Lewis began work as a watchmaker at the age of 11. He became involved with the Social Democratic Federation at some point in the late 1880s. He went on to serve a total of nine years on the Federation"s National Executive.
In 1901, Lewis was elected as Southampton"s first Labour councillor.
He served on the Borough council until 1961, except for two short breaks totalling 18 months
He was selected by Southampton Trades Council to contest the Southampton constituency in the January 1910 General Election but was forced to withdraw through lack of funds. He stood as a candidate at the 1918, 1922, 1923 and 1924 elections, before finally being elected at 1929 general election, along with Ralph Morley, as Southampton"s first Labour MPs.
He lost the seat at the 1931 general election, having been among the Labour MPs who refused to follow the Prime Minister and Labour Party Leader Ramsay MacDonald into a coalition with the Conservatives to form the National Government. He returned to the House of Commons at the age of 72 in the Labour landslide at the 1945 general election, but retired from national politics when the two-seat Southampton constituency was divided at the 1950 general election.
Lewis played a prominent, if sometimes controversial, role in the development of trade unionism in Southampton.
He helped to form branches of the Dockers" Union, the Ship"s Stewards" Union, the Shop Assistants" Union and the National Sailors" and Firemen"s Union. In 1911 he took part in a revolt of the local Seamen"s Union branch against the national officials, which led to formation of a new union, the British Seafarers" Union. Lewis became the honorary president of the new union and, later, of its successor, the Amalgamated Marine Workers" Union.
He was also president of the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society for many years.
In 1989, the A335 Portswood bypass was opened, a road which followed the course of what was intended to be the M272 motorway, a spur of the M27 from into Southampton (along similar lines to the M271 motorway). Instead the bypass was constructed as a single carriageway road, and was named after Tommy Lewis.
35th United Kingdom Parliament. 38th United Kingdom Parliament.