Chapter Seven


1)  Out with the old – in with the new
a) Social Conditions – 1890 to 19
b) The growth of industrial militancy 1911-1 914
2)  i)    “Our man in parliament”- Labour politics 1885 -1914
      ii)   Working class politics in Derbyshire
      iii)  Votes for women – now! 
      iv)   The emergence of Labour (1906-1914) and its impact on Derbyshire
       v)      The Co-operative movement
       vi)      The demise of Lib-Labism
3)         Trades unionism in particular industries
              i)      Railways
              ii)     The building industry
iii)      Mining
v)      Textiles
v)      Engineering
vi)     Printing and associated trades
vii)    The Gas and General Labourers’ Union
viii)   The Workers Union
ix)     Distributive workers
x)      Corporation employees
xi)     Stove and grate workers
xii)    Coach building
xiii)   Agriculture
xiv)   Baking
              xv)    Pottery workers
               xvi)   Professional workers
4          Chapter 7 References
The Workers Movement takes its own course
‘Many a struggle of a sectional character will be necessary before the workers are able to resort to common action for the final overthrow of the wages system*; education of the economically class conscious variety receives its best stimulus by means of a strike for better conditions…
Those who determine simply to theorise and to argue interminably as to the most logical method get left high and dry by the workers movement which takes its own course.”
Tom Mann
“The Path to Power” in
“Solidarity” March 1914
* i.e. capitalism
1 (i) Out with the old – in with the new
For most of the last quarter of the 19th century, prices continually fell and the cost of living went down by nearly one third. unemployment, largely, kept extraordinarily low. However, from the slump of 1893, things began to alter drastically. Prices soared, reaching the level last attained in the 1870s. Whilst workers had won an actual increase in real earnings in the latter part of the century, the period from the 1893 slump to the outbreak of the First World War, was marked by a ferocious struggle to stand still. Food prices rose by as much as a quarter, while wages increased by 16%. The only recourse workers had was to the defence mechanism of trade unions and, as these were attacked for their role in helping workers in this vicious economic battle, they saw the need to protect themselves from the excesses of a political system utterly dominated by the capitalist class. [1]
In general, the end of the old century saw a new crisis for British capitalism. The threat of international competition, continued slumps and stronger workers’ movements all raised serious problems for the system. Conciliation in industrial relations was supplemented by state intervention, while the use of anti-union legislation to control trade union militancy shattered the illusions of many about the established political parties. A new style trades unionism emerged – New Unionism. The established craft unions favoured conciliation rather than conflict, benevolent benefits rather than strike pay. New Unionism dispensed with, or diminished, the importance of benevolence and prized a radical bargaining strategy, combined with efficiency of administration. While this new style was at first the prerogative of the newly formed unskilled workers unions, it soon was adopted by the older unions and the explosion in union membership affected all. Some existing unions doubled their membership in two or three years. While the total number of trade unionists increased from 0.75 million in 1888 to twice that figure four years later.
The old-style unionism was deeply conciliatory in attitude and collaborationist in tactics. John Burns, a New Unionist advocate, graphically illustrated the difference between the two styles. The old-style delegates at the 1890 TUC were “like respectable city gentlemen; wore very good coats, large watch chains and high hats – and in many cases were of such splendid build and proportion that they presented an aldermanic, not to say a magisterial form and dignity”. While among the `new’ delegates, not a single one wore a tall hat. They looked workmen. They were workmen.” [21 New Unionism harked back to the principled positions of the trade union pioneers, and yet forward to the freshly developing socialist movement. Organisations like the Independent Labour Party (ILP), the socialist base of the future Labour Party, and the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), the main Marxist organisation, set the tone for a break with Liberalism amongst trades unionists.
In Derbyshire, total trade union membership in 1892 was only some 29,510 or 6.82% of the total population, perhaps half the density of the present day. This compared favourably to the 3.98% overall average – the highest proportion was 11.23% in Northumberland. [3] On a league table of 42 counties Derbyshire rated no less than sixth, although there were 23 counties with practically no union membership! The slump would seriously test the strength of New Unionism, but it would prove resilient. The full force of the mid-nineties crisis was first felt in Derbyshire in 1895, when Derby’s Mayor launched a relief fund for the unemployed, to which philanthropic rich and poor alike contributed. The workers at the Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon works donated £24 3s 7d (a vast sum in one collection) towards the £984 total. This enabled the “soup committee” to give away in one day, for example, one thousand gallons of soup and four tons of bread. Of course, the most obvious effect of periodic starvation was dire ill health. Historically, Derby’s average rate of mortality had been quite low compared to many towns. Everywhere showed the effects of the recession and Derby was no exception. The average mortality rate actually recorded increased drastically in 1895. Whereas only two years before the figure had been twelve per thousand, the rate for the whole of 1895 had climbed to 27.7 per thousand. [41]
True to the cyclical nature of capitalist crises, the state of trade in the county three years later was reported as being generally good. In engineering, trade unions with 2,470 members had 1.1% (27 actual members) unemployed in June 1898. Unions with 7,568 members in general trades reported only 0.9% (65) as unemployed. Only cycle workers at Long Eaton and Draycott, lace and hosiery workers in Heanor, Ilkeston and Long Eaton and calico printers in Dinting, Hayfield and New Mills were affected adversely by a generally slack trading situation. [5] The newly invigorated unions were able to take advantage of this situation and weathered the periodic slumps by riding from boom to boom.
