Charles Swift in the early eighties entering  the town hall in Peterborough, where he was being lobbied by council workers protesting against privatisation.
Charles Swift in the early eighties entering the town hall in Peterborough, where he was being lobbied by council workers protesting against privatisation.

Looking back: ‘Remembering a giant of Peterborough’s political scene’

The latest ‘reunion’ which features in photographer Chris Porsz’s new book where he recreates pictures he took decades ago, is of Charles Swift.

Tuesday, 28th December 2021, 3:30 pm

A titan of the Peterborough political scene Mr Swift was a former leader of the council and mayor and, before he retired, the longest serving councillor in the country.

He is pictured above in the early eighties entering the town hall in Peterborough, where he was being lobbied by council workers protesting against privatisation.

Below he is pictured shaking hands with Labour leader Michael Foot who visited the city in support of parliamentary candidate Brian Fish.

Charles travelled with his mum Maud on the back of a furniture lorry from Yorkshire to Peterborough on VJ Day in 1945. Several years later his mum joined the Labour Party and was elected to Peterborough City Council in 1952.

He was a train driver for 48 years and followed in his mum’s footsteps and became the youngest ever member of the city council aged 23 on July 1 , 1954. He went on to spend 62 years as a Labour councillor and later as an Independent winning 15 elections.

He met the Queen five times and welcomed Princess Diana to the city.

Over the years he attended 1,700 funerals of his constituents.

He was awarded an OBE in 1985 for services to the community. He said: “I was the first engine driver the Queen gave this honour to.’’

He was also a member of the Peterborough Development Corporation which oversaw the development of the city in the 60s and 70s.

In his day job he drove the Queen twice and said: “I was given a £10 tip from the Queen’s equerry at the end of the journey.

Chris’s last book signing is at the Salvation Army Superstore in Long Causeway today (23) and tomorrow 10am to 3.30pm.A donation from book sales goes to local Breast Cancer Research.

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