It was a great honour to attend the unveiling of a blue plaque in Failsworth, near Manchester, commemorating the birthplace of my great-great-grandfather Joseph Burgess. Saturday morning’s event was attended by many people including David Heyes, local MP, and the Mayor of Oldham.
I read this dedication on behalf of my great uncle, for whom he was named.
My grandfather, Joseph Burgess, spent his life, talents and energy promoting the wellbeing of the working class. His task was hard and ill paid, and took him and his family wherever by-election of conference demanded – from Glasgow to London. His spur was Truth not Fame. His gifts as a journalist could have earned him an easier life but he would not compromise to satisfy his employers – especially Beaverbrook.
I welcome the acknowledgement of this plaque to record the work of a true Christian Socialist and send my heartfelt thanks to the Failsworth Historical Society for this commemoration.
We should acknowledge and remember his spirit of activism and keep it alive; such engagement is all too rare in the early 21st century, with the hard-won victories of the past too readily forgotten or ignored.
Sincere thanks to the Failsworth Historical Society, who campaigned for the erection of the plaque, in particular Kevin McPhillips whose dissertation resurrected interest in Joe Burgess’s life and work.