By the turn of the century, mass trade unionism had once again been established in Britain, this time permanently. Trade union success in generally maintaining living standards was naturally to the detriment of the rate of profit, causing the most ferocious response from capitalism. During a railway dispute in 1901, the Taft Vale Railway Company in South Wales sued the ASRS for interfering with its business. The House of Lords held the union responsible and the huge sum of £35,000 was imposed as damages. Apart from the concept of registration, which had for a quarter of a century allowed the law to recognise the very existence of unions, there was no other legal basis for their protection. There was only immunity from paying commercial damages in a trade dispute – or so everyone thought, until the judges changed it all. Without this immunity, unions might as well be illegal. A very similar case to that of Taff Vale arose in 1903 in Denaby and Cadeby Main, in the Yorkshire coalfield. The Derbyshire miners granted £100 a week to the Yorkshire miners for relief purposes and, no doubt, such an experience nearby brought home even clearer to Derbyshire’s trade unionists the injustice of the law concerning their movement. The DMA leader, Harvey, voiced the almost hysterical fears of union leaders that their members might force them to break the law. “The Taff Vale decision had put a weighty and far-reaching responsibility on trade unions, and it meant in future the men must not do an illegal act – that was to say, they could not spasmodically stop a pit. Picketing must cease, in the case of a strike, and no one must be interfered with. This decision would never have been given but for the harum scarum action on the part of the ILP and socialistic men.” [6]
However, the election of a Liberal government in 1906, together with a solid block of Labour MPs, was decisive in ensuring new, favourable legislation. The Labour MPs had been elected, aided by trade union funding, primarily for this purpose. The Trades Disputes Act of that year restored trade union immunities and the right to peaceful picketing. The position of unions in law remained essentially unaltered from 1906, apart from the occasional judges’ decision. These were later all reversed by reforming legislation until 1983, when unions were laid open to half a million pounds damages for certain transgressions. This then was the general picture facing working people in the period around the turn of the century. But the Liberal government was not only obliged to respond to concerns affecting the legal position of the unions, demands for positive action in the field of social welfare reached into every aspect of life, and won support everywhere amongst workers. That a massive job existed to be tackled was undeniable. What then were the social conditions of the people?
ii)         Social Conditions 1890 – 1914
B Seebohm Rowntree, a pioneer sociologist, published his findings in 1903. He concluded that between 25 and 30 per cent of the population lived either below the level of what was necessary for actually staying alive, or in a “state of poverty. A skilled worker earned only some 30/- a week to keep an average of four children. [7] One study of social conditions in Derby was that begun in December 1906 by Marion Phillips into the position of children and widows. The work was part of the Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Laws and Phillips was under the personal direction of Beatrice Webb. Inspired by these detailed studies, the Derby & District Housing Reform Association instigated a major study of the life of the poor in the town. The secretary of the association, Tom Taylor, prepared the report after visiting the homes of 203 labourers in sixty different streets in Derby. He found great difficulty in obtaining the information he sought, for the poor “do not care to disclose their poverty’. There was an average of 5.5 persons per house, 408 adults and 745 children in all. Total weekly income was an average of 19s 41/2d – appallingly low – of which is 3d was earned by the mother or the children. Rents varied from 2s 6d to 6s per week, averaging at 3s 41/2d for each house. Estimated expenditure on boots and clothing was a minimum of 2s 9d per week for each family. Spending on coal would be about is 1 01/2d each week for ‘two cwt’. (‘cwt’ is short for ‘hundredweight’, or eight stone – i.e. 50.8 kilograms) and insurance, sick and burial clubs about 101/2d. Household requirements were costed at 1s 2d a week and lighting at one penny a night. [8]
This left only 8s 9d for food a week for the entire family, four pence for an adult and two pence for a child each day. A sparse diet indeed could be expected from such an Income and no account was made of the need for tobacco or beer or any “innocent gaiety”, despite the obvious need for some diversion. All these figures were only applicable when “trade is good”, short time or unemployment obviously devastated family life. Yet this report assumed an average of 3.5 children per family, while the average number of children amongst labouring classes was actually more like four. Upper-class people could expect much fewer children, for a variety of social reasons:
Average Number of Children in 1911 according to occupation [9]
Upper or Middle Strata      2.77
Textile Workers                   3.19
Agricultural Labourers     3.99
Miners                                    4.33
An index of wages [10] that took London as the standard (i.e. 100) in each trade proved Derby to be fairly well below the capital in rates of pay in 1908:
         Skilled Building Workers     92
         Labourers in Building          89
         Labourers in Engineering   77
         Skilled Engineering               85
         Skilled Printing                       85
Such a differential between the capital and the most provincial of provincial towns would be natural to expect. Yet the degree to which the skilled building worker in Derby nearly matched his counterpart in London is significant, especially when compared to the way in which the printing and engineering worker also proportionately lagged. Derby building rates for skilled men were only exceeded by ten out of seventy-two towns included in the survey. Whilst in engineering the rates were “rather below the average” for skilled men and engineering labourers’ wages were “exceeded in the majority of cases”. [11] Skilled print workers were also relatively badly paid. Local rates of pay for these sectors were:
Bricklayers & Plasterers                         42s 0d
Masons                                                          39s 9d
Carpenters, Joiners & Plumbers           39s 8d
Painters                                                         35s 0d
Labourers                                         22s 4d to 30s 4d
Fitters                                                             33s 0d
Turners                                                          33s 0d
Smiths                                                           34s 0d
Patternmakers                                             36s 0d
Angle Iron Smiths                                       37s 0d
Heavy Platers                                              36s 0d
Light Platers                                                 33s 0d
Riveters                                                         29s 0d
Labourers                                         18s 0d to 19s 0d
Printing compositors                                 33s 0d
Pic: Derby Market Place in 1900; without the stalls, the space began to be widely used by the workers’ movement for all manner of protests.
