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Thomas Bassett Ward (1884–1960)

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This entry is from People Australia

Amalgamated Engineering Union Interstate Conference, Melbourne 1927

Amalgamated Engineering Union Interstate Conference, Melbourne 1927

Ward is seated in front row on far left

Thomas Bassett Ward (1884-1960) engineer and trade union leader 

Birth: 1884 in Askam-in-Furness, Lancashire, England, son of John William Ward, ironworks furnace manager, and Eliza Jane, née Bassett.  Marriage: 1909 at Urunga, New South Wales, to Florence Louisa Henderson. They had one daughter and one son. Death: 25 June 1960 in Hamilton, Newcastle, NSW. Religion: Methodist. 

  • In 1901 he was an engine fitter at Millom, County Cumberland, England. Joined Middlesborough Branch, Amalgamated Engineering Union, (UK) when serving apprenticeship.
  • After short stay in South Africa, arrived in Australia in 1907. First job was on mid north coast, NSW, where he married, and moved to Sydney. Teller in Sydney Branch, 1907. Worked at Dredge, Department Works, Newcastle, selected as shop steward. Then worked at Cockatoo Island, Sydney. Lived at Glebe.
  • Active member 3rd Branch Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU), shop steward in erecting shop and member of Sydney District Committee while working at Eveleigh railway workshops. 1917, appointed union organiser for Division No 4 (NSW excluding Sydney), establishing base at Newcastle. Worked as organiser 1917-1949 and was widely known throughout NSW, though rapidly expanding Wollongong-Port Kembla area was removed from his brief in 1938.
  • Appointed a Justice of the Peace in January 1920 when living at Hamilton, Newcastle.
  • In 1940s supported anti-communist Industrial Group faction in Newcastle where his personal influence was strong due to his being the only full-time AEU official;
  • Upon retirement in October 1949, was honorary secretary National Park Bowling Club and member of board of directors of Newcastle and Suburban Cooperative Store.
  • Memoir, published in 1945 recalls details of working life and debt to Arthur E. Dengate suggesting that ‘Strikes are as barbarous to-day as they ever were’.
  • Cause of death: pulmonary oedema and cardiac infarction.

AEU Souvenir
, 1945; AEU Monthly Journal, July 1960; Tom Sheridan, Mindful militants: The Amalgamated Engineering Union in Australia, 1920-1972 (Cambridge, England, 1975).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Ward, Thomas Bassett (1884–1960)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Amalgamated Engineering Union Interstate Conference, Melbourne 1927

Amalgamated Engineering Union Interstate Conference, Melbourne 1927

Ward is seated in front row on far left

Life Summary [details]


Askam-in-Furness, Lancashire, England


25 June, 1960 (aged ~ 76)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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