Deakin, Arthur, CBE, CH

Trade unionist, born at Sutton Coldfield on 11 November 1890. The family moved to Dowlais, South Wales and at 13 he began working for Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds. He was soon actively involved in the trade unionist movement, moved to Shotton in North Wales in 1910 and in 1919 became a full-time official of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers' Union (later part of the TGWU). From 1932 his employment with the TGWU took him to London, where he was associated with Ernest Bevin, whom he succeeded as general secretary in 1946. He twice declined a knighthood, but in 1943 he became a CBE, in 1949 was appointed Companion of Honour and in 1954 a privy councillor. Though a colourful public figure, his lifestyle remained modest. As a member of the PM church he was a lifelong teetotaler. He died suddenly in Leicester on 1 May 1955 after addressing a May day rally.

  • Times, 2 May 1955
  • V.L. Allen, Trade Union Leadership; based on a study of Arthur Deakin (1957)
  • Dictionary of Labour Biography
  • Oxford DNB


Category: Person
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