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Dot Light

Dorothy Light was an active Communist Party member in the Woolston & Sholing branch, part of the Southampton area of the Hampshire & Dorset district of the Party.

During the 1950s and 1960s, her branch of some dozen members (17 in 1961) regularly met at her flat.

She helped the local Communist District display a huge 16-sheet poster on a hoarding opposite the exit to Thorneycrofts Naval shipyard  at Woolston in 1961. It cost the Party the mammoth sum of £5 4s. Thorneycrofts was famous in Communist Party, because Harry Pollitt had once worked there as a boilermaker. 

Harry Pollitt had moved to Southampton in June 1915, lodging with Harry Ratcliffe, a boilermakers’ delegate. As there was no BSP branch Harry joined the ILP. Boilermakers at Thorneycrofts were well-organised and Pollitt joined the Woolston branch and was soon leading strikes against non union labour.

“While in Southampton, Harry Pollitt also witnessed the arrival of the white hospital ships with their green bands and red crosses move slowly into the docks each morning, bringing wounded soldiers home from France "an indelible picture of agony and suffering they bore" was etched in his mind. He saw the
Mauritania sail for the Dardanelles (Gallopili) "every inch of space crammed with Lancashire lads"..."Such spectacles turned to fever heat" his hatred of capitalism and war.”

During the war years, Communist Party members were heavily involved, in leading positions, on Southampton Trades Union Council. But, in the immediate years after the war, attempts were made to proscribe Communists. In the latter part of the ‘40s there were various articles in the local press expressing “concern” over the Communist influence but it would appear that some Communist trades unionists were able to ignore any proscription quite easily, others could not.

Dot Light, a Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers member, was effectively barred as a Trades Council delegate from her union because of her Party membership.

Sources: World News 4th February 1961, `Harry Pollitt - A Biography’ (Michael Walker); Adrian Weir, `The Minority Movement and After: a South Hants Perspective’, Our History, New Series No 6, July 2007