Humble beginnings of James Callaghan

A gaggle of 33-submarines tied up at HMS Dolphin, Gosport, pre-January 1922. HMS Victory is in the far distance.

NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: Here’s a sight you won’t see again – 33 subs in the same place

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James Callaghan would have been 100 today. For on this day in 1912 the former prime minister was born in Portsmouth at 38 Funtington Road, Copnor.

His father, who had been a chief petty officer in the navy, died suddenly when the boy was nine, leaving his mother to struggle without the aid of a pension.

His education, ending at Portsmouth Northern Secondary School, opposite St Mary’s Church, was patchy and inadequate, about which he sometimes spoke bitterly and which made the right to a decent education one of his great political passions.

Callaghan was the only person in the 20th century to hold the four most important offices of government: chancellor, home secretary, foreign secretary and prime minister.

According to the Financial Times, Callaghan was the last prime minister to believe in a welfare state that would help the needy and give opportunity to all – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.