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John Lyons took part in the 1926 general strike as a brass turner and finisher in railway manufacturing at Cowlairs in Springburn, near Glasgow. He chaired the AEU's youth fellowship in 1927. Having left the trade in a dispute over employment terms, he became a bookmaker's agent. By now the branch secretary of Townhead branch of the Communist Party, he gave all of his commission, save a bare living, to the Party.
During the second world war, he went back to brass fitting and led a 180-strong Communist Party group in Fairfields shipyard.
After the war, he had long spells as a casual worker in the print industry before working in hospitals and hotels. He only retired when the five star hotel in Hillhead he worked at burnt down.
For much of his life, John Lyons specialised in providing advice to tenants and pensioners and was still Chair of Glasgow Council of Tenants and Chair of his local Community Council at the age of 78.