Lowe Tom

Tom Lowe

Born in 1883 in Belfast, Tom Lowe’s father was a member of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF).

He was apprenticed as a skilled iron-moulder, or foundry worker, in Lancashire and later blacklisted for union activities, he came to Birmingham sometime before the 1914-1918 war.

He and his wife Edith joined the Communist Party shortly after its formation. They lived in Heath Mill Lane in Deritend. Because it was so central in Birmingham they frequently accommodated national figures from the Party who would speak in the Bull Ring.  In the 20th century, this was accepted as Birmingham's `Speakers Corner’. The wooden platform used by Party speakers was stored in their house.

As a supremely skilled moulder, Tom was never out of work through the 1920s and 1930s, but he openly continued his union and Party activities throughout.

He was one of the Birmingham Committee of the CP to be arrested in the General Strike (ironically their fines were paid by Oswald Mosley, then a local Labour MP: Tom's only subsequent dealing with Mosley was to be beaten up by the Blackshirts for disrupting a Fascist rally at the Methodist Central Hall)

Although prominent in the campaign for a United Front with the ILP and others in the early 1930s, he had some sort of disagreement with the Party in the decade. Apparently, he was critical of the Soviet Union, but must have been accepted back into membership soon after because he was prominent as a Communist on Birmingham's Trades Council in the 1940s.

He became a full-time officer of the Foundry Workers Union. In their offices in Dale End, he provided facilities for the YCL.

On his death in 1950 he was commemorated by a framed poem from the union, still in my possession, as his grandson.

The Communist Party’s 1952 National Congress recorded his name in the official obituaries list as an honoured member.


Tom Doherty

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