Harold Wilson’s Granddaughter Hopes Islanders Will Mark Centenary

cath ledbitterHarold Wilson’s granddaughter says she hopes that islanders will want to mark the centenary of his birth next year.

Mr Wilson was Prime Minister twice, between 1964 and 1970 and again for two years from 1974.

Cath Ledbitter says the Parliamentary Labour Party will be organising official events on the mainland, including a service in London on 11th March, to mark his contribution to UK life.

But she feels it would be fitting if our islands, his favourite place, also remembered their most famous ambassador, even if it is, “just raising a pint to a good man who enjoyed his time in Scilly.”

Harold Wilson’s greatest legacy is arguably the creation of the Open University and he first outlined his vision for equal access to education whilst on the islands.

Harold Wilson outside the Co-op

Harold Wilson outside the Co-op

Mr Wilson’s regular visits to Scilly provided the biggest boost to our fledgling tourism industry.

He put the islands in the spotlight during his premiership, famously holding a press conference on Samson.

But there’s little here to mark the impact he made to our islands’ life.

There’s a bronze statue of Harold Wilson in his hometown of Huddersfield and another statue at the Houses of Parliament. Back in the 1990s, the Islands’ Council named the former IT centre at the Wesleyan Chapel in his honour, but that facility has now has closed.

Cath isn’t unhappy about that. She says one of the lovely things about Scilly is how it’s always reinventing itself and finding new ways to put buildings to use.

And she says Harold’s legacy “is more than just a building.”

Cath says her own children find it hilarious that people stop and photograph the bungalow on Church Road that her grandfather bought and which is still owned by Lady Wilson.

And she says some formal recognition there, such as a blue plaque, would provide a fitting memorial.



22 Responses to Harold Wilson’s Granddaughter Hopes Islanders Will Mark Centenary

  1. Heather August 17, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    My memory of Harold Wilson is of walking outside the Bishop and Wolf one Monday morning. He was flanked by his bodyguards, with the Sunday papers, and was walking his beloved Paddy – a beautiful dog. I was then forced to walk in the road to make way for his entire entourage. No way were they going to give way to me! What a gentleman….!.

  2. Ray Wornes August 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    The 60’s with Harold as the PM were the best times any younger generation could have ever experienced because we had jobs, money in our pockets, exciting things to do and the energy to do it. England even won the world cup in 66 which was amazing. House buying was easy @ around two or perhaps three times the average wage which resulted in people paying off their mortgages early. Home renovation and do – it – yourself improved our lives and business was booming whilst basic services were cheap because they were owned and run by the state.
    Well Rod ward I hope your not having nightmares dreaming about those people you named and constantly looking under your bed for reds. If so I recommend you go and see someone and perhaps play more football and less rugby as I hear it can do your head in. I like the idea of a plaque on the house and perhaps a slightly larger Photo in the Council Chamber on the opposite wall to the Chairmen but that’s because as a young man Harold was my hero. I’d like to know just how much he did for Scilly.

    • RogerP August 11, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      My memory is very different. Purchase tax rise from 27% to 55%. devaluation of the £. Hand outs from the IMF. All under the Wilson government. It does look like our council seem to be following a similar approach. Increase costs by 200 – 300% with no notice and to hell with the fact business would never be able to cover the increases.

    • Hecuba August 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      You had a job?! I thought you’d always been free to dedicate your time to the pursuit of our political enlightenment.

      I’d also challenge your sweeping claim that the best time to be young was the 60s. Perhaps for the ‘great white male’ but for the rest of us? I’ll take now every time.

  3. Jeff Eastick August 10, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Thanks for the info , Ewart. Remember the man but knew nothing of his Scilly connection. Will explore Old Town cemetery in closer detail next year.
    Also remember seeing Harold Wilson in Scilly after he had retired and just before he passed away.

  4. Ewart August 10, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    To remain a political.
    Does anyone on the Islands remember Ray Gunter MP who died in the 1970’s. He was a mamber of Harold Wilsons’ Government, he had a house in Launceston Close,Old Town
    called “Y Bwythen Bach”
    His grave can be found in the cemetery at Old Town.
    Perhaps he could be remembered as a regular visitor to the Islands.

