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John Hargrave - "White Fox"

A Biographical Note by Chris Judge Smith. Trustee, Kibbo Kift Foundation


John Gordon Hargrave was an extraordinary man, a working life of seventy years saw him as artist, illustrator, cartoonist, copywriter, Boy Scout Commissioner, lexicographer, inventor, author and psychic healer, his achievements in each one of the fields were remarkable, yet he will be best remembered as 'White Fox' the dynamic leader of the Kibbo Kift, a movement every bit as extraordinary as its founder, a non-political 'camping handicraft and world peace movement', it was launched in 1920; but after twelve years underwent an astonishing transformation to become the Green Shirts, "the green clad shock-troopers of the peoples' fighting front", one of the uniformed, paramilitary political armies that marched the streets during the '30's.
John Hargrave - Boy Scout
John Hargrave in Scout Uniform, 
aged about 17

Hargrave was born the second son of an impecunious landscape artist in 1894. The itinerant family soon moved from Midhurst, Sussex to the Lake District where he grew up; a silent, pale-faced child, who like his elder brother, soon showed precocious skill as a draftsman. His formal schooling was perfunctory and by 1906 the twelve-year-old was providing professional line illustrations for books by authors including an appreciative John Buchan.

His parents were Quakers and to his father he owed both his lifelong passions for the countryside and its wild animals, and the basis of his extensive and wildly eclectic knowledge of sociology and anthropology.

In 1908 he joined the fledgling Boy Scout movement and began to study the writings of Ernest Thompson Seton, the American naturalist who first drew attention to Red Indian culture and philosophy and its relevance to modern society. The young Hargrave, a natural leader despite his slight stature and quiet manner, soon formed around himself a troop of irregular Boy Scouts, who may well have been John Buchan's inspiration for the similar troop that featured in his novel HUNTINGTOWER.

After the death of his gifted elder brother on whom the hopes of the family had rested, they moved to Buckinghamshire where Hargrave began a swift rise through the hierarchy of the Scout Movement while supporting himself as a commercial artist. He also began to write; contributing under the name 'White Fox' a regular column on Woodcraft to the Scout magazine THE TRAIL which soon attracted an enthusiastic readership.

At the tender age of 17 he was chief cartoonist on the LONDON EVENING NEWS and at 19 his first book LONECRAFT, a manual for the Lone Scout, was published and eventually ran to three editions. His fame as an expert outdoorsman was surprisingly widespread. On one occasion his solitary campsite was visited by two Princes of the Blood. The sons of George V and their tutor were keen Scouts and anxious to get some tips on campcraft from the celebrated 'White Fox'.

On the outbreak of the first World War, Hargrave, true to his pacifist Quaker background, enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps and after a characteristic clash with the military authorities over his absolute refusal to be assigned to a military VD clinic, he served as a Sergeant of stretcher-bearers in the Dardenells. He was in the front line throughout the horrific and disastrous Suvla Bay landing and wracked with malaria, was invalided out in 1916.

His war over, he was appointed by Baden-Powell as Boy Scout Commissioner for Woodcraft and Camping. His strength of character and natural abilities as a leader and organiser led many to see him as the natural successor to the Chief Scout, but his war experiences had toughened his natural independent nature and strengthened his pacifist views. In common with many young idealists, Hargrave returned from the war dreaming of a new World Civilisation, only to find his beloved Scouts more and more dominated by elderly military men and becoming a sort of national Cadet Corps. Increasingly he found himself at odds with Baden-Powell, and many individual Scouts and Scoutmasters, fired by his book THE GREAT WAR BRINGS IT HOME (1919), agreed with him. The stage was set for a schism.

Matters came to a head in 1920. Hargrave, at the age of 26, announced the formation of a new organisation to be called THE KIBBO KIFT, the words being an archaic Kentish dialect phrase meaning 'a proof of great strength'. He was promptly expelled from the Scouts, and with a small group of dissident, anti-war scoutmasters under his own direct leadership, set about building an alternative and very different movement.