The experience of spasmodic employment was common to most workers and the present-day role of labour exchanges was performed by the trade unions. However, in 1905 legislation was introduced, amidst mixed reactions, which was to change all this. Some workers in Derby received it positively. A mass meeting in the Market Place “in support of the unemployed Bill” was called by the Liberals, the Labour Representation Committee, the Socialist Society, the Free Church Council and the Democratic League. W R (Will) Raynes moved the main resolution, which was sharply critical of the experience of unemployment and generally supportive of the measures of the Act. Yet many trades unionists in the country viewed the Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905 as a menace, since the concept of a Labour Exchange would attract those employers seeking cheap labour especially during trade disputes. Following the Act, state Labour Exchanges were not formally introduced until 1909. The distress committees also set up under the Act were considered inappropriate by some, because they would operate within the traditional framework of charity. Many of these fears were justified and the hopes that relief from poverty during unemployment would ensue came to nought.
In June 1907, Derby’s Trades Council called upon the Liberal Government to introduce a new “workable act” after practical experience of the operation of the 1905 legislation had revealed its inadequacy. [12] Most trades councils, regardless of the suspicion that many had of the Act, had participated in the setting up of local tri-partite committees for its administration. Chesterfield Trades and Labour Council had done so after calling a special meeting in 1905. Such experiences helped to allay fears about the involvement of the state in the affairs of workers and largely laid the basis for the ending of the traditional role of unions in supplying and notifying labour. [13]
This period was traumatic for the trade union movement, in that unemployment reached a new peak. The demand for the ‘right to work’ – a phrase first used by the French revolutionary, Louis Blanc, in 1848 – came to the fore. A march demanding just that went from Liverpool to London via Derby, amongst many other places, in January and February 1906. The TUC formulated a new “Right to Work” policy and Right to Work committees were formed everywhere, especially as 1908 and 1909 came, bringing appalling levels of deprivation with massive unemployment. Along with this undermining of the traditional role of the unions in controlling the supply of labour, went the demolition of the rapidly disappearing practice of tramping, in particular trade union houses of call. Workmen’s halls were set up by philanthropic liberals as a counter to both drinking and the influence of the clubhouses. At the annual Derby Trades Council dinner in 1897, Cllr Norman argued the need for a local trades and labour hail. While Norman’s dream was not entirely made true, the call was not unheeded. A joint project between Liberals and trade unionists to build workers’’ hall in Derby was launched. [14]
Pictured: Richard Bell
The Derby Friendly and Trade Societies Hall, to be known as “Unity Hall”, was finally in the course of erection in 1902 at the corner of Burton Rd and Normanton Rd. Memorial stones were laid in May by Sir T Roe MP, Richard Bell MP and Arnold Bemrose. The Mayor officiated, and was pleased to do so, for “hitherto (the trades and friendly societies) had met on licensed premises”. Bell said that, in the year of the coronation of Edward VII, it was a good way of celebrating the occasion by building a trades hall. Since Norman had first mooted the idea, the scheme had been in the offing. That year, fifty friendly societies (mostly trade unions) with a total membership of 11,000 had promised to support the project. A limited company had been set up with a committee on which the following trades unionists sat:
A J Blakemore      UKSC (coachbuilders)
J Demston             United Patternmakers Association
Wm Kirk                 ASRS (rail workers)
J Norman               Amalgamated Society of Journeymen Tailors
The representatives of a number of the local lodges of Friendly Societies were also represented on the committee, including the Rechabites, Druids, Oddfellows and Forresters. [15]
By the time the foundations were laid, only £3,200 had been subscribed to build the hall, with as much again to raise. Starting the building was therefore somewhat of a gamble, perhaps rather fuelled by the excitement and imagination generated by the whole project. The hall would place many trades unionists very close to the influence of Liberals, for the ILP and SDF were positively barred from the hall. However, financial difficulties, related to the demise of Liberal-Labourism (Lib-Labism), were to ensure that the Trades Hall was sold in 1907 to the Oddfellows Friendly Society, which re-opened it as “Unity Hall”, a place destined to see many a union meeting over the next half a century and more. [16]
iii) The Growth of Industrial Militancy 1911 – 1914
Real wages of the working class as a whole had doubled over the last half of the 19th century, but now began to decline. It was this fact, which provided the impetus for the growth of industrial militancy, especially in the few years immediately before the outbreak of the First World War. Taking 1900 as a standard of 100, by 1910 real wages had declined to 92 points. [17] However, the industrial unrest of the subsequent years did something to redress the position, as workers sought to regain lost ground. Wages were raised in real terms by some 6% in this period, It was against this background, of an explosion of wages militancy, that the new unions set up in the 1890s now began really now to expand.
