Thomas Lewis Way in Southampton was named after a prominent local character, an advocate for workers' rights and a popular political figure.

In the year 1873, in the bustling area of St Mary's, Thomas Lewis was born and so began his incredible journey.

His father, John Lewis, toiled as a dock worker hailing from Jersey. The Lewis family's humble abode was nestled in a cosy shared residence at 24 Melbourne Street during Thomas's early years.

Sharing the household with them were the Lewis family, the skilled clockmaker William Lewis and his kin. It was because of this exposure that Tommy became an apprentice watchmaker at the age of 11.

Lewis was a strong advocate for workers' rights. He was involved in the local and national labour movement, helping form trade unions and representing the interests of dockworkers, sailors, and other working-class residents.

He made history by being elected as the first Southampton Labour Party councillor in 1901,  representing the St Mary's ward.

His efforts were instrumental in establishing grassroots chapters for the Dockers’ Union, the Ship Stewards’ Union, and the National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union. He was also president of the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society for many years.

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Playing a pivotal role in the establishment of the newly-formed British Seafarers’ Union was one of his many contributions, leading to his appointment as the Honorary President of the organisation.

Lewis stood for parliament in Southampton on numerous occasions and was finally elected as the city's first Labour MP in 1929, a significant achievement for the Labour Party.

After losing his position in 1931, he continued to be involved in community affairs and was appointed as a permanent member of the Emergency Committee throughout the duration of the Second World War.

Following the overwhelming victory of the Labour Party in 1945, Tommy secured another term at the age of 72 before retiring from national politics in 1950 - the same year he received a CBE.

Lewis served on the Southampton Borough Council for an impressive 60 years, starting in 1901. He worked tirelessly to improve the lives of citizens during that time and championed various causes over the years.

Over the course of those years, he was elected as an Alderman and granted the title of Honorary Freeman of the borough. To honour his contributions, a commemorative plaque was installed in the Civic Centre.

Further tributes to Tommy's legacy come in the form of the residential Thomas Lewis House on Empress Road and a set of apartments in Kingsland, constructed in 1953.

During his later years, Thomas Lewis resided at 66 Alma Road, a location now marked with a blue plaque by the Bevois Mount History group.

Daily Echo: Thomas (Tommy) Lewis.

But the most well-known homage comes from a debate spanning several years in which the path of the proposed M272 link road that would connect the M27 to central Southampton was a topic of contention. Originally envisioned to mirror the design of the M271, the final outcome took a different form.

Notably, a road of non-motorway standard was constructed and christened Thomas Lewis Way.

To commemorate this new addition, a celebratory street gathering took place on August 24, 1988.

Amid hopes of setting a Guinness World Record, expectations were set high with an anticipated turnout of 10,000 individuals.

However, the actual attendance fell short, with only several thousand braving the bleak weather to join the festivities.