Thomas Robinson (Stretford MP)

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Sir Thomas Robinson, circa 1924 Thomas Robinson.jpg
Sir Thomas Robinson, circa 1924

Sir Thomas Robinson KBE JP (2 January 1863 – 30 December 1953) was an English industrialist, Liberal politician and Member of Parliament, who late in his career sat in the House of Commons as an Independent.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.


Birth and family

He was born at King Street, Stretford, Manchester. [1] He was the sixth child of Peter Robinson, a farm labourer/lamplighter, and Eliza (née Owen). [2]

Stretford town in Trafford, Greater Manchester

Stretford is a town in Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, on flat ground between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, 3.8 miles (6.1 km) southwest of Manchester city centre, 3.0 miles (4.8 km) south of Salford and 4.2 miles (6.8 km) northeast of Altrincham. Stretford borders Chorlton-cum-Hardy to the east, Urmston to the west, Salford to the north, and Sale to the south. The Bridgewater Canal bisects the town.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. With a population of 545,500 (2017) it is the sixth largest city in the United Kingdom. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

He was married twice. First, to Emma Lowe of Stratford in January 1887, [3] and second, in November 1936 he married Emmeline Mary Standring, also of Stretford. He had no children from either marriage. In religion he was an independent Methodist. [4]

Business career

Robinson had interests in the dyeing trade, which had strong connections to the Lancashire textile industry. He was a director of the Bradford Dyers Association Ltd and Chairman of the Allied Trades, Bleaching, Dyeing and Printing Industries of Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. [5] He also held appointments as the nominee of the Federation of British Industries. He was instrumental, together with ICI, in the design and development of the nylon/polyester futuristic spun fabric "MORADA" which proved ideal for lining garments. It is estimated that around 1,700,000,000 garments were made with linings sold under the brand name Morada. He provided essential initial funding to build the first Maternity Hospital in Stretford. [6]

Dyeing is the application of dyes or pigments on textile materials such as fibers, yarns, and fabrics with the objective of achieving color with desired [[Color fastness Dyeing is normally done in a special solution containing dyes and particular chemical material. Dye molecules are fixed to the fibre by absorption, diffusion, or bonding with temperature and time being key controlling factors. The bond between dye molecule and fibre may be strong or weak, depending on the dye used. Dyeing and printing are different applications; in printing color is applied to a localized area with desired patterns and in dyeing it is applied to the entire textile.

The Federation of British Industries (FBI) was an employers' association in the United Kingdom.

Morada Limited is a textile company based in Altham, Lancashire. Morada specializes in curtains.


Party affiliation

Robinson was mostly identified with the Liberal Party, but was successful in Parliamentary politics through a Liberal-Conservative pact and stood under the title Independent Free Trade and Anti-Socialist. He was always identified by the Liberal Party as a representative of the party, even at the 1924 general election, when he chose to describe himself as a Constitutionalist. The Constitutionalist label was one used by a number of candidates; many were Liberals or ex-Liberals like Winston Churchill. The Constitutionalists did not function as a party but fielded candidates in 1924 in constituencies where local Conservative and Liberal Associations collaborated against socialism. [7] Many ended up in the Conservative Party, but Robinson preferred to continue to receive the Liberal whip up until the 1929 general election, when he stood formally as an Independent. [8]

1924 United Kingdom general election

The 1924 United Kingdom general election was held on Wednesday 29 October 1924, as a result of the defeat of the Labour minority government, led by Ramsay MacDonald, in the House of Commons on a motion of no confidence. It was the third general election to be held in less than two years.

Constitutionalist was a label used by some British politicians standing for parliament in the 1920s, instead of the more traditional party labels. The label was used primarily by former supporters of the David-Lloyd-George-led Coalition Government, and most notably by Winston Churchill. However, there was no party organization called the Constitutionalist Party.

Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during most of World War II

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was a member of the Liberal Party.

