First name/s: Charles
Last name: Sitch
Known names / nicknames:
Date of birth: 04/05/1887
Year of birth: 1887
Life before Ruskin
Date and place of birth: 1887 Saltney, Chester.
Family: His mother was Elizabeth Sitch (née Young) and his father Thomas Sitch who formed the Chainmakers’ & Strikers’ Association becoming its full time secretary and returning to his native Cradley Heath, the established centre of the chain trade, where Charles grew up.
Work: He left school at the age of 13 and worked as an assistant in a grocer’s shop for five years.
Politics/Trade union activity:
Trade Union membership (at time of entry to Ruskin)
Life at Ruskin
Dates at Ruskin: 1905 -7 (?) Despite having no formal qualifications, at the age of 18 Charles began a two-year course at Ruskin College, Oxford
Source of funding: Chainmakers’ and Strikers’ Association grant
Subjects studied at Ruskin: economics, industrial organisation and economic history
Qualification not known:
Life after Ruskin
Education: not known
Work: In 1913 he became the assistant secretary of the Chainmakers’ and Strikers’ Association. On the death of his father in 1923 he succeeded him as union secretary.1937 – 1952 he was employed by the co-operatively owned Sunday Citizen/Reynolds News in Leeds until his retirement in 1952.
Politics/trade union activity: From the age of 20 Charles Sitch was involved in trade union organisation in Cradley Heath and the surrounding Black Country, becoming active in the developing movement of trade union organisation amongst women. He worked closely with Mary Macarthur and during the 1910 Women Chainmakers’ Strike helped to organise meetings, rallies and marches, and took part in the negotiations with the Chain Manufacturers’ Association. In 1913 was elected as a Liberal councillor. In 1918, he was adopted as a Labour candidate for the Kingswinford division, a seat which he won and kept until 1931. He did much excellent work as a constituency MP, but did not make much impact as a parliamentarian although he was a member of the committee that prepared the ‘Bill to facilitate the construction of motorways, and the granting of powers in relation to such ways, and to traffic thereon’ presented by Sir Leslie Scott in 1924. His interests outside work included an occasional game of cricket in one of the House of Commons teams.
Family He married Mabel Jackson of Goole with whom he shared an interest in amateur opera. He had one son, Cedric.
Place & date of death: From 1937 he lived in Leeds. He died 13 June 1960 at home in Leeds,
Date of death: 13/06/1960
Year of death: 1960
Achievements / Publications
Labour MP 1918 – 1931
Material in archives or already published articles
Ed. Joyce Bellamy & John Saville, Dictionary of Labour Biography vol 2, 1974, entry by Eric Taylor pp. 344- 347
A Club is Born by H Jack Haden, The Blackcountryman Vol 4, Issue 1; the story of the beginnings of the Brierley Hill Labour Club. 1971
The Brickmakers’ Battle by H Jack Haden, The Blackcountryman Vol 11, Issue 2. 1978
Ninety Years of CHAOS by Geoffrey E. Hodgetts, The Blackcountryman Vol 31, Issue 4; the story of Cradley Heath Amateur Operatic Society featuring Charles and Mabel Sitch. 1998
Notes on Image/s
There are two portraits in the National Portrait Gallery
Comment of contributor/s and sources
Dictionary of Labour Biography vol 2 pp. 344 -347
Women Chainmakers – National Union of Teachers (pdf downloaded 21.8.2013) HYPERLINK “http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/Chainmakers-A4-24pp.pdf”
Journals of the House of Commons, Volume 179 – Jan 8th 1924 – October 9th 1924. http://assets.parliament.uk/Journals/HCJ_volume_179.pdf (viewed 21.8.13)
HYPERLINK “http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Players/307/307684/307684.html” http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Players/307/307684/307684.html [House of Commons North (Miscellaneous: 1923) (viewed 21.8.13)
In an oral history of Cradley Heath and Old Hill published in 1992 there were the following reminiscences about Charles Henry Sitch:
“Charles Sitch was the local M.P., and leader of the Chainmakers’ Union. He was idolized round here. Probably because he was a good talker, he dressed well and he was local. That was a big thing, the fact that he wasn’t an imported candidate. His brother, Hewitt Sitch, was a local schoolteacher. Charlie was convicted of embezzling the union funds and was sent to jail. That was his political downfall. He was defeated by Major Harcourt Webb, a Conservative, the next time around.”
“You’d see gangs of kids walking up Graingers Lane singing:
Vote, vote, vote, vote for Charlie,
Charlies’s sure to win the day.
For the soldiers they will come
With their double barrelled guns,
And send all the Tories away.
We never knew what it meant – we sang it because it sounded good.”
(From “It’s Not the Money You’ve Got, It’s the Dash You Cut” reminiscences of Cradley Heath and Old Hill, edited by Dave Reeves and Kath West, The Moving Finger 1992.)