The General Strike 3rd ~ 12th May 1926


The greatest strike in the history of Great Britain, 

and possibly the greatest that the world has witness

Extracted and adapted from

Newhaven Special Branch Meeting

 Monday 3rd May 1926

Bro. C. Barrow was voted in the Chair

Correspondence from Head office i.e. Strike in support of the Miners read and discussed.
Election of two representatives for local joint strike committee.
Proposed By F. Harris & seconded by A. Norman. 
That the Secretary & the Chairman Bros. A. Pearce & F. Sherwin elected on same. Carried.
Accommodation during strike.
Pro. By D. Boyle. That we have Loder Hut during period of strike. Carried.
The Secretary spoke on Bro. Boyle's proposition as a very good one and said our members could co-operate with members of other unions in sports and games. 

The Secretary then gave a speech in which he urged member to stand by their Executive in the fight for the miners because if the miners went down in wages and conditions it was the railwaymens turn next. 

Secretary then gave notice of roll call for 9.30. a.m.

Background to the Strike

It is hoped that in the coming weeks, that more information will be discovered and added, 
regarding what took place by the Loco-men of Brighton during the General Strike. 
During the General Strike, Brighton was totally paralysed with the transport being brought to a total stand still. This was due to a large railway work force and Brighton become the worse effected town on the South Coast with neighbouring loco sheds which also supported this strike. The Southern Railway employed a work force of approximately 73,000, with only 12,000 railway workers from the various grades and departments reporting for work during the entire General Strike.

However I have discovered some information regarding the 'Battle of Lewes Road', which 
took place on Tuesday 11th May, 1926, where it is presumed, that members of the Brighton 
Branch of A.S.L.E.F. may have been involved in this demonstration. 

It is known that some of the demonstrators who were arrested and sentenced worked for the 
Southern Railway at Brighton. 

Below is some background information into the General Strike nationally, which is followed 
by a major event that happened in Brighton during the General Strike, which involved trade 
union members from the various trade unions that worked within the town.



The strike was called by the Trades Union Congress (T.U.C.) in support of striking coal 
miners in the North of England, Scotland and Wales. The miners were making a stand against an enforced pay-cut. It was the latest in a long series of industrial disputes that had dogged the coal industry since the end of the First World War and created real hardship for mining families. 'Not a minute on the day, not a penny off the pay', was the miners' slogan.
Although the dispute began in the mining areas, one of the trigger events took place in 
London, when the Daily Mail's Fleet Street printers refused to print a leading article 
criticising trade unions. Other print workers also downed tools. The T.U.C. activated its 
plans for sympathetic strike action and called out all trade union members in essential 

From the early hours of Monday 3rd May, some two million workers went on strike across 
Britain. In London, the main groups of striking workers were the dockers, printers, power 
station workers, railwaymen, and transport workers. The aim was to bring the capital to a 
halt and force the government to intervene on the side of the miners.

For its part, the government brought in the army to ensure that essential services continued 
and food supplies got through. Army barracks were set up in Hyde Park, which was also 
turned into a milk and food depot. People who disapproved of the T.U.C. 'holding a pistol to 
the nation's head' took action themselves, volunteering to work in place of the strikers. 
London’s buses, trams, trains and delivery vans were kept running by a skeleton staff of non-unionised workers and university students.

On Wednesday 12th May 1926, the T.U.C. General Council visited 10 Downing Street to 
announce their decision to call off the strike, provided that the proposals worked out by the 
Samuel Commission were adhered to and that the Government offered a guarantee that there 
would be no victimization of strikers. The Government stated that it had "no power to compel employers to take back every man who had been on strike." Thus the T.U.C. agreed to end the dispute without such an agreement.

The miners maintained resistance for a few months before being forced by their own 
economic needs to return to the mines. By the end of November most miners were back at 
work. However, many remained unemployed for many years. Those that were employed were forced to accept longer hours, lower wages, and district wage agreements. The strikers felt as though they had achieved nothing.


Extracted and adapted from the book of the same tittle by Ernie Trory

plus some additional info from the notes by M. Bance

The General Strike descended with full force on Brighton on Tuesday 4thMay. It came suddenly and relentlessly. When the inhabitants of Brighton awoke, there were no trains, trams, no buses and no newspapers. It was an unfamiliar world. The tensions which led to the General Strike were exacerbated by the policies of the Brighton Corporation and the fears of members of the Middle Classes. Their concerns, however, were misplaced: local socialists and unemployed people of Brighton were not revolutionaries but had a strong feeling of sympathy with the industrial unrest that existed around the country, and when the strike began to take full effect on the 4th May only 6,000 workers, a small proportion of the town's workforce, came out. Of these, transport workers were seen to represent the greatest threat, and succeeded in stopping service on the town's external railway links and internal tramways. This was largely due to the hundreds of railway workers employed in Brighton and the solidarity of Brighton workers with strikers elsewhere was virtually complete. 

The Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies. Now absorbed into an official government organisation was hard at it, and ardent young men of the “Sporting type” were dashing about in lorries and on motorcycles. All members of Brighton Police Force had orders to sleep “at their posts” and to increase their mobility. Motor coaches were drawn up in readiness to convey them to any point in the borough where their services might be requires. The Special Constabulary had been called up and extra recruits were being enrolled at the Y.M.C.A. in the Old Steine, and at Preston Circus Police Station.
Typewritten bulletins, giving the latest wireless messages, began to be issued from the Electric Shop in North Street and from the headquarters f the Brighton & Hove Conservative Association in the Old Steine, limited consignment of the London morning papers, which had arrived in Brighton that morning, remained untouched on the station. The distributors had refused to handle them. 
Meanwhile the Labour institute in London Road was a hive of industry. Here it was that the Council of Action, and most of the Strike Committees, held their meetings. Notices relating to pickets were displayed outside the building, where later were to be seen two telegrams from Mr. C.T. Cramp (N.U.R.), the railway leader, congratulating the workers of Brighton on their stand and urging them to work together.

On the morning of Wednesday 5th May, five thousand copies of the British Gazette, Government-sponsored organ of the coal–owners, were brought into Brighton. Some were posted in prominent positions around the town, only to be torn down by angry strikers. The T.U.C. replied with the British Worker, and the local Council of Action produced Stand Firm. There was also The Punch, produces by the Brighton Communist Party, a duplicated paper that appeared to be on sale everywhere, but printed nowhere.

Brighton was solid. In no other town in the South of England was there such a complete stoppage. The strike order specified a call –out in “two grades” or “lines” but the difficulty was to keep the second line in. Engineering was in the second line and the railways in the first line. So the engineers in the railway workshops came out on the first day. The engineers at Southdown Motors came out on the second day. 

Everywhere men and women were leaving work in sympathy with the miners – even domestic servants and hotel employees were walking out.
There was a dramatic event moment on Thursday 6th May in the vicinity of the Town Hall about noon, when the big procession of about 2,000 strikers, headed by a brass band. The strikers were marching on to the Town Hall in response to the council considering the use of volunteer labour on the trams, they wanted to lobby transport committee and to try and persuade them not to use volunteers to operate the trams. As the procession made its way down to East Street, there were several hundred men in ranks as they swung round the corner out of North Street, a solid mass of marchers. Drawn up in a cordon guarding the approach through Bartholomews to the Town Hall. Where the Tram Committee were sitting in council, members of the Brighton Police Force waited apprehensively. Behind them, scores of reserves were disposed in strategic positions. The front line stiffened as marchers approached, but the demonstration continued on in an orderly fashion, leaving the minions of law and order on their right.
On the following day, at same spot a procession of about 200 strikers were marching towards the sea when a quite shocking thing happened. A woman driving a two-seater car spotted the procession and deliberately increased her speed and ploughed through the procession, scattering the strikers and making others flee for their lives. The police who were at the scene made no attempt to apprehend her Instead the police drew their truncheons and set about the strikers who tried to mount the footboard to stop the car and then dragging them off the car. In the confusion, the woman continued to drive on at a great speed, turned swftly into North Street and disappeared.

On the Saturday, the Brighton Herald came out in a four-page issue, produced with the aid of Special Constables who worked all Friday night and into the early hours of the next morning. The Sussex Daily News was produced with less difficulty but the printing was of a very low standard, many copies being unreadable.




Page 187

Organisation. - As an Industrial committee, with two delegates from each Trade Union involved in strike. It continues in existence as Industrial Committee, with delegated from all Unions.

Arrangements with Co - Op. - Tunbridge Wells Co - operative Society gave credit on orders for goods. All goods, however, are now paid for.

Spectial points. - Certain amount of confusion in Building trades, owing to exceptions made in calling out orders. N.U.R., A.S.L.E. and F., A.U.B.T.W., N.B.L. and G.W., Typists, all out 100 per cent. N.U.G. and M.W., Transport and G. W., C. and S.W. partly out. Plumbers (Sanitary workers) and House Painters and Decorators not called out.

Publicity. - Duplicated leaflets with propaganda issued most days.

Defence and Arrests. - No necessity for defence organisation here. No arrests.

Position on May 12. - No sign of weakening.

Summary of BBC news broadcast 

(10 May 1926 : 3rd bulletin, 4 p.m.)


The ministers of Tunbridge Wells hold a united service of solemn intercession on Sunday (yesterday) on the common conducted by the Rev. Barclay Buxton of Holy Trinity and the Rev. B.A. Gregory president of the local Free Church Council.

