Born at the turn of the 20th century in Surrey, Lil lost her mother at a young age and bankruptcy drove her father and siblings north to find work. She worked in the hosiery mills of Leicester, travelling 19 miles each day to work to keep her family fed and together.
As a young woman, she joined the ILP and from there gravitated quickly to the young Communist Party. She met her husband, Sid, in Nottingham and they became well-known as a speaking pair at campaigning meetings throughout the county. They married in 1934 and moved to Birmingham, when Sid was appointed an organiser for the retail and distributive union, USDAW.
As the busy mother of three, Lil’s commitment to the Communist movement was shown in a lifetime of local branch activity and her persistence in mobilising her children to collect wild berries to render into jam for Daily Worker bazaars. This was accompanied by much knitting and sewing also, as well as organising others in such efforts. Lil Atkin died in 1978, predeceasing her husband by a matter of months.
Source: funeral oration for Lil Atkin by Frank Watters – September 1978