Catalogue description The Fred Ball Collection of Robert Tressell material and early Socialist Documents

This record is held by Hastings Museum and Art Gallery

Details of HASMG
Reference: HASMG
Title: The Fred Ball Collection of Robert Tressell material and early Socialist Documents

The Fred Ball Collection consists of items relating to Robert Noonan also known as Robert Tressell, his family and home in Hastings, his membership of a number of socialist political parties, and his authorship of the 'Ragged Trousered Philanthropists'


Many documents relate to his membership of the British Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party and interest in other communist and left wing political parties. Included are membership cards, pamphlets, booklets and souvenir programmes, which belonged to Robert Tressell.


Hastings Museum also holds a section of the mural created by Noonan for St Andrews Church, Hastings, in 1905. The church was demolished in 1970. Another Noonan document is a short personal reminiscence of the author written by fellow signwriter, W.J. Ward, in the 1930s.


The Tressell documents held by the Hastings Museum were mainly gathered by Noonan's biographer, Fred Ball, during research for his two books 'Tressell of Mugsborough' published in 1951' and 'One of the Damned' published in 1973. Fred Ball died in 1988 and the collection was acquired by the Museum from his widow, Jacqui Ball in 1989. Other items were collected by Hastings Museum

Held by: Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Hastings Museum and Art Gallery

Tressell, Robert, 1870 - 1911, socialist

Ball, Fred, 1905 - 1988

Physical description: 5 boxes
  • Hastings, East Sussex
  • Socialism
Administrative / biographical background:

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was written by Robert Tressell in Hastings between 1906 and 1910. Robert Tressell was the pen name of Robert Noonan, an Anglo Irish sign writer and decorator. The setting of the book, Mugsborough, is a thinly disguised description of Hastings as it appeared to Noonan at the time.


Ball was responsible for finding the original manuscript of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists in 1955 and later that year Lawrence and Wishart published the first unabridged version of the book. In 1959 the original manuscript of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists of 1955 was deposited in the TUC Library at Congress House.

Link to NRA Record:

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research