Welensky, Roy, 1907-1991

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1907-01-20
Death 1991-12-05

Biographical notes:

Roy Welensky was born on January 20, 1907, in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He grew up in South Africa and began working for Rhodesia Railways in 1931 as a fireman. In 1934, Welensky moved to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), where he was elected to the legislative council in 1938. By the late 1940s, he had become a leading advocate for the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia. Welensky became a powerful political figure in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which was created in 1953 with the unification of the British colonies of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland (now Malawi). From 1953 to 1956, he was Minister of Transport, Communications, and Posts, from 1955 to 1956 he was leader of the House and Deputy Prime Minister, and from 1956 to 1963 he was Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs. With the dissolution of the federation on December 31, 1963, Welensky retired from politics. He died on December 5, 1991.

From the description of Roy Welensky papers, 1961-1972 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702125709

Roy (Roland) Welensky was born in Harare (then Salisbury), Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), in 1907. His father was an emigrant from Poland, first to the United States, then to South Africa and finally a pioneer trekker to Rhodesia. Welensky was educated in Harare and left school at the age of fourteen finding a variety of employment across Africa. In 1924, he turned to the railway for work - and to prize-fighting - in Kabwe (Broken Hill), Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia). In Broken Hill he entered the trade union movement as a member of the Railway Workers' Union. Around this time too he became heavy-weight boxing champion of the Rhodesias, 1926-1928. He rose rapidly as a labour leader and in 1933, at the age of 26, he was elected chairman of the Broken Hill branch of the RWU and a National Councillor holding both positions until his retirement from the railways 20 years later. By the early-1930s, Welensky was an engine driver on the main line. His political career began in 1938 with his election to the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council. Between 1941-1946 he was Director of Manpower for Northern Rhodesia, and in 1941 he formed the Northern Rhodesia Labour Party. Welensky participated in the Commission set up under Sir John Forster to investigate the riots in the Zambian Copperbelt in 1940. He was also a member of the Strauss Railway Arbitration Tribunal in 1943, and the Grant Railway Arbitration Tribunal in 1946. He was made Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) in 1946. Welensky was a member of delegations to London to discuss mineral royalties, 1949, and the constitution in 1950 and 1951. He continued to serve unopposed on the Legislative Council until the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formed in 1953. Welensky was a strong supporter of - and was instrumental in the creation of - this Central African Federation. He was elected to the first Assembly of the Federation in 1953 and became the right hand man of its architect, Sir Godfrey Huggins, later Lord Markham. Welensky was knighted in that year and on Sir Godfrey's retirement in 1956 he succeeded him as Prime Minister. He was made Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) in 1959. He continued to head the Federation until it was dismantled in 1963. His Southern Rhodesian Federal Party was defeated by the Rhodesian Front of Ian Smith in 1964. After Smith's unilateral declaration of independence in 1965, Welensky left politics. Latterly he lived in Blandford Forum, Dorset, England. The Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky KCMG died in 1991.

From the guide to the Correspondence relating to Sir Roy Welensky (1907-1991), 1952-1976, (Edinburgh University Library)

Roy Welensky was born on January 20, 1907, in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He grew up in South Africa and began working for Rhodesia Railways in 1931 as a fireman. In 1934, Welensky moved to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), where he was elected to the legislative council in 1938. By the late 1940s, he had become a leading advocate for the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia. Welensky become a powerful political figure in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which was created in 1953 with the unification of the British colonies of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland (now Malawi). From 1953 to 1956, he was Minister of Transport, Communications, and Posts, from 1955 to 1956 he was leader of the House and Deputy Prime Minister, and from 1956 to 1963 he was Prime Minister and Minster of External Affairs. With the dissolution of the federation on December 31, 1963, Welensky retired from politics. He died on December 5, 1991.

From the guide to the Roy Welensky papers, 1961-1972, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Sir Roy (Raphael) Welensky, CMG (1946), Kt (1953), KCMG (1959), PC (1960), was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia on the 20 January 1907. When he was 17 he started work as a fireman on the Rhodesia Railways, playing a prominent part in the railway strike of 1929. Following the strike he became a leader in the Railway Workers' Union and, in 1933, was made Chairman of the Broken Hill branch of the Union and was also appointed a member of the National Council.

In 1938 Welensky became a member of the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council and he held the Broken Hill seat on the Council unopposed until he was elected to the first Federal Assembly in 1953. During his political career in Northern Rhodesia he was a member of the Executive Council (from 1940) and was appointed Chairman of the Unofficial Members Association in 1946. During World War Two he served as Director of Manpower for Northern Rhodesia (receiving the CMG for his services), and in 1941 founded the Northern Rhodesia Labour Party.

An advocate of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Welensky attended all the conferences leading to its establishment, and was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications, and Minister of Posts in the first full Federal Government. In June 1954 he was made Leader of the House and then, on the 1 November 1956, became Federal Prime Minister. After the dissolution of the Federation in 1963, Welensky retired to the farm he had bought with the leaving present subscribed to by a large number of his supporters in Africa and Great Britain; he also set up a consultancy on business and labour affairs. After an unsuccessful return to politics in the Arundel by-election in Southern Rhodesia (1964), Welensky quit active politics forever, although he continued to correspond with politicians and statesmen worldwide and also published Welensky's 4000 Days. The life and death of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (London: Collins, 1964).

Welensky died on the 5 December 1991.

From the guide to the Papers of the Rt. Hon. Sir Roy Welensky, 1936-1990, (The Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House)

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Subjects:

  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Prime ministers Rhodesia and Nyasaland
  • Prime ministers Zimbabwe
  • Prime ministers

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Malawi (as recorded)
  • Zimbabwe Politics and government (as recorded)
  • Zambia (as recorded)
  • Rhodesia and Nyasaland Politics and government (as recorded)
  • Zambia Officials and employees (as recorded)
  • Malawi Politics and government (as recorded)
  • Rhodesia and Nyasaland Officials and employees (as recorded)
  • Zambia Politics and government (as recorded)
  • Rhodesia and Nyasaland (as recorded)