It was computed that from 4 to 5,000 people attended. part of the Litany of the Church of England was used with an intercession suitable to the present crisis. The great audience was evidently much moved and showed the utmost reverence and respect throughout the service. 


The Battle of Lewes Road

on Tuesday 11th May 1926

By Ernie Troy

Not the Battle of Lewes, which took place on 14th May 1264 between the forces of Simon 
de Montford and King Henry III, but a strike action the Brighton and Hove Herald called the 
‘Battle of Lewes Road’. A violent and bloody incident leading from The General Strike called by the Trades Union Congress in defence of mineworkers who were being asked to accept a universal seven-day week and a drop in wages of up to 25%.

In the following week more police were 
recruited to form a mounted group of 
special officers. They were made up of 
local farmers, sportsmen, hunting men 
and retired cavalry officers and together 
made a disciplined force which the 
strikers nicknamed the ‘Black and Tans’, an allusion to the special constables who had gained such a terrible reputation for violence during the Irish troubles of 1920.

The first serious incident occurred on 
Tuesday 11th, May, when the mounting 
tension burst into a storm outside the 
tram depot in Lewes Road. From early 
morning, the impression had gained 
ground that there was going to be an 
attempt to start the trams again.

Actually, the plan was not to get trams 
out of the depot, but to get the blacklegs 
into the depot for training.

At noon, Superintendent Taylor, acting 
under instructions from the Chief 
Constables, Charles Griffin, took a 
strong body of officers and men to the 
tram depot in Lewes Road, after picking 
up a convoy of volunteers (which 
included a group of middle-class 
volunteers, and students) and a number 
of blacklegs at the Pavilion Buildings. 
These volunteers were only there to be 
trained, but the crowd believed that an 
attempt was to be made to bring the 
trams back into service. By the time he 
arrived at the tram depot in Lewes Road 
where 4,000 people, strikers, sympathisers and inquisitive onlookers, 
had gathered. The Chief Constable and 
asked the crowd in front of the gates to 
disperse. This they refused to do. 

The Chief Constable, Charles Griffin, 
ordered the road to be cleared and sent 
in 300 foot police and 50 mounted 
specials advanced in wedge formation, 
the later led by “Sergeant” Harry 
Preston, proprietor of the Royal Albion 
& Royal York Hotels and a friend of 
the Prince of Wales, with Harry Mason, 
well-known professional boxer acting 
as his second in command. This motley 
collection of men, who were former: - ex-cavalry men, ex-black & tans and ex-
yeomanry. They were carrying, ‘ugly 
looking shillelaghs with knobbed ends’. 
They gradually forced the strikers back 
until they reached the Saunders 
Recreation Ground. Someone in the 
crowd threw a bottle at a constable; blows were exchanged between officers 
and civilians; stones and bricks began to 
fly through the air; and the police came 
to a standstill. 

In a few moments ‘The Battle of Lewes 
Road’ was in full swing. The Herald 
described, ‘flying stones, the panic rush, 
the thud of blows, the shrieks of frightened women and children’. They 
also reported the peculiar sight of 
mounted police constables wearing plus-fours!

Orders were then given to the mounted 
specials to “relieve the situation.” 
Unable to enter the recreation ground 
from Lewes Road, they charged through 
the crowds in Hollingdean Road, 
scattering men, women and children as 
they went, and gained admittance by the 
side entrance. After a violent struggle in 
which people were knocked down by 
horses, blows were struck; stones and 
bottles thrown the strikers were driven 
back and where overcome and dispersed. 

The manoeuvre was continued until the 
crowds were forced back, leaving the 
Lewes Road clear from the Bear Hotel to Preston Barracks. Many men on both 
sides were injured and 17 arrests were 

The echoes of the fight in Lewes Road 
had hardly died away when a fresh 
disturbance broke out in London Road; 
outside the Labour Institute (which was 
situated at No. 93).Car after car, laden 
with police and specials, raced to the 
scene of action, followed by hard-faced 
mounted men, their batons swinging 
from their saddles. Those at the end of 
the procession were met by cars 
returning with fresh victims of police 
brutally. During this disturbance saw 
another 5 people being arrested.

A eye-witness accounts of
the Battle of Lewes Road

I was an eye-witness to the following 
which I actually saw on Tuesday May 
11th outside the Corporation Tram Depot, Lewes Road at about 12.15 and 
afterwards. About 150 police constables 
were marched up to the depot and after a brief halt outside the main gate, they were evidently detailed their duties, some inside the depot, some on the north side, and some on the south side of the main gate of Depot. No arrest were made (and no reprisals on behalf of the strikers or other occurred) until the uniformed mounted police came up and were also halted outside the main gate. Chief Constable Griffin then gave orders to the police both mounted and foot to clear the road each side of the main gate, the mounted police then drew their batons and charged into the crowd, not studying woman, children or cripples (myself being limbless ex soldier with one leg) the police were striking out right and left, and in my opinion under that provocation alone caused the crowd to retaliate which 
was the direct cause of the arrest. No 
warning by the police was given to the 
assembled crowd to clear out. 