The Kibbo Kift was to be not merely a youth organisation but was to involve old and young, male and female. Hargrave called for Outdoor Education, Physical Training, the learning of hand crafts, the reintroduction of Ritual into modern life, World Peace and the regeneration of urban man through the open air life. The new movement was to be nothing less than the 'human instrument' that would create a new World Civilisation. 

"It must be an idea clothed with flesh and blood.
It must show itself healthful, dynamic, capable ...
It must inspire and direct. It must be mobile
and rapid in action; able to respond and resist ...
It must take its inspiration from a thousand
sources and leap to life as one resolute effort ...
It must look to the young first and implant
its message in words of one syllable.
It must develop a technique of life in the midst
of a chaotic civilisation ...
It must have an epic quality of thought and action ...
It must fire the imagination, hold the attention
and liberate the will.
It cannot look back for a historical counterpart,
it is a new thing. It cannot be amusingly
mystical in the half-shades; it must staid
four-square in the full white light of the morning.
We have need of this instrument - this living
thing - now ... We have need of it, however
feeble and halting its embryonic emergence
may be ... because it already exists dumbly,
incoherently, within the hearts of millions of
human beings ... Because of this dire need
such an instrument will take shape."

The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift grew slowly. In theory, anyone who agreed with the movement's aims could join, but much was expected of a Kinsman and relatively few could summon the dedication and commitment (and spare time) demanded by Hargrave.

Kinsmen were organised in Clans and Tribes, and each individual was given a red-Indian-style woodcraft name by his fellows. The correct costume had to be hand-made by each individual or 'rooftree' (family group) and while the everyday 'habit' of Saxon hood, jerkin, shorts and long cloak must have seemed outlandish enough in the English countryside of the early 20's; for ceremonial occasions, brilliantly coloured surcoats or silk-embroidered robes were worn by the various office-holders such as the Tallykeeper, Campswarden and Ritesmaster, Hargrave himself was 'Head Man' and his leadership was dynamic, inspirational and frankly autocratic.

He was an impressive young man. A slender, handsome figure with a great shock of hair and a commanding presence, Hargrave was a chain-smoker and vain enough about his appearance to take pains never to be photographed in the glasses he needed. He deliberately cultivated personal charisma and encouraged his followers to do the same. His critics, and throughout his life there were many found him cold, arrogant and demanding.

D.H. Lawrence wrote ...

"I respect him as a straightforward fighter. But he knows there's no hope, his way en masse. And therefore, underneath, he's full of hate. He's ambitious: and his ambition isn't practical ...he's overweening and he's cold. But, for all that, on the whole, he's right, and I respect him for it. I respect his courage and aloneness. If it weren't for his ambition and his lack of warmth, I'd go and Kibbo Kift along with him ..."

His followers however were devoted to him and found that the loyalty he demanded was returned in full. Nothing was too much trouble or too good for one of his Kinsmen, and they found in him a warmth and a gentle kindness almost at odds with his chosen role of World Leader. This absolute, almost messianic, belief in his own destiny, when coupled with quite exceptional powers of leadership and communication, razor-sharp intelligence and an endless capacity for work, resulted in a very formidable personality indeed. 'White Fox', it was generally agreed, was out of the common run.
Ceremony at a 1927 Kibbo Kift camp

The Kibbo Kift's central activity of hiking and camping was refined and elevated to the level of a spiritual exercise. The weekend Tribal Camps and the great annual 'Althing' were marked by vivid and impressive ritual, red-Indian in inspiration, but couched in language reminiscent of the Norse Sagas and rich in Saxon archaisms. Kinsmen were not only required to make their own lightweight one-man tents (the first seen in this country) but to decorate them with symbolic designs of their own devising. Each one had also to design, carve and paint his or her own totem poles. Influenced by Hargrave's own artistic taste, an ultra-modern 'futurist' style of design became general, and the robes, regalia, tents and other items of decorative art, often of an extremely high standard, represent an extraordinary 'democratisation' of the avant- garde art of the day.

