He began work in the cotton industry aged 12 and joined the Labour Party when he was 16. He became the President of the Colne Twisters and Drawers Association.
In the strikes of 1932, he was secretary of a Labour Party relief committee. In 1934, he worked with the local churches to prevent the eviction of the tenants of Windy Bank in Colne. The following year, he visited Germany as part of a night class study group. Moved by the need to do much more to eradicate poverty and the fascism which fed off it, he resigned from the position of Colne Labour Party secretary, which he had now become, and joined the Communist Party in 1938, which he belonged to until his death.
He became full time north east Lancashire organiser of the Party for many years, including a five year stint on the Party’s executive. (Pic below right: a 1940 pamphlet by Bill Whittaker.)
Whittaker stood for Parliament twice in Rossendale and Burnley before returning to the cotton mills in 1953. In 1968, he became a full-time official of the Weavers Union, a role he carried on well into his 80s in a voluntary basis.
A stalwart of the Burnley Trade Council, he helped found the annual May Day celebrations in 1979. Heavily involved in local politics all his life, in the 1980s, he helped set up an unemployed centre in Burnley and a local credit union, as well as a range of local charitable initiatives. Bill Whittaker died on 6th January 2004, aged 95.
Source: Morning Star 23rd January 2004