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Westacott Kath

Kath Westacott

 

The daughter of a Welsh miner and a suffragette mother, she became active in the student movement when at Manchester University. It was at this point she joined the Communist Party, whilst still at university.

 

During the Cold War, she was a leading participant in the peace movement. She is pictured, centre piece, under the banner of this photograph, probably from 1949, of an anti-NATO demonstration in Nottingham. 

 

A teacher, she was involved in the fight for comprehensive education in Chesterfield, arguably outlining the broad to be followed that was won in the wider labour movement.

 

She also played an important role in the tenant’s movement in the Chesterfield area, which was especially dynamic in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Chesterfield's Woodcraft Folk also benefitted from her involvement.

 

Kath also pioneered the celebration of International Women’s Day in the Chesterfield area.

 

Kath was a member of the East Midlands district committee of the Communist Party for thirty years and a branch secretary for much of that time also.

 

Her husband was Fred Westacott (see separate entry), East Midlands district secretary of the Communist Party, with whom she had several children, whom in turn maintained links with the left.

 

She died in November 1975; in tribute to her memory, arising from her particular interest in socialist theory and knowledge of the history of the British working class movement, the annual Kath Westacott memorial lecturers were begun. Surprisingly well attended events over some decade and a half, the lectures attracted some noted speakers; some of these were: James Klugmann, Gordon McLennan, Bill Paynter, Michael O’Riordan, Ben Rubner, and Fred Westacott. 

 

One tragedy of Kath’s early death was that her plan to write a biography of the Kane family (see separate entries for Jock and Mick, and their sister Bridget (Kane) Jones) was thwarted. The papers of Mick Kane were held by her husband, Fred, until his own death, when they were vested with the Marx Memorial Library.

 

Sources include information from Joe Clark; photo Nottingham university