30th April 1887 to 3rd June 1947
Hodges was a trades union leader who served in the cabinet of Ramsay MacDonald’s first Labour government, before leaving the labour movement and going into business.
Hodges was born in Woolaston, Gloucestershire on 30 April 1887. His family moved to Wales shortly thereafter, his father taking a job in the coal mines. Hodges attended Queen Street elementary school in Abertillery, and then at age 14 left school to work in the mines. At age sixteen he converted to Methodism, and became a part-time preacher. He also became involved with the labour movement, partly as a result of hearing a speech by Philip Snowden, and joined the Labour Party.
From 1909-11 Hodges attended Ruskin College, Oxford. Returning to Wales, he married Henrietta Carter in 1912, and became an agent for the South Wales Miners’ Federation. Within the movement he was regarded as a moderate, a follower of guild socialism who rejected the syndicalism of some of his contemporaries. In 1918 he was elected president of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain, which made him a figure of national importance.
In 1921, the South Wales Miners’ Federation entered a dispute with employers over wages, which led to a lock-out. Fearing a wider strike, Hodges negotiated with the employers behind the unions’ back. The resulting deal ended the lock-out, but the miners saw this as an act of bad faith and never forgave Hodges.
In 1923 Hodges stood for parliament and was elected MP for Lichfield. Rather surprisingly, he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty by Ramsay MacDonald. The Miners Federation took the opportunity to force Hodges’ resignation as president. He lost his seat in the 1924 general election and became secretary of the International Miners’ Federation. In 1925 he gave evidence to a parliamentary commission suggesting that miners should be prepared to work longer hours. This once again roused the fury of the unions and Hodges resigned, leaving the labour movement altogether.
Hodges was appointed a member of the Central Electricity Board in 1926. He subsequently became a director of a number of companies including the Securities Management Trust and the Glasgow Iron and Steel Company, where he served as chairman. He also served as a justice of the peace. Hodges died on 3 June 1947 at Ruthin Castle, Denbighshire.
Nationalisation of the Mines, 1920.
My Adventures as a Labour Leader, 1924.
Davies, K., ‘Hodges, Frank’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Durham Mining Museum, ‘Frank Hodges, J.P.’, http://www.dmm.org.uk/whoswho/h007.htm
Morgan, K.O., Rebirth of a Nation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.
‘The need for conciliation in industry’, April 1929, Balliol College