Small in number, (never more than a few hundred strong) the Kibbo Kift was nonetheless quite widely known and admired. Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, the Suffragette leader, was a full Kinswoman, and the Advisory Committee included such names as Havelock Ellis, Maurice Maeterlink, the Bengali poet Tagore, H.G. Wells and Professor Julian Huxley. Hargrave's woodcraft books were popular in translation among the large German youth movement and visiting contingents of Kinsmen at Youth Camps in Germany made a considerable impression on the 'Wandervogel'.

Kibbo Kift  Advisory Council

  • Norman Angell
  • Lawrence W Chubb
  • Chief Deskaheh
  • Rev H Dunnico
  • Havelock Ellis
  • HH Elvin
  • A Farquharson
  • Stephen Graham
  • Dr WT Grenfell
  • CH Grinling
  • Sommerville Hastings
  • Maurice Hewlett
  • Julian S Huxley
  • Emiline Pethwick Lawrence  
  • Maurice Metterlink
  • Mary Neal
  • Henry W Nevinson
  • Baron Von Pallandt
  • JF Schaap
  • Vilhjalmur Stefansson
  • Rabindranath Tagore
  • Prof J Arthur Thomson
  • HG Wells
  • J Howard Whitehouse

Hargrave married one of the founder members of the Kindred, Ruth Clark 'Minobi', the leader of 'The Merrie Campers' group of woodcraft girls who had Joined the new organisation. Their son Ivan was born in 1921 and to augment his income, Hargrave, whose seven previous books had related mainly to woodcraft matters, turned to fiction and in 1924 he published his first novel HARBOTTLE. It enjoyed a considerable success, achieving best-seller status, and over the next ten years Hargrave published a further five novels. All are lively, idiosyncratic books, each remarkable in its own way and all clearly showing the author's preoccupation with the unsatisfactory condition of society and his own, highly individual solutions.

The same year, Hargrave was faced with a serious challenge. Predictably enough, many of the young idealists who joined the Kin had positive political views of the Fabian socialist type. Hargrave who was fiercely apolitical and increasingly saw the Kibbo Kift as being equally opposed to the 'Red Imperialism' of the British Empire on one hand and 'Red Revolution' on the other, was prepared for a crisis.

At the 1924 Althing, the left-wing grouping led by Kinsman Leslie Paul made a direct challenge to Hargrave's authority. The Head Man's reaction was typical; anyone who wasn't happy with his leadership had ten minutes to pack their tents and get off the camp-site. A minority did so and soon formed their own organisation The Woodcraft Folk. This body survived, became affiliated to the Co-operative Movement, eventually outlived its parent organisation and exists today as the oldest socialist Youth Movement in the country.

On one occasion, Hargrave was summoned to Denmark, to the castle of the wealthy Baron van Pallandt, a member of the K.K. Advisory Committee. There he was introduced to the young Indian mystic Krishnamurti. The childless Baron, it appeared, had determined to leave his fortune to one or other of the two young men, both of whom he regarded as potential World Saviours. After a rather awkward weekend it was announced that Krishnamurti was to be the Baron's new heir and Hargrave who, like Krishnamurti, had been largely indifferent to the outcome, returned home. Economic security continued to evade him until the end of his life.

In 1923, he was introduced to Major C.H. Douglas, an engineer and economist who was to change the course of Hargrave's life and the lives of his followers. Douglas had written a series of books setting out to show that the root of all social ills was economic, and could be defined as a basic and universal shortage of purchasing- power. Briefly stated, Douglas maintained that this shortage was caused by a fundamental flaw in the cost-accountancy system used throughout the civilised world; a flaw that ensured that there could never be enough money in the hands of the consumers to buy all the goods produced for sale. From this one flaw, said Douglas, came all poverty, all exploitation and War itself.

