My wife and I booked into the Wortley Hall Hotel because it was close to the venue for our friends’ wedding reception where we were spending Saturday evening. Only on checking into the beautiful, 250 yearold Grade II listed building just south of Barnsley did we realise that we had stumbled across one of the most significant venues in the history of the post-war British trades union and labour movement.
Labour’s Education and Recreational Holiday Home was founded in 1951 by Vin Williams, a miner turned union agitator whose dedication to the communist cause even extended to his inflicting on his son the forename Lenin (Len for short). It was officially opened in 1953 by Vin’s comrade Frank Soskice, who was the son of a Russian revolutionary.
Vin Williams has a wing of the hotel dedicated to him, as do other scions of the British Labour movement including Tom Mann and George Lansbury. No doubt these names infuse visiting comrades with the spirit of the ghosts of the British Labour movement. I myself spent a fitful night in the Abe Moffat Suite dreaming through some of the nightmare scenarios of Britain’s post-war industrial past, as if living in an episode of Life on Mars.