Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1890 & 99

George Evans (1842 - 1893)

George Evans was one of Salford's first Socialists and became prominent during the Salford gas works strikes in 1888/9.


George, the son of a carpet weaver, was born in Kidderminster in 1842. He started work in the carpet factory in 1851, when he was 9. When his father lost his job due to a wage dispute, the family moved to Scotland and George became a domestic servant. Later he moved to Liverpool, Birkenhead and then by 1880 to Carlisle, where he was a house painter. He finally settled in Hulme, Manchester in 1885 at the age of 43. By this time he was married and had five children. The 1891 census records the family lived at Ellesmere Street, Hulme. George was a Painter, aged 47 (born 1844 in Kidderminster); his wife Bessie was aged 40 (born 1851 in Gibraltar); son George was a Paviour's Apprentice, aged 16 (born 1875 in Manchester); daughter Mary Ann was aged 13 (born 1878 in Birkenhead); and daughter Emma was aged 10 (born 1881 in Langholm, Scotland).


It was in 1885 that George had his first contact with Socialism, when he attended an open-air meeting near Trafford Bridge. He became a member of the Social Democratic Federation and in 1892, with the formation of the Independent Labour Party, he became Treasurer of the Manchester and Salford Branch.


There had been concerns about corruption at Salford Gas Works for some years and finally the manager Mr Hunter was dismissed in 1888. The new manager Mr Shonbridge decided that the men must burn 5 ton 2 cwt of coal per day instead of 2 ton 5 cwt, or face dismissal. George organised a strike and won. However, Mr Shonbridge decided to sack some of the men who had worked there for many years and another strike ensued. The strike was led by George Evans again and the men were re-instated. In September 1889, George formed the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers. The management urged the workers not to join, and the new union pressed for a "closed shop". This led to another dispute, but by Christmas 1889, the strike collapsed and the union members were sacked. George Evans returned to house painting.


George Evans was a very active Socialist in Salford and in 1890, he and his comrades pressed the Council to apply the Dwellings Act. By November that year the Council had started a programme of slum clearance. He also organised to allow working people to have a greater voice in municipal affairs and urged them to stand for election to the Boards of Guardians, School Board and Council.


For some time, George had suffered from an internal illness and in November 1892 he became seriously ill. After three weeks convalescence in Southport he returned to house painting. However, he fell ill again and died on 2nd April 1893. He was interred in grave 37/DISS/425 at Weaste Cemetery which was attended by some 750 people. The Salford Reporter records "By the death of Mr George Evans, the stormy sea of Salford politics loses one of its most ardent workers".