Douglas proposed radical and simple technical solutions to the 'money problem' and postulated a society where a birthright 'unearned' income for each individual, rich or poor, would be regularly paid by the State. An automatic 'Scientific Price Adjustment' linked to national prosperity and lowering retail prices to the consumer (working rather like VAT in reverse) would further increase the purchasing power of the individual while preventing any inflation. Industry, unhindered by the social necessity to 'create jobs' would institute rapid technological development financed by interest-free credits. The result, argued Douglas, would be a 'Leisure State' where the compulsion to work merely in order to live decently simply did not exist.

These ideas were startling; iconoclastic, radical and yet neither of the Left or Right, closely reasoned and apparently practical and, as such, appealed strongly to Hargrave. By 1925 'Social Credit', as Douglas' theories were known, was playing an important part in Hargrave's thinking. He was convinced that the Kibbo Kift techniques of personal rehabilitation and regeneration through wood- craft training and ritual were the only hope for a degenerate industrial society, yet only a small minority had the funds and the leisure to follow the Way of the Kindred. The Kibbo Kift was a small, essentially middle-class grouping; an elite corps, trained and disciplined to carry out some Great Work of World Salvation, but what was this Work to be hitherto this had been vague and undefined.

Social Credit made the Kibbo Kift complete. Here ready forged, was the weapon they had been training to weald. "Half our problem is psychological and the other half is economic. The psychological complex of industrial mankind can only be released by solving the economic impasse." Only in Douglas' Leisure State could the Kindred's ultimate aims be achieved.

The Kindred, Hargrave decided, were destined to become the driving force behind the Social Credit idea. He recognised however, that the transformation had to be effected slowly, and it was not until 1927 that monetary reform became an official part of the Kin's creed. Indeed, in THE CONFESSION OF THE KIBBO KIFT published the same year, a book which is perhaps the most complete statement of Hargrave's philosophy, Social Credit is expounded, but not in fact referred to by name.

Two years later, when the Kindred finally accepted Douglas' Social Credit as the only workable mechanism for implementing the essentials of the K.K., it was a movement that had passed through the fire. Hargrave's conversion to Social Credit had split the movement from top to bottom. Many Kinsmen had little interest in economics and less in politics. They wanted nothing better than to carry on following the Woodcraft Way in privacy; training youngsters and perpetuating the tribal traditions of the Kin. Hargrave now expected them to become the propaganda machine of a politico-economic movement and, what was worse, Kibbo Kift activity was now to be centred on the industrial cities that every Kinsman detested.

Many left; perhaps half the membership fell away during the late twenties. What is so extraordinary is the remarkable number of Kinsmen who did follow their Head Man on this difficult new adventure. It is a testimony of Hargrave's astonishing powers of leadership and sheer personal magnetism that the brightest and the best of the movement, men and women often themselves of high intelligence and formidable strength of character, now-put aside their woodcraft costumes and donned the dramatic tailored military tunic and shorts decreed by Hargrave.

The Kindred now marched rather than hiked; and Hargrave insisted on a high standard of drill. A Corps of Drums was founded and instructors were hired from the Brigade of Guards, while the Social Credit Movement as a whole looked in some alarm at its newest and most publicity- conscious recruits.

At a time of general economic collapse, Social Credit was enjoying a considerable vogue among independently minded intellectuals. Their enthusiasm was, however, generally confined to the formation of 'Study Groups'; their activities mainly literary. THE NEW AGE, a long established weekly with a brilliant reputation, had become, under its editor A.R. Orage, the official organ of the movement. Practical moves to bring about the adoption of Social Credit were seldom seriously discussed however, and Douglas himself, who never claimed to be more than an economic philosopher, was certainly no politician or the potential leader of a popular mass movement. His more action-minded followers, including Compton Mackenzie and Augustus John soon became enthusiastic supporters of the Kibbo Kift but most of the rest offered only cautious and qualified approval and many were openly hostile.

