- Hits: 3203
Claude Berridge was born in 1902 and lived in Willesden with his parents Harry, an electric light attendant at a `carriage works (probably an underground train factory) and Selma, a domestic servant.
Berridge joined the Communist Party as a founder member in 1920 and was a member of the All-London engineers' Lockout Committee in 1922. Two years later, he was elected to the London District Committee of the the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU).
He attended the Lenin school in Moscow and became editor of the National Minority Movement journal, the Worker. The National Minority Movement had been established at a conference at Farringdon Hall, London on 23/24th August 1924, attended by 270 delegates representing 200,000 workers. This conference formulated a National Programme of Action, which included a call for a £4 minimum wage, a 44 hour week, recognised workplace union committees and workers’ control. The National Minority Movement’s headquarters were at 38 Great Ormond Street, London.
A member of the Willesden General Strike Committee in 1926, like many activists, Berridge was unemployed for quite a while on and off in this period.
In November 1933, he stood with other Communists in Willesden’s Stonebridge ward, winning around a thousand votes and coming close towinning seats on the Urban District Council.
Eventually, he secured employment at the Napier engine factory in Acton, west London. But he was sacked because of his Communist activities within three weeks of him starting. This eventually resolved, he was elected President of the London District Committee of the AEU in 1933 and then full-time AEU Divisional Organiser in 1935, being periodically re-elected to this post outright and in the first ballot until 1950s.
During World War Two he had responsibilities for Ford's at Dagenham, working closely with fellow Communist AEU activists, Wally Hannington and Joe Scott from West London.
He was elected to serve on the AEU National Executive from 1957 until his death on July 8th 1966. A prominent and regular speaker at the annual TUC Congress, Claude Berridge was also a member of the London District Committee of the Communist Party from 1944 and also a member of its Central and Executive Committees. At his funeral at Golders Green in July 1966, the pallbearers included Wolf Wayne, Dennis Goodwin, Bill Alexander, John Mahon and Pat Devine.