Politics, protest and class feature in Beeston’s working class account. Village politics seem prevalent in his autobiography, where they have a parish council that deals with the decisions in the village.
The village held a feast (Uley feast) once a year, every September which was a great community get together. In 1916 when the war was on, the parish council made the decision to ban the fair, as they feared the flashing lights on the stalls would attract the attention of Zeppelins.
The decision to ban the feast was not a popular one. For these working class people in Uley village, they worked hard every day of the year, and the feast was the one thing they looked forward to each year. When the parish council announced the decision, the villagers of Uley (including Beeston) set out on a march around Uley, banging metal pans and trays together to make as much noise as they could. After parading through the village, they ended up on the village green, where the police allowed the protest to go on.
Beeston even remembers a song that was sang that night under a large tree on the green, where the whole community joined in. This shows how important protesting was in his village, that they felt that they could achieve more when everyone joined in. This protest lasted until about one o’clock in the morning. Despite all this effort though, the parish council still decided that the feast was to stay banned, a decision that lasted for several years, much to the dismay of the community.
This account shows how important it was for people to use protest to try and change the politics, even in a small industrial village like Uley. The fact that it is a parish council as well shows us that the church and parish were very much involved in the politics, although Beeston himself was only a child at the time, he was still very much a part of the protest, being involved in the march and the singing, and agreed with what was being protested about.
This is the only mention of any protests during Beeston’s time in Uley, as it was a very sleepy and quite village where people were set in their ways, not open to new challenges, therefore not much changed during Beeston’s time in the village from around 1907 until 1930.
This can be seen as a working class protest, as the community gathered together for something special to them, something they would spend their money on once a year, unlike the middle classes who had more opportunity’s to get together for leisure. Despite this being unsuccessful for the villagers, it re-enforced the strong bond of the community. As working class communities stuck together more than middle classes as they had to rely on each other more, when they needed help.
Beeston, Reg, ‘Some of my memories of and about Uley until about 1930, Brunel University Library, vol no. 2:56