Hargrave however, turned his attention to those who stood to gain the most from Social Credit, the urban working-class unemployed. Under his discrete guidance, a 'Legion of the Unemployed' was set up in Coventry in 1930, and the following year they adopted a simple para- military uniform of green shirt and beret. The Legion was soon affiliated as 'Green Shirts of the Kibbo Kift' and in 1932 the Kibbo Kift themselves adopted the same uniform. The last vestiges of the external form of the original movement disappeared when, the following year, Hargrave announced a change of name. "That is going to be the popular name of this movement - the Green Shirts: Kibbo Kift is too difficult and the Legion of the Unemployed is too much of a mouthful. We've been misnamed Green Shirts, that name will stick to us - let's stick to it!"

The 'Green Shirt Movement for Social Credit' with the original K.K. Kinsmen as its officer caste, got off to a good start when it received the formal approval of Major Douglas himself. A London Headquarters was acquired and an intensive and exhausting programme of propaganda made the Greenshirts a familiar sight on the streets. Its earlier elitist policy forgotten, the movement now recruited widely, and marches, 'street patrols', the regular publication of a tabloid newspaper, demonstrations, street corner meetings and publicity stunts of all kinds spread the gospel according to Douglas.
Green Shirts marching at 
Peace Demonstration in London, 1936

For a few years the Movement flourished, enjoying genuine popularity, particularly among the unemployed. Vociferous and sometimes violent opposition was encountered both from Mosley's fascist Blackshirts and various Socialist and Communist groups. Scuffles and street-fights were not uncommon, but the Greenshirts maintained, with the police and public alike, an excellent reputation for good behaviour and discipline. A generally hostile Press could nonetheless refer to "the 2,000 or 3,000 Green Shirts - the smartest on parade of all the colour shirted armies ... by far the most numerous wearers of political uniforms in this country."

The Greenshirts own vendetta was with neither the political Left or Right who they regarded as 'two rats caught in a trap'. The target of Hargrave's highly professional propaganda was 'the rat-catcher',

'The Bankers' otherwise referred to as 'the Money Power' or 'the Forces of Finance Capital', were accused of perpetuating and profiting from an iniquitous 'monopoly of credit' to the ruination of employer and worker alike. Despite a Total War on the Banking System declared and ruthlessly waged by Hargrave, and despite a then current and popular identification of Bankers with the Jews, it is pleasing to report that there is not a trace of anti- semitism to be found in Greenshirt propaganda; while in his writing, Hargrave himself goes out of his way to praise the Jews and their immeasurable contribution to civilisation.

Like the rest of his men, Hargrave received no income from the Movement and had continued to earn a living in advertising and commercial art. In addition, with an extraordinary appetite for work, he had continued to write and in 1935 his novel SUMMER TIME ENDS was published. This epic kaleidoscope of British life and attitudes is probably his literary masterpiece. It attracted a large number of reviews:-

"For an absolute record of the state of English mind in our time, no volume of recent years surpasses it."
Ezra Pound
"It has enormous impact. Silly to say it is a great book until a few years have passed. Just now it does seem to be a very great book."
John Steinbeck
"I found this literally unreadable!"
Cyril Connolly

Unfortunately it also attracted very few sales.

In the same year an event took place that set the Social Credit movement agog. The State of Alberta in Western Canada elected a Social Credit government. Followers of Douglas held their breath Was the millennium about to dawn ? For some months the new provincial government appeared to be doing little. Hargrave, suspecting that a bogus Social Credit Party had been boosted into power by the forces of Finance Capital specifically to discredit the Douglas theory, and fearing the possibility of a similar move in this country, promptly reconstituted the Green Shirts as a political party; 'The Social Credit Party of Great Britain', complete with an election manifesto.

