The Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee keeps alive the memory and spirit of the men and women from Oxfordshire who volunteered to defend democracy and fight fascism in Spain from 1936 to 1939

News & Events

For a brief report on the weekend of events at the 2018 AGM in Hull, click here

Pictures from the The 2018 Annual Memorial at Jubillee Gardens London, click here

For non-IBMT local and national events click here

The Len Crome Memorial Conference 2019

 ... an International Brigade Memorial Trust event

The topic for the 2019 Memorial Conference will be football and Spanish politics since the civil war.  The main speakers will be:-

Sid Lowe, the Guardian's Spanish football correspondent and author of Catholicism, War and the Foundation of Francoism:  The Juventud de ccion Popular in Spain 1932 - 1037 and Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World's Greatest Sports Rivalry

Daniel Gray, author, social historian and broadcaster and the author of the history of Scotland and the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Caledonia, and several books on football and working class culture including Saturday, 3pm.

Music will be provided by Maddy Carty, Robb Johnson and Na Mara at the venue or at the evening social (programme to be finalised)

The event will be chaired by Professor Sir Paul Preston

See the poster here

The venue will be Kellogg College, Oxford University's Department of Continuing Education, 60-62, Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PN
Tel: 01865 612000.   The conference venue is spacious and modern with seating (hard seats) for 200, there is an excellent on site cafe and pubs and restaurants nearby, and it's all just a short stroll from Oxford City Centre.
(The International Brigade Memorial Trust is an organisation which contracts with Kellogg College, The University of Oxford for the use of facilities, but which has no formal connection with the University or Kellogg College.)

TRAVEL PLANS, MAP AND DIRECTIONS AND A LIST OF ACCOMMODATION VENUES can be accessed here

Buy tickets for the Len Crome Conference from EventBrite here

The Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee is pleased to host this event on behalf of the IBMT.  We hope you will join us all, visit our memorial to Oxfordshire's 31 volunteers who went to Spain 1936-1939, and explore the rest of Oxford's unique cultural and social heritage.

Neil Gore and Townsend Productions

If you missed the production at Ruskin College you might still get tickets for other venues from Eventbrite

It was an incredible evening and the energy and passion that Neil puts into all his performances has to be seen to be believed.  It was an exhausting ewvening just for the audience!

But Neil bought the old materpiece of Socialist theatre to life and held the audience attention throughout

In fact, so successful has the production been, and so widely has it been acclasimed, that Neil was invited to give a performance at the Parliament.  Here is Neil with John McDonald after the show.

... and Neil's next production is ....

'Rouse Ye Women' - a new folk opera by John Kirkpatrick & Neil Gore about Mary Macarthur & the Women Chainmakers of Cradley Heath

FEB 18 - 7.30PM - RUSKIN COLLEGE OXFORD
APR 2 - 7.30PM - OLD FIRE STATION OXFORD
APR 3 - 7.30PM - OLD FIRE STATION OXFORD

A play by Neil Gore based on the true story of Mary Macarthur and the women chainmakers

Director: Louise Townsend

Designer: Elizabeth Wright

Lighting Designer: Daniella Beattie

Music by John Kirkpatrick and Neil Gore

Touring 4 Feb - 18 April 2019

Townsend Theatre Productions is delighted to announce the world premiere of its new show “Rouse, Ye Women!”

This groundbreaking folk opera tells the true story of Mary Macarthur and the women chainmakers and features original songs and music composed by revered folk musician John Kirkpatrick (Steeleye Span, Home Service, Richard Thompson Band).

Women chainmakers in the Black Country in the 1900s started work at the forge as children and spent their entire lives making chains. These women had no vote, were largely illiterate, worked a 54-hour week for ‘starvation wages’, and had to take their children to work.

But in the Autumn of 1910 hundreds of women chainmakers of Cradley Heath held a ten-week strike against their employers. Led by the remarkable trade union organiser and campaigner Mary Macarthur, they won a minimum wage which doubled their incomes.

More importantly, they returned to work confident in the knowledge that by sticking together in a union they could stand up to the chain masters and companies.

