RIP Peter E Newell

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Joined: 20-04-08
Mar 10 2016 07:55
RIP Peter E Newell

We are sorry to report the passing away of Comrade Peter E. Newell. He was a member of East Anglia branch of the SPGB and wrote a variety of books including;

Zapata of Mexico first published by Freedom Press and then Black Rose

Symond, Newell and Kett's Rebellion: Norfolk's Great Revolt against Enclosures, 1549 (2007)

The Impossibilists: A Brief Profile of the Socialist Party of Canada (2008)

America's Secret Island (2015)

Some of his articles have been placed them on the internet for posterity

A fuller obituary will be forthcoming in the Socialist Standard

whirlwind's picture
Joined: 23-05-15
Mar 10 2016 08:31

Not to mention his book on stamp collecting: Stamps of Alderney: An illustrated priced guide and handbook.

Rest in power brother.

Joined: 27-02-06
Mar 10 2016 15:19

Sorry to hear that. I knew him when he had left the SPGB for a while and was a member of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists and then the Anarchist Workers Association, (he later returned to the SPGB) He contributed articles to the ORA paper Libertarian Struggle and an article on From primitive to libertarian communism appeared in the ORA theoretical mag, Libertarian Communist Review

Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 10 2016 15:51

Oh wow. I remember his writings and participation from years ago, mainly the 1970s
Definitely a name from my younger years.

Didn't know he was SPGB. He used to publish in Freedom also if I remember correctly

Regardless, sorry to hear of his passing

Entdinglichung's picture
Joined: 2-07-08
Mar 10 2016 15:55

sad ... moege die Erde dir leicht sein, Peter!

Joined: 27-02-06
Mar 10 2016 15:59

Yes he wrote quite a lot for Freedom too.

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
Mar 10 2016 20:02

Hi, yes I think I know his name from Freedom articles, I believe he contributed while I was editor. Very sorry to hear this, and condolences to those who knew him personally

Joined: 27-02-06
Mar 14 2016 16:36

Peter E Newell left school at 17 years of age without any qualifications. He has been a draughtsman, a postman, a trade union journalist and official, a sewage worker and a local government officer. He retired from Colchester Borough Council in 1995.
Here's his article on Durruti

whichfinder's picture
Joined: 9-04-10
Mar 15 2016 11:29

Peter’s funeral is at Colchester Crematorium, Mersea Road, Colchester CO2 8RU (01206-282950) on Tuesday 22nd March at 10.15am.

sheer plod
Joined: 15-04-16
Apr 16 2016 22:56

I remember Peter Newell's countless articles in Freedom, the anarchist fortnightly paper, in the 1960s and 1970s. I subscribed to that paper from 1961 to 2013. I never met him, and I had no idea that, like me, he lived in Colchester. His articles were always on major themes of universal interest.
Anyway, I went to his funeral, hoping to learn more about his life. There was a good turnout, mainly of his former work colleagues, and members of the local trad jazz club, of which Peter had been a member. The address was given by his friend Dave, who had known him for 50 years, but who seemed to know little or nothing about Peter's politics, beyond the bare fact that he had written several books. He knew that Peter had switched from collecting Russian stamps to collecting those of Alderney. The service included music by Louis Armstrong (What a wonderful world) and Acker Bilk (Petite Fleur).
Afterwards, I mentioned to Dave that Peter's book on "a Mexican bandit" was in fact about a revolutionary leader (Emiliano Zapata) of comparable importance to Che Guevara. Dave was surprised, but pleased that someone had turned up who had read Peter's articles long ago.
Peter Newell died suddenly, at the age of 90.

Auld-bod's picture
Joined: 9-07-11
Apr 17 2016 07:15

Sheer plod #10

I’m glad to say you were not alone. There were several SPGB’s at the funeral, who were familiar with his political work. I gave a lift to one of their number, an elderly gent, who himself was a well-known anarchist back in the day.

I have a hazy recollection of Peter when we were in the ORA, and met him twice in the last two years. Though frail he was bright and talkative. He had just completed a new book. At the end of the evening he informed us he was off to the jazz club! I feel he had a life well lived.

sheer plod
Joined: 15-04-16
Apr 17 2016 20:32

Auld-bod #11

Good to know that there were several SPGB members present, and yourself, whom I take to be an anarchist. Also good to know Peter was still an active member of the jazz club near the end of his life. It was clear from Dave's address that he was well loved by his friends and had enjoyed his life. This is a good lesson for us all.
A friend wrote to me this morning:
"I knew Peter roughly during 1970-73. He was then a self avowed anarchist and wrote for the paper Freedom. I remember an article or pamphlet by him called 'Freedom – why not?' This was a time of intense ideological competition among left groups and he gave me a signed copy of 'ABC of Anarchism' by Alexander Berkman. He lived on his own in Bell Close, Colchester (next to Old Heath garage) where I visited him once. He never spoke of his personal life, family etc, but at length about the Mexican revolution which he wrote a book about. The walls were lined with books and he was very knowledgable about the political history of different countries. He was self taught, I don't think he ever went to university. I am surprised he joined the SPGB, hardly bedfellows of anarchism."

Joined: 20-08-14
Apr 18 2016 20:55

You shouldn't be surprised he was an anarchist and then joined the SPGB. Look closely and, if you're an anarchist who wants to abolish the capitalist system, you'll see striking similarities.

Joined: 26-03-06
May 1 2016 00:46

Peter had two periods of membership of the SPGB. He was a member from the 50s to the early 60s, and he then rejoined the SPGB in the early 90s. He was writing regularly in the Socialist Standard in the 50s and he wrote for that journal again when he rejoined.

Some of his articles from both periods of his membership are collected on a blog, which is given over to putting old Socialist Standard articles on the net for the first time:

Peter E. Newell articles

Edited to amend the date of Peter's early membership of the SPGB.

Joined: 20-04-08
Apr 30 2016 23:45

Socialist Standard obituary

Joined: 6-01-07
May 1 2016 10:11

And illustrates that individual comrades often move around between political groups in our small milieu influenced perhaps by a mix of the personal and political as well as other 'external' factors including geographical location of groups and their levels of activity and the changing intensity of class struggle.