Ringrose Charles

Charles Ringrose

Born on September 24th 1908 in North London, Ringrose was the son of a bus conductor. In the 1930s, he worked for a charity for down-and-outs, which led him into the Communist Party. He was further politicised by army service during the war in the Royal Engineers. He became a sergeant and took part in the D-Day invasion.

A good amateur violinist and bass singer, he became involved in the Workers Music Association. In August 1951, as Chair of the WEA, he travelled with 300 young progressives en route to the East Berlin youth Festival. In the American zone of occupied Austria, they encountered problems with the hostile military, which threw the entire group off the train at Innsbruck, making them sleep out in the open on the railway line. The US troops carried fixed bayonets and forced the group to move with weapons jammed into their backs. Some began hitting some of the youngsters with rifle butts. Austrian progressive organisations helped most eventually get to Berlin.

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Charles Ringrose

Ringrose became a full time WEA organiser, as such he spotted that the copyright of  `Poor Paddy Works on the Railway’, recorded as a B-side to Seven Drunken Nights by the Dubliners. He obtained substantial royalties for the organisation and thus saved it from demise at a difficult time. From 1962 to 1974, he was a member of the London Co-operative Society’s Education Committee. In 1966, he was initiated the `Let’s Make a Film’ festival, which encouraged schools to do just that. It began with nine entries and today involves thousands. At one point he reported on football matches for the Daily Worker and Morning Star.

He was secretary of the British-Hungarian Friendship Society from January 1952 to its dissolution in December 1986, receiving an honour for this work from the Hungarian government in 1980. Ringrose was married for forty years to a Hungarian from Romanian Transylvanian, Ghizela (Gizi) Schreiber, who died a year before him. Ringrose died on October 12th 1997, aged 89.

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