This move brought him into direct conflict with Douglas who had always refused to countenance Social Credit entering the conventional political arena. Nevertheless, a candidate for the South Leeds By-election was chosen and after lightening six week campaign, the new party captured a respectable eleven per cent of the poll.

Disappointed by the result, Hargrave's attention swung back to Alberta and finally, infuriated by the Provincial Government's evasive replies to his imperious telegrams, determined in typical Hargrave fashion to go out and put things right himself. He travelled to Canada alone, in great secrecy, and was well received by the Alberta Leadership who having been elected on a Social Credit platform, now had little idea of how the Grand Theory could be put into practice.

Their uninvited guest was officially appointed Economic Adviser to the Government and immediately set to work, but his plans were ruined by the arrival of a telegram from Douglas warning his hosts that Hargrave was not to be trusted and was not technically competent. Hargrave was furious and left Canada during the chaos of the Abdication Crisis of 1936. Douglas was never to be forgiven. Relations between the two men had always been uneasy. Hargrave was no follower and never happily acknowledged the implied superiority of Douglas' position. The American writer Graham Munson wrote, "If Douglas is the Marx of social credit, Hargrave is its Lenin." But while Hargrave ever after remained loyal to Douglas' discoveries, he now repudiated any leadership of Social Credit other than his own.

Back in Canada, the Alberta regime found that all Social Credit legislation passed by the province was promptly thrown out as unconstitutional by the central Canadian Dominion legislature and so, prevented from establishing the Douglas Promised Land, they settled, with (it must be said) considerable relief, for providing a solid, quiet, popularist form of government that was to prove so popular that the Social Credit Party remained in power for over thirty years.

In Britain however, the apparent failure of the 'Alberta Experiment' dealt a heavy blow to the Greenshirts and the Social Credit movement in general, and the Public Order Act of 1937, which followed and outlawed the use of political uniforms, was a disaster from which Hargrave's Movement would never fully recover. Brave and typical attempts to circumvent the ban were made where marchers carried their Green Shirts aloft on hangers. The Corps of Drums was urged to even greater efforts, but the mass membership swiftly began to fall away and as soon as Hargrave realised that war with Germany was inevitable, he urged his remaining loyal core of followers to join the Forces. One of the last Greenshirt publicity stunts, before the War put an end to all organised political activity, occurred when a mysterious green-clad archer appeared in Downing Street and shot a green arrow into the front door of No. 10.

The previous year, 1938, had seen the beginning of a curious episode that eventually became an important part of Hargrave's life. He had been visiting a Green Shirt friend, now an RAF pilot, at his base and they had casually discussed the considerable problems of navigating in the air with the sole aid of a folded paper map. The same night Hargrave had a vivid dream in which he seemed to see in complete detail the mechanism of a moving optical map display that could be made to perform as an automatic navigator for aircraft. The next day he made a rough cardboard model of the device and decided to try and get it built.

He eventually found, and went into partnership with, Cedric Williams, a brilliant young optical engineer. They patented the invention, built a prototype and Hargrave pressed for its adoption by the RAF. The instrument was tested under war conditions and officially acknowledged as being 'very ingenious and extremely useful'. Unfortunately it was also expensive to produce and would require a gyroscope control to achieve its full potential. All available gyroscopes were earmarked for bomb-sights and the project was therefore shelved for the duration. Always a man to look forward, never back, Hargrave promptly forgot about the whole business.

Too old for the forces, Hargrave sat out the war in comparative inaction. Naturally he continued to write and a scandalous biography of his bete noir, the Governor of the Bank of England, PROFESSOR SKINNER, ALIAS MONTAGUE NORMAN, achieved a success of a kind when every available copy was bought up by the Bank and destroyed. In 1940 he published WORDS WIN WARS, a manual of propaganda and a condemnation of the Government's lamentable efforts in that field. In addition, every week without fail, there appeared THE MESSAGE FROM HARGRAVE. Originally conceived as a newsletter to Green Shirts in the Forces, it became his principal line of communication to the world-at-large and continued publication without a break from 1938 to 1951.

