Harry Leslie Smith blue plaque plan in Halifax a step closer

Social democratic campaigner Harry Leslie Smith
Social democratic campaigner Harry Leslie Smith

A proposal from Labour councillors to put up a blue heritage plaque to mark social democratic campaigner Harry Leslie Smith’s years in Halifax is a step closer to being realised.

The veteran social justice campaigner was 95, grew up in South and West Yorkshire and began writing in his later years, following the death of his wife Frieda.

READ MORE: Harry Leslie Smith: Activist and World War Two veteran who grew up in Calderdale dies at 95
He wrote columns for UK publications including the Daily Mirror, Guardian, New Statesman and Morning Star.

The Barnsley-born Royal Air Force veteran divided his time between Canada, where he passed away and to which he and Frieda had emigrated to in the 1950s, and Yorkshire, where he remained proud of his roots.

As well as publishing his autobiography Harry’s last Stand about his Yorkshire upbringing he used a variation of the title as his @harryslaststand Twitter handle and had 221,000 followers on his account, gaining him an international reputation.

READ MORE: Harry Leslie Smith blue plaque proposal for his childhood home in Halifax
Before his passing one of his sons had hoped a plaque might be placed on one of the homes he grew up in, including pre-second world war years spent in Halifax.

Calderdale Labour Party members have taken up the idea and Coun Adam Wilkinson (Sowerby Bridge) said things had moved a step closer as they had now been able to identify Mr Smith’s former home at Boothtown Road in Boothtown, Halifax.

Councillors are now contacting Halifax Civic Trust, who are responsible for a number of other blue plaques around Calderdale.

Planners have checked the home is not listed to putting up a plaque would not be problematic from that point of view, he said.

Coun Wilkinson said: “Harry’s official twitter account run by his son has retweeted me and followed me back now, so he is aware that we are trying to make it happen – he has said ‘this would be brilliant’.”

Mr Smith gave his support to the left to the 2015 General Election and involved in the 2016 EU Referendum campaigns, particularly being a staunch supporter of the National Health Service.

Following a speech to the 2014 Labour conference he was back in Calderdale for the 2015 General Election where he met activists and backed Josh Fenton-Glynn’s unsuccessful bid to win the Calder Valley seat that year.

He has also revisited Halifax, where he lived from 1937 to the early 1940s, in recent years

Councillor Wilkinson said Mr Smith had been an inspirational figure, views echoed by the council’s Labour leader Tim Swift (Town) and Cabinet member Susan Press (Todmorden).