Munich Air Disaster: Dennis Viollet

‘The sixtieth anniversary is when living memory passes into history,’ said Charlie Bell, a Manchester United fan and owner of the house in Firswood where Busby Babes’ physio Tom ‘Tosher’ Curry once lived. The Babes used to go round there for their tea after training. Charlie had arranged for Trafford Council to fit a blue plaque to the house, making this the third for the Busby Babes: Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor being the two players recognised so far.
My TV Journalism colleague Lawrence Brannon and I sat in the same room as the Babes did six decades before, filming interviews with Charlie and Tom’s granddaughter Jennie for our public event at MMU commemorating the 1958 Munich air crash which killed half of them, Tom, eight journalists and club staff. [‘How British Sport changed – how the air crash changed the city, English football and sports journalism’.]
Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 12.10.43

Dennis Viollet (1933-1999)

My next call was to see someone with a strikingly familiar family name: Debbie Viollet. Looking through the ticket requests for our evening, I thought this too much of a coincidence. Was she, I wondered, related to Dennis, the goal-scoring legend who survived the air crash, strapped in next to Bobby Charlton and pulled clear by hero goalkeeper Harry Gregg?

‘Yes. I’m his daughter,’ she replied.
Over a cup of tea, we discussed how Dennis’ achievements in a red shirt appear to have been forgotten. The Manchester-born inside left, a United player between 1949 and 1962, who won the League twice in ‘55-‘56 and ‘56-’57? Who then set a club record of 32 goals in 36 games in ’59-’60 – more than Law, Best or Cantona scored in a single season?
Sadly also overlooked by England – just the two caps – Dennis didn’t feature in Matt Busby’s long-term rebuild and was shipped out to Stoke in 1962 after 178 goals in 291 appearances for United, followed by a period training in the USA and his eventual death there aged 65 in 1999.
Debbie produced a box of family photos and sat alongside grandson Kaiden Dennis – named after .. who else?.. who used to call Old Trafford ‘Grandad’s house’ when they drove past. For a very personal illustrated tribute to a Busby Babe whose place in history should definitely be reclaimed, this was the stuff of dreams.
What a nice touch from the United fans who gave Debbie a round of applause as she took her seat for our tribute. Whatever you may think of football fans, they don’t forget.
There is no blue plaque at the former Viollet family home at 561 King’s Road, Stretford … yet.

Vince Hunt

Lecturer, Sports Journalism

Munich Air Disaster: Dennis Viollet

‘The sixtieth anniversary is when living memory passes into history,’ said Charlie Bell, a Manchester United fan and owner of the house in Firswood where Busby Babes’ physio Tom ‘Tosher’ Curry once lived. The Babes used to go round there for their tea after training. Charlie had arranged for Trafford Council to fit a blue plaque to the house, making this the third for the Busby Babes: Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor being the two players recognised so far.
My TV Journalism colleague Lawrence Brannon and I sat in the same room as the Babes did six decades before, filming interviews with Charlie and Tom’s granddaughter Jennie for our public event at MMU commemorating the 1958 Munich air crash which killed half of them, Tom, eight journalists and club staff. [‘How British Sport changed – how the air crash changed the city, English football and sports journalism’.]
My next call was to see someone with a strikingly familiar family name: Debbie Viollet. Looking through the ticket requests for our evening, I thought this too much of a coincidence. Was she, I wondered, related to Dennis, the goal-scoring legend who survived the air crash, strapped in next to Bobby Charlton and pulled clear by hero goalkeeper Harry Gregg?
‘Yes. I’m his daughter,’ she replied.
Over a cup of tea, we discussed how Dennis’ achievements in a red shirt appear to have been forgotten. The Manchester-born inside left, a United player between 1949 and 1962, who won the League twice in ‘55-‘56 and ‘56-’57? Who then set a club record of 32 goals in 36 games in ’59-’60 – more than Law, Best or Cantona scored in a single season?
Sadly also overlooked by England – just the two caps – Dennis didn’t feature in Matt Busby’s long-term rebuild and was shipped out to Stoke in 1962 after 178 goals in 291 appearances for United, followed by a period training in the USA and his eventual death there aged 65 in 1999.
Debbie produced a box of family photos and sat alongside grandson Kaiden Dennis – named after .. who else?.. who used to call Old Trafford ‘Grandad’s house’ when they drove past. For a very personal illustrated tribute to a Busby Babe whose place in history should definitely be reclaimed, this was the stuff of dreams.
What a nice touch from the United fans who gave Debbie a round of applause as she took her seat for our tribute. Whatever you may think of football fans, they don’t forget.
There is no blue plaque at the former Viollet family home at 561 King’s Road, Stretford … yet.

