Topics > People in History > William Reid Blyton (1899 - 1987)

William Reid Blyton (1899 - 1987)

William Reid Blyton (2 May 1899 – 25 October 1987) from South Shields was Member of Parliament for Houghton-le-Spring from 1945 to 1964, and later a life peer. He was born in the Tyne Dock area of South Shields and attended Holy Trinity Primary School and Dean Road Secondary Modern. Blyton worked at Harton Colliery for 32 years and was an active trade unionist and later chairman of the local Labour Party. From the 1930's he lived in the Biddick Hall area of South Shields and was an active member of Simonside Social Club. He was made a Freeman of South Shields in 1950.

William Reid Blyton, Baron Blyton (2 May 1899 – 25 October 1987) was a British Labour Party politician who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Houghton-le-Spring in County Durham from 1945 to 1964.

Early life

Born in Bowman Street, in the Tyne Dock area of South Shields, Tyne & Wear (then in County Durham), he attended Holy Trinity Primary School and Dean Road Secondary Modern.

Blyton married Jennie Ord at Holy Trinity Church in South Shields on 26 December 1919 and they had three daughters - Jennie, Marion and Rita.

On leaving school, he began an apprenticeship at Harton Colliery, where he worked for the next 32 years. Blyton represented Harton Miners Lodge and was also chairman of the local Labour Party. He remained a great trade union man throughout his life, becoming a member of the National Union of Mineworkers, and served as a member of South Shields Town Council, chairing its education and electricity committees.

During Second World War, he served in the submarine service.

Political career

Blyton was elected Member of Parliament for Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham, at the 1945 general election, serving until 1964.

When MPs were discussing the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act, he successfully fought to have dominoes and Fives and Threes legally recognised as games of skill, rather than chance, saying: "5s and 3s takes a great deal more skill, if one wants to win, than chess – that monotonous game which I see played in the smoke room so often. It also requires more skill than playing draughts, in trying to think what the next moves will be."

He was created a life peer as Baron Blyton, of South Shields in the County of Durham, by Harold Wilson on 16 December 1964. When approached by the College of Arms about commissioning a coat of arms, he asked if he could have a pint of brown ale quartered with a greyhound rampant, crossed darts and a miner's lamp. On being informed that he could not, he cheerfully retorted that he would keep his £300 then.

In a debate in the House of Lords in 1965, responding to a statement by Lord Stonham, he made clear his views on the Conservative Party, saying: "My Lords, does my noble friend not recognise that the Conservative Party, both here and in another place, are very thin-skinned? Does he appreciate that my noble friend Lord Stonham's words this weekend are not incomparable with what Sir Winston Churchill said about the Conservative Party? He said: 'The Conservative Party is not a party but a conspiracy … the great vested interests handed together in a formidable federation; corruption at home, aggression to cover it up abroad, the trickery of tariff juggles, the tyranny of a party machine, sentiment by the bucketful, patriotism by the imperial pint, the open hand at the public Exchequer. The open door at the public house, dear food for the million, cheap labour for the millionaire … the Conservative Party is nothing less than a deliberate attempt on the part of important sections of the propertied classes to transfer their burdens to the shoulders of the masses of the people and to claim greater profits for the investment of their capital by charging higher prices. My noble friend's words are no worse than the words of Sir Winston Churchill, whom we all revered."

Today, he would have been viewed as a eurosceptic. In 1972, as the United Kingdom prepared to join the European Union, he said: "The stark proposal... is to hand over power to legislate for, govern and tax British people in perpetuity to bodies outside this country.... This Treaty takes away the sovereignty of Britain."

In a debate on the Loch Ness Monster, he said: "My lords, is my noble friend aware that it will be an act of sacrilege to take away from the Scottish Tourist Board the myth of the monster of Loch Ness by which they get many gullible tourists every year?"

He was the Chairman of the Governors at South Shields Grammar Technical School for Boys[].

A primary school in South Shields is named after him. He was made a Freeman of the town of South Shields in 1950.

Later life

He lived in later life in the Biddick Hall area of the town, where he moved with his family in the 1930s. He was famed for his jovial and approachable personality and is claimed to have displayed none of the self-importance often associated with successful politicians. He was an active member of Simonside Social Club, where he was nicknamed "Baron Billy".

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 29/04/2018).
Visit the page: Billy Blyton, Baron Blyton for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.
People in History Holy Trinity C.of.E Academy Biddick Hall Houghton-le-Spring Harton Colliery (1841 - 1969) Lord Blyton Primary School
William Reid Blyton, Baron Blyton
- Photo by Elliott & Fry, bromide print, 1950. Photo held by the National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence Visit the National Portrait Gallery: …

Added by
Simon Cotterill
Billy Blyton, Baron Blyton
- "William Reid Blyton, Baron Blyton (2 May 1899 – 25 October 1987) was a British Labour Party politician who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Houghton-le-Spring in County Durham …

Added by
Simon Cotterill
  Co-Curate Page
Lord Blyton Primary School
- Overview Map Street View Lord Blyton Primary School is located on Blyton Avenue in South Shields. The school is named after Lord William Blyton (1899-1987), a Labour politician from South Shields. It is …
  Co-Curate Page
Holy Trinity C.of.E Academy
- Overview Map Street View Holy Trinity Church of England Academy is located on Brockley Avenue in South Shields. It is a community school, with about 260 pupils aged 3 to 11.A …
Harton Colliery (1841 - 1969)
  Co-Curate Page
Harton Colliery (1841 - 1969)
- The sinking of Harton Colliery began on the 10th of May, 1841. It reached the Bensham coal seam on the 10th July, 1844, reaching a depth of 1,290 ft., being the …
Biddick Hall
  Co-Curate Page
Biddick Hall
- Overview About Biddick Hall Map Street View Biddick Hall is an area in South Shields, located about 2 miles south of the town centre, and about half a mile north …
  Co-Curate Page
- Overview About Houghton-le-Spring Map Street View   Houghton-le-Spring is a town in North East England, which has its recorded origins in Norman times. Historically in County Durham, it is now …


Add a comment or share a memory.

Login to add a comment. Sign-up if you don't already have an account.


Co-Curate is a project which brings together online collections, museums, universities, schools and community groups to make and re-make stories and images from North East England and Cumbria. Co-Curate is a trans-disciplinary project that will open up 'official' museum and 'un-officia'l co-created community-based collections and archives through innovative collaborative approaches using social media and open archives/data.