Jones, James Larkin

First name/s: James
Last name: Jones
Known names / nicknames: Jack
Date of birth: 29/03/1913
Year of birth: 1913

Life before Ruskin

Date and place of birth: 29 March 1913 Garston, Liverpool

Family: Son of George Henry Jones, docker, and Annie Sophie, née Diploc; one half-sister and two half-brothers.

Work: apprentice engineer 1927, when the company bust became dock worker

Politics/Trade union activity: secretary of local Labour Party aged 16; joined Transport and General Workers’ Union 1927; elected Shop Steward 1930.

Trade Union membership (at time of entry to Ruskin) TGWU

Life at Ruskin

Dates at Ruskin:correspondence course early 1930s; exact dates unknown

Source of funding:

Campaigns/political activity:

Subjects studied at Ruskin: correspondence course on economics, economic geography, etc.



Life after Ruskin

Education:course in economics at Liverpool Labour College

Work:Full-time district TGWU official in Coventry 1939; TGWU Regional Secretary for midlands area 1955; Executive Officer of TGWU (3rd rank in union) at national level 1963; elected general secretary of TGWU 1969; retired from TGWU 1978; Board of Crown Agents 1978–80 and the royal commission on criminal procedure (1978–80); a vice-president of the Anti-Apartheid Movement (1976–), Age Concern, England (1978–), and the European Federation of Retired and Elderly Persons (1991–); and chairman of the trustees of the National Museum of Labour History (1988–2003).

Politics/trade union activity: In addition to trade union work (above) elected Labour Party councillor in Liverpool 1936; joined International Brigade in 1937 and fought against Franco in Spanish Civil War – wounded at Ebro, 1938.

Family:Married Evelyn Mary Brown, née Taylor (1913–1998) in 1938; two sons James (b. 1942) and Mick (1944-2012).

Place & date of death: 21 April 2009

Cherrycroft Care Home, Dewar Street, Peckham Rye

Date of death: 21/04/2009
Year of death: 2009

Achievements / Publications

Exceptionally powerful TU leader with high profile: In 1977 an opinion poll by Gallup revealed that a majority of the British public regarded him as having more power than the prime minister.


On retirement was awarded Companion of Honour, but insisted it was bestowed on the TGWU rather than him personally.


Wrote illuminating article on his early education and Liverpool Labour College: Jack Jones, ‘A Liverpool Socialist Education’, History Workshop Journal 18 (1984), pp. 92-101.


Wrote autobiography Union Man (1986; 2nd ed. 2008)


Contributed to Industry’s Democratic Revolution (1974)


(with Max Morris)A–Z of Trade Unionism and Industrial Relations (1982)

Material in archives or already published articles

Papers in Modern Record Centre, Unversity of Warwick; interviews in National Sound Archive, British Library.

Obituaries in The Times (23 April 2009); Daily Telegraph (23 April 2009); The Guardian (23 April 2009 and 29 April 2009); The Independent (23 April 2009); Morning Star (23 April 2009); Daily Mirror (23 April 2009); Daily Mail (23 April 2009); The Herald [Glasgow] (23 April 2009)


Notes on Image/s

K. Williams, portrait, 1969, National Library of Wales; repro. in K. Williams, Portraits (1996), 65; B. L. Schwartz, dye transfer print, 1977, National Portrait Gallery; S. Morse-Brown, pastels, 1979, repro. in D. F. Raine and et al., The imprisoned splendour: the life and work of Sam Morse-Brown (1993), 184; R. Miller, toned bromide print, 1996, national Portrait Gallery; G. Scarfe, portrait, repro. in G. Scarfe, Line of attack (Hamilton, 1988), 86; photographs, repro. in Jones, Union man

Comment of contributor/s and sources

Geoffrey Goodman, ‘Jones, James Larkin [Jack] (1913–2009)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2013 [, accessed 28 Oct 2013]

Jack Jones, ‘A Liverpool Socialist Education’, History Workshop Journal 18 (1984), pp. 92-101.

Jack Jones, Union Man (1986; 2nd ed. 2008)


Catherine Feely

created 29/10/2013 at 8:57 pm, updated 13/10/2014 at 5:15 pm

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