The Wynne family
The parents of the family, Annie Elsie Gorrie and Charles Henry Wynne (b1868), were Quakers. Their children – Charles, John, Arnold, and Margaret Wynne – were all active in the Leicester Communist Party in the 1930s.
Charles always recalled that his mother’s father, Archibald Gorrie, had had most influence on him as a child. Although an Independent Baptist, Charles’ grandfather had been obliged to resign his membership of his congregation in Leicester because of the unacceptability of his socialist–anarchist views, which he carried out in the name of the local Anarchist Communist Group and the Socialist League. In 1898 the grouped briefly gathered under the name of the Leicester Socialist Society. Gorrie eventually became a Labour Party Alderman in Leicester.
Charles Gorrie Wynne was born on the 18th May 1911, four years before John (who was actually named Archibald John), and six years before Arnold. Margaret is possibly the Hilda A M Wynne also born in 1911 in Leicester, suggesting that she and Charles were twins.
The father to these, Charles Henry Wynne, and his brother, Eustace Cecil Wynne, had patented their own design for a knitting machine in 1905. They maintained a partnership as hosiery and cotton goods manufacturers but this was dissolved in January 1910, leaving Charles to carry out business on his own at the Wynnstay Works in Leicester. But, in about 1926, this small hosiery-manufacturing business went bust and the family was made poor overnight.
Charles Wynne went up to Oxford in October 1930 to read physics on a scholarship. He was secretary of the Anti-Fascist committee in 1934 and Secretary of Leicester Peace Council, 1937, recorded as residing at 64 Evington Drive.
John Wynne was an active anti-fascist activist in the 1930s and was on the Leicester British-Soviet friendship Committee during WW2
Margaret Wynne was secretary of the Leicester British-Soviet Friendship Committee during the Second World War. The president was Mrs Swainston, the first woman elected to the City Council, initially as an independent, but later coming out as a Tory.
Charles dedicated his professional life to optical design and became a principal figure in the international optical design community. He was the most distinguished lens designer of the postwar era. His work influenced the design of practically every lens and optical system available, including the modern camera lens and the esoteric optics used in the manufacture of silicon chips, and the giant telescopes used by astronomers. He met his future wife, Jean Richardson, a student of French and German at St Hugh’s College, at a meeting of the university Communist Club. They were married in December 1937 and had three children.
He joined the Leicester optical engineering company of Taylor, Taylor & Hobson (TT&H), Leicester, in May 1936. Charles worked there until 1943, and then moved to the Wray (Optical Works) company at Bromley in Kent, where he stayed until 1960. Wray manufactured telephoto lenses for RAF photographic reconnaissance units and the photo-interpreters to make the crucial high-altitude photographic detection of the development of the V weapons and the jet and rocket fighters that Germany developed in the later stages of World War II.
Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1970, when he died, on October 1st 1999, he was optical consultant to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge and Emeritus Professor of Optical Design at Imperial College. Although nearly 90 years old he had still been working several days a week until just a few months before.
Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 22nd January 1937; Guardian 12th November 1999; http://www.nednewitt.webspace.virginmedia.com/whoswho/W-X-Y-Z.html