At a Derby Trades Council meeting in April 1910, the Workers Union proposed a recruitment campaign amongst unorganised workers. This was eventually held from September 5th to 10th and the centrepiece of activities was a meeting held at the Market Place in Derby, where Ryder of the ASE and Alderman R Morley of the Workers Union were the main speakers. Another meeting was held at the Vulcan ground, where the Municipal Employees Association and the Boilermakers provided speakers; whilst a third was held at Friargate. In all, twenty-four organising meetings were held in one week. [18] Reflecting the general advance in unionism thus created, the DTC could boast of twenty-four societies affiliated during 1910. Amongst new entrants were the bricklayers, braziers, plumbers and United Machine Workers. Old organisations, many of them, but they brought a new sense of confidence to the DTC. [19] In such an atmosphere, the unions discussed bolder initiatives. T F Richards, the President of the Boot and Shoe Operatives, addressed the DTC in 1912 on the idea that a “Trade Union stamp on manufactured articles” could help trade unionists recognise goods made by unionised labour and, naturally, buy only these. [20]
The four years before the outbreak of the world war were a period of exceptional industrial militancy. Many, who were active in the strike wave, which characterised this period, were happy to call themselves syndicalists. A fresh brand of revolutionism, with its roots in the French word for trade unions and in a new French philosophical analysis, syndicalism in Britain was imbued with a peculiarly British flavour. A key feature of syndicalism was a strong belief in trade union unity, the use of mass strike action as a major political weapon and an antipathy to parliamentary politics. A significant development was the launching by Tom Mann, following his arrival back in Britain after an eight-year absence, of a new journal called the Industrial Syndicalist. This came out in July 1910 and began immediately to strike a chord with many activists, particularly for its espousal of the concept of Industrial Unionism, whereby unions sought to organise within economic sectors, rather than across trade skills. The journal called for direct action and projected an educational dimension to its propaganda. A major national conference of two hundred delegates was held on November 26th 1910 in Manchester. Two delegates from Derby Trades Council were there, W Salisbury and “L Nozencroft” (this must be Wozencroft of the United Machine Workers). Salisbury’s statement from the rostrum, concerning the struggle against imposed piecework systems, was down to earth compared to many:
“W Salisbury (DERBY TRADES COUNCIL), A MEMBER OF THE BOILERMAKERS’ SOCIETY, declared that if any society needed Industrial Unionism to-day that society was the Boilermakers. (Hear, hear). He would make bold to state that if there had been some system of Industrial Syndicalism in England when the shipbuilding employers recently locked out the boilermakers the lockout would not have lasted five minutes. (Hear, hear.) The Trades Union Congress Parliamentary Committee had taken a vote upon combined action with regard to the premium bonus system, and if combined action was necessary for the abolition of that system it was necessary for the abolition of every one of the evils from which the trade union movement was suffering today. (Hear, hear.) He would give an illustration from his own union. Suppose the Midland Company forced the premium bonus system on them, what was there to prevent the members of his (the speaker’s) union at Crewe repairing engines for the L.N.W.R., so that that company should lend engines to the Midland?” The statement straightforwardly proposes industrial solidarity in the form of secondary disputes, to use modern parlance, to resolve disputes.
Derby’s engineers in the ASE were represented at the conference by H Entwistle and G Oliver, whilst the United Machine Workers had sent R G Ansell. Entwistle opposed moves, and received Mann’s backing for doing so, to prohibit political party activity on the part of syndicalists. At first sight, a surprising stance, given the theoretical position of syndicalism vis-à-vis political activity. But this was a peculiarly British form, which largely represented the militant end of the trade union spectrum, moreover its main concern was the development of industrial, as opposed to craft, unionism: “H Entwistle (ENGINEERS, DERBY) thought the resolution would be much too far-reaching in barring all alliances direct or indirect. He thought that an alliance with a political party working along with the industrial unions would be very useful.”
Between November 1910 and March 1911 several conferences were organised to build up the Industrial Syndicalist Education League, “notably at Derby”, where the Trades Council convened a special conference. This adopted the resolution that had been passed at Manchester, “the sectionalism which characterises the Trade Union movement of to-day is utterly incapable of effectively fighting the capitalist class the time is now ripe for the industrial organisation of all workers on the basis of class – not trade or craft – and that we hereby agree to form a Syndicalist education league to propagate the principles of Syndicalism … with a view to merging all existing Unions into one compact organisation for each industry, including all labourers of every industry in the same organisation as the skilled workers.” The DTC decided to act as the local committee for the syndicalists and held a public meeting in the Temperance Hall on 31st March. Derby had chosen for itself a unique role as a major voice for syndicalism.
James Bennett, secretary of the DTC wrote to Tom Mann: “Many thanks for your kind letter to hand. I am glad to hear that my Council is amongst the pioneers of the Industrial Unionist movement, and feel sure that your encouraging letter will greatly assist them to accomplish the object of educating the Trades Unionists of Derby in the principles of Syndicalism. Derby being a railway centre, it lends itself to the application of these principles and I may inform you that steps are already being taken by the Council to get the various Unions having members working in the Shops or on the Systems to take joint action with a view of securing the redress of the many grievances of railway workers. I will submit your letter to the Council and shall be glad of all the information and assistance you can give us in furthering the Industrial Syndicalist Movement. Best wishes & Kindest Regards.
