In 1924 Mary Quaile was elected onto the General Council of the TUC, and with Julia Varley attended the National Conference of Labour Women, a conference of International Women Trade Unionists in Vienna and the Third International Trade Union Congress.
At home she now took part in delegations to lobby government ministers on issues including the Labour Government’s unemployment policy. In 1925 Mary was again elected onto the General Council. In 1926 Mary did not stand again for the General Council, but she continued to attend Congress as a delegate from the TGWU until 1931.
Recently we have come across pictures of Mary at the official handover of Easton Lodge to the trade union movement as a working class college. Ironically, a house maybe not that different from where she got her first job as a domestic.
Easton Lodge was owned by Countess Warwick (1861-1938) who, by 1926, had been a member of the socialist movement for over 25 years. It was an era in which a Countess standing as a prospective Labour candidate was not seen as bizarre!
In 1926 Countess Warwick handed over the historic building and sumptuous park and grounds to the General Council of the TUC who paid a visit. It was dubbed “Labour’s Chequers.”
Plans were made to develop Easton Lodge into a college and university for workers but, after the General Strike in May 1926 in which the TUC’s funds were severely depleted, the plan was abandoned. The Countess of Warwick continued to live at Easton Lodge until her death in 1938. Today what remains of the building and grounds are part of a trust. (For more information about this go here. )
Sylvia Ayling for the tipoff about Mary and Easton Lodge.
Jeff Howarth at the TUC Library at London Metropolitan University for the images.