THE last time a winter general election was held in the UK was on Thursday, December 6, 1923 and it was quite a night in Worcester.

As thick fog dimmed the street lamps, large crowds began gathering from 11pm outside the offices of Berrow’s Worcester Journal at 56, Broad Street to hear the national results come in.

When Conservative Crawford Greene was announced the city’s new MP at 1.45 in the morning, they rushed into Foregate Street where mayhem ensued as he addressed the teeming throng from the balcony of the Star Hotel, now Worcester Whitehouse.

Their enthusiasm was easy to understand because Greene had overturned a Liberal majority of 773 and ousted the sitting MP Richard Fairbairn by 1,223 votes.

His victory was no doubt aided by having the British Prime Minister as a neighbour. Stanley Baldwin, who had taken over as Tory leader in May, 1923 following the illness of Bonar Law, was the Member for Bewdley.

His family home was Astley Hall, near Stourport on Seven and he toured Worcestershire extensively during the election campaign.

But after the thrill had gone there was disappointment for the Conservatives.

In echoes of the Theresa May debacle of June, 2017, there had been no need for Baldwin to go to the country.

He did so because he was confident he could increase his Parliamentary majority and inflict a heavy defeat on the opposition parties.

But the gamble failed and although the Conservatives did  indeed win the most seats, Labour, led by

Ramsay MacDonald, and HH Asquith's reunited Liberal Party gained enough seats to produce a hung parliament. Thus MacDonald formed the first ever Labour government with tacit support from the Liberals.

Of course all that was in the future for those singing and dancing in Foregate Street on a foggy night. As Berrow’s Journal reported: “Outside the Star Hotel from which the City Member spoke, there were scenes of enthusiasm such as have not been witnessed in Worcester for many a long year. A small-ish crowd first gathered there about 11 o’clock and amused itself singing and ‘false alarming’ for three solid hours until the result was declared.

“As soon as this happened people thronged from all parts of the City to The Foregate and jammed themselves so tightly right across the whole length and breadth of the street that one could see nothing but serried ranks of upturned white faces from above.

“Then someone lit a red flare, which was the sign for the first of the many full-throated cheers which were to follow. Its lurid light shed a red glow over the whole scene, though even then one was unable to see the end of the crowd stretching towards The Cross, from the Star balcony, so great was the assembly.

“When the City Member stepped out on to he balcony, followed by his friends and supporters, the crowd went wild with delight. Despite uplifted hands pleading for silence, they cheered for several minutes on end, not the decorous chants of the conventional order, but one continuous roar of applause coming from electors who had once more come into their own.

“And looking down, one espied staid and conservative Conservatives hopping from one keg to another like six-year-olds in a frenzy of excitement. One noticed, too that the crowd was largely composed of women.”

Although having a career as an English politician, Crawford Greene was actually born in New South Wales, Australia.

Having won in 1923 he continued to represent the Worcester constituency until retiring in 1945. He died in 1959 aged 74 and was buried at his family’s private cemetery in Australia.

Stanley Baldwin went on to become a unique figure in British politics, being the only person to serve three times as Prime Minister. During his third term, from June, 1935 until May, 1937 he had to deal with the constitutional crises caused by the abdication of Edward VIII. He is buried in Worcester Cathedral.