Yours fraternally
James Bennett” [21]
All unions grew phenomenally, but the WU – Mann’s own creation and the very epitome of the united society for all workers – outshone them all. The union quadrupled its membership nationally in the two years from 1912 to the outbreak of war. Importantly, this development took place against the background of a society in which each class was intensely aware of its role relative to each other. Power and wealth, then as now, was concentrated in very few hands. However, perhaps the viciousness of the effects of poverty, in a period before major social welfare changes had taken place, served to underline the class barriers. For all the massive manufacturing growth and industrialisation, Derbyshire outside of the county town and perhaps Chesterfield, was as dominated by the squire-archy and, more significantly, vast landed estates of the aristocracy.
In 1873, there were about 632,611 acres in Derbyshire, including an estimated 11,655 acres of commons and wasteland. There were 19,866 owners of land in all, but 12,875 owned less than an acre. Another 6,992 owned an acre or more, although most of these were small-scale owners, but 76 of them owned more than a thousand acres each and 15 of these owned more than five thousand acres each. The six largest were:
i) The Duke of Devonshire (the Cavendish family) with 83,829 acres scattered throughout Derbyshire, and vast estates elsewhere, with his main seat at Chatsworth.
ii) The Duke of Rutland (the Manners family) with 26,973 acres concentrated around Ilkeston and Bakewell, with his main seat at Belvoir in Leicestershire and a dilapidated hall at Haddon in Derbyshire.
iii) Sir John Henry Crewe, Bt, with 12,923 acres strung along the Trent Valley and his seat at Calke.
iv) Lord Howard of Glossop with 9,108 acres in the High Peak and his seat at Glossop.
v) Lord Scarsdale (the Curzon family) with 9,166 acres concentrated around Crich and his seat at Kedleston.
vi) The Duke of Portland (Cavendish-Bentinck family) with 7,740 acres mainly in north east Derbyshire, his seat at Welbeck in Nottinghamshire and a ruined castle at Bolsover.
A total of 149,739 acres of Derbyshire, approximately a quarter of the entire land, was owned by six men out of the 85,155 families resident in the county. A handful of others had sizeable estates. Devonshire’s son and heir, the Marquis of Hartington, was the tenth largest landowner in the country and had 5,633 acres of settled estates in the county. Lord Waterpark, a Cavendish, had 8,550 acres. Other notables, such as the Marquis of Anglesey (the Pagets) held 1,539 acres in Findern, Earl Fitzwilliam had 308 acres, Earl Bathurst 3,343, Lord Chesterfield 5,209, Lord Harrington 4,529 and Lord Stanhope 5,193. To many people the prosperity of the bourgeoisie, men like Whitworth and the textile barons of Belper and Cromford, might be seen as to some extent justified by their industriousness, however much the product of their ingenuity relied upon the labour of others, at least they were industrious. However, the enormous flaunted wealth of the aristocracy certainly fanned the flames of discontent. Yet it was only but a fraction of the total assets of these families – the Duke of Devonshire, for example, owned land in fourteen different counties. [21]
The year 1913 saw the most acute conflict throughout the kingdom – its height seen in Dublin, where radical, nationalist undertones coloured the struggle around the long lock out of dockers and transport workers. Derby’s trade unionists gave tremendous support to the Irish workers – a collection was organised outside Derby Football Club, in October 1913, as supporters filed out of the ground. An offer of the Derby Town Band to lead a parade of solidarity with the Dubliners was agreed to, although the DTC shied away from a joint conference on the Irish dispute proposed by the radical syndicalist grouping the Industrial Workers of the World. The DTC organised demonstration was a great success though and the football crowd donated the very large amount of £7 14s 0d. On the initiative of Derby’s tin plate workers, the DTC pressed the TUC to send food ships to Dublin. Going further, Derby ASLEF endorsed the general position of the DTC, but also asked their own executive and the TUC to press for “a strike of all Transport Workers to end the Dublin strike”. The support for syndicalism and for international solidarity, which had become a feature of trades unionism in Derby, was reflected in increasingly more sophisticated positions. Derby ASLEF supported the idea of affiliation to the “Nationalisation of Railways Society” in September 1913.
Despite all this, it was still very much a dangerous business being a trade union activist. The DTC secretary had to report in January 1914 that “owing to the tyranny of the corporation Mr Turner (a member of the DTC) was giving up his situation as Green Keeper and was taking up a small business, and had appealed for the trade unions support on his behalf’. Many victimised because of their activities resorted to self-employment as the only safe alternative to starvation. [22] Henry Sharpe the DTC President revealed at the 1914 May Day rally that he had been dismissed by his employers, Bemrose’s, “because of his activities for trades unionism”. The company’s version of events was that his sacking was “simply a question of reduction of work”. The DTC had grown so much that it was able to contemplate the establishment of a full time organiser in 1914 and Sharpe was the obvious and favoured candidate. However, by June of that year it became clear that finances were insufficient to carry out the project. In the meantime, Belper trades unionists had resolved to set up their own Trades Council again and had done so by June 1914. [23] Worse still was the experience of Vale Rawlings who found himself imprisoned after a trade dispute in 1914. His case was raised in Parliament, and a major campaign waged to secure his release that came very quickly. On his release, in June 1914, a huge crowd gathered in the forecourt outside Derby Prison to cheer him.
