by W V Newman
The previously untold history of one of the local heroes of East Kent and its mining community during two World Wars and afterwards.
Child Labourer ∙ Miner ∙ Union Leader ∙ County Councillor ∙ Working Class Hero ∙ Fighter for Social Justice
William Newman was a child labourer, working down the mines from the age of thirteen, he would become the leader of his local Miners Union, and then first Labour county councillor in Kent, and first Labour Alderman in Kent. He fought for social justice in his communities and became friends with people of all classes and political persuasions. He was a major contributor to the lives, culture and justice of East Kent, in particular the working class.
This book, personally told by his son, William V. Newman MA BSc (Hons), teacher, ex-Dover Mayor, Deputy Lieutenant, Chairman of Dover District Council, Kent County Councillor and Honorary Alderman, celebrates his father’s humanity, dignity, skills and perseverance. In a world imprisoned and stifled by class prejudice he succeeded in making steps towards justice, equality and peace.
His obituary in 1972 reads:
“Alderman William Newman JP was a working miner all his life. He entered the pits as a boy of 13 in Yorkshire and came to Kent in 1917. He began work at Tilmanstone Colliery in August of that year and became Secretary of the Tilmanstone Branch of the Kent Mineworkers Association in 1918, a post he held until 1946. He was President of the Kent Mineworkers Association from 1921 to 1933.
“He was instrumental in successfully negotiating the first Wages Agreement for Tilmanstone Colliery, and afterwards the first District Wages Agreement for the combined Kent Coalfield…
“In May 1938, Mr Newman was elected to the Kent County Council and in November 1946 became the first Labour Councillor to be elected to the Aldermanic Bench and continued to be elected as such until at the age of 82, failing health necessitated his giving up of his public duties. An achievement which gave him much pride in his later years was the establishment of Newman Homes for the elderly at Broadstairs.”
Mr D. T. Jenkins JP previous Director of Finance at Tilmanstone Colliery (1972)
A personal telling of the story of a Yorkshire man working in the pits at 13, moving to Kent to find work, reluctantly becoming involved in Union politics to become Union leader, County Councillor, and Alderman, as the world went to two wars, and the Labour Party, Co-op and Union movements fought for the dignity and rights of the working class.
by Neil Carlsen
24th August 1941 – Hull, England
15-year-old James Nicholson Meeks boarded his first ship; the SS Peterton, bound for Buenos Aires.
Two months short of 16, it was his first voyage as a Merchant Navy Apprentice.
He was joined on board by an even younger recruit, 15-year-old Edward Briggs Hyde from Cullercoats, and 18-year-old Jack Morley from Hull.
Less than four weeks later, SS Peterton was sunk by three torpedoes fired by German U-boat U-109, commanded by U-boat Ace Heinrich Bleichrodt.
The surviving crew members found themselves in two lifeboats drifting in the Atlantic, hundreds of miles off the west coast of Africa.
With their Captain seized by the U-boat, the fate of the crew lay in the hands of senior men; like 2nd Officer George Howes from Hull and Chief Engineer Thomas Gorman from North Shields.
The struggle for survival had only just begun and would test each and everyone to the limit.
This incredible story is based on interviews and testimonies from the survivors and is now documented here for the very first time.
by John "Mario" Cunningham
John "Mario" Cunningham has written an autobiography about his amazing life which includes sensational details of his escape from prison, his criminal career and being reunited with his brother after 67 years. The title of the book says it all. The Geordie Godfather and the Boy from Barnardo's is former gangster John "Mario" Cunningham's tell-all life story.
In this book John "Mario" Cunningham reveals secrets about his abusive childhood in a children's home and about his work as a full-time villain masterminding a string of post office robberies and bank raids across Tyneside and the UK.
The book reveals all about his life of crime as well as heartwarming personal moments such as the day he met his brother for the first time in almost seven decades.
The title refers to John, The Geordie Godfather, and his brother Harry, the boy from Barnardo's, who had a happy childhood in a care home and led a very different life to his criminal sibling.
The book begins with the ex-convict explaining why he believes he turned to crime after witnessing violence and abuse at a children's home in County Durham, and how it affected the rest of his life.
John had been taken into care at the age of four months after police found him living in squalid surroundings.
He said: "I have no fear and some people say I have no heart, or at least, if I did have a heart it would be made of stone".