The strike was a prelude to the ‘Great Unrest’ of industrial action that swept Britain in 1911, and led to a landmark victory for a fair wage, changing the lives of thousands of workers, whilst proving their economic power.

‘Rouse, Ye Women!’ is a folk-song opera that tells the story of Mary Macarthur and the chainmakers, and shares the story of the lives of the workers and campaigners through rousing, heartfelt traditional song and music.

Director Louise Townsend said: “The focus of the production is not just the massive achievement of the women chainmakers in their fight for better wages, but also how Mary Macarthur and the National Federation of Women Workers, of which she was a founding member, sought to challenge the prevailing view that women made poor trade unionists, were a threat to male employment and wages, and were generally unorganisable.

"Mary Macarthur herself wanted trade unions to educate women workers to be better citizens, empower them to demand more from life and gain fair treatment as workers; to ensure that women can be an effective force within the trade union movement to strengthen the position of the entire industrial working class.

"Through this production we will aim to draw parallels with the inequalities in the lives of women just over a hundred years ago with modern issues of family life, low pay, the minimum wage, the gender pay gap and equality of opportunity.”

Writer, actor and musician Neil Gore said: "The story is truly inspirational because it centres on the energy and drive of Mary Macarthur, and her skills as an organiser and tactician. She came to be admired by her trade union and socialist comrades as well as those in positions of power - employers, business leaders and those in government. But, most importantly, she gained the trust of those women workers that she so skilfully organised and represented. She lived a thrilling, breathless life sustained with unfaltering courage and determination to achieve; she was cool and persuasive in argument and possessed immense good-humour and common-sense. Through this production we aim to celebrate her enormous achievements and her all-too-often overlooked legacy.”

John Kirkpatrick said: “The songs and music for “Rouse Ye Women!” are inspired in large part by traditional industrial folk song, music hall, and protest songs, as well as from projects created within the folk revival period of the 1960s and 70s, themselves based on direct links with traditional music of the past, with a modern, contemporary twist. Industrial folk song originally emerged in Britain in the 18th century from the Industrial Revolution. These workers tended to take the forms of music with which they were familiar, ballads and agricultural work songs, and adapt them to their new experiences and circumstances. They tended to be descriptive of work, often political in nature, and were sung between work shifts or in leisure, expressing workers’ interests and aspirations, and passed on among themselves by oral means.

“Other influences would come from popular and musical hall songs as well as formal hymns that had been adopted by the workers. The various types of song include chants of labour and protest including narratives of disasters, laments for conditions and political strike ballads. Amongst these are also songs about heroic and mythical figures of industrial work.

"There was a great tradition for women to sing at work in the big factories and the back-yard forges, especially music hall songs; their strong melodies and clear narratives having a wide appeal: “They can’t stop us singing! It’s a way of getting rid of the boredom”, as one worker once put it.

“Through the description and poetry or wit and wisdom of songs from this time, one can gain a feel for the hardships and pleasures; the day-to-day struggle for existence, as well as the ways of breaking the monotony of work with descriptions of local events and incidents, or through after-work collective relaxation.

“Through new rousing songs and moving ballads we aim to tell the story of the Women Chainmakers’ Strike by reflecting, imitating and embellishing the styles of music that were most significant to those who struggled to make the strike a success.”

For press images, review tickets and interviews please contact Saskia Murphy - saskiamurphy91@gmail.com/ 07800590352

The 2018 Annual Memorial at Jubillee Gardens, London

Top:The memorial and banners at the 2018 commemoration
Bottom Left: Acress Yolanda Vázquez recites the famous speech by Dolores Ibárruri, ‘La Pasionaria’, at the disbandment of the International Brigades, Barcelona 1938
Bottom Right: Wreaths and bouquets from supporters.

For IBMT News - go to http://www.international-brigades.org.uk/

The 2018 Annual General Meeting of the IBMT was held this year over the weekend 13th/14th October at Kingston Upon Hull.  As to be expected it was a hugely successful event that displayed the continued sense of solidarity that we have all come to expect within the IBMT and beyond it to the wider labour and trade union movement.

