Born in Manchester, Beard worked as a patternmaker and became active in the United Patternmakers Association, first as a local organiser, then as secretary of its Lancashire and Cheshire district. In his early life, he was also involved in amateur dramatics.
In 1912, he became a full-time union official. He was elected as general secretary of the Patternmakers in 1941, serving until his death in 1967, in which role he was known for his interest in trade union education, and his opposition to communism. He also served on the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) from 1947, and was President of the TUC in 1955/56. In addition, he chaired the TUC's Education Committee for many years, and served on a number of government commissions. He served on the Iron and Steel Board in the early 1950s, but resigned in 1953 following pressure from his union. In 1958/59, he was President of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions.
Beard stood down from the TUC General Council at its 1967 Congress, and died unexpectedly before the end of the year.
- 1939 England and Wales Register
- The Times, 18 December 1967
- "Wilfred Beard", Fact: a Socialist Digest, vols.13-15, p.54
- The Foundry Trade Journal, vol.99, p.364
- "Cabinet Office list of honours declined by since deceased persons, 1951–1999" (PDF). Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Wilf Beard", Labour: TUC information sheet (1967), p.26
|Trade union offices|
| General Secretary of the United Patternmakers Association
| President of the Trades Union Congress
| President of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions
Jim Campbell and Tom Eccles
| Trades Union Congress representative to the AFL-CIO
With: Joseph O'Hagan
Frank Cousins and Frederick Hayday