This happened just after the children had come out of school and for this reason only, was why so many children were present, the Lewes Road was open at this time to traffic, and pedestrians. 

People ran for their dear lives to get out of the mounted police's way, children being lifted into the recreation ground and men, youths and boys scaling the fence for no other purpose than avoiding getting struck by the police.

Then came the stone throwing from the 
people in the recreation ground at the 
police. The Chief Constable then gave 
orders for the recreation ground to be 
cleared, and heedless of life or limb, 
nearly all mounted constables galloped 
away up Lewes Road into a panic, they 
entered the ground the south side of the 
Barracks by the married quarters after 
clearing the recreation ground the position was much quieter and the Chief 
Constable Griffin then came and warned the crowd (for the first time) to clear away as we were doing no good by waiting about. Very few special 
constables if any took part in clearing the road at the commencement of the trouble, but we actively on the seen afterwards.

"After the charge and arrests the volunteers tram workers were allowed to go through the gates. No trams were 
running that day. Police activity was not 
very notable throughout the remaining 
hours of that 11th day, in the vicinity of 
the Brighton Corporation Tram Depot.”

"You may use this letter for any purpose 
you wish, it is all god's own truth. 
Wishing you ever success”

S. Staphnill, 
41, Southall Avenue, Moulscombe

A eye-witness accounts of 

the Battle of Lewes Road

Hearing a great noise, I came to the front of my house, which is situated at the bottom next to a stone masons. I saw policemen driving the people, women and children, close to the railings and putting up their arms to protect themselves were threatened with arrest. I, an old woman was threatened if I did not go indoors. I opened my door and let several into my house. Gladstone Place being a cul-de-sac the people were driven from the main road. When standing at the window the horse policeman rode up on the pavement and deliberately struck an old man across the back with his stick. Others were kicked and a regular attempt was made by the police to trample the people down. I am willing to take my oath on this.

Mary C. Bannister, 

1, Gladstone Place


Driven by Captain Davies, and accompanied by Mr. Brooker 

(Traffic Superintedent)

The first tram with it’s protected expanded metal mesh about to

leave the Lewes Road Tram Depot

A eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Lewes Road

On Tuesday May 11th I was in Lewes Road opposite the big gates of the Tram Depot. I saw Mr. Marsh come out and he said "They are coming out here with mounted and foot police and determined to run the cars. I advise you to go home, keep the road clear." The people moved off the road on to the pavement. He also said "I told the Council plainly, they run at their own risk I will not take the responsibility. " I sat upon the fence opposite the big gates when I saw the police coming. up came the police; I saw the chief of the police get out of his motor car, he looked around him, I did not hear him say a word and I was within 10 yards of him. He blew his whistle, the horses then began to push the people who were on the pavement, not in the road, back to the wall. I saw the first man taken near the gates by 5 policemen. When he got to the gates 2 more came up, one hit him in the back of the neck the other jobbed him in the back with his knee. I was on the fence and a policeman came up to me "Get out of this or you will have this on your nut". I got off and went into the children's playground, above the pond. Then a policeman came up to me on horse with his truncheon raised and said " Get out of this." I am old enough to be your Grandfather. He backed his horse on to me and I fell back, he then hit me with truncheon as I lay flat on the grass, but missed me as he could not get down low enough from his horse.

I am 77 years of age and live in my present house for 50 years.

H. Hickmore,
41 St. Martin's Place

A eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Lewes Road

On Tuesday May 11th at about 11 a.m. a large procession of strikers (Tramwaymen, Busmen, Railwaymen etc.) marched along Lewes Road towards the Tramway Depot, headed by a band. 

This sight was not unusual, there having been processions of a like character at various intervals throughout the strike. Ten minutes later, several hundred police and special constables followed in the same direction. 

There were on foot or speeding along in private cars and charabancs, a noticeable feature being a posse of about 36 mounted specials in semi military uniform who were each armed with long batons and were carrying them in a very prominent position. This sight was very unusual and was provocative in the very first instant. The spectacle had attracted large crowd who followed behind the police and I, being keenley interested, joined with the crowd and was fortunate in getting a view from a cart standing about 100 yards from the Depot. 

