Leeds MPs

CHARLETON, Henry Charles (1870–1959) Labour. Train driver and trade unionist.

He left school at 12 and joined his father working on the Midland Railway. To improve himself he studied at the Working men’s College, St Pancras and at Oxford Summer School. He worked his way up to become an engine driver. In 1919, during negotiations between the union and the management, he was asked to compile the Locomotive Men’s Conditions of Service. He became an influential figure in the National Union of Railwaymen and became an alderman on the London County Council. In 1922 he was returned for Leeds South and retained the seat until he was defeated in the National Government’s landslide victory of 1931 losing by 725 votes. Nevertheless, in 1935 he regained the seat and held it until he retired in 1945. He was chairman of the Select Committee on Estimates in 1930, then from 1929 –1931 he was Private Secretary to the Undersecretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and was briefly Junior Lord of the Treasury in 1931. He was regarded as a moderate. He used to recall how as a boy he went to school near the British Museum where an old German gentleman used to give him sweets. The man was Karl Marx. For further reading see The Times, 10, 13, October 1959.