Jim Edwards BEM – A Railway Trade Unionist of Repute! 15th September 1929 -29 January 2022

Jim Edwards BEM – A Railway Trade Unionist of Repute!
15th September 1929 -29 January 2022

Brother Jim Edwards funeral arrangements are for Friday 25th February West Chapel Bushbury Crematorium.

Today I am remembering a trade unionist of great repute, a man that was a credit to his working class roots. A trade unionist who was very well know in the rail and ancillary industrial sector. This is a man that has helped countless hundreds if not thousands of rail workers during his 50 plus years in the RMT.
He was also my friend, for my whole working life.
Jim was an intricate man. A family man, in early years he told me he was a footballer. He came from a large family himself. Over all the years I knew him. I joined British Rail in 1965 at the Herbert Street Goods Yard, where he worked. I met him when I was still at school but visiting the Goods Yard, where both my parents worked. I was a little scared of him at that time.

When I joined the Railway in August 1965 as a Number Taker, within hours of starting, Mr Edwards was at the door. He gave me my first lecture then, and he repeated it through all the time I spent in the Rail Industry. He signed me up into the National Union of Railwaymen. Then he badgered me to attend the Union Branch Meetings.

His first lecture to me was all about the job that I had took on. He said “If you look after the job, The job will look after you!” I have never forgotten those words. I didn’t quite understand the meaning then, but I understand what he meant now! In fact I have used Jim’s words countless time myself.

As we entered into February, I found out that Jim had passed away on the 29th January 2022. Jim was 92 years of age. Jim’s daughter Glenis informed me.
During this time of finding out about Jim’s passing. I have been thinking a lot about Jim, and the huge impact he had on me.

Jim Edwards was not a man of huge physical stature, he told me on more than one occasion that he was a nimble footballer! but he was a man of huge stature when working for his mates, and for the trade unionists of the National Union of Railwaymen. (Later the Union changed its name and became the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.)

Jim was the man ‘to go to’ if you needed help at work. He was on the Local Departmental Committee, he was on Sectional Council, the National Carriers Regional Council, he was known by trade unionist through out the Railway industry.

His reputation on representing men meant he was known also by more than a few Railway ‘gaffers!’

Yes, Jim was the man to have at your side through the trials and tribulations of working on the Railways! He loved his industry, and he took his duty as a trade union official so very seriously. A regular at the Unions Goods and Cartage conference, he was never slow to give his opinion. Represent the policy of the Union, and organising to gain support. Jim was a great organiser. Be it for fund raising for individuals, or for his requirement as a Union Official.

Jim was also a family man. Gladys, Jim’s wife and his two girls Glenis and Julie, must have been more than a little aggravated over the years, as often, just as they were sitting down with their dad for tea, or supper. An NUR person seeking help would be knocking the front door. Interrupting his family time.

Jim gave an enormous amount of his personal time to his duties as a trade unionist, LDC member, Branch Secretary etc. Jim was fearless when tackling the bosses. If right was on your side. But he was also very indignant and bruising if you hadn’t, shall we say, told the actual!

Anyone in difficulty phoned him or made their way to Jim’s home.
So, much so he converted his coal shed into an office! It gave the rest of the family a little more family time when work mates turned up wanting help!
I spent many a winters night in that shed come office! His passion for the trade unionist always came through.

If you had made an indiscretion at work, or you had a grievance with the company. You wanted Jim on your side. He knew all about the Rail and National Carriers agreements, the protocols, and the Rule Book. He was phenomenal when it came to rules and regulations. His interest didn’t stop with the trade union. He was also a very committed Labour Party member.

Jim was an active member of the Oxley Labour Party. Playing more than a passing role in that organisation as well.

I am pleased to say that I witnessed him getting a much-deserved British Empire Medal for the work and time he gave to the trade union and his members. His family were very much proud of their Jim. as we all were, having been recognised by the Sovereign in this way.
My thoughts and that of my wife Mary is that we wish our dear friend and his loving family the deepest of sympathy and condolences.
Jim, you gave the greatest gift any of us can give, for the trade union, your friends and your comrades in the Labour Party.

That gift was the incredibly short personal time we have in this World.
Brother Edwards you have made more than a little contribution in this turbulent World we all live in.

You have spread the word that ‘Unity is Strength’. You have raised a fine family with your wife and best friend Gladys. Now is the time for you to take much needed ‘me time’.

Your name and deeds along with your friendship will always be remembered amongst those you leave behind . Rest in Peace

Brother Jim Edwards funeral arrangements are Friday 25th February West Chapel Bushbury Crematorium

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more