2 “Our Man in Parliament” – Labour Politics 1885-1914
As in the rest of the country, the mass of workers in Derbyshire still maintained strong illusions about the Liberals, who tended to represent capitalist manufacturing industry and had most support amongst ordinary workers, and the Tories, who had strong interests in high finance and the landed aristocracy. These two parties simply represented two distinct, but inter-linked, strands of the capitalist system. The Liberals were especially well supported by the miners, and the Tories sought to replicate their success even to the extent of organising specifically Conservative Miners Associations, as at Ilkeston in 1890. However, this body, and others like it, never came to much, the Ilkeston CMA never went beyond more than two hundred members, and was dissolved in 1901. A more typical attempt by miners to engage in the political process was the selection of official or unofficial Liberal candidates; what might be called Liberal Labourites or `Lib-Labers’. Derbyshire miners’ leader, Haslam, stood as such a candidate as early as 1885 in Chesterfield, polling 25.6% of the vote, although the seat was won by a Liberal Unionist the result was significant for Lib-Labism.
However, the most effective expression of independent working class political activity in Derbyshire began in the 1890s and it was strongly influenced by the DTC. Indeed, trades councils became the focus for such expressions on behalf of trade unions, which embarked upon political action as a way of extending and above all protecting their work-a-day interests. They wished only to parallel the manner of their masters in cornering areas of direct political representation. The ideas of socialism were limited to a tiny proportion of the population. Despite the residence in Britain of Marx and Engels, their influence was very limited, although Engels, who lived until 1893, became very involved in developing the rising socialist movement, hand-in-hand with the growth of New Unionism. The socialist sects were tiny and adopted policies almost calculated to maintain that position. The SDF claimed to be the true standard-bearer of Marxism in Britain but, in truth, it was a very sectarian organisation, often arguing that strikes and trade unionism were diversions from the struggle for socialism.
Engels himself thought that the SDF had “managed to reduce the Marxist theory of development to a rigid orthodoxy’. Although partially led by middle-class elements, the SDF did attract the support of a handful of nationally important working class activists and was an important educator of Marxist and socialist ideas – albeit sometimes a little dogmatically so. From a base of about one thousand members in 1890, the SDF grew to about ten thousand strong within five years, as interest in socialism mushroomed.
A splinter force from the SDF was the Socialist League, which boasted William Morris’ support. Socialists from Derby, Chesterfield and Long Eaton joined with others to form an East Midlands Federation of the League in 1890. Another key socialist tendency was the Fabian Society, which saw itself as a power house of new ideas, and was principally a sect of middle-class intellectuals, concerned to ‘permeate’ the Liberal Party and influence it in a reforming direction. The name came from the Roman general whose favoured strategy was to avoid battle at all costs, running in retreat if necessary, always waiting only until he was absolutely ready to strike. In itself, the name was an object lesson. Although, in fact, Fabian himself never actually engaged in battle! The key success of the group was in its advocacy of municipalisation projects but, never having more than a few hundred adherents, it was an exclusive elite of academic-minded persons.
The socialist body which would eventually have more significance was the Independent Labour Party (ILP), founded in 1893, the first president of which was the celebrated Keir Hardie. The ILP had been set up specifically with working class representation on public bodies in mind, although it did have a rough-and-ready adherence to ideas of socialism even though the former definitely took precedence. Ramsay MacDonald, much later to become Labour’s first Prime Minister, began his political life as an ILP leader. He was well liked by most of Derbyshire’s ILP activists. Long Eaton Trades Council passed a sycophantic resolution of congratulations, on hearing that Margaret Gladstone had married him in November 1896, declaring that “this meeting of the working men of Long Eaton congratulated Mrs J R MacDonald in having won the esteem of Comrade J R MacDonald which in due time matured into love and it further resolves that she is one in a thousand”. A significant minority of the ILP’s membership were committed Marxists – albeit of variegated hues – a factor which would have considerable importance in future years.
Although it is important to note that, at this time, membership of one socialist body was not conditional upon exclusivity. It was possible to be a member of the SDF, the Fabians and the ILP all at once. Indeed most of the well-known leaders of the trade unions were members of one or some of these organisations at various times. An expression of this ‘catholic’ approach to socialism was the existence of a Derby Socialist Society, which dominated activity in the town for a long time until the non-Marxists generated a split, after a difference over the formal transformation of the society into a branch of the ILP. Echoes down the decades of this originating experience for Derby socialists can be observed in subsequent developments, especially of the markedly left-wing nature of the local ILP branch. [24]
These formal expressions of socialist conviction were backed up by even more popular versions. The best example of this was provided by Robert Blatchford. His paper, the Clarion, established massive support and stimulated the Clarion Cycling Clubs. Groups of young people would tour the remoter towns and villages on Sundays with their machines, spreading the word of socialism and enjoying themselves at the same time. Blatchford’s paper put across easily understood versions of socialistic principles in a genuinely popular vein. One of the foremost local converts to Blatchford’s style of socialism was the retired Derby solicitor, Henry Hutchinson, who financed Fabian travelling lecturers as his contribution to the struggle. About 60 lectures were given over five weeks in the summer of 1890, after Hutchinson gave £200 to the Fabian executive. A more permanent contribution was the fact that the London School of Economics – one of the foremost seats of political, social and economic learning in contemporary times – was founded with much of Hutchinson’s estate. This arose after the will had been read in 1894 when Hutchinson committed suicide to put an end to a long illness and left the Fabian Society more than half his estate, some £10,000. [25]
North Derbyshire was a popular area for the cycling socialists, so much so that 1,500 members of the Clarion Cycling Clubs held their 13th annual conference at Matlock in 1907. While at the following “National CCC Meet” in 1908, at Shrewsbury, the Derby CCC sent a contingent of 25, indicating a sound basis for the movement locally. [26] However, the clubs faded away – especially after Blatchford joined the jingoistic lobby in 1914. The Derby CCC was still in existence as a socialist body certainly in the 1920s, while there was still a Clarion Club in Loudon Street, Normanton at least until the 1980s – sadly by then simply a workingmen’s’ social club, a weak last testament to a once great and popular movement.
