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One of the crop of mid-20th century
Barney’s family were part of the big influx of Jews who arrived in Britain from around 1880, up to the First World War, fleeing persecution in
His father, Sholom Bogomolny [first changed to Borgelman and then later Borman], was the inventor of the whistling kettle, possibly invented during WW1. Bogomolny was “a Tinker” by trade.
Whilst the term has become used in British society to refer to marginalised persons, such as Irish travellers [remove comma], or “Gypsies”, the word `tinker’ was originally applied to an itinerant tinsmith, which was certainly still in use in Sholom’s heyday as such, that is to say to describe someone who repaired household utensils, door to door. Clearly, his skill (evidenced by his invention) and subsequent savings from earnings must have allowed him to establish himself in society somewhat. The patent for the whistling kettle, according to his wife, who called it ‘the numbers’, was never renewed
Sholom’s family, came from Ukrainian peasant stock, from the small town of
In the early 20th century, the Borgelmans were prosperous, residing in a largish house in Mile End, their own carriage, and a servant.
Very early in 1920, Sholom - being an ardent Zionist, took the family of nine children to
Barney married Yetta Levine on September 29th 1940 at Richmond District Synagogue, Sheen Road, Richmond,
Barney became involved in the infamous Stepney Communist Party, which broke through in gaining elected representation on Stepney Council from 1938. The local Party was overwhelmingly Jewish; its particular place in post-war political history is cemented in the election in 1945 of a Communist MP for Mile End, Phil Piratin (see separate entry).
Barney Borman’s council comrades also included Solly Kaye, Frank Whipple, Max Levitas (see separate entries) and Peter Roche.
He is photographed here in the 1950s accidentally meeting the Soviet leader, Nikita Krushchev - a Ukrainian by birth - who had simply been strolling along the street in
The first elections to the council were on 7th May and the Communists were to become the second party in local government, indeed after Labour the only other party, discounting a Ratepayers’ Association, with two seats, as a party. (The RA was to join forces with the Tories, where it belonged by the next election.) The thirteen Communist candidates won a total of 8.6% of the vote across the borough but much of this was concentrated in St Mary’s ward.
Nonetheless, on 13th August 1964, Borman handsomely won the re-election this disqualification had obliged, much increasing his vote to 58% of the total votes cast, by obtaining 709 votes.
After a Tory government was elected, Labour’s vote in Tower Hamlets surged heavily in 1971 and the Communist councillors were displanted, even though the overall Communist vote in the borough only fell slightly to a little under what it has been in 1964. During the 1970s and 1980s, Communist electoral influence faded as Jewish residents died, moved, or decamped.
Barney Borman died on 4th March 2002.
Sources: Shirlee Finn (daughter of Barney Borman) and miscellaneous information.