Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Tributes to ‘shipyard saviour’ Tony Benn

12:37 14 March 2014

Tony Benn.

Tony Benn.


People in North Devon reflect on Appledore Shipyard’s staunch supporter following the well known politician’s death today (Friday, March 14) aged 88.

Tony Benn, with trademark pipe, is pictured during a 2006 visit to speak at Pilton Community College, joined by local councillors of the time Brian Cotton and Tony Cooper plus former North Devon Labour parliamentary candidate Peter James.Tony Benn, with trademark pipe, is pictured during a 2006 visit to speak at Pilton Community College, joined by local councillors of the time Brian Cotton and Tony Cooper plus former North Devon Labour parliamentary candidate Peter James.

WORKERS and businesses in North Devon ‘owe a big debt’ to charismatic politician and statesman Tony Benn, who has died today (Friday) aged 88.

Many still see him as the saviour of Appledore Shipyard and hundreds of local jobs in the 1970s when as minister of trade and industry he ensured it became the first yard to be nationalised.

Mr Benn passed away at his home in west London early this morning, with his family at his side.

The former Labour cabinet minister served as an MP for 50 years and was a regular visitor to North Devon and brought his one-man show to the region, as well as various appearances including Appledore Book Festival.

In 1974 the company running the shipyard went into liquidation and the future looked bleak, but many credit Mr Benn with saving it and in 2003 although no longer in government, he campaigned again to support a sit in when the yard was threatened with receivership.

“I would like to say how sorry I am to learn of the passing of Tony, probably more principled than any other MP I have had to deal with and the most approachable,” said Dick Matthews from Torrington, who was union convener at Appledore Shipyard.

“Tony has been a big player in the shipyard since the 1970s – I would say everybody who worked there and the local businesses have a lot to owe to that big man.

“As the minister of the department of trade and industry he came down and addressed the whole work force. Then 10 years ago the yard staged a sit in, which he supported. He came down to North Devon and did a free show at The Plough to raise money.”

Tony Benn did not stand for Parliament in 2001, but continued in politics as an activist, speaker and campaigner. He was a leading voice against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mike creek, secretary of Ilfracombe and District Trades Council, said Mr Benn had been a true ‘working class hero’.

“He was a great politicians and a great debater in Parliament - I put him in the same breath as Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, and that’s saying something,” he said.

“We have lost two Labour and trade union stalwarts in the last week, with Bob Crow going as well.”


Other News Stories

Santas will gather in Bideford for Children's Hospice South West

Children’s Hospice South West event is on Sunday, December 6

Read more
Petroc's brand new engineering department.

Official opening ceremony at Petroc will be a chance to come and visit the brand new engineering centre.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:00
Is the row over dogs back at Instow beach?

Parish Council meeting on Thursday, October 15 to review the situation

Read more
Yesterday, 13:40
Residents protest against the plans at the site in March. Picture: Jim Bell

Benefits outweigh the harm, says Government inspector

Read more
Yesterday, 11:37
Get your chickens an Eglu and help raise money for the British Hen Welfare Trust today (Friday).

Support for British Hen Welfare Trust from the Omlet Eglu

Read more
Yesterday, 10:33
Police are trying to track the car in this picture

The owner of a blue Nissan Almeira could have vital information on collision that killed Natalie Jones, say police

Read more
Yesterday, 09:23
John Balls with Clovelly caught lobsters.

Lobster fisherman has reached a landmark in his bid to help conservation at Clovelly

Read more
Yesterday, 09:16

September saw a 4.9 per cent increase in crime in Barnstaple on the same period last year.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:14
Portmore's Colin and Mandy Webber presented the cheque to representatives of the club's chosen charities

Five local charities are to benefit from another year of fundraising at Portmore Golf Club.

Read more

Local Weather



max temp: 14°C

min temp: 11°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Search for a job in Devon

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications