Remembering the Oldham and Rochdale volunteers

Post date: 28/09/2023

Dolores Long writes…

IBMT members Graham Briggs and Robert Hargreaves have raised the profile of the International Brigades through their research into the 10 Oldham and nine Rochdale men who went to Spain. 

Graham and Robert have given a series of very well-attended talks to history and community groups. 

In addition, they have arranged for the motorbike of Clem Beckett, the best known volunteer from Oldham, a vintage 1928 Rudge Speedway, to be displayed in Oldham Library.

Graham Briggs and Steph Hargreaves with Clem Beckett's motorbike in Gallery Oldham. 

While researching the Oldham volunteers, Graham discovered that Charlie Armitage and Charlie Hanson were buried in unmarked graves in local cemeteries. 

Memorial grave markers for the two Charlies were purchased with a generous donation from the Unite trade union – Charlie Armitage was a member of the Oldham AEU, a forerunner of Unite – and with help from family members of the volunteers. They have been placed on their graves. 

The new grave markers.

Charlie Armitage's good friend Harry Crompton helped Graham place the memorial marker on his ‘uncle’s’ grave. An event to commemorate their contribution to the fight for democracy in Spain will be organised next summer.

The current ceramic memorial plaque commemorating the Oldham volunteers will be moved from Oldham Parish Church to a more prominent position in the newly renovated 'Old Library' in Oldham. The building will be used as the Oldham Council Chamber, Mayor's office and events space.

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