During the War a further event occurred that was to have a profound effect on Hargrave's world view. He was on a visit to South Wales to address a meeting of mine workers and was a guest in a miner's cottage when the grand mother of the household had an accident, upsetting the kettle of boiling water over her hand. Hargrave tried to comfort the old lady and took the scalded hand between his own. Then a remarkable thing happened. In the space of a few minutes the swelling and blistering disappeared, the pain vanished and she felt her hand grow ice cold. Hargrave was astonished and his hosts became distinctly nervous and clearly anxious for him to depart. Two things soon became apparent; firstly he was apparently able to cause physical healing to occur by some unknown agency, and secondly, people in general did not enjoy coming into contact with the inexplicable.

In his usual direct and logical way, he systematically investigated his strange power and found it to be considerable. He began to 'give healing' by 'radiation from the hand' whenever he was asked but soon found that his subjects were even more receptive when they were not aware that they were being treated. He therefore developed various techniques of 'absent healing' and for some years specialised in the unique skill of healing by 'psycographs'. These haunting and uneasy abstract paintings were each created for a specific 'patient' and were unveiled before the sufferer for exactly one minute a day. Later he was to abandon this technique also and give healing without any communication whatsoever between himself and the subject. Some of the attested 'cures' brought about in this way seem little short of miraculous, but Hargrave himself was very down-to-earth about the phenomenon and uncharacteristically reluctant to discuss or publicise it. Predictably he never accepted any reward for his healing work which continued in one form or another until almost the end of his life.

The Social Credit Party of Great Britain lurched back into life after the War and Hargrave was full of ideas and enthusiasm. A 'National Evangel' was to carry the gospel of Social Credit to market places throughout the country; another series of demonstrations and stunts was organised and in the 1950 General Election, Hargrave himself stood as Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke Newington. His 700 votes and lost deposit told the sad story. In post-war Britain very few people wanted to bother their heads about the new heaven and new earth offered courtesy of Social Credit. Normality, ordinariness and the Spirit of Compromise were the required qualities of any politician. Spell-binding oratory and great-leaders-of-men had gone suddenly out of style at the end of the War.

Hargrave read the signs clearly, and five months later an Extraordinary Meeting of the Party passed a Resolution 'to dissolve as an Organisation'. This decision thoroughly alienated most of the remaining membership, except those remaining Kinsmen of the Kibbo Kift who, as always, would follow their Head Man through dissolution itself, The Extraordinary Meeting was extraordinarily acrimonious but Hargrave was adamant; he had founded the Movement in 1920 and now, thirty years later, he chose to dissolve it. The MESSAGE FROM HARGRAVE ceased publication, and Hargrave himself vanished from public life. Wa-Whaw-Goosh, The White Fox, had gone to earth.

The Social Credit Party reassembled itself into a series of small groups and factions, some of which survive to this day in isolated pockets of resistance, their efforts expended in publishing pamphlets and newsletters; ageing torch-bearers of an extraordinary idea.

Shortly before the 1950 General Election, Hargrave had met Gwendolyn Gray, a glamorous West End actress and Social Creditor. She was to be his constant companion and helper for the rest of his life, a life which was, for the next seventeen years, to revolve about earning an ever more precarious living from his pen. In 1951, after ten years of research, appeared THE LIFE AND SOUL OF PARACELSUS an imaginative biography of the iconoclastic medieval German scientist, mystic and healer, with whom Hargrave felt a great affinity. This book led to him being commissioned to write the entry on Paracelsus for the 15th Edition of the ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANICA. He compiled an excellent educational Dictionary which sold extensively in Africa and became his second 'best-seller'. THE SUVLA BAY LANDING (1964) recounted his wartime experiences at Gallipoli and his cartoons were regularly seen in VANITY FAIR and the DAILY SKETCH. There were many unsuccessful projects however, and numerous unpublished novels date from this period.

