Thursday, 20 January 2011

Liberal MP heckled by Southport vicar.......

Gladstone spoke in Southport on at least three occasions. Michael Braham points out in his History of Southport Liberals that the town was (relatively) close to his home at Harwarden and closer still to his family home in Seaforth which is now part of  Sefton Borough.

It was on the first of those speaking occasions (19th December 1867) that he encountered Benjamin Clarke Vicar of Christ Church. I'm not quite sure what it was that upset the Lord St cleric. The Southport Visiter says the meeting was: 'densely crowded by a most respectable assembly. Gladstone's speech dealt chiefly with the arguments for the secret ballot designed to end intimidation of electors. The goal was finally achieved in the 1872 Ballot Act He also spoke about disestablishing the Irish church and this may well have been what annoyed the Anglican clergyman.

On the platform was Birkdale man Holbrook Gaskell  the first chair of the Southport Unitarian chapel which in situated in Portland St close by what was then the Music Hall . I was walking down Portland St the other day when I noticed that No 41 was for sale and that, if my memory serves me correctly, was the address of the grade 2 listed building called the Music Hall. (If I'm correct then I must say the attic window in the front elevation doesn't look to be appropriate. But more than likely I have the wrong building!)

My parian bust of Gladstone dates from the same period as his first speaking engagement in Southport 

Historical research by Michael Braham his history of Southport Liberal can be downloaded here 

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