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Arthur, the CND man who has disappeared

Mystery of former Ham & High owner who helped to found the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

22 March, 2018 — By John Gulliver

THE name Arthur Goss is almost lost in history – but not quite.

I have dragged him back for no other reason than he was the type of newspaper owner I greatly admire.

He actually owned the Ham & High in the 1950s.

But what made him different is that he helped to found the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Michael Foot

It almost goes without saying that Arthur Goss, a Quaker, was a man with a deep sense of morality and a political conscience.

I hope the New Journal as an independent newspaper is travelling the same road he took.

I came across his name by accident while reading excerpts from a famous book by St Pancras Labour councillor Peggy Duff, Left, Left and Left Again, in the current edition of The Spokesman magazine.

As an organiser of the then National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests, Peggy Duff describes how it was chaired by Arthur Goss – a Quaker and a “committed pacifist”.

Peggy Duff. Photo: Ken Garland

When the committee for the CND was first set up in 1958 it consisted of the great philosopher Bertrand Russell, Kingsley Martin, editor of the New Statesman, the writer and broadcaster JB Priestley, the nuclear physicist Professor Joseph Rotblat, Michael Foot – and, of course, Arthur Goss.

As a good Quaker, Arthur Goss, it seems, disliked taking votes in his search of a consensus, so committee meetings could drag on!

A feature writer for the New Journal, Gerald Isaaman joined the Ham & High in 1955 as a junior reporter and remembers Arthur Goss as a “quiet, polite businessman who never interfered with the running of the editorial”.

JB Priestley

He knew he had launched the Golders Green Committee for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons – and later joined with another group in Hampstead with meetings held at the home of Dr Sheila Jones in Well Road, attracting some of Hampstead’s liberal elite.

Arthur Goss sold the Ham & High at the end of the 1950s – now it is owned by a big regional publisher which has no connections with the locality, unlike the New Journal.

Contrast Arthur Goss with typical money-making newspaper owners of today, men or women without a sense of culture, trapped by the lure of the bottom line.

What happened to him later on? What happened to his family? Can any readers help?


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