A scuffle occurred outside the Depot as soon as the police arrived. This was quelled and good order reigned for a few minutes. Suddenly the mounted specials, who were lined up facing south, wheeled round and made for the north entrance of the recreation ground. This ground was covered with people, quite a good sprinkling of women and children being evidence. The charge of these horsemen, brandishing their batons, was not to be withstood and something like panic pervailed, the crowd scattering like rabbits for shelter. not content with this, the horsemen made an organised drive down the main road, going quite a distance up the side turnings, riding indiscriminately on the pavements and threatening, and in many cases striking, those who could not evade them quickly enough. I myself, with members of the family, standing well back on our forecourt, were threatened by mounted hooligans who rode on the pavement. a sergeant on foot was injudicious enough to say that he would go" through blood and fire" to get at me and would "bash me to pieces" if I dared to come outside. I was then inside the shop. This statement I will swear on and will say that there was not the slightest excuse for the whole affair, which was a deliberate piece of organised tyranny on the part of the local authorities.

Gustave de Lacy, 
136 Lewes Road Brighton

A eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Lewes Road

I the undersigned, as an eyewitness of the arrest of bob Thompson, 28, Stanley Road, state that he did not strike or attempt to strike a policeman. I was within a few yards of the occurrence and saw the policeman grab him by his hair hurry him to a car whilst the crowd around were calling out shame.

Alice Jacobs,
98, Osborne Road



The collapse of the General Strike was not expected. Morale was so high and organisation so strong that in some parts of the country, before it was known that the T.U.C. had accepted 
term tantamount to “unconditional surrender,” demonstrators were organised to celebrate 
the “Victory.” The men who had sacrificed so much to prove their solidarity with the miners 
were completely bewildered when it was realised that their heroic stand had brought them 

The employers were not in pressing home their advantage. Many in Brighton saw the act of 
calling off the strike by the General Council of the T.U.C. as a betrayal. Those who must have felt it most keenly were the strikers who lost their jobs when the management of the local transport companies refused to reinstate them after the strike, one such company was 
Southdown Motors, when the strikes returning back to work, were told that they must state 
whether they belonged to a trade union or not. Some of the strikers within Brighton were 
dismissed by their employers for taking part in the General Strike and were black listed by 
other employers within the town.

A eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Lewes Road

On Tuesday morning May 11th, I was in Lewes Road with my wife looking for my little boy Albert who would be coming home from school. Seeing the police coming along the road my wife and I began walking up Gladstone Place to get out of the way; when; around the corner came a special constable on a horse with 2 0r 3 policemen and several specials. The one on the horse rode up on the pavement, he was shouting something and I kept walking. I was about the third house up when he reached me. He said " where are you going." I said "Home." He then raised his stick 
which had a big knob on the end and struck me a blow across my back. I said nothing because I thought if I did he would arrest me. Up came a policeman in uniform and said "Where do you live" I said No. 37. He said "Why don't you get away home." I said "Thats where I am going." My wife had to run into the road as she was nearly knocked down by the horse. I had a bruise on my back about 6 inches long.

S.A. Scutt
37, Gladstone Place

The following morning the 22 prisoners who had been arrested at the two disturbances were 
brought before the bench. They had been remanded in custody from the previous evening, 
when, with indecent haste, an 
emergency Magistrates Court. 

They were marched through the town from 
the police station to the town hall where 
they appeared before the emergency 
magistrates’ court. They had been 
summoned and the men immediately 
charged with incitement to riot, throwing 
bottles and stones, assaulting the police etc. 
They were legally represented by A. J. 
Grinstead, a Labour Councillor, who did 
what he could in the difficult circumstances.

All 22 received sentences of hard labour, 
from one to six months; others were heavily 
fined (see below).

The trail lasted about six hours and during 
the lunch interval news was received that 
the General Council of the T.U.C. had 
called of the strike. On resuming, A.J. 
Grinstead submitted that the case should be 
adjourned, adding: “I think I may say, sir, 
that we are all desiring that if there is 
peace, it should be a general peace.” The 
magistrate ruled against an adjournment, 
and with the vicious sentences already 
referred to were recorded.

There was a large crowd outside the Town 
Hall as the prisoners, handcuffed together 
in twos and threes, were brought out by the 
police. They were hurried into large private 
cars with more police brought up the rear of 
the procession. 

Some of the men smiled at relatives in the 
crowd, who waved handkerchiefs in 
acknowledgement. The cars turned on to the Sea Front in the direction of Portsmouth.

A eye-witness accounts of
the Battle of Lewes Road

In regards to this affair in Lewes 
Road, the whole affair was 
treacherous as being an eye witness 
and coming through it. women and 
children knocked about by those 
heroes on horseback, just as the 
children were coming home from 
school and I myself being on 
crutches just got half way through 
the crowd outside the Depot when 
they made a charge, they came 
through as if they were made, one 
special on horseback jumped over 
the wall into the recreation park 
where women and children were for 
safety and other went into the park 
and frightened the little children to 
death. also some of the foot police 
were very insolent to the women who were looking for their children. my two children 5 & 7 have been under the doctor owing to fright and 
delirous caused through the men on 

Y.J. Harrison,
29 Coombe Terrace 

The names of the 22 demonstrators who were arrested

and received a magistrates sentenced on

Wednesday 12th May 1926

The charges out of the disturbances in Lewes Road and London Road were dealt with 
at a sitting of the Brighton Magistrates on the morning of Wednesday 12th May. There were 22 prisoners concerned in 42 charges as follows:-

1 George Richardson, 49, 167 Havleock Road, Southern Railway Employee, 
unlawfully committing an offence against the Emergency Regulation 1926, duty made per to the Emergency Powers Act, 1920. In that he did an an act calculated or likely to cause disaffection among the civilian population, to with incite certain persons to riot, on 11th May, £5 fine paid.

