Horace Barks - An Autobiography

Horace Barks - An Autobiography

Published by the Arnold Bennett Literary Society in 1986, 47 pages (text and page numbers on one side only). A4 size booklet (A30UWSO)

Horace Barks was born in Ipstones near Stoke-on-Trent into a working class family, and after serving in the First World War he got a job on the railway, and in 1921 joined the Labour Party. He was elected a Stoke councillor in 1930 and served as Mayor in the 1950's. As well as politics, Barks was very interested in Esperanto, and he was involved in naming his local pub in Stoke 'The Green Star' (an emblem of Esperanto). The pub is still called the Green Star, and it's located on Esperanto Way!

From the foreword: It is often said that neither people nor things are as they used to be. Where have all the characters gone? There is no doubt that, in Horace Barks O.B.E., Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire had one of the most fascinating and talented people I have had the privilege of knowing.

My own experience was limited to the last ten years or so of Horace's very long and active life and even then was restricted to his public rather than his private face. He was veteran councillor to me as Town Clerk and it is perhaps worthy of comment that his considerable span of public life made him one of the very few people to have worked with all four Town Clerks who have served the city, both as alderman and councillor.

To me he will always identify with the City Museum and Art Gallery and that superb building is without doubt the perfect living memorial to the man. More than anyone else he had worked for the original building on the Bethesda Street site and more particularly for the major extensions to form the building as we know it today. He was sufficient of the politician and the realist to accept that his ambitions could not be achieved without the active co-operation and assistance of the Staffordshire County Council. Nevertheless, the subsequent agreement between the two local authorities which left the future administration of the museum service firmly in the hands of the City Council was the fulfilment of his life's dream. That he should have been the Chairman of the Museums Committee over that crucial period was most fitting.

His interests were by no means limited to the local scene however. As railwayman and esperantist he was known, respected and liked by people from all over the world. Even in his 80' s he amazed all who knew him with his thirst and energy for foreign travel and I well remember one visit to Brazil not long before he died. I had the pleasure of travelling with him to several meetings and conferences in this country as the Council's representative on the Association of District Councils. He was always the gracious and good-humoured companion. His fund of stories was endless, ranging from the Great War, to the railways, to "Old Stoke", to members and officers of the former City Council and, of course, his beloved esperanto. Sometimes repetitive, more often than not entertaining, occasionally mischievous rarely malicious.

The condition of the booklet is generally ok. The covers have some minor scuffs and blemishes, but the inside pages are all clean, intact and bound. Please note this booklet was printed privately, and so lacks the finish of a more professional publication - but this in no way detracts from the fascinating contents!