Day will mark the work of a social reformer who fought for housing for the working class


“Herbert Payne Day” will celebrate the work of a man who stood up for the town’s working class

The pioneering work of a Banbury Councillor who fought for early social housing in the town is set to be marked tomorrow (Saturday).

Herbert Payne was an Independent Labour Party Councillor in the days before the Labour Party as we know it.    He served on Banbury Borough Council between 1906 and 1917.

He was known as the Cow Fair Roarer, the Cow Fair being the area where Banbury Town Hall stands.   Payne wasn’t afraid to stand up for the town’s working class – a difficult battle at the time when all but one of the other borough councillors were from the Conservative or Liberal parties.

Banbury Cow Fair

One of Payne’s first successes came in 1907 when he gained agreement for an improvement in the wages of the borough’s workmen.

He talked consistently in the Council about the need to improve and increase the supply of housing, from the Council’s own resources.   This was almost unheard of at the time, but his persistence paid off as 40 homes were built on Kings Road.   These were let from 1913 with a rent of 5 shillings and 3 pence (28 pence) for a three bedroom house and 4 shillings and 3 pence (23 pence) for the two bedroom houses.

“Herbert Payne Day” tomorrow will be a celebration of the man and his achievements.   At 11.00am  people are invited to join members of the North Oxfordshire Socialist Alliance at the Town Hall to hear a short speech about him.   The group will then move to the Southam Road cemetery where he is buried.   A final stop will be made in Kings Road to celebrate his greatest achievement –  the 1913 council houses.

The walk will be conducted by Steve Kilsby, who leads “History Walks” in the town.

Mr Kilsby said: “Oh, that we had an Herbert Payne now! He was a pacifist, reformer, passionate speaker, conscientious objector – and cutlery salesman.

“He had fire and energy and he pushed a complacent Banbury Borough Council into providing first class housing for working people in the teeth of resistance and obstinacy.

“We are celebrating him, as he is Banbury’s forgotten working class hero!”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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