Len Murray, Baron Murray of Epping Forest

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The Lord Murray
of Epping Forest

General-Secretary of the TUC
In office
Preceded byVic Feather
Succeeded byNorman Willis
Assistant General-Secretary of the TUC
In office
Preceded byVic Feather
Succeeded byNorman Willis
Personal details
Lionel Hodskinson

(1922-08-02)2 August 1922
Hadley, Shropshire, England
Died20 May 2004(2004-05-20) (aged 81)
Loughton, Essex, England
Political partyLabour
Other political
Communist Party of Great Britain
Heather Woolf (m. 1945)
Children4, including David Murray

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

Early life[edit]

Murray was born in Hadley, Shropshire, the son of a young unmarried woman, Lorna Hodskinson, and was brought up by a local nurse, Mary Jane Chilton.[2] He attended Wellington Grammar School in Wellington, Shropshire and read English at Queen Mary College, 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 British Army.


Murray was commissioned in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in April 1943 and took part in the Normandy landings on D-Day. Six days later, Murray was badly wounded and in October 1944 was invalided out of the army with the rank of lieutenant.[3]


Murray worked at an engineering works in Wolverhampton as storekeeper, before leaving to sell The Daily Worker on street corners and joining the Communist Party. Whilst selling The Daily Worker, he encountered his former headmaster, who informed him he was wasting his time. Determined to improve himself, shortly afterwards Murray gained a place at New College, Oxford where he graduated with a First in PPE after two years' study under tutors including: future MP Dick Crossman and Sir John Hicks.[4]


Murray started as a manager for a Liverpool catering firm. He was a Trades Union Congress (TUC) employee from 1947, when he joined as an assistant in the economics department. Seven years later he was promoted to head of the department. He was elected 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.[5]

He became General Secretary of the TUC in 1973, leading it during the Winter of Discontent and confrontations with Margaret Thatcher's government.

Personal life[edit]

Murray married Heather Woolf, a nurse, in 1945. The couple had two daughters and two sons, the younger of whom, David, pursued a successful career in the Royal Air Force.[6] They lived in Loughton, Essex.

Murray served as a TUC officer until his retirement in 1984, three years early. Upon 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 also served as a Methodist local preacher.[7] Murray died in hospital in 2004 from emphysema and pneumonia.


Murray was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1966 New Year Honours.[8]

Sworn of the Privy Council in 1976,[9] he was created a life peer as Baron Murray of Epping Forest, of Telford in the County of Shropshire, on 14 February 1985.[10] The Murray Hall in Loughton was named after him, and a blue plaque to him was unveiled on the family house, 29 The Crescent, in January 2019.

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1922–1966: Mr Len Murray
  • 1966–1976: Mr Len Murray OBE
  • 1976–1985: The Rt Hon. Len Murray OBE
  • 1985–2004: The Rt Hon. The Lord Murray of Epping Forest OBE PC


  1. ^ www.friendsofeppingforest.org.uk
  2. ^ Edward J. Davies, "The Origins of some Trade Unionists", Notes and Queries, 259(2014):570-73. [1]
  3. ^ www.unithistories.com
  4. ^ Independent obituary: Lord Murray of Epping Forest
  5. ^ "Marlow (Scotland) Lectures". Institution of Engineers & Shipbuilders in Scotland. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  6. ^ A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe, www.thepeerage.com
  7. ^ www.loughton-tc.gov.uk Archived 25 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "No. 43854". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1966. p. 13.
  9. ^ "No. 46916". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 1976. p. 7823.
  10. ^ "No. 50048". The London Gazette. 27 February 1985. p. 2799.

External links[edit]

Trade union 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