John Hughes

John Hughes was the Principal of Ruskin from 1979 to his retirement in 1989. He joined the College in 1958, where he would stay for over 30 years.

Born in 1927, John won a scholarship to Westminster City School before being evacuated to Kent during the war. After the war he won another scholarship to study Greats at Lincoln College, Oxford, but quickly swapped to Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1948. In 1949 he joined the international youth brigade rebuilding the Samac-Sarajevo railway line in Yugoslavia and met his wife Vi, who he married later that year. Vi became a Tutor and then Senior Tutor in English Literature at Ruskin.

Throughout his life, John put his considerable range of skills at the service of the labour movement and was a passionate believer in a fairer economic system, seeking better wages and conditions for working people. In the 1960’s he helped the TUC set up its annual Economic Review, presenting an alternative perspective on economic strategy. He was a prolific writer for the Fabian Society and for Spokesman Books on workers’ control.

John first discovered Ruskin as a student himself, before becoming a Tutor in Economics, Politics and Industrial Relations. He was appointed Vice-Principal in 1970 and Principal in 1979, following the retirement of Billy Hughes.

As Principal, he founded Ruskin’s Trade Union Research Unit, introduced project work, set up a Labour Studies course, and devised advanced courses for senior trade union officials. He retired in 1989.

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