Barry Johnson, former President of Chesterfield & District Trades Union Council and trustee of Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Centres sadly died last week after a long illness. Barry was involved in politics from an early age, as his father had been blacklisted from the pits after the 1926 dispute, while his mother was active in the Unemployed Workers Movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s. He was a trade unionist throughout his working life. As an USDAW activist he was a member of Notttingham Trades Council for many years. He worked at the Chesterfield College from the mid 1970’s, and developed the Trade Union Studies unit. Barry retired in 1991, when he moved to live in Chesterfield. As a delegate from the College Lecturers Union he became President of the Chesterfield & District Trade Union Council, helping to establish the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centres based in the town. He also served on the Regional Executive of the Midlands TUC for an extended period. He was an accomplished orator, having the experience as a young man of drawing an audience while standing on an orange box in Nottingham’s Slab Square. Barry was the master of ceremonies at Chesterfield’s May Day celebrations during the 1980’s and 1990’s. He had a long association with the mining industry, and gave unstinting support to the miners during the 1984-5 strike. He worked tirelessly during the strike in support of the Miners both at Linby in Nottinghamshire near his home, and in Derbyshire where he worked.
On retirement Barry took the time to study for an MA in local history and produced two short books, one on the General Strike in Mansfield and also a study of the operation of the ‘butty system’ in the local coalmines.
Barry also played an important role in starting the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Labour History Society, serving as Chair. His continued support for the Unemployed Workers Centres was crucial and he served on both regional and national committees gaining the respect of people throughout the country. Barry also took an active part in the secular humanist movement, having been a founder member of the Sheffield Humanist Society and serving on its committee for several years.
There will be a Memorial Meeting at 11am in the Winding Wheel Ballroom, Chesterfield, Monday 17 February 2020. Please ring Hilary on 01246 270628 if you wish to attend so that catering arrangements can be made.
Rest in Power Barry