'Seventy Years of Trade Unionism, 1868-1938' (TUC: London, 1938) (personalised presentation copy, embossed with Gibson's name and signed by members of the TUC General Council); typescript copies of General Secretary's comments and obituary from 'The Health Services Journal', March/April 1953 and editorial tribute in the 'Daily Herald'; typescript copy of article 'Fight for Freedom', 1940s (provenance unknown); typescript copies of correspondence, 1941-1942, 1946-1947, 1949 (12 letters); minutes of the quarterly meeting of the Northern Federation of the Mental Hospital and Institutional Workers' Union, 3 December 1942 (typescript copy); copy of arbiter's decision in the dispute between the Inverness Asylum Joint Committee and the Mental Hospital and Institutional Workers' Union, 9 November 1942 (typescript copy); Gibson's address to the French Chamber of Commerce in London, 12 October 1942 (typescript copy); Gibson's statement at the Lynskey Tribunal, 3 November 1948 (typescript copy from files of Moelwyn Hughes QC); draft of Gibson's reminiscences (typescript copy), with annotations (including a summary of the Lynskey Tribunal and Gibson's rebuttal of the findings) added by Gibson's family in 2000/01.
George Gibson was born in Calton, a suburb of Glasgow, on 3 April 1885, the son of Irish-born Johnston Gibson, a 'drysalter', or maker of vinegar and castor oil, who later successively owned a fish and chip shop, a fish shop and a newsagent. His mother, Mary, was Scottish. Although a good scholar, Gibson left school at the age of eleven and held a variety of jobs before moving to England in about 1909 to become an attendant at Winwick Asylum in Warrington.
On 10 July 1910 he was one of the co-founders of the National Asylum Workers' Union and was elected its first Honorary Secretary. He became Vice-President in 1911 and Assistant Organising Secretary in 1912. In 1913 he became full-time General Secretary, a position he held until his retirement in 1948 (the NAWU becoming the Mental Hospital and Institutional Workers’ Union in 1930). He was elected to the General Council of the TUC in 1928 and remained a member until his retirement in 1948. He chaired the General Council and was President of the TUC in 1940/41.
He enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1915 and was commissioned in 1917. He was demobbed in 1919 as a substantive lieutenant, but as he was commanding a battery he was probably acting in a higher rank. He had been twice mentioned in despatches and gassed, which left him a semi-asthmatic for the rest of his life.
From 1940 to 1941 Gibson served as a full-time Director of the Children's Overseas Reception Board, responsible for evacuating British children overseas. In 1941 he visited both Sweden and the USA on official missions. He also served in many other positions during and after the war, including Vice-Chairman of the National Savings Committee (1939-49), Director of the Bank of England (?1945-49), Chairman of the North West Regional Board for Industry, Chairman of the Northern Western Electricity Board and Chairman of the BBC General Council. In 1946 he was made a Companion of Honour.
In 1949 the findings of the Lynskey Tribunal, that he had used his official influence to assist one Sidney Stanley to set up a business in expectation of personal gain, compelled Gibson to resign from all official posts, although he continued to deny all the allegations.
At some time before the First World War he married Ellen Crossfield, a Manchester hotelier's daughter, but she was tragically killed in a tram accident in Blackpool. He later married Eva Crabtree, whose first husband had been killed in action in 1917. His first marriage was childless, but he had five children with Eva.
George Gibson died on 4 February 1953.