Heath Terry

 Terry Heath


Born in Arlington Road in 1934, the son of Fred, a postal worker, and Catherine, who worked in a munitions factory opposite their Mornington Crescent home as the Second World War started.


Terry and his brother Vic were evacuated together to Bedfordshire – his sister Joan later joining them – before they returned to London in 1944. But the dangers of the V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets meant the family reunion in Arlington Road was short lived. They were packed off again to the countryside until the war was at an end.
Terry left school aged 14 and became an apprentice carpenter. It was a trade he would stick with throughout his life.


When he reached 18, he was called up for National Service and, being a daredevil, decided he’d fit the parachute regiment. He served at Suez and enjoyed army life, before returning once more to Camden Town when his two-year stint was up.

It was around this time that both Terry and Vic became active politically.

He played a pivotal role as an organiser in the St Pancras rent strikes of the 1950s. He and Vic had begun to attend tenants’ meetings after talking to colleagues in the building trade and neighbours. At one meeting Terry became friends with political activist Don Cook, who had also served in the Paras, during the war. Don barricaded himself into his home in Kentish Town in protest at council plans to raise rent. Terry followed his example by being at the forefront of a plan to occupy the town hall in 1960. But the police had got wind of the idea and Terry was arrested and accused of assaulting an officer. He told friends he’d simply pushed one who had moved towards him in a threatening manner. He pleaded not guilty and was defended by the renowned Jack Gaster (see separate entry). But the magistrates were not impressed and Terry got a 30-day sentence in Pentonville.

On the day of his release, he married his girlfriend, Marion, an ambulance driver.

Terry became involved with the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers, later UCATT, with which he remained an active member for the next 55 years of his life. In the early 1960s, prompted partly by his brother, he joined the Communist Party.

Sport played a huge part of Terry’s life and when he retired, he and his wife decided to do fulfil a lifelong dream to see the world. But his health began to fail in his mid-60s and he died aged 74 in 2008.


Source: Camden New Journal 9th October 2008



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