2 William Batchelor, 26, 86 Picton Street, Southern Railway Lifter, 1 month, like offences, &

3 Arthur James Mitchell, 56, 42 Hendon Street Kemptown, Labourer, 2 months like 

4 Albert Lawrence, 48, 17 Franklin Street, Goods Porter, a like offence, assaulting Detective Sergeant Thomas Wells while in the execution of his duty, on 11th May, and assaulting P.C. Robert Minton, while in the execution of his duty, on 11th May, 6 

5 John Lawrence Knight, 43, 31 Millers Road, Southern Railway Driller, throwing a dangerous missile, to wit a stone, with intent to injure (Emergency Regulations, 1926), and assaulting Detective Sergeant Thomas Wells while in the execution of his duty, on 11th May, 4 months.

6 Percy Isaac Sawyer, 35, 66 Ewart Street, Southern Railway Hammerman, throwing missile, 3 months.

7 Joseph Alfred Vinall, 21, labourer, inciting to riot, discharged mental.

8 Fred King, 39, 74 Franklin Street, Labourer (Tramways), inciting to riot, assaulting Special Constable Bernard Dutton Briant, while in the execution of his duty, and assaulting Special Constable Dudley Marriott Broughton Vanqulin, while in the execution of his duty, on 11th May, 6 months.

9 William Joseph Knight, 32, 45 Arnold Street, Tram Conductor, inciting to riot, on 11th May; inciting to riot on 5th May; assaulting P.C. Alfred Phillips while in the execution of his duty on the Old Stiene, on 5th May; and assaulting P.C. Thomas Humberstone while in the execution of his duty, on Maderia Drive, on the 5th May, 6 months.

10 John Walkden 24, 41 Park Cressent Road, Southern Railway Labourer, inciting to riot, and assaulting P.C. Archibald Soul while in the execution of his duty, on 11th 
May, 4 months.

11 Charles Marchant, 19, 12 Southover Street, Bottle Washer, inciting to riot, 40/-.

12 George Edward Newton, 29, 67 Hartington, Labourer (Tramways), inciting to riot on 11th May; assaulting P.C. James Beedle, while in the execution of his duty, on 11th May; inciting to riot on 5th assaulting P.C. Thomas Humberstone while in the execution of his duty, on Maderia Drive, on the 5th May, 6 months.

13 Sidney Arthur Higgs, 25, Welder, inciting to riot, on 11th May.

14 William Jones, 41, 6 Tichbourne Street, Boot Operative, inciting to riot, on 11th May; inciting to riot on 5th May; assaulting P.C. Thomas Humberstone while in the execution of his duty, on Maderia Drive, on the 5th May; and assaulting P.C. Alfred Phillips while in the execution of his duty in the Old Stiene, on 5th May, 6 months.

15 Horace Grosvenor, 39, 38 Ladysmith Road, Tramway Motorman, inciting to riot on 11th May, 2 months.

16 Algernon Sidney King, 39, 95 Ladysmith Road, Tramway Motorman, inciting to riot on 11th May, 2 months.

17 William Woolgar, 25, 51 Park Cresent Road, Southern Railway Engine Fitter, inciting to riot, in London Road, on 11th May, 1 month.

18 Percy Alfred Phillips, 25, 6 Islingworth, Labourer, inciting to riot on 11th May, 1 

19 Robert Victor Thompson, 22, 38 Stanley Road, Southern Railway Coach Painter, inciting to riot; assaulting P.C, Leonard Botten while in the execution of his duty in London Road; assaulting P.C. Sydney Millen while in the execution of his duty in London Road, 2 months.

20 Walter Birkhead, 21, 4 Kimberly Road, Kitchen Hand, inciting to riot in East 
Street, and assaulting P.C. Alfred Phillips while in the execution of his duty in East Street, on 11th May, 2 months.

21 Thomas George Spencer, 18, 51 William Street, Errand Boy, inciting to riot in East Street, and assaulting Special Constable Francis Donald Pickett while in the execution of his duty, in Bartholomews on 11th May, Remanded 8 days.

