Gooch, Edwin George, CBE

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Edwin Gooch was born in Wymondham, Norfolk, on 15 January 1889 into a long-standing Primitive Methodist family in the town. He began his working life in his father's blacksmith's shop. Later he became a journalist and in 1911 was appointed sub-editor of the Norwich Mercury newspaper. He founded the National Union of Journalists.

He joined the Labour Party in 1918 and later became Chairman of South Norfolk Labour Party. He acted as Election Agent for George Edwards in two elections.

He married Ethel Banham who also came from a Wymondham Primitive Methodist family. She helped her husband in his public work and served with him on Norfolk County Council. Both were appointed as Aldermen. 1951. Both served on the Bench as Justices of the Peace. Gooch was also Chairman of Wymondham Urban District Council; Ethel was the first woman member in 1935 and the first woman chairman in 1951. She died in 1953 and a road in Wymondham was named in her memory a few years later.

Edwin Gooch was a member of Norfolk County Council from 1922 and was vice-chairman for eighteen years. He gave an address when the Trades Union and Labour movement held a memorial service for George Edwards in Fakenham Central Cinema on 7 January 1934, In October of that year, on behalf of the National Union of Agricultural Workers, he unveiled a memorial stone in Fakenham Cemetery in memory of Edwards who had founded the union in 1906.

He was elected as Labour Member of Parliament for North Norfolk in 1945 and retained the seat until he retired in 1964. He was Chairman of the Party's National Executive from 1955 after serving on the it for ten years. He served on numerous committees, both national and international, mostly relating to agriculture and rural interests and he frequently travelled abroad to conferences and committees concerned with food production and farm employment.

He was Chairman of the Norfolk Education Committee, a governor of Norwich School and President of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association. For his services to public life he was awarded a CBE in 1944.

In 1960 he married Mary Curl who had been an active Labour Party member for many years. He died in Wymondham on 2 August 1964. At his funeral all the seats in the Methodist church were full. The address was given by Lord Wise, former Member of Parliament for King's Lynn. The following week a memorial service was held at Wymondham Abbey, attended by more than 500 people.

  • Wesley Historical Society, East Anglia,, no. 134, Spring 2016, pp.1-3

Entry written by: NV
Category: Person
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