Lt.Com ‘Bill’ Boaks

Lt Com Bill Boaks on his campaign bus

Lieutenant-Commander William ‘Bill’ George Boaks is one of that strange breed.

A true eccentric Englishman – not daft, not stupid but a man who followed his convictions in his own style.

He fought his first Parliamentary contest in 1951 when he stood for election for Walthamstow East .

He polled 174 out of 40,041 votes cast; in 1956 he tried his luck again but this time in Walthamstow West. His total votes cast – 89.

He fought a total of 30 By-Elections and 10 General Elections. He might have stood for more but each time he was required to put up a £150 deposit (as do all candidates) but never succeeded in capturing enough votes to avoid losing the deposit. He stood under the banner; ‘Public Safety Democratic Monarchist White Resident.’

His views were not as narrow as that name might appear as you are only allowed six words to describe your political association.

He was born in Walthamstow, North London on 25 May 1904 and educated at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

He joined the Royal Navy at 16 as a sixpence-a-day boy, second class, and rose trough the ranks in 30 years service. His duties ranged from flying training to submarine service, and he was awarded the DSC after his destroyer was sunk. He was a gunnery officer at the sinking of the Bismark.

He is pictured above in his ‘campaign bus’. It was actually a 140lb armoured bicycle hung with road safety and other posters that cleverly concealed an iron bedstead.

Road safety was central to his beliefs. He kept a pram loaded down with bricks which he would push on to pedestrian crossings in front of rapidly braking motorists.

It was a source of some interest to veterans of elections and electioneering as to why Bill Boaks continued his long running campaign, certain that he would be well down the list of candidates and invariably lose his deposit.

The following quotes may help to understand his motivation and his own Englishness.

“I have never bothered about votes. The thing that matters is to give people the chance to vote; it is a matter of complete indifference to me how they vote as long as they have a choice.”

“It is a democratic right not only to vote but to seek election and hang the expense.”

“I respect people’s independence so I rarely go to those constituencies in which I am standing to campaign.”

“I will not be standing in Croydon because the Communist menace doesn’t exist there.”

“Why White Resident? Because that’s what I am! Here’s a pound. Now find 149 more of those and stand as a ‘Black Immigrant’ candidate for what YOU believe in. If you don’t, who will?”

Sadly for one who dedicated his life to road safety he he was injured in a road accident in Wimbledon in November 1982. It slowed him down and in 1984 he was involved in another minor road accident whilst stepping off a bus. He died on 4th Aril 1986 as a result of complications from the head injury he received in that accident.

His widow June Boaks said: ” He loved the publicity, he loved what he was doing and he had many friends.”

This page and more in a similar vein comes from a collection in my eBook.  An echo from the Green Fields .

Many of the articles can be read on this site:

London Walk – Camden – Goodge Street to Brecknock Road
London Walk – Hampstead – a circular walk from Belsize Park
London Walk – Highgate – from the top of Highgate Hill, to the East End
London Walk – Two Markets and the Monument
Hertford – a brief tour of the county town of Hertfordshire
Folly Island, an island in the middle of Hertford
A short history of brewing in HertfordThe origins of the Easter holiday
The eccentric clergy of Hertfordshire
Braughing – sausages, Old Mans Day and wheelbarrows
Katherine Ferrers – the Wicked Lady
The Old Bedford Music Hall – George Robey – Prime Minister of Mirth
Round the Horne – an iconic 1960’s BBC Radio show
Flanders & Swann – Sir Alec Guinness – Leslie Welch, the Memory Man
Henry Andrews and Old Moore’s Almanac
George Bradshaw and Bradshaw Railway Guides and Timetables
Thomas Clarkson and the abolition of slavery
Charles Macintosh and the invention of the waterproof mac
Jerome K Jerome author of Three Men in a Boat
St BrunoRobert Tressell and The Ragged Trousered Philantropists
Lt. Commander William ‘Bill’ BoaksScreaming Lord Sutch
‘Professor’ Patrick CullenJoseph Pujol, Le Petomane