Ashton-under-Lyne by-election, 1928

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The Ashton-under-Lyne by-election was held on 29 October 1928. It was notable for having the highest turnout of any Parliamentary by-election in Great Britain.

The election was caused by the bankruptcy of Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne Cornelius Homan. Although Homan had only represented the constituency since the 1924 general election, Ashton had been represented by Conservatives for many years, and Labour had never taken the seat. However, the Conservatives had never achieved a large majority in the seat, and as both Labour and the Liberal Party had gained several seats in recent by-elections, it was thought that both would mount a strong challenge. As a result, interest in the by-election was high.

Labour stood Albert Bellamy, while the Conservatives stood Gordon Touche, and the Liberals put up W. G. Greenwood, an accountant.


The Mayor of Ashton arranged for coloured rockets to be fired from the roof of the town hall when the result was announced, the colour to correspond to that of the winning party. After the fastest ever count – a record which stands to the present day, he did so.[1] This led to some confusion, as their colour was not obvious to all observers, but it soon became apparent that they were yellow – the local Labour Party colour.

Most unusually, the turnout for the by-election was higher than that for the previous general election in the seat, at 89.1% of the electorate. The Liberals picked up a few votes, but Labour gained many more, at the expense of the Conservatives who only just avoided falling into third place.

Bellamy held the seat in the 1929 general election, but he died in 1931, precipitating another by-election, won by the Conservatives. Labour won the seat back in 1935 and have held it ever since. Touche took the safe Conservative constituency of Reigate in 1931, and remained an MP for many years.

Ashton-under-Lyne by-election, 1928
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Albert Bellamy 9,567 40.6 +7.8
Conservative Gordon Cosmo Touche 7,161 30.3 -9.2
Liberal W. G. Greenwood 6,874 29.1 +1.4
Majority 2,406 10.3
Turnout 89.1 +0.8
Labour gain from Conservative Swing


  1. ^ Election results night on the BBC
  • Chris Cook and John Ramsden, By-Elections in British Politics
  • Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X. 

See also[edit]