  5. Ewart August 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    By allmeans recognize (z for the chairman of the Council) Harold Wilson, but no not forget
    Lord Franks who owned a property at Old town for some years, and probably did as much for our Country as HW.

  6. Rod ward August 9, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I agree with Ray.
    And we should also have statues of Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Corbyn, Red Robbo, Stalin, Michael Donkey Jacket Foot, Neil Kinnock, Nicola Stir Gun, Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband. Winners all…… and highly effective and much loved. We’ll keep the Red Flag flying here.

    • W Tell August 10, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      Still just to the left of Attila the Hun then!
      Whilst I don’t agree with the politics or in most cases the behaviour of those on your list at least they amounted to something……………….

  7. pete August 8, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Well spoken Ray. One of our great prime ministers.

    • High Lanes Drifter August 9, 2015 at 8:36 am

      I am sure he was a good man who did some good things like championing the Open University. On the flip side Rhodesia was a shambles and beer & sandwiches at no.10 encouraged the decline of our manufacturing industries and the rise of neo Marxists in unions like the T&GW. Not all great, however his patronage did help the Islands.

      61 words

  8. Ray Wornes August 7, 2015 at 10:41 am

    It’s difficult for the pubic to remember the greatness of someone like Harold Wilson and to give him the credit he deserves when he was being mercilessly pulled to pieces by the British political press throughout the whole of his time in Office. He brought prosperity and liberation to the whole British nation, I lived through those brilliant days that were on the one hand a world away from a previous life in the war days and on the other hand a battlefield of vicious right wing newspaper politics trying to destroy a great man’s reputation. He seemed to be the first PM that understood economics and gave us a booming economy, workers’ rights, higher wages, with money to spend which promoted a thriving clothing industry, a great pop music scene, dancing, eating out, affordable public transport, private cars and Continental holidays – little of which was experienced by the previous generation. It all added up to a brave new world of ‘prosperity for all’ backed up by a large balance of trade surplus. Today Tory austerity economics is back and I just wish Harold was our PM again. Good old Harold!!!

    • The Patrician August 8, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Ray is there any chance you could do a post without for once showing your love of the Conservative party? Tis all rather boring.

      • Ewart Less August 8, 2015 at 6:39 pm

        Here here, very well said Patrician.

        • Maggie August 9, 2015 at 7:50 am

          He was a great man, but the Labour Partyy was like it is now – a complete joke. Not sure where Ray gets his economic data from as all Wilson’s governments suffered from an economic crisis.

  9. Roger Banfield August 7, 2015 at 8:19 am

    There is a very good display in the Isles of Scilly Museum, marking Harold Wilson’s links with Scilly – well worth a visit.

    Roger Banfield

  10. linda thomas August 7, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I don’t know if this is true but someone told me that he was the reason the helicopter service started (under then BA), should there be an emergency in London they could get him back quick? Any truth in this?

  11. Antony Edwards August 6, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Although I never shared his politics, I respected the man and he was one of the best remembered Prime Ministers of the 20th century.
    He was the reason that I became aware of the Isles of Scilly in 1975 (having also studied in Huddersfield for three years), and then decided to go there in 1976.
    And then virtually every year ever since !!!!
    I think a fitting memorial would be great.

  12. John Hicks August 6, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I suppose he should be remembered too for bringing the road tax into the Islands……

    • Mrs E Windsor August 8, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Yes because why should scillonians be exempt from from road duty, after all you like all the handouts from the EU which can only be funded from……….taxes.

      • John Hicks August 9, 2015 at 11:44 am

        Actually, it’s always wiser not to assume things. I don’t actually like all these hand outs from the EU, i would rather we weren’t in the EU. But the people in Scilly do deserve money for the islands upkeep and advancement, but i would prefer that it came from central Gov rather than the EU.

        Bear iin mind there are only nine miles of road in Scilly, doesn’t quite seem fair that they should pay the full road tax for just that, but hey ho!

      • High Lanes Drifter August 9, 2015 at 2:44 pm

        Anywhere can apply for handouts (grant funding) Mrs Windsor, each application is judged on its merits. Perhaps something or someone is turning the milk sour where you live! Try harder you might be eligible for some little pick me up! Here’s an idea buy a scratch card live on the edge for a bit.