In 1967, at the age of 73, he was galvanised out of this state of relative tranquillity by reading in the SUNDAY TIMES that the new wonder-plane, Concorde, was to be equipped with a moving map display, which appeared from the photograph to be constructed to the same design that he had patented a quarter of a century before. Further investigations confirmed his suspicions and there then began a nine-year battle with the Authorities for recognition and reward that is in itself a complete and epic tale of faith and fortitude in the face of impossible odds.

Hargrave Autonavigator

Hargrave Autonavigator Mk II
 (Now in the Science Museum)

His claim was at first dismissed out-of-hand, but working alone and aided only by his indomitable wife (Hargrave and Gwendolyn Gray were married in 1968) he nonetheless finally achieved the quite remarkable feat of forcing the Government to a full Public Enquiry. Held at the Cafe Royal in 1976 and attracting wide media coverage, it was to be his last battle with authority. He was now 82 and the relentless pressure of the campaign had exhausted him. He had grown deaf and a curious vanity prevented him from wearing a deaf-aid. Disdaining (and being unable to afford) professional representation, he conducted his own case with magnificent aplomb, but collapsed with exhaustion the day before he was due to make his Closing Address. The Enquiry conceded that Hargrave's invention had in fact been copied and developed to create the modern instrument but disallowed any Award on a point of technical procedure. It was a crushing disappointment from which he never fully recovered.

Shortly after the ill-fated Enquiry however, his spirits were somewhat revived by the modest success of a Rock Musical about his Movement that became one of the most talked-about shows of that year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Hargrave himself travelled to the Traverse Theatre for the First Night of THE KIBBO KIFT, and so bewitched the authors, cast and crew that he could have formed an entire K.K. Tribe or Green Shirt Section on the spot. The same surprising phenomenon was observed the following year when the show was produced at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Hargrave's appeal to young people remained as potent as ever it had been.

The Enquiry and the Musical brought many of his old followers together, in some cases for the first time in fifty years, and as a result it was decided to form a Foundation to gather and preserve the records and regalia of the Movement and to provide them with a permanent home for the enlightenment of future generations. It is a testament to Hargrave that so many Kindred and Greenshirts had kept not only their costumes, papers and regalia in good order, but had maintained the ideals of the Movement, fresh, bright and intact.

In due course the papers of the Movement were ceremonially handed over to the care of the Youth Movement Archive housed by University College (papers now at the London School of Economics), Cardiff (papers now at the London School of Economics) and at a similar ceremony a few months later, the extensive collection of robes, regalia and artefacts were presented on loan to the Museum of London.

Hargrave's health failed gradually, but until his death on November 21st 1982 he remained a lively and fascinating companion full of interest in the future and largely indifferent to his extraordinary past.

He wrote the following words in 1938 :-

what'll we do?
what won't we do!
one time we'll build a new town: and if we don't like it
pull it down, and build another
you'd rather go fishing up the river? all right, then
what's to stop you? ... not me
we'll travel at 300 m.p.h. halfway round the earth
and the rest of the way on foot, just for fun
you'd rather stay at home and smoke a pipe,
... well, why not?
we'll turn every sound into its own colour-vibration
how's that?
you'd much rather have a garden to potter about in?
we'll show 'em how to print with light, instead of ink?
much prefer a round of golf?
We'll fit radiotelephones in every home?
you'd rather have no telephone at all?
right, we'll leave you out: that's easy ...
we'll take down all advertisement hoarding - good idea?
no one'll want 'em (they don't now)
you're too busy growing apples? ... well, that's all right
tell you what: we'll go for a walk, just anywhere
and not come back till we choose
you'd rather go on a luxury cruise? ... splendid
we'll use sun-energy direct for driving machines
not interested? you'd rather go to a dancehall and dance?
we'll make a dancehall worth dancing in

in Xanadu did Kubla Khan
a stately pleasure-dome decree
You only want to dance in it? ... well, let me design it

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