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Born in Ancoats, Manchester in 1905, Abbott became an apprentice pattern-maker at a firm of wire manufacturers at the age of fourteen. He worked there for eight years, from 1919-27, until he was sacked for his activities as a shop steward.
In 1925, he joined the Communist Party and the Minority Movement. In 1928, he became a founder member of the Openshaw branch of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement. In 1932, he went to work at A. V. Roe's Newton Heath factory, losing his job there two years later for political reasons.
He then became East Lancs* organiser for the NUWM. In 1935, he found regular work, becoming convenor at Metropolitan-Vickers by 1944.
Source: “Communist Politics and Shop Stewards in Engineering 1935-46”, Richard Croucher, University of Warwick thesis - April 1977