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Arthur Thomas Collinson

Collinson was born in 1893 in the Twyford Buildings, in the St Giles registration district in London, later to become part of the Holborn district.

He was educated at Wild Street School, next to Drury Lane.

Collinson’s father was a carriage and coach builder until he lost his sight. His mother was an office cleaner and Arthur became a part-time milkboy and newspaper boy at a young age.

He was then indentured as an organ and piano maker but later became a carpenter.

Conscripted in 1916, he was discharged in 1919 and went back to piano and organ building. He joined the Independent Labour Party and became a union activist in the National Union of Music Instrument Makers (later to join FTAT, now part of GMB).

He was often blacklisted, especially after he became a founder member of the Communist Party in Middlesex in 1920.

He was married twice, the second time in 1922, and had three daughters. Perhaps this was the cause of him leaving the Communist Party in 1931 for "personal reasons" to become active in the Labour Party. His concern that too many had joined the Communist Party only to leave for self-advancement was perhaps slightly at variance with the fact of his own leaving.

For most of his life he lived in London but later went to Wokingham

Michael Walker

Source: A T Collinson “One way only, an autobiography of an old time trades unionist”