He was educated at a Durham County school, and became left school to start work on his 14th birthday in Chopwell Colliery where he become a coal face worker, and also an officer of the National Union of Mineworkers (National Union of Mineworkers) for 15 years, serving as treasurer of his local National Union of Mineworkers branch from 1943.
He was first elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in February 1956, following the death of the sitting Member of Parliament, Labour"s William Whiteley. He held the seat at the next six general elections, before stepping down from Parliament at the 1979 general election. In 1973, he and fellow Labour Member of Parliament Tom Urwin were awarded costs and damages after being libelled by The Journal newspaper.
41st United Kingdom Parliament. 42nd United Kingdom Parliament. 43rd United Kingdom Parliament.
44th United Kingdom Parliament.
45th United Kingdom Parliament. 46th United Kingdom Parliament.
47th United Kingdom Parliament]
He sat in the House of Commons from 1956 to 1979 as the Member of Parliament (Member of Parliament) for Blaydon. He was also a member of Durham County Council from 1947 to 1956.