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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6 (September 1, 1936)

Struggles in London

Struggles in London.

Finding himself in Southampton with but a few shillipngs in his pocket, at nineteen years of age, he realised he was in a new hard world, vastly different from that which he had left behind. Within tw hours of his arrival in London he had located the Trades Union, adjoining a cellar-bar, which was its only access. The atmosphere was sordid and depressing in the extreme; it seemed to fit the general environment of labour. In the matter of food as well as lodging the needs of shillings had to be satisfied with pence and sometimes less. He was often hungry witout the means of satisfying his craving. Sometimes the bleak bank of the Thames was his bed. He observed humanity under its most miserable conditions, starving, atrophied, blighted lives, in a cold, indifferent, and selfish world. On atleast one occasion he worked in a sweat shop under conditions of illventilation, over-crowding and exploitation. He did not hesitate to choose the Thames Embankment again, but he did not leave without telling those responsible in his most lucid language what he thought of the inhuman conditions they were imposing on their helpless victims. He saw the blackest side of England's industrial life. He has never forgotten the unfortunate pauper foraging in the rubbish bin for scraps in the East End, and the contrast of ostentatious luxury and surfeit of the West End, Selfis pampering, lavish waste flaunted in the faces of those who had nothing.

He visited Scotland and Ireland. In the latter country he worked for twelve months, mostly in the ship-building yards of Belfast. There he found poverty, but not those degrading and soul-destroying conditions which he had experienced in London. He returned to his native land after an absence of four or five years. He brought back with him two clear and distinct impressions. One was appreciation of the old London and other cities with all their traditions, institutions, magnificent architecture, and th enduring historical background which always had enthralledim. The other and opposite impression was one of fierce resentment of the conditions of sordid poverty and lack of humanitrianism which condemned so many
On the Puhi puhi Road, Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand.

On the Puhi puhi Road, Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand.

thousands to a den of ignorance and sheer despair, denying to them the first elements of the joys of life.

His social conscience had been quickened and fired, his convictions deepened, and his resolution determined to interest himself in social reform. He was convinced of the injustices, the wretchedness, the horrors of unrestrained capitalism, sof far as it affected the vast majority of the people.