Under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, West
Ham became a parliamentary borough with two divisions. (fn. 1) At the general election of that year each
division returned a Liberal. West Ham (South) was
won by Joseph Leicester, a trade unionist and temperance reformer. He was defeated in 1886 by a local
Conservative, G. E. Banes, but in 1892 the seat was
won by Keir Hardie as the first Independent Labour
M.P. Banes regained it in 1895, held it in 1900, but
lost it in 1906 to W. J. (Will) Thorne (Labour).
Thorne's support rested on his long-standing membership of the borough council as well as his position
as secretary of the trade union which he had founded
to protect the interests of the Beckton gas workers.
He retained the seat at the elections of 1910.
West Ham (North) was gained in 1886 by the
Conservative barrister (Sir) Forrest Fulton, lost to
a Liberal in 1892, but won by another Conservative
in 1895 and 1900. C. F. G. Masterman regained the
seat for the Liberals in 1906 and held it at both the
elections in 1910, but in 1911 he was unseated on
petition because of illegal acts by his agent. Another
Liberal held the seat at the subsequent by-election.
The Representation of the People Act, 1918,
divided the borough into four constituencies:
Plaistow, Silvertown, Stratford, and Upton. At
every subsequent election before 1950 the first two
divisions were held by Labour. Will Thorne represented Plaistow until 1945, when he was succeeded
by (Sir) Elwyn Jones. Silvertown was held from
1918 to 1940 by J. J. (Jack) Jones, a trade union
colleague of Thorne, and also a veteran member of
the borough council. The Stratford division returned
a Conservative in 1918 but was gained by Labour in
1922 and never lost after that. Upton was won by
the Conservatives in 1918, 1922, 1924, and 1931,
and by Labour in 1923 and 1929. Labour regained
it at a by-election in 1934 and held it in 1945.
Under the Representation of the People Act,
1948, West Ham was reduced to two divisions, north
and south. Both of these were won by Labour at
every subsequent election up to and including 1966.
||This section is based on: Fifty Years a Borough, 270–6; F. Sainsbury, West Ham, 80–4; and M.P.'s biographies
in Who's Who. See also: Sheila Jones, 'Parliamentary
Representation in West Ham (South), 1874–1914' (Balls
Park Coll. Educ. thesis, 1969).