Medlock Bibby: A man who challenged the power and status of authority and worked tirelessly for his family, friends, community and colleagues

By Neil Speight

10th Mar 2023 | Tributes

THE death has been announced of former Thurrock councillor Medlock Bibby - who inspired a group of independent councillors to become a force in borough politics and who made national headlines when he championed an anti-strike movement at Tilbury docks.

Medlock attended Manorway Primary and later St Chad's Secondary School. His first job was at Bata; he did one day and said "no more."

He then worked for the Port of London Authority at Tilbury Docks, first cleaning locomotives and then as a fireman on steam trains where he shovelled coal into the boiler.

In 1956 he worked his way to Australia on the SS Orsova and later on the SS Orcades, before becoming a Tilbury docker, which he remained until his retirement.

In September 1956 Medlock married Gladys Unwin, whom he was totally devoted to. Gladys died in November 2013 after a long brave battle against cancer.

Their early married life was spent living with Gladys' parents in Scott Road, Chadwell. Then they moved to Seymour Road and then to Spencer Walk, Tilbury. In 1993 they moved back to Chadwell where Med lived until his death.

The couple had three children: Shane, Denise and Diane, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. 

Medlock had a passion for Tiug-of-War and coached local teams.

In the late 1960's Med became increasingly disillusioned by local politicians, saying that they were more interested in fighting with each other over national party politics than campaigning for local issues and sorting them out.

In 1970 he stood as an Independent councillor for Tilbury and won convincingly. The Tilbury Independent Action Group (T.I.A.G.) was born.

The group had its beginnings in a campaign for a youth centre for Tilbury. Having worked with local teachers and other community members to organise a youth centre of sorts at Rev. Bussy's Methodist Church hall, they went on to march to Downing Street to present a petition on behalf of Tilbury's young people.

The march to Downing Street.

They were particularly grateful that this trip was financed through collections by Tilbury's dock workers. This not only enabled them to travel by coach but also to be accompanied by Tilbury Silver Band.

Mr Bibby was not the only Independent to be elected in Tilbury. The group soon held all three seats and they were repeatedly re-elected. Following Medlock's lead there were eventually eight Independent councillors in Thurrock which very often gave them the balance of power between the two main parties. 

In 1984 Med was in the national media when he tried to keep Tilbury docks working and took on the mighty power of the Transport and General Workers Union.

A ballot had been held in which local dockers were asked to support Arthur Scargill's Miners' Union. According to Med, the TGWU had not publicised the vote widely enough and local men were not given adequate opportunity to express their views about any potential strike action.

He argued that the union were in no way concerned about the harm this would do to Tilbury dockers and their families. Standing up in an electric meeting, he demanded that he be heard and called for another ballot.

In the days that followed, he walked through a picket line in protest As a well-known local figure, he called on the Essex men to question the validity of the strike and was influential in the return to work of the 7,000 dockers at Tilbury and around the country soon after.

Medlock's story can be read in much grater detail in a long tribute penned by Cliff Cowin and found on the Tilbury and Chadwell Memories page via this link. Our thanks to Mr Cowin.

Gladys and Medlock were stalwarts at Stanford-le-Hope's United Services Bowls Club.

After his retirement and withdrawal from public life, Medlock and Gladys took up bowling. They played indoor and outdoor at various clubs but spent a number of years at United Services in Stanford-le-Hope. Neither was ever really satisfied just bowling and they worked hard to raise £103K in Lottery grants so that new changing rooms and toilets could be built and kitchen equipment bought.  

In later life, Medlock focused on his garden and although he played bowls for a short time after Gladys passed in 2013, it was never quite the same without her.

Medlock was proud of his garden at his Chadwell St Mary home.

Gardening was more than a hobby and he enjoyed growing flowers, vegetables and fruits.

He loved the way neighbours and passers-by would comment on his flowers and was especially proud to be awarded prizes by Chadwell St Mary in Bloom several years in a row.

Apart from this, he spent a lot of time with his daughter Denise and her family in Essex.

He liked to visit his children and grandchildren in Scotland and Austria and was always ready to try something new, including cross-country skiing. 

At home, he went to the coffee mornings in Vigerons Way where he enjoyed a game of cards and a chat. 

He was determined to stay in his bungalow in Chadwell and this was made possible through the help and support of Pineapple Care as well as Denise and her husband and friends. For this, our family are very grateful. 

Our favourite recent photo of our dad is the final one I have attached. This was taken at the White Horse pub in South Ockendon in 2019.

His funeral is due to take place at 10.45am on Friday, 31 March at St John's Church in Tilbury. 


New thurrock Jobs Section Launched!!
Vacancies updated hourly!!
Click here: thurrock jobs


Related Articles

Tony Coughlin.

MP's tribute following sudden death of local Conservative party activist and community stalwart

William 'Bill' Yallop

Farewell to Bill Yallop

Sign-Up for our FREE Newsletter

We want to provide Thurrock with more and more clickbait-free local news.
To do that, we need a loyal newsletter following.
Help us survive and sign up to our FREE weekly newsletter.

Already subscribed? Thank you. Just press X or click here.
We won't pass your details on to anyone else.
By clicking the Subscribe button you agree to our Privacy Policy.