John Burns

John Burns sitting on a chair

John Burns

'The Thames is liquid history'

John Burns was a socialist, trade unionist, member of Parliament and member of Battersea Council. After moving to the Battersea area as a child, Burns became increasingly involved in politics especially after starting an engineering apprentiship as a teenager. Whilst completing this apprentiship, Burns continued to study at nightschool and it was during this time that he began to read more about politics and subsequently forayed into public speaking.

After working for a year in West Africa he was disgusted by the way that the African people were treated and soon after returning to England he formed a branch of the Social Democratic Federation in Battersea.

After being elected as an independent Labour MP for Battersea in 1892 Burns was convinced that The Independent Labour did not fit with his ideals and aims and so joined the Liberal Party. he was subsequently elected to Parliament in 1905, becoming the first person from a working class background to do so.