The intellectual publicist, propagandist and advocate for homosexuality, Edward Carpenter even had contacts with Derbyshire in this period. Leaving intellectual work, and after some experimentation with manual and rural work, Carpenter bought Millthorpe, a three field, seven acre farm in the hills south of Cordwell Valley. After inheriting £6,000, he retired there for good, having had a house built. He visited the Socialist League’s Sunday fellowship gatherings at an inn in Ambergate, which attracted members of the organisation’s East Midlands Federation. (27]
Of all these socialist tendencies, the most significant was the ILP, in political ambition if not in membership. Its aim of building a parliamentary party, in alliance with the trade unions on the platform of basic reform, was to be realised. However, while the ILP was formally committed to socialism, the bulk of the unions were not. It would take some thirty years to win them, at least constitutionally, to a more advanced position. Only in 1900, seven years after the founding of the ILP, did sufficient unions agree to come together with all of the socialist societies to form the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) with the aim of promoting the election of independent working class MPs. Although there was initially no other specific policy commitment, just independence from the two existing political parties.
Such an idea had emerged before; the Labour Electoral Association (LEA) had been spectacular in its lack of success in seeking working class representation in the five years of its main activity, up to 1891. The Liberals took very little notice of the organisation, despite the fact that it sought to achieve its aims under the auspices of the Liberal Party. As the ILP further developed, and the LEA declined, interest in the idea of something like the LRC grew. Thus, it had been possible to bring the disparate sectors of working class life together in 1900. Within six years, sufficient LRC MPs had been elected to provide enough confidence to rename this loose federal alliance of all working class organisations. As the Labour Party, it would have a profound influence on the future of this country. 
ii)         Working Class Politics in Derbyshire
The trades councils very much dominated the political involvement of the unions at this time. Up to about 1905, the councils actually conducted the main electoral work of the labour movement. They were able to directly affiliate to the LRC as the only local representative of the working class in a given area. After 1905, electoral bodies like the ILP and locally set up LRCs could affiliate to the national LRC, but only where there was no trades council in their area. [28] For example, in Chesterfield even up to 1914, while the local official bodies of the unions provided most of the finance for the local election contests, they considered the trades council as the only proper channel for nominations for candidature. This role, as local overseer to the movement, came to the trades councils following the example of the powerful London Trades Council, which first began to represent the movement on public bodies. However, prior to New Unionism, few towns had trades councils. The first to be formed in Derbyshire was the Long Eaton council in 1886 – very early on. Derby followed suit in 1891, at the time of general re-awakening and new expansion of trade unionism. A range of others followed in the 1890s and, even up to 1918, new Trades Councils were being formed in the county.
The Founding of Derbyshire’s Trades Councils
Trades Council       year of founding
Long Eaton              1886
Derby                         1891
Glossop                    1892
Chesterfield            1893
Ilkeston                    1895
Belper [1]                 1898
Buxton [2]               1903
Heanor                     1908
Swadlincote [3]      1908
Ripley                       1914
Staveley                   1918
[1] dissolved 1902 and reformed 1914; [2] dissolved 1922; [3] dissolved 1918
Ilkeston Trades Council held a rally at the local Victoria Grounds in July 1891, with Sir Charles Duke. B Gregory and G Frost were president and secretary and there was a speaker from the Framework Knitters Association. However, this formation failed and a more permanent council was formed in April 1895, with J Bramley, bricklayer, and a Mr Wimant as the leading lights. The Lacemakers, ASLEF, the G&GLU, the bricklayers labourers’, stone masons’, miners’, hosiery workers’, colliery enginemen’s, smiths’ and the carpenters’ trade unions all met at the Old Wine Vaults, East Street, Ilkeston. [29]
The first demonstration organised by Derby Trades Council was in September of 1891. An open-air meeting was attended by upwards of one thousand people at Chester Green. James Wheeldon, a stonemason, as the DTC’s first president, declared it to be a “red-letter” day for trade unionism in Derby, which had “been asleep” since 1832. A slight exaggeration perhaps, but then this was the first major, general demonstration in the town since that period. Things had improved though, according to Wheeldon. “By the help of the council some half dozen trades which had previously not been organised had today good organisation”, he told the crowd. Derby’s backwardness, in terms of wages compared to workers in other industrial towns, was attributed by him to “lack of organisation”, or a low level of unionisation. The railway workers’ speaker at the rally, Kelly, claimed that in his industry, boys worked for the low wage of seven to ten shillings a week. While apprentices, just out of their time were paid little more – only some nine or ten shillings a week. Haydn Sanders of the Stove and Grate Workers spoke of the magnificent support the Belper workers had received from the local movement in their recent battles. As a SDF councillor himself, in Walsall, he concluded his speech by arguing that the salvation of the working man lay in getting representation on local councils, the school boards and above all in “that other house of humbugs up in London”, that is to say – Parliament. After this marvellous jamboree of stirring speeches, the DTC banner and the London Road Brass Band led a procession of at least two thousand to the Temperance Hall for further celebrations. [30]
Such a response, such an event, could have only encouraged the DTC to be yet bolder in its ambitions. Within a fortnight it met at the Derwent Hotel to consider what steps might be taken to ensure some working men’s representation at the local elections in November of that year. The consensus was that it was too early yet to stand candidates for the town council, but that a contest for the School Board might be possible (the Boards of Governors of state schools were elected by popular vote at this time). A sub-committee of 16, two people for each of the eight wards in the town, was appointed to interview candidates and to prepare the work. [31] Preferring to maintain their enthusiasm for independent political activity, the DTC rejected an approach from the Liberals to run a joint slate of candidates.
