Heartfelt tributes have been paid to ‘Mr Chester Labour Party’ John Crawford, who passed away at the age of 101 on Thursday (January 12).
The former leader of the defunct Chester Rural District Council and one-time mayor of Chester was a life-long Labour supporter and fought several parliamentary elections in the city for the party he was so passionate about.
Figures from the local political community have remembered the Labour stalwart as a ‘real gentlemen’.
City of Chester MP Chris Matheson described him as a ‘great figure in Chester politics’, to whom we should be grateful for a ‘lifetime of contribution for public life in our city’.
Mr Matheson said Mr Crawford’s death is a ‘huge loss’, sentiments which have been echoed by former city councillor and ex-magistrate Gwyn Cooper.
“I was very fond of John – he was one of life’s gentlemen,” she said.
Mr Crawford was born in Newtown in 1915 and caught the politics bug early, even helping out to deliver Labour Party leaflets for the 1924 general election when he was just nine-years-old.
He served in Tripoli for five years during the Second World War with the Royal Army Service Corps.
In his professional life, Mr Crawford worked in the City Treasury until local government reorganisation in the 1970s, when he transferred to Cheshire County Council.
Upon his retirement, he was elected to Chester City Council in 1979 and served as mayor of the city in 1983/84.
He was made an Honorary Freeman of the City at the same time as the late sixth Duke of Westminster.
Mr Crawford made his home, which he shared with his late wife Nan to whom he was ‘devoted’, in Huntington and regularly displayed huge ‘Vote Labour’ placards in his front garden.
Former Chester MP Christine Russell credits Mr Crawford as the person who encouraged her to stand for parliament, and says he was a real champion of women in politics.
She told The Chronicle: “John Crawford was Mr Chester Labour party for many, many years.
“I always viewed John as my political mentor.
“He really encouraged and supported me to become a councillor and to stand as MP.
“He was a wonderful guy who everyone respected.”
Ann Treloar, a niece of Mr Crawford’s on his wife’s side, added that any nice words that can be used to describe someone could be applied to John.