Madge Gunson was an ardent trade unionist, born in 1898. When she was 11 years’ old, her parents joined the British Socialist Party and Madge began attending the North West Ham Socialist Sunday School, “for which I am truly thankful”, she recalled. Her mother became a foundation member of the Communist Party and her father had been treasurer of his trade union branch for many years.
At the age of 15, she was trained in the West End of London in the millinery trade, then booming since British women of the middle and upper classes were always expected to wear a hat outside of the home. Having joined the sales staff, she became a member of the National Union of Distributive and Allied Workers, and later a branch committee member.
She became a saleswoman in a Co-operative store, and at the age of 24 was promoted to a “buyership” in Yorkshire, a senior position as a professional purchaser, thus transferring to the National Union of Co-operative Officials. She met and married her husband, a Yorkshire miner, who was victimised from the pits for trades union activism only eight months after their marriage.
The couple moved to London in search of a job for her husband. After he became a packer, “life become a little easier”. Her stepson was a member of the Woodcraft Folk, a sign that “Madge is bringing him up the way he should go!”. Chair of the Leyton branch of the Communist Party, during the war, she would work in the railway industry.
Source: Daily Worker 18 April 1939