BOSSOM, Sir Clive (1918-2017).



8 October 1959 - 28 February 1974


Sir Clive Bossom was born in New York on 4 February 1918 and returned to England as a child before attending Eton. Bossom’s childhood was dominated by a plane crash that killed his mother and older brother, bringing him much closer to his father. During the war he served in Europe and the Far East in the Royal East Kent regiment, leaving the army in 1948 with the rank of Major. He married Barbara North, proposing to her during his 1951 election campaign, and they had four children together.

His father was a Conservative MP before he entered the Lords, whose influence in Kent helped Sir Clive become first a County Councillor and later Conservative candidate for Faversham. Sir Clive lost twice in the 1950s before winning in Leominster (1959). During his time on the backbenches his Private Members’ Bill, the Antarctic Treaty Bill, was passed helping ratify an agreement to protect the continent’s environment. Bossom stood down from Parliament in 1974, having succeeded his father as 2nd baronet, to pursue a business career. He was later known for his involvement in motorsport.

Sir Clive died in March 2017, and we have featured his interview on our blog.

Click here to listen to the full interview with Sir Clive Bossom in the British Library.

Transcript of clip

Then I had a fascinating year and a half in Hong Kong. The war of course had finished and it was a completely new world to me. It gave me time to think of what I wanted to do for the future. There I think I got the idea that politics, having seen so much father had done, and how interesting it could be. I wasn’t really qualified, then, to do anything else… So I thought let’s have a go at politics, it was the reason I resigned my commission and came back. As I said before, I was very lucky to find I could go into local government. I fought Maidstone East on the Kent County Council, and it was quite a battle, I fought it like a general election really. It was father’s political opponent who was chief whip of the Labour party in the county council, so it was a good thing to get rid of him, because he’d made a lot of publicity in local government affairs.

Summary of interview

Track 1 [00:00:24] [Session one: 2 July 2012] Hon. Sir Clive Bossom [CB], born New York, 1918. Introduction.
Track 2 [01:16:41] Description of early life in USA. Description of return to UK in 1927 and death of his mother and brother Bruce in flying accident in 1932. Reflection on subsequent strengthening of relationship with his father Sir Alfred Bossom [AB]. Remarks on initial ambition to become a diplomat, and then joining The Buffs (The Royal East Kent Regiment). Comments on being adopted by Maidstone East County Council in 1948. Remarks on fighting Faversham seat in 1951 and 1955. Comments on subsequent move to Herefordshire and election as MP for Leominster in 1959. Description of AB’s career as an architect in USA and marriage to American Emily Bayne [EB]. Remarks on Eton. Remarks on AB’s involvement in slum clearance and subsequent move into politics. Remarks on Winston Churchill’s request for AB to look into pre-fab houses. Remarks on AB’s interest in Europe and AB’s advice to CB to join supplementary reserve as AB could see war coming. [11:25] Remarks on joining AB on Inter Parliamentary Union trips after the war. Comments on CB’s interest in foreign affairs as a schoolboy. Reflection on travelling to USA with AB after EB’s death. Description of EB’s musical connections both in New York and London. Remarks on CB’s travels with AB as a child. Comments on Eton. Remarks on attending church. Description of London neighbour Bishop Michael Marshall. Detailed description of entering army. [24:40] Description of time after school studying European languages. Remarks on war service. Description of landing in France, encountering hostility in Le Havre and being stationed at Arnhem. [28:40] Detailed description of flying missions with Polish pilots to locate enemy mortars. Remarks on post-war posting to take two Persian kittens to Lady Mountbatten in Ceylon. Comments on postings in Asia. Comments on resigning commission and deciding to go into politics. Remarks on fighting AB’s political opponent for seat on Maidstone East County Council. Further comments on war experiences and AB’s experiences in Home Guard at Westminster. Remarks on younger brother Doric Bossom [DB]. Remarks on CB working as AB’s PA and chairman of Adopted Parliamentary Candidates committee. Detailed remarks on AB’s political life and CB not wanting to take AB’s seat over. Description of social parties held by AB and AB’s sympathy for politicians’ wives. [44:15] Remarks on being adopted to fight Faversham. Comments on Edward Boyle, Keith Joseph, Iain Macleod. Remarks on being Enoch Powell’s [EP] secretary. Remarks on Michael Heseltine, Nicholas Ridley [NR]. Anecdote about Margaret Thatcher [MT] regretting not making NR chancellor. Remarks on early electioneering in Faversham. Comments on importance of getting experience in local government. Remarks on his own work at county council. Remarks on attending Swinton College alongside MT. [56:12] Description of how AB made MT his protégé, MT’s strengths and AB’s advice to MT. Description of AB finding MT seat in Dartford and AB offering to host MT’s wedding. Comments about CB’s own marriage to Lady Barbara North [BB]. Comments about MT being a ‘star’. [59:56]

Track 2 [cont. from 59:56] Story about MT asking CB to be her PPS to please AB. Comments about a recent meeting with MT. Remarks about John Boyd-Carpenter’s support for MT. Remarks on losing Faversham. Comments on AB making CB a name a Lloyds which gave him financial security. Comments on BB’s support during campaign. Lengthy, amusing description of courtship with BB. Description of early married life in Kent. [01:11:00] Comments on MPs’ pay and DB’s advice on being a name at Lloyds. Remarks on being a