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Bentham Branch of the League of Nations Union

Taking the League of Nations Union to the countryside
Town Hall, High Bentham © Janet Nelson

Town Hall, High Bentham
© Janet Nelson

The Bentham Branch of the League of Nations Union  (LNU) was in existence by April 1923 and was still active in September 1936. In 1935 there were 153 members and in 1930, a ‘Juvenile Section’ of 50 was created. The group was organised on the usual LNU lines, with an Executive Committee who elected a President, Secretary, Treasurer and Collectors annually. The president may have occupied the chairman’s role. The branch’s members reflected Bentham’s varied religious make-up, including its strong Quaker presence. Church of England clergymen often presided, while the Secretary and Treasurer were both Quakers. (1) Other Friends included Mrs Helen Byles Ford, a peace activist who was on the Committee (at least in 1933). The usual links with London Headquarters were maintained, with financial quotas sent there annually.

Meetings were held most often in High Bentham at the Town Hall but sometimes at the Public Hall, Low Bentham. The content of the lectures found so far mostly concerned the international work of the League of Nations. Speakers were in the main local, such as Burton-in-Lonsdale’s Headteacher, but occasionally a nationally-known name, for example, Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, a Nottinghamshire MP In 1930, the LNU’s regional organiser (North Lancashire) came from Southport to speak. The branch itself, not just its members, may have supported the various peace initiatives in the town such as the Peace Pilgrimage (1926), while it campaigned directly for the Peace Ballot  in 1934/5, which caused more interest in the League of Nations locally.

References/Further Reading:

(1) R. E. H. Atkinson, 1994. Quakerism in Bentham. North Craven Heritage Trust Journal.

Lancaster Guardian, 14 Apr 1923, 7 Apr 1928, 17 Nov 1928, 31 Mar 1933, 5 Apr 1935 & 4 Sep 1936.