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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Liverpool

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Myths and Legends
Bessie Braddock
Bessie Braddock, undated

© Liverpool Record Office
'Battling Bessie'

Political roots

Bessie Bamber was born in Liverpool in 1899. Whilst growing up, she was exposed to the inequality and poverty of the city from an early age. Her mother, Mary Bamber, was committed to social reform and to helping the poor of Liverpool. At three weeks old, Bessie was taken by her mother to her first political meeting; in her autobiography, 'The Braddocks', Bessie recalls helping her mother on the soup lines in Liverpool:

“I remember the faces of the unemployed when the soup ran out. I remember their dull eyes and their thin, blue lips. I remember blank, hopeless stares, day after day, week after week, all through the hard winter of 1906-7, when I was seven years old. I saw the unemployed all over Liverpool.

Bessie was born into a family that was active in Liverpool’s socialist political scene. Her mother, who was a major influence upon Bessie, remained active in politics until her death in 1938. Her funeral included a rendition of the socialist anthem ‘The Red Flag’. Bessie followed her mother into left-wing activism.

After a brief spell in Britain’s first ever Communist party, Bessie and husband John became disillusioned with dictates from Moscow and instead joined the Labour Party in 1926. This was the beginning of a turbulent and colourful period of over 40 years in local and national politics. Throughout her political career, Bessie never left her working class roots in Liverpool, and continued to campaign to relieve the suffering which she had witnessed at such a young age.

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Your comments

1 terry cleary from hong kong - 16 January 2004
"i was born in liverpool, but lived in widnes, i attended st edwards college sandfield park liverpool the story about winston churchills verbal exchange with lady astor about him being drunk and she being ugly is said to have been between churchill and bessie braddock "

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