Lionel Murray, Baron Murray of Epping Forest

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Lionel Murray, Baron Murray of Epping Forest, OBE, PC (2 August 1922 – 20 May 2004), known as Len Murray, was a British Labour politician and union leader.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Hadley, Telford, Shropshire, the son of a farmworker. Both his parents died in accidents when he was eight, and he lived with relatives. He attended Wellington Grammar School in Wellington. He studied English at Queen Mary College, University of London, but left after a year because of the emphasis on Anglo-Saxon language. He briefly became a teacher but found he was unsuitable and then joined the army.


Murray was commissioned into the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in April 1943 and landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day. Six days later he was badly wounded and in October 1944 he was invalided out of the Army with the rank of Lieutenant. He had banged his head against a tree, later waking up in London.[citation needed]


He worked in an engineering works in Wolverhampton as a storekeeper, then sold the Daily Worker on street corners and joined the Communist Party for a short time. Whilst selling the Daily Worker, he met his former headmaster, who told him he was wasting his time. Shortly afterwards he found his way into New College, Oxford, where he gained a First in PPE after studying for two years, under tutors including Dick Crossman and John Hicks.[1]


He started as a manager for a Liverpool catering firm. He was a Trades Union Congress (TUC) employee from 1947 where he joined as an assistant in the Economics Dept, and seven years later he became head of the department. He became assistant general secretary in 1969.

In 1970 he was invited to deliver the Marlow (Scotland) Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He chose the subject 'Trade Unions and the State - 1964 to 1970 in Retrospect'.

He was made General Secretary (leader) of the Trades Union Congress in 1973, and led the group during the time of the Winter of Discontent, and of confrontations with Margaret Thatcher's government.

Personal life[edit]

He married Heather Woolf, a nurse, in 1945 and they had two sons and two daughters, living at Loughton. He was a Methodist local preacher. He had a heart attack in 1976.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1966 New Year Honours.[2] He retired in 1984, three years early. On his retirement in early May 1984, he made the following statement - "There are places to go, books to read, flowers to smell and trees to look at. I would like to walk through Epping Forest". He had been made a member of the Privy Council in 1976 and was made a life peer as Baron Murray of Epping Forest, of Telford in the County of Shropshire on 14 February 1985.[3] He died in hospital in 2004 from emphysema and pneumonia.

Political offices
Preceded by
Vic Feather
Assistant General Secretary of the TUC
Succeeded by
Norman Willis
Preceded by
Vic Feather
General Secretary of the TUC
Succeeded by
Norman Willis


External links[edit]