Rotten fish missiles: Where did the political characters go?

SOBER SIDES ... William Pearson canvassing in Jarrow in the 1930s, but Arthur Hunnable had made a riot of an earlier election.
SOBER SIDES ... William Pearson canvassing in Jarrow in the 1930s, but Arthur Hunnable had made a riot of an earlier election.

A GENERAL election is almost upon us.

And pretty vanilla most of the electioneering seems to have been – as serious and sober as it no doubt was here, when Conservative William Pearson was canvassing in Jarrow. He was successful in 1931, but lost to Ellen Wilkinson in 1935.

No, we could do with an Arthur Hunnable.

Who was he? Well he injected great hilarity into a by-election, also in Jarrow, before the First World War.

I recently came across him in 1907 when he turned up at a political meeting outside the gates of Palmer’s shipyard – attended, if I read things right, by Andrew Bonar Law, later Prime Minister – where he, Hunnable, was pelted with rotten eggs and flour.

He responded by throwing huge bundles of newspapers at his assailants in return, before driving off covered in white from head to toe.

Later that evening, he was again pelted with flour, eggs and, this time, rotten fish, before the police intervened and carted him off to the railway station.

Digging around a bit further, it seems Hunnable was a small-time fraudster and sometime motor engineer, who declared his intention to stand at Jarrow, but failed to pay his deposit. He seems to have got up to the same tricks in other parts of the country, even attempting to stand in Jarrow again, in 1918.

He eventually settled in Newcastle, where he claimed to have invented an unsinkable ship but, there, the trail on him seems to go cold.