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The son of a miner, Francis Hugh McKenna was born in 1928 in Felling, Gateshead. This was something of a `red’ village in the 1920s, with Communist councillors.
McKenna seems to have been a long-term Communist Party member during his most formative years. He was active in St Pancras in the late 1950s where he lived and got involved in the major rent strike of 1960.
An active member of ASLEF, during the 1950s, he was secretary of his local departmental committee, and also secretary of London ASLEF’s specialist branch for footplatemen in central London, possibly specifically for St. Pancras.
McKenna was President of the District Council of ASLEF in London until 1967.
He seems to have left the Communist Party during the 1960s, very much disillusioned. Going to Ruskin College Oxford in 1969, he subsequently left the railways and became a lecturer. He then taught until retirement in 1991 but railways remained very much part of his life. He wrote the authoritative "Railway Workers 1840-1970" published in 1980.
He remained a traditional socialist, in the classical English Radical tradition from the Levellers through to the Chartists and up to the present. Frank McKenna died in 2013.
Sources: World News December 1959; Stephen McKenna