22 Alfred Blakesley, 66 Hereford Street, Seaman 4 months, Note: moved.

A eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Lewes Road

On Tuesday morning May 11th, I was outside of the Tram Depot when Mr. Marsh came out and stated that 200 mounted and foot police were coming and appeal to the crowd to go away and said for god's sake men don't let their be any trouble, go home. 

I went into the recreation ground and stood opposite the main entrance of the Tram Depot. I helped to get children over the wall into the ground for safety, and advised women with prams to clear away. Along came the police on foot, then a motor covered over with a brown tarpaulin, after this volunteers to take out the cars. The foot police moved the crowd towards Falmer. Then something happened, the specials, mounted, and foot police seemed to go mad. They rushed the crowd and arrested a man against the depot wall and pushed him into gate, jobbing him in the back. Then the mounted special and regular police rushed the recreation ground pushing men, women and children against the wall. I saw a little girl about 10 years of age screaming and tearing her hair out. I said "don't be afraid and you will be alright with me." I turned to those on horse back and said " I appeal to you as Englishman, as a man, as an Ambulance man, to let these women and children go. 

One reared his horse up and I pushed the little girl into safety and told her to run off. The mounted special then said "Get Out" and a regular policeman mounted cut me a blow across the right shoulder. 

He then rushed out of the gate in Hollingdean Road right across the road on to the pavement where his horse slipped and there were women, and children in prams, also a lot of children they had driven out of the recreation ground standing on the pavement. He then drove us down Hollingdean Road into Lewes Road and then up Gladstone Place where I pushed into a gateway and fell down an area steps in mendeavour to get out of the way and into safety. The way I got home was, when the dinner bell of Bennets went, the stonemasons men went home I mingled with them and so got home.

A. Packham,
16 Roundhill Street, Brighton

The aftermath of

the General Strike in Brighton

The collapse of the General Strike was not expected. Morale was so high and organisation so strong that in some parts of the country, before it was known that the T.U.C. had accepted term tantamount to “unconditional surrender,” demonstrators where organised to celebrate the “Victory.” 

The men who had sacrificed so much to prove their solidarity with the miners were 
completely bewildered when it was realised that their heroic stand had brought them 
defeat.The employers were not in pressing home their advantage. 

Many in Brighton saw the act of calling off the strike by the General Council of the 
T.U.C. as a betrayal. Those who must have felt it most keenly were the strikers who lost their jobs when the management of the local transport companies refused to reinstate them after the strike, one such company was Southdown Motors, when the strikes returning back to work, were told that they must state whether they belonged to a trade union or not. Some of the strikers within Brighton were dismissed by their employers for taking part in the General Strike and were black listed by other employers within 
the town.

On Wednesday, 12th May, saw Brighton 
slowly returning back to normal. The 
strikers were being instructed by their trade 
unions to return back to work. There was 
much dissatisfaction amongst the railway 
men who were amongst one of the main 
group of workers at the heart of the strike 
within Brighton and the surrounding area.
On the Thursday morning, a victory parade 
of mounted specials was assembled outside 
the flower market, under the command of 
Lieutenant Colonel Scott O’Connor, to 
receive official recognition from the then 
Mayor of Brighton, Councillor J. Lord 
Thompson; which was followed by the 
mounted specials having a ‘Victory’ parade 
through the streets of Brighton. In the 
evening a thanksgiving service and a 
celebration dinner was held, the 
thanksgiving service was conducted in St. Peter’s Church, concluding with hymns,“Thy hand, O God, has guided” and “Now thank we all our God”. 

The regular policemen were presented 
certificates and granted three days leave. 
These celebrations caused deep resentment 
amongst the people of Brighton against the 
police. But during the afternoon, there had 
come some chastening news. The railway men had again ceased work on the 
issue of reinstatement without victimisation; this stoppage was not supported at national level.



NEWHAVEN 13th May 1926

B4 Class No. 69 ‘Bagshot’ with Newhaven ‘SCAB’ Enginemen (names not known) who did not strike during the General Strike. With the help of members of the general public volunteering and working with scab enginemen to help to break the strike.

Newhaven Locomotive Running Foreman John Pelham Maitland (1924 - 1929), carried out driving duties during the General Strike. Whilst he was working a boat train from Newhaven to London Victoria in the Keymer area his engine dropped its plug (His fireman is not know). This meant that the enginemen had allowed the water in the boiler to fall below a dangerous level, and this allowed the heat of fire to melt a copper plug and cause major damage to the engine. This cause major disruption whilst they waited for assisting engine to arrive (from the rear or from the front) with very few engines available on the L.B.S.C.R. to come to their rescue. 

The railwaymen had again ceased work on the issue of reinstatement without victimisation; 
this stoppage was not supported at national level.

The local authority saw the "Battle of Lewes Road" as having served to crush revolutionary politics in Brighton, while for working-class activists it was celebrated as a day of heroism and martyrdom. Following the events, there was little complaint from workers about the regular police, but much about the allegedly politically-motivated special constables.

