Letters / Who can help with information of those elusive socialists?

I would very much like to get some information about five Shetland socialists of the 1920s and 1930s. They are:

1. Joseph (Joe) Coghill, who was an active member of the Shetland Book Club in Lerwick in the mid-30s. He was born at 49 Burgh Road in 1909, married in Buckie in 1934 and died in Lerwick in 1982, a retired publican. His elder brother Laurence (1907-2004), also at 49 Burgh Road, nominated a couple of prospective Labour councillors in 1937-8.

2. Robert (Bob) Mann, who was vice-chairman of the Book Club in 1934, and vice-president of the Lerwick Workmen’s Club in 1936. He was born in Quendale Lane in 1910, married in Aberdeen in 1942 and died there in 1971.

3. Laurence (Larry) Simpson, who joined the short-lived branch of the Communist Party formed in Lerwick in 1939. He seems to have gone to Glasgow soon afterwards. Was he the Laurence Simpson who was born at Chromate Lane in 1911, married in Lerwick in 1935, and died at Shieldhall, Kilmacolm, Glasgow, in 1994?


4. My fourth and fifth socialists are more elusive. In the early 1920s Jim Sandison was a member of the Lerwick Economics Club, who met for three years upstairs at 5 Commercial Road. At one point he and Magnus L. Manson debated the relative merits of revolution and evolution there. I think he might be the James C. Sandison who contributed a short story to the last New Shetlander under Peter Jamieson’s editorship in 1956. In that case he may be James Christopher Sandison, born in Hillswick in 1892, living in Lerwick by about 1916, who died in 1982. His normal address when he died was Bruce Crescent, but he died in the Royal Infirmary in Stirling, perhaps because his daughter Frances lived at Bannockburn. James is buried in Lerwick.

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5. Edward Aphonsus Reid was born in the Gorbals in 1909, and married Alice Bruce in Lerwick in 1939. At that time he was a bricklayer on the new council houses at Lochside, and organised a strike there. He stood as a workers’ candidate in the Lerwick Town Council election in November 1946 (he got 482 votes). But where did he die?

If anyone can give me any information about these five, I would be very grateful. My main interest is in their politics, but anything about their careers would be most welcome.

Brian Smith
07775 915 896

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