William Dutson was born in Clayton, Manchester in 1899; his mother was a tailoress and keen trade unionist, who encouraged her son to read. His father secured a job in Ayrshire, Scotland, then in Essex, but when he was eight years old the family moved back to Clayton, where he lived until 1938
Leaving school at the age of fourteen to work in a rubber factory, he became a blacksmith apprentice with Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. He fought in world war one, but being disabled was unable to secure employment after it.
Dutson finally secured work engine cleaning and became active in ASLEF. He joined the National Minority Movement in 1925 and by 1929 he was secretary of the local Departmental Committee, a recognised union body that negotiated with the employer. But he was sacked in the same year and remained unemployed until 1938 and was active in the National Unemployed Workers Movement (NUWM) throughout the 1930s. He led the great Manchester NUWM demonstration of October 1931 and was arrested and imprisoned.
In November 1932, as a member of Openshaw & Clayton Communist Party branch, he stood as a candidate for the Bradford ward for Manchester City council, while fellow-Communist, Jim Parry, stood for Openshaw ward.
During this period 280 trolley bus boys had been sacked, 380 teachers and 1,000 council workers. According to the medical officer’s report for Manchester in 1931, out of 8,878 houses inspected, 3,538 were found unfit and only 870 described as good. Manchester also had the highest death rate in the country, more children died of diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough in Manchester than any other town.
After the slump ended, Dutson became a Woodworker and an active member of the Amalgamated society of Woodworkers (AsW).
His poems and articles were widely published in the Manchester Evening News and trade union and socialist journals in his later years.
Sources: `The CP in Manchester 1920-1926’ Frow; Daily Worker 31st October 1932