This page is about grandparents Joseph and Alice Bissell.
Joseph Bissell was born on the 7th Feb 1903 in Wortley. He was the only son of Charles William Henry Bissell and Mary Hannah Bissell. He had two sisters, Ivy and Doris. In the 1911 census they are shown as living at 10 Barras Garth Place, Upper Wortley.
Alice Bissell (nee Dacre)
Alice Dacre was born on the 13th March 1904 in Bramley. She was the daughter of Walter and Mary Hannah Dacre. Alice had a brother Cyril and a sister Mary Hannah. Sadly Mary Hannah died when just a baby. In the 1911 census they are shown as living at 17, Winchester Mount, Armley.
Joseph and Alice married on 11 Aug 1926 at the Wesleyan Chapel, New Wortley. They had six children. On the marriage certificate, Joseph gives his occupation as Tailor’s Manager and Alice gives her occupation as a Tailoress.
Joseph worked for Fifty Shilling Tailors where his main responsibility was to go to different parts of the country to set up new stores.
Fifty Shilling Tailors was a British chain of shops selling men’s clothes. It was founded in Leeds in 1905 by Henry Price and the chain expanded to over 400 stores across the country. In 1958 the company was sold to UDS, which renamed it John Collier.
In 1933, they moved from Leeds to Edinburgh. The photograph of Joseph above was dated 6 July 1934 and had the address 61 Pilton Place, Granton, Edinburgh written on the back, so this is probably where they lived in Edinburgh.
They moved to Stockton on Tees sometime before 1937. The 1939 Register shows they lived at 37 Windermere Road in Stockton on Tees.
In 1940, they moved back to Leeds. Joseph was then appointed Yorkshire District Organising Secretary for the Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen and Clerks (NAUSAWC), which later became USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers).
He was elected to Leeds City Council as a Labour councillor in 1944, but had to resign in 1946 because his union decided he wasn’t allowed to do both jobs. The following is a transcript of a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Leeds Man Asked To Choose
Mr Joseph Bissell, a Socialist councillor for Armley and New Wortley Ward today refused to discuss his possible resignation from Leeds City Council.
He is West Riding area organiser for the National Amalgamated Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen and Clerks. He has been asked to resign either from the service of the union or from the City Council. ‘It is purely a domestic matter’, he replied today, when asked if he could clarify the position. It was pointed out to me in Labour party and trade union circles that it is not unusual for trade union officials to serve on a council. The National Executive of the union for which Mr Bissell is an area organiser has approved the following minute however:
‘The general secretary reported that Mr Bissell had accepted nomination for the municipal elections in Leeds and had been elected. Correspondence between the general secretary, the divisional officer and Mr Bissell was read at the meeting. After considerable discussion it was moved and seconded that Mr Bissell be asked to resign from the Council or tender his resignation from the service of the union. The resolution was then carried unanimously.’
The matter will be discussed at the annual meeting of the union at Cardiff next Easter. Mr Bissell was near the top of the poll in Armley and New Wortley Ward at the last November elections. He is 43. For three years he was a member of the Reading Town Council and later of Stockton-on-Tees Town Council. He secured his trade union appointment in Yorkshire in 1940. He has taken great interest in the Yorkshire Council for Further Education. There are at least nine trade union officials serving on Leeds City Council.
The report mentions him serving on Reading Town Council, but I have not been able to verify this, so I think that is a mistake. Perhaps he served on the Edinburgh council and the reporter mis-heard and thought it was the Reading Borough Council. He did stand again a number of years later and was re-elected to Leeds Council in November 1953. He received 2678 votes compared to the Conservative candidate who received 2002 votes. He served on the council for 15 years before he eventually lost his seat in 1968.
In 1950, Alice was one of three women who were appointed as Justices of the Peace for Leeds. It says that at that time Alice was Women’s Secretary for the West Leeds Labour Party.
Joseph died of a heart attack on 30th June 1981 aged 78. Alice died on the 5th September 1979 of pneumonia and dementia.