The aftermath of the General strike was to be felt for many weeks’ months afterwards. 
Further repercussions of the General Strike were continually making themselves felt.  

West Croydon Loco Shed 22nd May 1926

During the General Strike all regular rail services were suspended from the 4th May to the 14th May (inclusive). The  South London Line between Peckham Rye and Battersea Park was again closed from the 19th May to 20th September 1926 during the more lengthy coal dispute, which lasted until the 27th November 1926. Some of the lost traffic never returned to the railway.

Extracted and adapted from

Newhaven Branch Meeting

Sunday 30th May 1926

Bro. A. Charman brought up about the working of special traffic the following week with spare firemen and only one spare Driver and it was stated that very likely Brighton men worked them owing to Brighton being on short time and Newhaven all in. 

Bro. Charman said he would let the matter drop as he said those men who tell, most never came to the meeting room. 

When the miner's crisis was over, to do his best for the younger men.


On Wednesday 2nd June, two engine drivers 
with many years’ service to their credit were prosecuted by the Southern Railway 
Company in respect of incidents alleged to 
have occurred during the General Strike, 
and both were heavily fined.

With General Strike over the Loco-men had 
to wait another eleven months before they 
saw the resumption of the Guaranteed 
Week, which was re-introduced on Monday 
11th April, 1927. Therefore the loco-men 
carried on receiving a further 11 months of 
punishment, for their involvement in the 
General Strike.

Letters from Southern Railway to thanks 
their staff who did not strike during 
the General Strike. 

The British Government in 1927, passed the Trades Disputes & Trade Union Act., and more 
commonly known as the “Blacklegs Charter” This act made all sympathetic strikes illegal, 
ensured the trade union members had to voluntarily 'contract in' to pay the political levy, 
forbade Civil Service unions to affiliate to the T.U.C., and made mass picketing illegal.
Today, we can appreciate the hardship faced by the strikers. It is harder for us to imagine how much terror the strikers instilled in the authorities (the establishment’s fear of ‘mob rule’); the hatred felt by the middle-class, the woman in her sports car or the gentleman farmer, riding into battle in his 'plus fours' carrying a club. This was, however, the reality of one of the bitterest confrontations of the whole General Strike and it took place in Brighton. 


Last December 1938, in the House of Common s, Lieutenant Colonel Stephenson - Clarke, Conservative member for East Grinstead opposed a private member's bill that sought to give the public access to mountains and moorlands. He described it as an attack on the rights of property, but it is really he who has taken away our rights.

Sussex belongs to the people. It is our county. It's natural beauty, its rolling downs, its Weald and seashore are our to enjoy, and not the privilege of a handful of landowner who have stolen them from us.

Its history is our history and the history of the forbears. It is along history - a history of heroic struggles. It was here that De Montfort defeated  the King (14th May 1264) and gained for us the right to be represented in Parliament. It was here and in our neighbouring counties that Jack Cade led the peasants in arms against an unjust and plundering government (1450). It was here that Tom Paine (1737-1809)  lived and spread his influence. 

Men like Percy Shelley (Sussex Poet (1792 - 1822), Trigger, and Deryk Carver (the first Sussex Protestant martyr (22nd July 1555) are not mere shadows of the past. They are a pattern for us and for all Sussex men. They are our people and their struggles are our heritage. The men of Alfriston, who met 150 years ago to for m the first Sussex Trade Union, the men and women who started a Co-operative movement in this county, with a history that goes back further than that of the Rochdale Pioneers, the men and women who fought in the Labourers' Revolt of 1830 - these are our heroes and we honour their memory.

In the same way we/honour the men and women who in 1920 founded the Brighton Communist Party, those who fought in the Battle of Lewes Road, those who were with the unemployed when they marched to London in 1932 and again in 1934, those whose shouts and cries of anger spread along the South Coast when Mosely brought his hired thugs from London to attack the rights of our people, those who came on to the streets when the Nazi Police came to insult us in our towns, and the Men of Sussex who fought with honour against the onslaught of fascist barbarism in Spain, some of them giving their lived. These are our people, our leaders our brothers and sisters. The men in the past who struggled are our ancestors, not the long tedious succession of Saxon kings and Norman Barons, Fuedal Lords and Chief Constables, Sherriffs, Lord Lieutenants and Mayors.

We are proud that our history is one of struggle. The struggles of the past give us courage for the greater struggles that are to come. The common people built this Sussex - this England, which others enjoy. But following in the footsteps of another great people who have built a land of Socialism over one sixth of the world we too shall strive to achieve the victory of Socialism.

I conclude with words of a Sussex poet - Percy Shelley whose words are a call to action for all Sussex people.


MARCH 1939

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