Ernie Trory was born in Fulham in London in 1913 but moved to Brighton at the early age seven for health reasons. He was educated at the local grammar school and at Ardingly College. He left school at the age of fifteen.
In 1931, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Communist Party and joined the Hunger Marchers in 1932. At age of eighteen in 1931, he joined the Communist Party and participated in the Hunger Marches in 1932. During the wars unemployment in many Sussex seaside towns was as high as 20-25%. It was in this period that a Communist bookshop was first opened in Brighton – at 16a North Street, under the name of the `People’s Bookshop. It later moved to 15 Gloucester Road.
In 1936, Ernie visited Moscow (possibly for training) and, after coming back, he became Sussex Communist Party District Organiser from 1938-1940. So effective was his work that by January 1939, Sussex District could report that Brighton Branch of the Communist Party now had over 100 members.
Amongst the many innovations Trory introduced during his time as a full-time Party worker, the filming of major local events in a `people’s newsreel’ stands out. He commissioned a 9.5 mm amateur film featuring the Sussex County Communist Party Congress of February 1939 and also the Eastbourne 'March of History'. A film record of a demonstration against unemployment in Brighton, which held up traffic for 20 minutes, can still be seen; seewww.movinghistory.ac/archives/se/fil
This begins with the title stating that "Brighton unemployed demand work or full maintenance" and informs the viewer that 200 unemployed people marched on Brighton police station, that the traffic was held up for 20 minutes and that one of the protesters was arrested. The March of History demonstration in Eastbourne has flags and banners and concludes with speeches on the beach and a request for donations.
Brighton branch of the Communist Party won the Sussex Committee’s "premier award" Red Star for recruitment during the last quarter of 1939. The branch had increased membership from 85 to 110. In addition, Brighton had a Red Star award for Women's Work, arising from the leadership role branch members played in the Patcham Parents association. The whole of Hastings Labour League of Youth, but for one single member. joined the YCL in the winter of 1939 under Ernie Trory’s influence. His pamphlet "Sussex for the People" (see below) and the Sussex Communist Party journal, "The Party Voice", both came out that year but Ernie was called up by the forces in 1940. He was `mysteriously’ discharged in May 1941 with no reason given! He was sent to work under the Direction of Labour Act in Southern Railway Road Maintenance Dept where he joined the National Union of Railwaymen and wrote many articles for the union’s paper Railway Review. He later went to Caffyn's Garage in Haywards Heath rebuilding army lorries and joined the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) where he became Shop Steward.
After the war, Tory controlled Brighton Town Council regularly tried to ban the Communist Party from venues, not least after an audience from 2,300 strong to massively overflowing turned up to hear Harry Pollitt, Communist Party General Secretary speak at the Brighton Dome. The Tory councillors even tried to stop the Communist Party’s regular outdoor meeting place on the seafront by the Fish Market. However despite the bans, which the Party defied during the summer of 1949, over 10,000 people attended Communist Party meetings on the seafront. Some 1,500 came to hear Phil Piratin MP speak and an active Brighton Young Communist League was established in this period.
Ernie Trory founded his publishing company Crabtree Press in later years, through which published a large number of his political works. He returned to engineering near retirement and involvement in his union branch.
Ernie Trory's hobbies included winter swimming; he was a long-standing member of the Brighton Swimming Club, a historic body famed for taking a daily dip in the sea, close to the Palace Pier. A 1953 Pathé newsreel item showed "Ernest Trory and his friends" in the Swimming Club going for a winter swim in the sea off Brighton's snow-covered beach, to celebrate Ernie's birthday! It was 39 degree Fahrenheit at the time. See http://www.tide.org.uk/archivefilm/4
He was also a serious weight trainer well into his old age. He held four British powerlifting records in the over-70s category. A man of wide interests, among his many hobbies were ballroom dancing and stamp collecting, especially Olympic themed stamps, which led to his running a stamp shop in Brighton.
Pic right Ernie in later years.
In 1977 he was a major supporter of the formation of the breakaway New Communist Party in Britain. He also wrote for the "New Worker" newspaper and also had a regular column for years in the "Northstar Compass" journal, published in Canada.
He died in 2000.
Sources: Northstar Compass; New Worker, September 28th 2000 websites cited; Party Organiser September 1939; World News; Trevor Gold
Sussex for the People 1939
Last December 1938, in the House of Commons, Lieutenant Colonel Stephenson-Clarke, Conservative member for East Grinstead, opposed a private member's bill that sought to give the public access to mountains and moorlands. He described it as an attack on the rights of property, but it is really he who has taken away our rights.
Sussex belongs to the People. It is OUR county. Its natural beauty, its rolling downs, its Weald and seashore are ours to enjoy, and not the privilege of a handful of land owners who have stolen them from us.
Its history is OUR history and the history of our forbears. It is along history—a history of heroic struggles. It was here that De Montfort defeated the king and gained for us the right to be represented in Parliament. It was here and in our neighbouring counties that Jack Cade led the peasants in arms against an unjust and plundering government. It was here that Tom Paine lived and spread his influence.
Men like Shelley, Trigger and Deryk Carver are not mere shadows of the past. They are a pattern for us and for all Sussex men. They are OUR people and their struggles are our heritage. The men of Alfriston, who met nearly 150 years ago to form the first Sussex Trade Union, the men and women who started a Co-operative movement in this county, with a history that goes back further than that of the Rochdale Pioneers, the men and women who fought in the Labourers' Revolt of 1830—these are our heroes and we honour their memory.
In the same way we/honour the men and women who in 1920 founded the Brighton Communist Party, those who fought in the Battle of Lewes Road, those who were with the unemployed when they marched to London in 1932 and again in 1934, those whose shouts and cries of anger spread along the South Coast when Mosley brought his hired thugs from London to attack the rights of our people, those who came on to the streets when the Nazi Police came to insult us in our own towns, and the Men of Sussex who fought with honour against the onslaught of fascist barbarism in Spain, some of them giving their lives. These are our people, our leaders, our brothers and sisters. The men in the past ' who struggled are our ancestors, not the long tedious succession of Saxon Kings and Norman Barons, Fuedal Lords and Chief Constables, Sheriffs,
Lord Lieutenants and Mayors.
We are proud that our history is one of struggle. The struggles of the past give us courage for the greater struggles that are to come.The common people built this Sussex—this England, which others enjoy. But following in the footsteps of another great people who have built a land of Socialism over one sixth of the world we too shall strive to achieve the victory of Socialism.
I conclude with the words of a Sussex poet—Percy Shelley, whose words are a call to action for all Sussex people.
'Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
That in sleep had fallen on you.
Ye are many—they are few?
Sussex for the People
By Ernie Trory
Sussex County Committee of the Communist Party
First printed March 1939 (2,000) reprinted May 1939 (3,000)
Marx House 9/11 St Georges Mews, Trafalgar Square brighton
Engels Hall 97d Langney Road, Eastbourne
Robert Tressall House, Dorset Place, Hasting
Unity Hall, Norfolk Street, Worthing