Ray Gunter

Llanhilleth Railway Station, Abertillery

Ray was born on 30th August 1909, the son of Miles Gunter, a fruiterer and later colliery pumpsman, and his wife Clara Adeline Jones, of 18, High Street, Llanhilleth.

He attended Abertillery and Newbridge Secondary schools and at the age of 14 years became a booking clerk with Great Western Railway.

The 1939 Register shows him living in Burvale, Commercial Road, with his wife, Elsie and son, David.

Ray was a member of TSSA, The Transport Salaried Staff Association rising to Treasurer in 1953-56 and President 1956-64.

Ray Gunter had a long and distinguished career in Parliament from 1945 to 1972 as member for South East Esses 1945-50, Doncaster 1950-51 and Southwark 1959-72. He served in the Cabinet of a number of Labour Governments, most prominently as Minister of Labour under Harold Wilson 1964-68 and Minister for Power 1968. He was seen as a senior back bencher during his final years in parliament and resigned from Parliament in1972. Ray Gunter died in 1977 and is buried at St Mary’s old church in the Isles of Scilly where he had a home.

On Friday 6th December 2013, Torfaen MP Paul Murphy unveiled a commemorative plaque in honour of Ray Gunter, the Llanhilleth born former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister.  The plaque was placed in the railway station of his hometown in recognition of his time as President of the Transport and Salaried Staff Association.

The unveiling was attended by Nick Smith MP, Mostyn Lewis the Mayor of Blaenau Gwent, and Councillor Hedley McCarthy, Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Murphy commented,

“As a young man, fascinated with politics, I became aware of Ray Gunter when he was a member of Harold Wilson’s Cabinet. What impressed me was that someone who came from the same part of the word as myself and who had the same accent as mine, could aspire to be a member of the Cabinet. It is fitting that a permanent memorial should be erected to honour his memory and I am very privileged, as a former Labour Cabinet Minister myself, to be associated with this event.”

Councillor McCarthy added,

“I am delighted that Ray’s work as an MP and trade unionist is being recognised with this permanent reminder so close to his birthplace.”