Colne Valley by-election, 1907

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The Colne Valley by-election was a Parliamentary by-election. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post voting system.


Lord Airedale, oil on canvas, John Singer Sargent, 1905

Sir James Kitson had been Liberal MP for the seat of Colne Valley since the 1892 general election. He was created Baron Airedale on 17 July 1907 and resigned to take a seat in the House of Lords.[citation needed]

Electoral history[edit]

The seat was re-gained from the Liberal Unionists in 1892:

General election January 1906[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal James Kitson Unopposed n/a n/a
Liberal hold Swing n/a


The local Liberal Association selected Philip Bright to defend the seat. He was the son of John Bright the famous Free-trader. The Conservatives selected 35-year-old barrister, Granville Charles Hastings Wheler, later 1st (and last) Baronet of Otterden, as their candidate. He had contested Osgoldcross at the last general election.

Victor Grayson in the late 1900s

Twenty-six-year-old Victor Grayson stood as an Independent Labour candidate, having been nominated by the Colne Valley Labour League. This was the local branch of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), but the ILP and Labour Party both decided against backing Grayson's candidacy.[2] Grayson was born in Liverpool and became an apprentice engineer. He joined the Independent Labour Party and toured the country giving lectures, becoming a well-known orator despite having a stammer.

Polling Day was fixed for 18 July 1907.


Grayson gained the seat:

Colne Valley by-election, 1907[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Colne Valley Labour Victor Grayson 3,648 35.2 n/a
Liberal Philip Bright 3,495 33.7 n/a
Conservative Granville Wheler 3,227 31.1 n/a
Majority 153 1.5 n/a
Turnout 88.1 n/a
Independent Labour gain from Liberal Swing n/a


Wheler was elected at Faversham at the next general election. Grayson was defeated by a new Liberal candidate:

General election January 1910[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Charles Leach 4,741 40.7 +7.0
Conservative Archibald Boyd-Carpenter 3,750 32.2 +1.1
Colne Valley Labour Victor Grayson 3,149 27.1 -8.1
Majority 991 8.5 +7.0
Turnout 93.2 +5.1
Liberal gain from Independent Labour Swing +7.6


  1. ^ a b c British parliamentary election results 1885-1918,; accessed 5 May 2017.
  2. ^ Clark, David (1981). Colne Valley: Radicalism to Socialism. London: Longman. ISBN 0582502934.