Born into a left-wing family in Wigan, Norman Brown was drawn down south in search of employment, which he eventually obtained at Pressed Steel in Oxford. Like so depressed areas, he was soon an active shop steward. His father had always been a union man, so Brown followed his path, also joining the Communist Party.
His own account of this said it all: “It always seemed to me that anybody who was in the CP was the most conscientious of all the stewards. One or two who were not in the Party were good talkers and all the rest of it, negotiators, but overall the CP elements seemed to be the most conscientious and genuine and, you know, thinking back on the old man and all that sort of stuff, I eventually joined.”
As recognition of his assiduous recruitment to the union, Brown was awarded the TUC's Tolpuddle Medal in 1937; a presentation made by Ernie Bevan not only to Brown, but to four or five other Communists!
Brown was however victimised in 1938 and spent the next fifteen months on the dole, active in organising the unemployed, until in 1939 he resumed work and his industrial activities elsewhere in Oxford.
Sources: “AGAINST FASCISM AND WAR – Ruptures and Continuities in British Communist politics 1935-1941” Kevin A. Morgan (1987) , Volume One, Manchester University PhD, p59