Ernest Bevin 1881 – 1851
8 South Molton Street, Mayfair, London
Ernest Bevin was one of the labour movement giants of the 20th century. As a Dockers’ Union official, Bevin co-founded and served as general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) from 1922 to 1940, when he became Minister of Labour in Winston Churchill’s wartime coalition government. He successfully mobilised Britain’s workforce and became one of the most important members of Churchill’s war cabinet.
Bevin, who was orphaned at aged six and had little formal education, had previously encouraged young men – including Jack Jones, the future national TGWU leader and Tom Jones, the future TGWU leader in Wales – to join the International Brigades and go and fight fascism in Spain in the 1930s.
Following the Labour Party’s landslide victory in the 1945 General Election, Bevin was appointed by Prime Minister Clement Attlee as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He played an important role in the acceptance of the Marshall Plan, the creation of NATO and Britain’s decision to develop nuclear weapons. In poor health, the former docker resigned from the government in March 1951 and died the following year.