Tributes paid to Huntingdonshire political stalwart

David Spreckley from Buckden

David Spreckley from Buckden - Credit: Archant

A POLITICAL activist and business owner from Buckden has died, aged 98.

David Spreckley, of Park Road, was a Labour member before joining the Liberal Party.

He served on Huntingdonshire County Council, Huntingdon and Godmanchester Borough Council and Huntingdonshire District Council between 1957 and 1982, and also stood on St Neots Town Council.

Born in India to a Gurkha in March 1915, he was orphaned when the troop ship carrying his family sunk. He was not on the boat because he was too unwell to travel.

Mr Spreckley was adopted and was educated at the Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth, and the Royal Military Academy, in Sandhurst, but resigned from the Army in 1936 and became a pacifist.

The following year, Mr Spreckley, a member of the Peace Pledge Union, was flying a Gypsy Moth aeroplane over Laleham, Surrey, and crashed into a post office. In a book of news clippings from his life, Mr Spreckley noted it was “the silliest thing I’ve done up to date”.

Two years later, Mr Spreckley caused a stir at the Ritz in London, inviting six unemployed people and six Austrian refugees to lunch. The six-course dinner, costing eight shillings and six pence, was some of the guests’ “first square meal for a year”.

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He opted to serve time in jail instead of paying fines for breaching public order and wilfully obstructing the free passage of a footpath, and was again jailed in November 1944 for failing to comply with conditions of being a conscientious objector to the Second World War.

In 1951, Mr Spreckley, now a librarian, was again threatened with jail, this time for contempt of court when he refused to take the oath or affirm at St Ives Magistrates’ Court. He was due to be a prosecution witness after a lorry had crashed into his Land Rover.

Mr Spreckley moved to Hartford in 1950 and met his long-term partner Anne, 18 years his junior, in 1952 while travelling.

He started Landsman’s caravan manufacturers in Hartford before moving it to Buckden. He believed in co-ownership in industry and is believed to be the first factory owner in Britain to hand his company over to his employees.

He stood as parliamentary candidate for the Liberals in Great Yarmouth in 1964, a Cambridge by-election in 1967 and in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1969, but was defeated in all three.

As a local politician – he was a member of HDC from its start in 1974 – he was part of the Bedfordshire Airport Resistance Association, an organisation against an airport at Thurleigh.

In 1982, he stepped down from HDC to devote more time to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

He told The Hunts Post 30 years ago that his greatest achievement was creating more open government, allowing the public to sit in on meetings.

His partner Anne said: “He was retired for more than 30 years so he made the most of it, spending time travelling in Europe and tasting wine.

“He was a very interesting character and went into politics because he wanted to change the world and make it a better place.

“He was very active and was a thorn in the side of what he called ‘the establishment’.”

Mr Spreckley died on July 27 at his ­Buckden home. He leaves Anne, his daughters Peta, 58, and Antonia, 55, and son Anton, 55.

His body was donated to science.