Civvy Street

“For more than twenty years I have spent some of my spare time in voluntary work for the community.  I served as an Urban District Councillor for Long Eaton from 1963-66.  I was a member of a sub-committee of the Nottingham Council of Social Services which dealt with problems such as housing, employments and industrial difficulties affecting minority groups.” George’s cv.

 

Civvy Street:  an informal term for Britain and England used by soldiers of the First and Second World Wars, and ex-service people starting life as civilians.

 

 

Married life

 

 

George’s marriage certificate shows that he was then resident in a Ministry of Labour hostel at Causeway Green, Oldbury.  His own list of employment from November 1948 to 1967 gave some indication of where he might be living at various dates.  It was not until I had sight of his National Registration Identity Card, which he had donated to Nottingham Black Archive, that I was able, by cross referencing, to chart his married life, first in the Birmingham area, and later in Derbyshire.  George’s daughter Cynthia and I both remember him saying that he met Barbara Poole at a dance hall.  We assume that this was the one in Causeway Green Hostel.  She was a cinema usherette, living in nearby Oldbury.  They were married on September 13, 1949.  Interestingly, his father’s surname here is given as Powe, rather than the Chinese name Pow which was ascribed to both of them on George’s birth certificate.

 

According to the rules of the hostel, once married he would have had to leave within a month.  He actually moved to West Bromwich with Barbara three months later, in January 1950.

 

 

National Registration Identity Card, 1948-1950, a mine of information

 

 

Identity Number:

Category:

First postal address:

Fern Lea Quarry Street, Woolton, Liverpool  

Changes of address:

185 Bristol Road, Birmingham 5

N.S. Hostel, Langley, Oldbury

88 Jubilee Street, West Bromwich 

46 Bennett Street, Long Eaton

 

 

NHA 9182398 

A (over 21)

 

from October 11, 1948

 

from November 15, 1948

from December 2, 1948

from January 10, 1950

from April 24, 1950

 

Requirements:

 

Notice HA 263769

  1. Always carry your card.  You must produce it on demand by a Police Officer in uniform or a member of H.M. Armed Forces in uniform on duty.

  2. You are responsible for this card, and must not part with it to any other person.  You must report at one of the local National Registration Offices if it is lost, destroyed or decayed.

  3. If you find a lost Identity Card or have in your possession a card not belonging to yourself or anyone in your charge you must hand it in at once at a Police Station or National Registration Office.

  4. Any breach of these requirements is an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both.

 

 

The family and employment

 

Their first child, Terence, was born in December 1949.  On January 10, 1950, they moved to 185 Bristol Road, Birmingham 5 for a short while.  In April 1950 they moved to Bennett Street, Long Eaton, in Derbyshire, and later settled at 40 Portland Road, Sawley, Derbyshire.  Their second child, Malcom, was born in November 1950.  Their third child, Daphne, was born in June 1952.  In February 1953 Terence died in a drowning accident in the canal in Long Eaton, aged three.  Their fourth child, Desmond, was born in December 1957, and their fifth, Cynthia, in October 1959.

 

 

It is clear that he was in almost continuous employment until 1967.  There was a gap of three and a half months from November 1950 to February, 1951, but then only three days, all weekends, between each further job.  In 1967 he embarked on a career change, becoming a student on a Liberal Studies Course at Fircroft College, Selly Oak, Birmingham, in 1967-1968.  In 1969 he gained a place at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic (now Nottingham Trent University) to train as a teacher.  He took advantage of voluntary redundancy from his work at Spondon Power Station just before the teaching course began.

 

He was continually politically active.  In 1956 he wrote and published Don’t Blame the Blacks, an important political pamphlet, in conjunction with the Afro-Asian West Indian Union.  (For the complete document see Politics and community.)  In 1960 he joined the Labour Party.  From 1963 to 1966 he was a Labour Councillor, having been elected to represent Sawley Ward on the Long Eaton Urban District Council, Derbyshire.  He was a the leading founder member of the Afro-Caribbean National Artistic Centre in Nottingham, which opened in 1978.  He became a County Councillor for Manvers Ward, Nottingham from 1989 to 1992.  He joined several campaigns concerned with national and local politics, trade union and industrial issues, human rights, immigration rights, and racial discrimination.

 

George and Barbara separated by mutual consent in 1970, and George came to live in Lenton, Nottingham.  They were divorced in 1977.  Barbara died in Long Eaton, on January 1, 2012.  She and her son Terence share a headstone.

 

 

Joint headstone

Photo:  Cynthia Horton (née Powe)