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Blue plaque for Spalding man who played key wartime role

A blue plaque is to be unveiled in Spalding at the birthplace of a man who played an important role in the Second World War coalition government.

The plaque is to honour George Shepherd and will be unveiled on Saturday, July 20.

1st Baron Shepherd (1881-1954) was born at 4 New Road, where his father was a tailor and lived above the shop (now the Mobile Centre).

George Shepherd (13723679)
George Shepherd (13723679)

George Robert Shepherd was educated locally and by the age of 19 had become the manager of a shoe shop in Bradford.

In 1915 he married Ada Newton, who was an active trade unionist and campaigner for women’s rights, with the support of Quaker families such as the Cadburys and Rowntrees.

This marriage no doubt influenced his becoming a conscientious objector during the First World War and strengthened his involvement with the Labour movement.

He was Assistant National Agent for the Labour Party from 1924 to 1929 and then National Agent until 1946. When Sir Winston Churchill requested that Clement Attlee and the Labour Party enter into a wartime coalition, it was Shepherd who negotiated the terms of this all-important agreement, and he was in charge of the party agents nationwide when Labour swept into government in 1945.

He was raised to the peerage in 1946 as Baron Shepherd of Spalding, becoming one of the first Labour peers in the House of Lords, serving as party whip until 1951.

The blue plaque has been commissioned by the Spalding & District Society. It adds to those already in the town, commemorating French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau who stayed in the town for nine days in 1797, Gen William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army who lived in the town, Spalding born Frank Pick who transformed the London Underground and commissioned the famous underground map, Jimi Hendrix who stayed at The Red Lion in 1967 and historian and experimental archaeologist Peter Connolly who lived in Spalding for 20 years.

John Bland, chair Spalding & District Civic Society, said: “I am delighted that we are able to add to the blue plaques in our town and in particular one that recalls one of Spalding’s natives who played an important role at a time of national crisis.

"If any of the blue plaques encourage people to delve a little bit deeper into the lives of those who are commemorated in the future then one of their purposes will be met. If they also help to link people to a specific building then they will help in bringing our history and heritage alive for future generations.”

There will be a series of short speeches in the vicinity of the circle on Hall Place at 11am, before headingto the site on New Road for the unveiling that will be carried out by the Hon. Patrick Shepherd, great grandson to Baron Shepherd.


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