James Bell (Ormskirk MP)

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For other people named James Bell, see James Bell (disambiguation).

James Bell (1872 – 28 December 1955) was a British trade unionist and Labour Party politician.[1][2]

The son of John Bell, a coalminer, and his wife Margaret née Guy, Bell initially worked as a weaver in Nelson, Lancashire, in one of the town's mills.[2][3] He became involved in trade union activities, leading to his sacking on three occasions.[3] He subsequently moved to the town of Oldham, becoming secretary of the Oldham Weavers' Association in 1905, a post he held for 41 years.[3][4] He was the first president of the Oldham Labour Party, and attempted to gain election to the Borough Council without success.[1][3]

In 1918 he was elected as member of parliament for Ormskirk, the first non Conservative to be elected for this seat since its creation in 1885.[1] This was principally due to a divided Conservative vote between the Coalition Conservatives and the candidate of the National Farmers Union. Bell served only one term in parliament, losing his seat at the next election in 1922.

He continued his union activities: in 1924 he was appointed secretary of the International Federation of Textile Workers' Associations, and was subsequently secretary of the United Textile Factory Workers Association, and in 1930 took part in a trade mission to China.[5][6][7]

He died, aged 83, in an Oldham hospital in 1955.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Bell, James". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Debrett's House of Commons and the Judicial Bench illustrated with 500 armorial engravings (PDF). London: Dean & Son. 1922. p. 13. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d White, Joseph L (1978). The limits of trade union militancy: the Lancashire textile workers, 1910-1914. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 60–61. ISBN 978-0-313-20029-8. 
  4. ^ a b "Obituary". The Times. 29 December 1955. p. 10. 
  5. ^ Fowler, Alan (2003). Lancashire cotton operatives and work, 1900-1950: a social history of Lancashire cotton operatives in the twentieth century. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-7546-0116-6. 
  6. ^ "General Cable News". Sydney Morning Herald. 1 August 1930. p. 12. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Far East (Economic Mission)". Hansard 1803-2005. 30 July 1930. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Stanley
Member of Parliament for Ormskirk
Succeeded by
Francis Blundell
Trade union offices
Preceded by
A. Birtles
Secretary of the Oldham Weavers', Reelers' and Winders' Association
1905 – 1946
Succeeded by
James Milhench
Preceded by
J. Kuypers
Secretary of the International Federation of Textile Workers' Associations
1925 – 1936
Succeeded by
J. Kuypers
Preceded by
Joseph Cross
Secretary of the United Textile Factory Workers' Association
1925 – 1931
Succeeded by
Cephas Speak
Preceded by
Ebby Edwards and John Marchbank
Trades Union Congress representative to the American Federation of Labour
With: James Thomas Brownlie
Succeeded by
Allan Findlay and Arthur Shaw
Preceded by
James Hindle
President of the Amalgamated Weavers' Association
1937 – 1947
Succeeded by
Carey Hargreaves
Preceded by
James Hindle and William Wood
Cotton Group member of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress
1937 – 1945
With: William Wood (1937 – 1938)
Robert C. Handley (1938 – 1940)
Alfred Roberts (1940 – 1945)
Succeeded by
Andrew Naesmith and Alfred Roberts