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22 August 2014

The Returning Officer: Dartford

By Stephen Brasher

Jack Mills was chairman of the shop stewards’ committee at the Woolwich Arsenal. In 1920, he won a by-election after the death of the Coalition Liberal James Rowlands and became Dartford’s first Labour MP.

An independent opponent in 1920, Frank Fehr, called himself a “Kentish man for a Kentish constituency”. The press noted that he was a “linseed oil expert from Chislehurst”. Colonel Reginald Applin stood for the National Party. Later, in the 1921 Westminster Abbey by-election, he was an anti-waste candidate, then the Tory MP for Enfield (1924-29, 1931-35). In 1935, he moved to South Africa, saying: “I shall leave for good [the] sooty buildings, petrol fumes and excessive income tax . . . the telephone, the radio and the traffic signals.” 

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