Local politics

Robinson started his political career in local government and administration. He was first elected to the Stretford Urban District Council in 1894. [9] He was later elected as Chairman of the Council. [10] He sat as Chairman of the Stretford Hundred Licensing Committee from 1916 to 1941 [9] and was Chairman of the Manchester Port Sanitary Committee after 1927. [11] In 1933, he became the first Mayor of Stretford when the borough gained its Charter of Incorporation. [12] He sat as mayor again in 1944–1945 and was also an Alderman. [13] In 1937 he was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Stretford. [14]

Municipal Borough of Stretford

Stretford was, from 1868 to 1974, a local government district coterminate with the town of Stretford, Lancashire, England.

In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town.

An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council member elected by voters.


Robinson entered Parliament at the 1918 general election when he was selected as Coalition Liberal candidate for his home Division of Stretford. That is to say, he was the candidate of the Coalition government of David Lloyd George and the Conservatives of Bonar Law, and as such he received the Coalition coupon. He won the seat by a large majority in a straight fight against Labour. [10]

Robinson held his seat at the 1922 general election, standing as a Lloyd George National Liberal, again in a straight fight with Labour. He held again against Labour, this time described solely as a Liberal, in 1923, and in another straight fight in 1924 he won Stretford for a fourth time, although this time standing as a Constitutionalist. [15] Although the Constitutionalists were included in the Unionist lists of Parliamentary candidates, [16] Robinson's victory at Stretford in 1924 was recorded as "no change" in The Times newspaper results from the election, rather than as a Constitutionalist or Unionist gain from the Liberals. [17] At the 1929 general election, Robinson described himself as an Independent, [18] saying he was not fighting on party lines. [19] He declined the Liberal whip in the following Parliament but was often still referred to in the press as a Liberal MP. [20] He did not stand for Parliament again.

Other appointments

Robinson was Chairman of the Local Legislation Committee of the House of Commons, 1922–1931, [21] Chairman of the Dye Stuff Licensing Committee from 1923 to 1934, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Stretford Corporation. He was a member of the Council of the Victoria University of Manchester and served as a member of the Lancashire Rivers Board and the Mersey and Irwell Catchment Board, being its first Chairman. He was a Justice of the Peace for the county of Lancashire. [9] In 1939 he was elected President of Lancashire County Cricket Club. [13]


Robinson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1919 New Year Honours. [22] He was knighted in the 1920 New Year Honours for public and Parliamentary services [23] and was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1934. [24]


He died suddenly at his home, The Hawthorns, Edge Lane, Stretford [13] on 30 December 1953 aged 89 years. [25]


  1. Birth certificate BXCA938837
  2. Birth certificate and censuses, 1871, 1881
  3. Marriage certificate MXF559294 and censuses 1891, 1901 and 1911
  4. P. F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p.57
  5. The Times, 26 March 1920, p.15
  6. British Medical Journal , 17 July 1926, p.134
  7. Chris Cook, Sources in British Political History 1900-1951, MacMillan, 1975, p.73
  8. F. W. S. Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results, 1919-1949, Political Reference Publications, Glasgow, 1949, p.406
  9. 1 2 3 Who's Who
  10. 1 2 The Times House of Commons, 1919, Politico's Publishing, 2004, p.57
  11. The Times House of Commons, 1929, Politico's Publishing, 2003 p.90
  12. The Times, 18 September 1933, p.9
  13. 1 2 3 The Times, 31 December 1953, p.8
  14. F. W. S Craig, p.406
  15. The Times, 16 October 1924, p.14
  16. The Times, 30 October 1924, p.6
  17. The Times House of Commons 1929, Politico's Publishing, 2003, p.90
  18. The Times, 7 May 1929, p.16
  19. The Times, 28 February 1930, p.14
  20. The Times, 24 February 1927, p.14
  21. "No. 31114". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 January 1919. p. 458.
  22. "No. 31712". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1919. p. 3.
  23. The Times, 4 June 1934, p.21

Related Research Articles


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harry Nuttall
Member of Parliament for Stretford
Succeeded by
Gustav Renwick