The Rochdale Brigaders

Post date: 16/02/2023

Last month north-west IBMT activist Graham Briggs produced a pamphlet connecting the history of Rochdale with the Spanish Civil War. Available through the Touchstones museum, ‘The Rochdale Connection’ tells the stories of the nine known International Brigade volunteers who fought in Spain and are linked to the town.

The pamphlet is the product of months of original research in Manchester’s Working Class Movement Library, the IBMT database and local archives. Speaking to InYourArea, Briggs said: 

So far I’ve found nine people who were either born in Rochdale or have connections to Rochdale one way or the other who went. Bit by bit you put together a list by looking at census returns, family tree lists and stuff like that.

I spent a long time going through every copy of the Rochdale Observer for two and half years, and sat there in the archive in Touchstones.

Briggs was inspired after reading Robert Hargreaves’ recent biography of Oldham Brigader Clem Beckett and also noticing that there were no memorials to Brigaders in the town of Rochdale:

I know there’s memorials for other war heroes, like the First World War and the Second World War. But in Rochdale there doesn’t seem to be any memorial for these nine guys.

One of the most complete and informative profiles featured in the pamphlet is that of International Brigader Maurice Stott. An edited version of the profile is reproduced below.

Maurice Stott.

Maurice Stott was born on 22 May 1898, in Whitworth/Wardle, Rochdale, to Wilfred (1863-1934) and Mary – née Leah (1869/70-1953) and into a socialist family of printers: Stott, later Stott & Lord Printers, of Entwistle St., Rochdale.

His mother had been an active suffragette and both parents were Labour Party supporters. He attended Socialist Sunday School. 

In 1911 and 1921 the Stott family lived at Mayfair Gardens, Rochdale. Maurice was a Labour Party member, and later a Communist Party supporter and member.

In the 1920s Maurice was an electrician working at Whipp & Bourne Electrical Engineers in Rochdale. He was secretary of the Rochdale branch of the Electrical Trade Union [ETU] and for several years the secretary of Spotland West Ward Labour Party. His brother Arthur was also an electrician.

Maurice moved to live in Blackpool in about 1930, to become a chauffeur to his aunt. He left Blackpool for Spain, via Manchester, on 6 January 1937, along with his good friend James Mann, as part of a group of 120 volunteers, including those from Lancashire towns. They left the UK on 13 January and arrived in Spain on 23 January 1937 and joined the British Battalion of the International Brigade. His Brigader ID number was 391.

Maurice was killed in action on 12 February 1937, on his first day at the front, at a battle for the Valencia Road during the defence of Madrid. His body was never recovered.

Graham Briggs, 'The Rochdale Connection' (2023).

Posted on 16 February 2023.

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