Born in Brighton in 1891, Harry Cowley, known as the ‘Gov’nor’, was a Brighton chimney sweep who later became a local legend. He fought for the rights of the under-privileged; for the homeless and unemployed as well as for market traders and old-age pensioners. Harry also battled against social injustices that he came across in his lifetime; for example, he opposed Moseley’s fascists in the 1930s, organised squatting of empty properties for poor families and campaigned against what he described as tight-fisted councils and unjust governments. His autobiography encompasses the changing nature of working class life and politics in Brighton during the twentieth century, and shows how one man, with his rallying cry of ‘it don’t come right to me’, struggled to overcome adversity and lived a fascinating and eventful life.

When Harry died in March 1971 his body was laid in state at St Peter’s Church, where more than 500 people attended his funeral to pay tribute. Since then, Harry has not been forgotten. In 1999 Brighton & Hove Bus Company acknowledged his contribution to the City by giving a bus his name and in 2003 The Cowley Club, named in tribute to Harry and his grassroots action, opened its doors to the public.

The original 1984 version of this book was reprinted in a revised second edition published in 2003. It enabled a new generation of readers to become acquainted with Harry Cowley.

The original 1984 publication is available as a free PDF download from The Fed Online. Please make a donation to QueenSpark Books to help us to continue to gather and make available Brighton and Sussex’s community histories for future generations. To donate via Paypal or credit card, please click on the button below.