Frederick William Mulley, Baron Mulley of Sheffield,
3 July 1918 – 15 March 1995
Fred Mulley was a prominent postwar Labour politician, Barrister–at–Law and Economist. He was born in Leamington at the beginning of July 1918 to a family whose maternal ancestors were all involved in farming. Fred’s grandfather Boiles was a waggoner on farms at Harbury and Whitnash, and other relatives farmed in a small way at Wharfe Cottage, on the Sydenham estate. His father William John Mulley was a driver in the Machine Gun Corps in WW1, and back in civvy street, became a van driver for the local mineral water company.
Fred grew up in Clemens Street, opposite the Stoneleigh Arms, where he and his parents lived with his grandmother, at number 42. His family were passionate about education, and when Fred won a place at Warwick School in 1929, they scrimped and saved to ensure that he could make the most of it. After leaving Warwick School in 1936, he became a clerk with the National Insurance Committee, but at the outbreak of war in 1939, Fred enlisted in the Worcestershire Regiment and by December, was in France. He was Intelligence Sergeant to the 7th Battalion during the retreat to Dunkirk, where he was wounded and captured in May 1940, and spent the next five years as a prisoner of war.
In Stalag 383, Fred took up the option of studying, gained a degree in Economics and became a passionate pro-European. He always paid tribute to the German personnel who enabled his studies. It was in Stalag 383 that he met up with fellow Leamingtonian Terry Frost, who in turn paid tribute to Fred in later years for encouraging him to take up painting, acting as his critic, and helping him get started professionally after the war ended.
Back in Britain, Fred was awarded an adult scholarship to Christ Church Oxford, graduating with a First in Modern Greats (Philosophy, Politics and Economics). He progressed to Nuffield College and a Masters Degree, followed by two years as a Research Fellow in Economics at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. There are still not many who can claim having earned an M.A. from both universities!
Fred went on to study law and was called to the Bar in 1954, whilst serving as M P for Sheffield Park, a seat he held until retirement in 1983. During his time as an M P, he served on Select Committees, held Ministerial posts under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, and travelled worldwide as a member of Parliamentary delegations. He was also a Privy Councillor, Deputy Defence Secretary and Vice-President of the Council of Europe’s Economic Committee. For many years he was an active member and treasurer of the all-party Arts and Heritage Group, an abiding interest shared with Joan, née Phillips, his wife of almost 50 years. Fred died in March 1995 at the age of 77, and was buried in the churchyard at Whitnash, close to where he grew up.
Images courtesy of GRO/Keystone Photos via Alan Griffin