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Jackson Frank (b1887, builder & CP librarian)

Frank Jackson

 

Frank Jackson was a life-long member of the Communist Party and a building trades activist. He was born in 1887 in Walthamstow but grew up in Coventry, where the whole family had been forced to move in 1893 when his father was blacklisted and unable to get work in London.  His father’s name was Thomas Pendred, a name which the son himself would often use as a non de plume in the years to come.

 

Jackson is pictured in 1965 in the Communist Party's archival library in King Street.

 

His father gave him membership of the Social Democratic Federation for his 15th birthday present in 1902, the year he was indentured as an apprentice. This began a journey of some three-quarters of a cen­tury of activity. A journeyman carpenter, Jackson was a founder of Coventry Trades Council.

 

He was involved in the two world wars; the start of the Communist Party in 1920; the General Strike of 1926; the Minority Movement in the twenties; the Depression and the fight against fascism in the thirties. In the course of this life, he met and was friend to Jack Lon­don, Harry Quelch, Sylvia Pankhurst, Tom Mann and a host of other great names.

 

Frank began wandering across the country, working as a carpenter-joiner in 1908. He spent some time in the Rhondda and went to London several times. In the latter, he met Daisy Dutton, a barmaid at the Bells in Fleet Street, whom he married in 1913 and by whom he had three children. The family spent time in many London suburbs like Wood Green, Tottenham, Romford, Ilford; and in Aylesbury and Coventry too. Frank was always getting a job, talking everyone on the site into joining the union and then being kicked out for making trouble for his employers.

 

In 1914 he was on the executive of the militant Building Workers' Industrial Union, which he had helped found, and an EC member of the Trades Union Rights Committee. He was working on the new Pearl Insurance Building in High Holborn, when he became involved in the great building workers’ lock-out which ran from January to August 1914.

 

During the First World War, he nearly managed to start a strike at Woolwich Arsenal but this was prevented by the police. He worked in the peace movement in Ilford, built aircraft at Colindale. In 1917, he suffered a duodenal ulcer, leaving him with digestion problems and a stomach half full of tubes for the rest of his life.

 

He had been a member of the SDF and the British Socialist Party for nearly twenty years and, when the Communist Party was founded in 1920, Frank was quick to join it. As a Clarion Club member, he had delivered Party newspapers by bike all over North Lon­don.

 

In 1935, he founded the rank and file building workers' paper, New Builders' Lender. 

 

Amongst Communists, building workers, and trade unionists, he was highly respected and, in retirement, became the Communist Party’s head office librarian, which much satisfied his long-standing interest in socialist, labour and trade union history, which he himself had helped to create. Frank Jackson died in October 1979, aged 92.

 

Daily Worker 6th April 1965 and other sources