP Federated Association for 44 years. The pension was 10 shillings a week for years and years and years, and it was time to do something about it.

Hilda had started a branch in Alfreton but had given up 2 years before, although she was an officer all the time until then. Thatcher was attacking pensions, and Hilda tried to convince people that they had to protect what they had, rather than try for better pensions.

She believed that Socialism does and will work, with the right people.

She had always read the Daily Worker. At one time the retailers would not distribute it, so she had to go and collect the bundle of papers from the station.

At the time of the interview Hilda was very nearly 92, and was glad to feel that she had tried to do something.

And, she repeated, 'Socialism does work'.

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