Sir Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was elected as Epping Division’s MP in 1924, which incorporated both areas, and served Woodford Division from 1937.

Prior to this his career was in decline. Churchill had been a Liberal MP for more than 20 years and had held five cabinet posts, however the public’s opinion of him had been damaged by events such as the disastrous First World War campaign in Dardanelles, Turkey, which happened under his watch as First Lord of the Admiralty.

In 1924, Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin agreed that Winston Churchill, who had broken with the Liberals, could stand as an Independent Constitutionalist in Epping, with Conservative support.

Winston Churchill was helped by Woodford Urban District Council’s chairman Alfred James Hawkey, the namesake of Sir James Hawkey Hall, in Broomhill Road, Woodford Green,  and won the seat with 19,843 votes.  This Conservative victory led to him being appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer.   The politician’s representation of the Woodford area remained a constant through the highs and lows of his career for the next 40 years.

In May 1936, he spoke in approval of the Wanstead and Woodford District Council’s application to become a borough..

He was elected as Prime Minister in 1940 and in his new role as wartime Prime Minister Churchill was unable to visit his constituency but his wife Clementine did.  Clementine Churchill would report back to her husband on the efforts and concerns of his constituents.

At the request of Churchill,  Churchill Week took place in  Woodford which made thousands of pounds for the war effort, and a further fundraiser for the war effort namely Churchill Tank Week also took place in Woodford resulting in a collection of £265,108 being raised which was the cost of 13 tanks, the original target had been £100,000.

The constituency took part in national Salute the Soldier Week in 1944, as the Allies’ momentum increased. Wanstead and Woodford joined in with five other districts.

Following the end of the war, a general election was held and Churchill lost to Clement Atlee who was the MP for Walthamstow West.  Winston Churchill was however re-elected again from 1951 until 1955, when he resigned, due to ill health.  However he continued to serve his constituency until 1964 – when he was 89.

Unveiling of Winston Churchill's statue

Did you know...
  1. Winston Churchill was born on 30/11/1874 at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire to Tory politician, Lord Randolph Churchill and American-born beauty Jeanette Jerome.
  2. Churchill’s parents led a glamorous life in high society but neglected their children and as a result, Winston was brought up by his nanny, Mrs Elizabeth Ann Everest. He loved his Nanny. He and younger brother Jack were sent to boarding schools at the age of 8 years of age.
  3. Churchill was not good at school work and he used to get punished a lot with the cane. He hated school apart from one subject, English which he really loved. He later became a writer and won a Nobel Prize for his writing.
  4. He was sent to secondary school in 1888, where he was bullied because he had a stutter and a lisp. He also had bright red hair and was mocked and given the nick name Copperknobb”.
  5. He got into trouble a lot and had three serious accidents as a child. The worse one was in 1892 when aged 18 he almost killed himself by jumping from a bridge to a tree while being chased by his cousin and his brother. He missed the tree and fell 9m. He was unconscious for three days and couldn’t walk for almost two months.
  6. He left Harrow School in 1893 with poor to average academic results and applied to attend the Royal Military College, in Sandhurst. But the future Prime Minister of England struggled with the entrance exam and had to take it three times before eventually passing in 1893!
  7. Churchill later became a war reporter in the Boer War in 1899 and while doing this he was captured as a prisoner of war. He was captured after the armoured train he was travelling on in South Africa was stormed by Boer soldiers. He threw himself to safety in a ditch by the side of the track after the train collided with a boulder on the track and reached for his pistol only to realise it was on the damaged train carriage. Defenceless, he surrendered.
  8. Churchill was marched to a prison camp, which he soon escaped from by scaling a wall in the dead of night. He marched and stole rides on goods trains and travelled some 300miles from the prison to the capital of Mozambique. During his escape he had to hide in a mine shaft for three days.
  9. Churchill did not agree with Votes for women.
  10. Churchill was personally involved in the development of the tank – which was first used in battle by the British army on September 15 1916.
  11. One of the first times OMG was used was in a letter to Churchill – Admiral John Arbuthnot “Jacky” Fisher penned the correspondence in 1917. Writing: “O.M.G (Oh! My! God!)– Shower it on the Admiralty!”
  12. Churchill was elected as Epping Division’s MP in 1924, which incorporated both areas, and served Woodford Division from 1937.
  13. Winston Churchill, claimed to have witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s ghost walking the corridors of the White House.
  14. At the outbreak of the Second World War on September 3 1939, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of the War Cabinet
  15. Churchill became Prime Minister on 10 May 1940 – the same day Hitler invaded France and the Low Countries in WWII. He was 65-years-old when he took office. In his new role as wartime PM, Churchill was unable to visit Woodford but his wife Clementine did. Chigwell held a War Weapons Week in June 1941, with Churchill as the president, and it raised more than £900,000 (£38,860,720.00) Later events, including a Churchill Week in Woodford, made thousands more for the war effort. A Churchill Tank Week collected £265,108; (£11,446,990.00) the cost of 13 tanks. In a message to Hawkey, printed in Mr Thomas’ book, Churchill urged the public to dig deep. He added: “The loyal support of my constituents has meant much to me throughout these years.”
  16. He really believed in the air force and the power of the air force (despite the fact that it was still a quite a new addition to the fighting forces in WWII. He had a deep admiration and pride for the young men some as young as 17 who were pilots in the airforce and flew the spitfires, hawkers and thunderbolts etc. He gave one of his most famous speeches entitled “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” – despite many believing at the time that victory against the advancing Nazi army would be impossible.
  17. Sir Winston Churchill was an incredibly emotional man. He would often breakdown into sobs during meeting when he was given bad news and in many of his broadcast speeches he can be heard holding back tears.
  18. When Prime Minister Churchill visited the White House just before Christmas in 1941 he made quite an impact on staff Chief Usher J.B. West who recalled, “We got used to his ‘jumpsuit,’ the extraordinary one-piece uniform he wore every day, (his onesie).
  19. After it was announced that the Second World War was over, Churchill shouted to a huge crowd gathered in Whitehall: “This is your victory.” to which the mass of people shouted back: “No, it is yours”. Sir Winston Churchill then conducted them in the singing of “Land of Hope and Glory”.
  20. He didn’t win the election in 1945 and returned frequently visiting Woodford and his constituents until he was re-elected in the 1951 election.

We are very lucky that Anthony  who has a long association with the Churchill family and the Young Conservatives in the 1960s has kindly granted us access to various letters and articles regarding Winston Churchill’s 1955 Election address, his resignation as an MP for Wanstead and Woodford, a copy of the Memorial Service at St Mary’s Church following Churchill’s death and various letters and a Christmas card.