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Born in 1882, Nellie was the eldest of four children and nine years old when her father died. Her widowed mother kept the family going by “cooking or cleaning, or anything she could get”.
Nellie own husband was killed in the First World War, so, to keep her own family, she went to work on the buses as a conductress, which was an introduction to trade unionism. During her three years on the buses she took part in a wage-claim strike, which was “practically solid and very successful", possibly the famous equal pay strike of 1918.
After the war, finding work in the upholstery trade, she became a militant trade union activist in the Amalgamated
She was then a member of the Labour Party, albeit always at loggerheads with the local leaders. One day she happened to go into
Hampton’s was to be her longest job, for as she became more and more active as a trade unionist, Nellie was frequently victimised. She was eventually barred from working with them by all the
Some Communist Party leaflets issued at the factory gate and some classes confirmed her views, and she joined the Communist Party in 1928.
She was secretary of the Women's Shop Stewards' movement in the 1930s and played a leading role in the strike for a women's wage increase in West End upholstery shops—which resulted in nine months of victimisation by the employers.
Later, after her union was merged within the National
Nellie Usher joined the Communist Party in 1928 and was an activist for the Party until great old age. An active member of the
One of her proudest possessions was a gold watch presented to her in 1961 by her union branch for a lifetime of effort.
Source: World News January 20th 1962; Daily Worker 4 January 1962