Fred Worrall (1890 – 1976): Politics, Protest and Class Identity – Writing Lives

Fred Worrall (1890 – 1976): Politics, Protest and Class Identity

Clarion House Lancashire

Politics, protest and class identity are some of the more prevalent themes in Fred Worrall’s memoir. During his life, I believe Fred makes a transition between classes. Fred was born into a working class family, identifiable by his father’s profession as a bleach worker, and his family being from Manchester. In the late 19th and early 20th century, a large portion of Britain’s working class came from the north, due to the large amount of industrial factories centred in cities such as Manchester and the majority of Lancashire. The working class are also identifiable by their dangerous jobs, such as Fred’s father being a bleach worker.

However, Fred moved into white collar employment identifiable by his job working in a solicitor’s office; a job that in itself that was seen as a middle class profession. I believe Fred recieved this role due to his experience within an office environment and his relationship with his superiors, rather than him being judged on his class. His job in a solicitor’s was held for a few years until Fred went to fight in World War One, a time in which the classes seemingly came together to fight alongside each other.  Fred returned to his old job after the war, staying there and becoming a managing clerk until his retirement and death. 

I believe that Fred’s job roles indicate to an extent a class trasition, as he went from growing up in a working class family to his eventual role in what seemingly was a middle class environment to retiring, where Fred had “A comfortable home and colour television… and enough money to see me through.” (P. 6) I also believe that Fred had a class transition in his life when he writes “I enjoy my pipe and sherry and make the best of things.” (P. 6). Despite Fred writing his memoir in 1973, Britain in the 1970’s had somewhat of a class divide; The north was still primarily industrial whereas the south of England was sparce and was where the upper classes lived. Fred smoking a pipe somewhat reflects his working class heritage, as the pipe was enjoyed by both upper and the working class. Fred drinking sherry however shows him embracing his middle classness, as sherry was an expensive liquer often associated with the middle and upper classes, therefore I believe that near the end of his life, Fred embraced his working class heritage, and his new found middle class life.

Ideal Cafe

Fred Worrall makes reference to politics and what I believe he supported. Although he does not go into explicit detail, he writes “We had tea in the Socialist cafe in Market Street, Manchester, called ‘The Clarion.'” (P. 2) There is a possibility he was a Socialist. Socialism as a political movement was popular with the working classes, due to its basis being from the 19th century a working class political movement. Socialism in England was founded in London in 1864, with the International Workingmen’s association. During the time of Fred’s visit to “The Clarion,” Russia, the country in which Socialism truly started, was experiencing national revolution, . However, Fred may have just attended this cafe because of convenience whilst he was studying for his exams, as if he was a true socialist and clung onto their radical, Marxist ideals he would not have fought in World War One, where the majority of Englishmen fought not only for themselves and their families, but for “King and Country.” Saying this, Fred could have gone off to fight because of the idea that after winning the war, that the working class soldiers would rise up and overthrow the monarchy, but, like most of his memoir, Fred’s true political views are ambiguous to us reading it now. However, whoever Fred supported in politics, his work in the war still made an impact and helped to shape England to how it is today.

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