Two new titles from Poppyland this month.

Edwin Gooch: Champion of the Farmworkers

Edwin Gooch was a significant figure in agricultural trade unionism and Labour Party politics in the mid-20th century. After setting up South Norfolk Labour Party in his native town of Wymondham in 1918, he helped elect George Edwards MP; then came to prominence himself in the 1923 Great Strike of Norfolk farmworkers. As President of the National Union of Agricultural Workers from 1930, he served for almost 35 years in an honorary but influential role, and in 1945 he was elected MP for North Norfolk, becoming Party Chairman ten years later. He led the fight for decent wages and conditions for farmworkers, and campaigned against the tied cottage, with support from Labour heroes George Lansbury, Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan.

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Edwin Gooch’s role in the NUAW has been examined by labour historians, but this is the first biography. His grandson Simon Gooch has drawn on his late father’s reminiscences, his own childhood memories and archival research—often using Edwin’s own words from the NUAW’s journal The Land Worker. The language of political debate comes back to life, creating a vivid portrait of a man whose strong Norfolk accent once rang around
the House of Commons.

Edwin Gooch: Champion of the Farmworkers
Author Simon Gooch; Published Poppyland Publishing
Paperback 132 pages; RRP £9.95
ISBN 9781909796737
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The Photographs of William Rayson Smith Volume I: Norfolk and Beyond

Many have an old photograph album that has been handed down in the family through the generations. Often studio portraits, sometimes we know the people shown through annotations in the album or the research of a family member. We might also be familiar with the photography of professionals in the 1880s through postcards or collections, but it is rare to come across the work of an amateur photographer whose plate photography captured both everyday and family life in the period. It might be for this reason alone that William Rayson Smith’s albums are unique, however, his photographs, nearly all of which have never been

William Rayson Smith Vol 1 Sample

William Rayson Smith hardly left his native land being baptised in Dickleburgh Church in 1841 and dying only five miles away in Harleston in October 1932. Apart from a decade in Belleville, Canada, where he acquired a taste for the new technology of photography. Purchasing a camera he was to spend much of the late 1880s photographing what he saw around him. The result is a special collection of distinctive photographs covering Norfolk and beyond.

This first volume provides around 130 photographs from that collection. While highlighting the area around Harleston in particular, they also show visits to family, as far afield as Newmarket, Woodbridge, Sheringham, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, as well as his early work in Canada. The authors’ careful research into Smith and his family adds background to the collection.

A second volume is in preparation using his Lowestoft photographs.

The Photographs of William Rayson Smith Volume I: Norfolk and Beyond
Authors Jennifer and David Boxall; Poppyland Publishing
Paperback 84 pages; RRP £9.95
ISBN 9781909796744
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