Stannard Les

Les Stannard


Lesley Francis Stannard was born on 7th August 1919 in Deptford. He joined the Co-operative movement’s “Comrades Circle” (a kind of less edgy alternative to the Woodcraft Folk) at the age of 14 and shortly after that the YCL, being much influenced by Kath Duncan (see separate entry), the remarkable leader of the Deptford and Greenwich unemployed.


He trained as an electrician after school and joined the ETU and the Communist Party at the same time – in 1936.  Les was in the RAF as an electrician during the Second World War.


After demobbing, Les worked in the rough world of the electrical contracting industry for much of the post-war period.  He quickly became a member of the branch committee and then chair of his union branch, the London South East branch of the ETU/EEPTU for 27 years, including being chair for ten years.  


Pic: Les Stannard in the late 1940s


In the late 1940s and much of the 1950s, he was a key figure at ETU national conferences. In 1951-2 he was shop steward for Camberwell borough council electricians before going back to contracting. He was senior steward for Associated Fire Alarms (AFA) for a long period, even when the bans on Communists holding office were brought in, so demanding were his members of Les’s representation.  Les was also chair of AFA Minerva EMI Joint Shop Stewards Committee for 12 years


He stood for parliament in 1950, contesting the Deptford seat, receiving 1.3% and 562 votes. Les was also an occasional contender in council elections in Vale Ward in 1949, St John’s ward in 1959 and Marlowe ward in 1964.


He joined the London Press branch of the EEPTU when he began work at the Express in 1974 and remained a member until the union was thrown out of the TUC in 1988, when he joined SOGAT.


Les was a member Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society political committee for many years and a member Deptford trades council from 1947, which later merged with Lewisham Trades Council, for which he was Treasurer for some years. Amongst the wider local activities he was involved in, Les a key player in the All-Lewisham Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (ALCARAF). 


Having formally retired in 1984, Les was the secretary of the Lewisham pensioners’ forum as well as the Vice President of the British Pensioners and Trade Union Action Association. He died in December 1996.


Source: Helen Tomkins “Mr Lewisham – a life of Les Stannard” (2001)

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