The weekend began on Friday evening with a concert by musician Joe Solo performing "¡No Pasaran!".  Joe's performace was followed with a talk by historian Phyll Smith on IB Commander at Jarama, Tom Wintringham.  A fantastic fish and chip supper was enjoyed by all.

Saturday morning saw AGM delegates and friends enjoying a wonderful exhibition of artwork by students from Hull's School of Art and Design.  The theme of the exhibition was the Spanish Civil War and it displayed the young artists creativity and political consciousness.  Here are just a few examples of their work.  If anyone is going to Hull in the next week or so the exhibition at the college is still open.  But check first.  It closes soon.

 


Following from the art exhibition was to have been the unveiling of the new Hull memorial to the nine Hull volunteers who went to Spain to fight for freedom and justice for the Republic.  But you can't rush works of art and delays with specially sourced materials from Spain have put back the big event til January 2019.  Nevertheless, Gary Hammond and his Hull comrades, made up for our disappointment with a sneak preview of the main piece of the sculture that will be mounted on top of the plinth that is still in the manufacturing stage.  What we were witness to was a remarkable piece of art that wonderfully captures the spirit and guts of the volunteers and their industrial heritage of Hull.  I would love to have put a picture of it on this website but we were under strict orders not to take photographs.  You'll just have to wait and I don't have to make a "spoiler alert"!  I promise you it'll be worth the wait!

At the AGM the formal business was debated and changes to the terms of the executive committee were agreed.  Details on the IBMT website.
A number of members stood down and new faces are:-
Jim Jump becomes Chair (hardly a "new face", Jim has been Secretary and Editor of "¡No Pasaran!" for as long as anyone can remember).  He takes over from Richard Baxell who stood down as Chair due to other commitments but will remain a major supporter and ambassador for the IBMT.  A presentation was made by President Marlene Sidaway to Richard for his dedication and commitment over the past years.
Megan Dobney takes over Jim's secretarial role.  The secretarial role is complex and demanding but coming from a background in South East Region TUC we all know that she'll take it in her stride.
Manuel Moreno remains as Treasurer and our own Oxford IB Memorial member John Haywood remains on the executive committee.

There was a film and social event in the evening after the AGM, and on the Sunday a Radical Walking Tour of Hull was organised.  Whether it took place or not I can't say as the remnants of Hurricane Leslie battered Hull and the entire south and east of England.  I decided to return to Oxford early but, no doubt, there were braver souls than I who faced the elements to explore Hull's long and fascinating history.

To read a summary of the 2018 Len Crome Memorial Conference click here

News and events from Oxford District TUC and others

Click here for a list of local events in Oxford taking place in the next few months The flyer for the International Women's Festival can be found at 2019 Festival

and click here for a list of a number of forthcoming national events taking place over the next few months

Other News

Geoffrey Servante
A British veteran of the International Brigades is alive and well and living in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. 
He is Geoffrey Servante, a former mechanic in the merchant navy who enlisted with the International Brigades in June 1937, a few weeks after his 18th birthday. He was assigned to the Anglo-American 14th Battery of the 2nd Group of Heavy Artillery, based in Almansa, between Albacete and Alicante. 
The official records say he was a good and disciplined comrade, who returned to Britain early in 1939.
The IBMT found out about Servante’s existence via a reporter on The Forester, a local newspaper in the Forest of Dean. Carmelo García contacted the IBMT after interviewing the 98-year-old, wondering whether we knew that he was still alive. 
More information:
www.international-brigades.org.uk/content/geoffrey-servante-veteran-international-brigades

IBMT Merchandise
To browse the full range of IBMT merchandise, go to: www.international-brigades.org.uk/catalog
You can also buy International Brigade merchandise locally from this website

New Memorial Planned?
Some tips from the Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee on how to raise a new memorial to the International Brigades: www.international-brigades.org.uk/content/some-dos-and-don’ts-creating-international-brigade-memorial