Sunday, 4 December 2011

Blue Plaque Tribute to Ashton hero who died fighting for freedom

Friday, 25th, November 2011, saw over fifty turn up to a packed gathering in the atrium between what is now the Tameside Central Library & the Local Studies & Archives Centre in Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, close to where James Keogh spent many hours studying world affairs. The event was the result of Tameside Trades Union Council's decision to nominate James Keogh, a local hero who died in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, for a Blue Plaque. This plaque is the 80th Blue Plaque awarded in the Borough of Tameside and pays tribute to seven other volunteers who went to fight in Spain in the Spanish Civil War and was reported in the local media including the Manchester Evening News on Monday 28th, November 2011.

Councillor Jackie Lane, Tameside Council's Assistant Executive Member for Heritage & Tourism, declared: 'I am proud that Tameside is recognising their sacrifice, and specifically that of James from Ashton.' Mike Harrison, James Keogh's nephew, spoke about the contribution of James to the fight against Fascism in the 1930's and Brian Bamford, Tameside Trade Union Council's Secretary, addressed the issues contained in the commemorative booklet on James Keogh's correspondence, which was circulated at the event: see reports below. James died in March 1938 at the age of 22, when he was hit by tank fire after his battalion met Italian troops near Calaceite in the Spanish province of Aragón. James, an apprentice tailor, went to fight in Spain in May 1937, after telling his family that he was going for another job in Leeds.

The nomination of James Keogh for a Blue Plaque had been initiated by Tameside TUC, but had been particularly supported by Father Kenneth Leech of Mossley, Charles Jepson of the National Clarion Cycling Club (1895) North Lancs. Union and the International Brigade Memorial Trust in Greater Manchester. A large contingent from James Keogh's family were present as well as the Tameside Civic Mayor; affiliates from Tameside TUC and many local trade unionists attended including several local blacklisted electricians from the Unite union, and a number of libertarians from the Northern Anarchist Network in the North West.

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