Vince Hunt

Lecturer, Sports Journalism

Women and the Vote: The Representation of the People Act 1918

6 February 2018 will be the centenary of the passing of the Representation of People Act 1918 – why is this so significant?

Annie_Kenney_and_Christabel_Pankhurst

Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst

Overview:

Before 1914 approximately 40% of the population were not eligible to vote.  There had been discussions amongst Members of Parliament [MPs] how to address this issue and the grounds on which the extension of the parliamentary franchise should be extended. Some Conservative MPs had argued for a ‘soldier vote’ whilst Liberal and Labour politicians put forward a case to include other workers.   In addition, and following continued pressure from women’s suffrage campaigners, the position of women also needed to be considered.

 

 

The Speaker’s Conference

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, a reform of the electoral system was necessary as millions of men who had served their country were not eligible to vote due to existing property and residential qualifications.  A cross-party Speaker’s Conference, led by James William Lowther MP was inaugurated to examine and resolve, franchise reform, the redistribution of electoral seats, electoral registration reform and the method and cost of elections.   At the Conference the issue of women’s suffrage was left until the last possible moment, in order to obtain agreement on the other issues first.  There was also a strategic reason for this approach.  Lowther had witnessed many of the militant suffrage activities that took place from 1906 to 1914 and when three anti-suffragists left the Conference in December 1916 he took the opportunity of replacing them with pro-suffragists MPs.  The matter of votes for women was finally discussed on 10 and 11 January 1917 and whilst there was broad agreement that there should be a measure of women’s suffrage, the terms on which this should be implemented was not without its problems.  The Conference agreed that women should receive the vote, but not on the same terms as men; there was concern about the number of women who would be enfranchised, either being too high or low.  A proposition was put forward by one of the most dedicated campaigners of women’s suffrage, Willoughby Hyett Dickinson MP. He suggested that the vote should go to householders or wives of householders and this was agreed by nine votes to eight and thus a measure of women’s suffrage had been passed.  The Conference went on to recommend that women over the age of 30 who met the relevant qualifications, those who owned property or were graduates voting in a university constituency on the local government registers were now eligible to vote in parliamentary elections.

 

A triumph for Women’s Suffrage?

After almost seventy years of a long, hard and at times bitter campaign women now had, albeit it on limited terms, won the parliamentary franchise.   Both constitutional suffragists and militant suffragettes had both made significant contributions towards the winning of Votes for Women.  Two women in particular are well remembered for their dedication to the women’s movement:  Millicent Fawcett, leader of the peaceful and non-violent National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, and Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union.

The Representation of the People Bill was introduced in parliament in May 1917 and it epitomised the Conference’s resolutions.  The Act gave the vote to all men aged 21 years or older and to men on military or naval service from the age of 19.  Women aged 30 or older who qualified for the local government franchise, or whose husbands did, were given the vote.  As a result, therefore, approximately 8.4 million women were enfranchised by this act of parliament.

It would take a further ten years of dedicated campaigning by the women’s movement until the Passing of the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act of 1928 granted equal voting rights to men and women.

 

Dr Jo Smith
Manchester Metropolitan University

 

Interested in knowing more?  See:

http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/parliamentary-collections/collections-the-vote-and-after/representation-of-the-people-act-1918/

http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/overview/thevote/