Born November 18th 1906 in the Durham coalfield, his father was invalided out of the First World War with `shell-shock’, what today would be called post-traumatic stress syndrome. His mother, faced with the penury her husband’s illness resulted in, took in washing as a means to earn money to feed the family.
Alf�s headmaster visited their home to try to persuade his mother to support him going into further education, a remarkable testament to his intelligence for the 1920s but the family needed money. Although he kept up his education by going to night school, Alf became an apprentice blacksmith. But he found himself was sacked for economy reasons when he came out of his time and qualified for an adult wage.
The work available in the coal mines of Yorkshire in the early 1930s attracted Alf from Durham and he began work at Goldthorpe Colliery but this did not last long. As the Depression bit, he was out of work and had to leave to Yorkshire to obtain work as chauffeur to a doctor in Manchester – six and a half days a week for 25/-, little better than the dole. During this period, Alf was active in the Communist Party and the setting up of anti-fascist movements. Of the intense struggles in Manchester, one of his abiding memories was being part of a group that turned upside down Oswald Mosley’s car as the British Fascist Leader was smuggled into the hall where he was to speak. The turnout against Mosley was such that the Leader did not again attempt a rally in the north of England.
In 1936, Alf met and married his wife, Evelyn, with whom he had two sons, David and John. He was to spend four years abroad in the services during the Second World War, being invalided out after contracting malaria. In the post-war years, he returned to mining but much later ran a hardware shop in Goldthorpe. For many years, in the 1960s, he was Chair of the Parent Teacher Association. Always a great lover of the countryside and of rambling, after retirement Alf used his own time to help out as an Assistant Warden on camp sites. He died in 1986 in Doncaster.
Sources: Frank Watters funeral oration 7th March 1986; notes by David Alder
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