Sunday, 3 May 2015

Trouble on Tyneside

Prior to joining British Union, Tommy had been an active member of the Labour Movement and for some time had served as Branch Secretary for Newcastle West. In July 1933 disillusioned with Labour, he was won over to Fascism. Whilst reading of and researching Tommy`s early days in the movement, there has been three separate incidents that I have found particularly memorable.

Firstly, a Sunderland Echo report from December 13th 1933 

As a sequel to a fight between Fascists and J**s in a Newcastle dance hall. Thomas Patrick Moran, engineer, of 22 Budle Street, Newcastle, was fined a total of £7 with two guineas costs at the City police court today.

Moran pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly, assaulting two attendants, Sydney Park and William Gilbert and to assaulting Police Sergeant Watt. 

Park said that at 12.30 am today he saw a man in Fascist uniform arguing with a J**. He ordered both men to leave the hall and Moran intervened. There was a fight. Moran was very violent and struck him. 

William Gilbert said Moran struck him in the face and had to be held down until a policeman arrived. 

P.C. Swan said Moran was mad drunk and struggled violently. At the police station he had to be handcuffed before he could be got into the cells. 

Moran said it was the first time he had been in trouble. He had been celebrating his birthday. “Some J**s were setting about our chaps and I went to their assistance.” He said. “I took what was coming to me, and other people took what was going to them. I was drunk.” 

Moran asked for time to pay.

Replying to Supt. T. Dale, he admitted he was a professional boxer, but said he was not boxing now.

The second, and to me, my favourite Tommy anecdote of that period, a report from The Blackshirt

C/O Moran has been doing some very useful work in South Shields. On Sunday January 21, a certain individual addressed a gathering in the Labour Hall on Fascism. This man claimed to be au fait with the knowledge of the "thuggery" and brutality of Fascists. C/O Moran entered the hall unaccompanied whereon the said individual "dried up".  

A policeman was sent for, but as no disturbance had or was likely to take place, the precaution was unnecessary, which fact the policeman placed on record. That one Fascist could cow a hall full of anti-Fascists without any threats or attempts at violence speaks well for the respect in which our men are held. 

Cowen`s Monument, October 2014

Lastly, an incident at Cowen`s Monument, again reported in The Blackshirt

The Blackshirt meeting at Cowen's Monument every Sunday evening has become a feature of Newcastle life. Meetings held there have always been lively, but of late there has been a tendency for the opposition to become rougher than usual and to show signs of organised hooliganism.

On Sunday April 29, the usual heckling developed into systematic shouting and singing. Suddenly a concerted rush was made for the platform. Almost overwhelmed by the weight of the crowd, the stewards were forced back. The speaker had to vacate the platform, which was smashed. Encouraged by this apparent success, the “Reds” went further and several of our men were struck. 

C/O Moran had relied upon conciliatory methods, but seeing our men go down he gave the order to fight back. The one constable present was of course unable to cope with the crowd.

Sticks, pieces of platform, boots were all used upon the Blackshirts and many were kicked and rendered unconscious. One Fascist who was being carried away from the struggle by sympathisers was kicked into unconsciousness.

On the arrival of the police reinforcements, the stewards were reformed and marched back to their headquarters to an accompanying barrage of whelk and winkle shells. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Raglan Place to Budle Street

The story begins. Tommy Moran was born at number 7, Raglan Place, Elswick, in Newcastle`s old west end, on the 12th of December 1900. Parents, John and Mary Ann, were both originally from the west of Ireland . At that time, John was working as a driller-hand in the shipyards. The 1911 census finds the Moran family living a few streets away from Raglan Place, on Bell Terrace. Bell Terrace was demolished  to make way for the new Cruddas Park high rise flats, below (Bell Terrace would have stood mid-ground) Note, St Michael`s RC church, top right.
Cruddas Park high rise flats
Budle Street, Elswick (below) circa 1960.  The pre-marital home of Tommy`s wife Mary Ann Livingstone.  Nineteen year old, Apprentice Millwright Tommy, married Mary Ann Livingstone at St. Michaels RC  Church, in July 1920. Budle Street became the couple`s marital home. The couple were still living at 22, Budle street in 1933.
Budle Street, Elswick

Saturday, 25 April 2015

I Remember the Blackshirts

The Battle of Cable Street 1936  

“I remember the Blackshirts” it`s funny how the quirkiest of statements can lodge in your long term memory. I recall my Grandad uttering these words, exactly when or why I can`t remember? It must have been some time in the early eighties, in response to something on television at the time.

Thirty plus years and a couple of Italian holidays later, seeing at first hand the tangible remains of Mussolini`s Fascist regime, my Grandad`s words came back to me. Blackshirts? In Derby? What was that all about? A quick internet search provided my connection, a wiki article on Tommy Moran.

Intrigued, I wanted to know more about this Tommy Moran. Most sources churn out the same few lines of Limited information. Ex-Miner, Engineer, Royal Navy boxing champion, folk hero of the British Fascist movement and “Hero” of Cable Street. Tommy can be seen in action in the old newsreel footage above.

Tommy along with a small group of companions was one of the first Blackshirts to reach the vicinity of Cable Street. The small group were on their way to join the B.U.F. column, when they were set upon, outside Mark Lane Station. His companions soon lay sprawled in the street, Tommy with his back to the wall put up a terrific fight against half a dozen or so men who were attacking him simultaneously. One after another he sent them reeling with clean boxing blows, until he himself was felled by a chair leg. The full newsreel, had been shown in cinemas nationwide, but was rapidly withdrawn. Only part of the footage (the above) remains available to the public domain, but it does briefly show Tommy in action and later having his head bandaged.

There is very little information to be found on Tommy, pre July 1933, when he joined Mosley`s British Union of Fascists, and again nothing, post February 1949, with a newspaper article carrying the headline “Fascist Quits Mosley.” Tommy had disappeared. What became of Tommy Moran?

I had no idea what a politically volatile time the 1930`s and 40`s had been, and the more I have read of Tommy, the more intriguing his story has become. Rather than present Tommy`s story as a boring chronology of his life and political actions, I plan to post a series of articles that give an insight into Tommy the man, and his times.


I must emphasise that this is a social history project, with no political views debated nor political ideologies promoted.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my Grandad, Leonard Calladine, never a Fascist, always a gentleman, and without whom, this project would never have seen the light of day.