Late last year, the Melbourne Branch of the ASSLH lost one of its most energetic and revered members – its secretary John Arrowsmith. Here, Sydney Branch secretary, Barrie Blears, pays a personal tribute to John’s work on behalf of working people.
I first met John Arrowsmith in the 1950’s when he was working for the Communist Party as an organiser and was immediately struck by his great social interactive skills. Later, when he. was working in the Preston Tramway workshops, this was reinforced by his ability to introduce me to dozens of workers, naming their family members, various club memberships and their general interests – a very commendable attribute.
Together with his wife Meg, whom he married late in life, John worked on many social questions, Vietnam, trade unions, etc., and was well known for his trust in working people and his unshakeable belief in a more equitable and better Australian society.
In his younger days John was a champion ballroom dancer and did the rounds of various Melbourne suburban town halls and was always at ease in social situations. John and Meg were a spectacular couple, both on and ot the dance room floor.
For many years John was the Melbourne branch secretary of the ASSLH where he worked hard to convey to others the lessons of labour history.
He died on Tuesday II th November aged 84 and I was privileged to speak to him in hospital on the previous Saturday where he maintained his wit and convictions and faced death with impressive equanimity. Farewell John, you’ve done the working class tine service. All, including the ASSLH, will miss you.