The School Boards elections had been dominated by church groups from when they began in 1871 and every three years thereafter. The DTC injected an open political view of education when it nominated Thomas Mawbey, a compositor, and Joseph Norman, a tailor; Mawbey was, incidentally, to become the first working class magistrate in Derby. [32] No election had actually ever been held for most of the years of the board’s existence, since 1877 in fact. The DTC’s move caused the town’s dignitaries much consternation. The Mercury, in an editorial, bemoaned the idea of a contest as “everything has been alright up to now”. A rumour the Co-op was considering contesting a seat excited the paper even more, would politics enter education now, it worried on behalf of the established order? [33] Mawbey and Norman both won seats and their success meant that two long serving members lost their places, causing the conservative majority of the new board to coolly vote to increase the total membership of the board to thirteen so that the two could take their seats again! The wholeexperience was viewed by most unions in the town with great pleasure. A meeting of the district council of all railway unions in Derby, at the Coffee House in Station St, saw the election of the labour candidates as setting the stage for great things in the future and they were right.
This concept of trades councils contesting school board elections was very much a hallmark of the socialism of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who had influenced the London Trades Council in this regard. Some local socialists of differing hues were clearly involved in these initial developments. For example, Robert Blatchford spoke for the Fabian Society at Derby’s Corn Exchange on Monday 5th October 1891. (34] Another feature of the lesson provided by the London Trades Council was its role as a conciliator, a role trades councils enthusiastically took to. However, the notion that they could be central bodies, to which unions at a local level could turn to for intercession with employers with whom they had grievances, was one doomed to failure. Trades Councils, as now, then had little power other than a moral force. Moreover, they had no ability to discipline individual trade unionists, or to generate authority amongst ordinary workers. They had little funds and a poorly developed organisation. Employers were not worried by threats from the local trades council, the only retribution possible was a difficult to organise public boycott – even when that was appropriate, according to the nature of the industry involved. However, that was not how the trades councils saw themselves. Chesterfield’s council, set up in 1893, hoped that it would become the “boss of the show” in the town instead of the Town Council. (35] All of the local trades councils consciously tried to develop their conciliation activities. Derby’s joint Chamber of Commerce/Trades Council Board of Conciliation was set up in 1991 with six representatives from either side. Yet the board only met once in the following few years, during a dispute in the iron trade. The board consisted of: [36]
Sir Alfred Haslam JP                      J Wheeldon
Alderman Bemrose JP                  W Ford
Col. Buchanan JP                          ? Hadley
George Holme                                 J Norman
Alderman Sowter JP                      W Parker
W Woolley                                        T Smith
L W Wilshire                                     J Hudson
Derby’s Trades Council really only decided to contest the local municipal elections in 1892 as a way of directly influencing the adoption of a fair wages clause by the local authority. The House of Commons had passed a resolution the year before, that it would observe generally accepted levels of wages and conditions when placing contracts with outside employers. This introduced a legal under-pinning of union rates of pay and local activists sought to extend the same notion to the Town Council’s contracts, but it would need working class representatives on the council to put forward the idea.
Norman, already a school board member, stood as a labour candidate in Friargate ward. Addressing a meeting of supporters at the Langley Street Mission Hall, presided over by William Nadin and J Hudson (the DTC secretary), Norman said that “up to the present only the capitalist class had been represented on the Town Council … the working men were vastly in the majority … they had the means to overturn Governments”. [37] But Norman’s campaign concentrated on ‘bread-and-butter’ issues: “what benefit (would) it be to the town to construct a street from St Michael’s lamp to Silk Mill Lane? How about the widening of Tenant St, of Queen St and other such properties”. The widening of Tenant St, instead of Sadler Gate, and the construction of a new street between Kedleston Rd and Friargate came in for criticism. Norman didn’t think there was a need for a full-time stipendiary magistrate and finally, more importantly, believed something should be done about the “great question (of) the pollution of rivers” in the town. Norman’s opponent, James Smith a local businessman, was theoretically an independent and there had not been a contest in the ward for sixteen years. A Tory candidate in another ward thought it outrageous and that it was an “insult that he (Smith) should be opposed”. Some Liberals were reluctant to support Norman and the result was favourable to Smith, who effectively used the argument that “politics” should not be allowed to enter local government. It was, in any case not a strong area for the Liberals normally. The result was: J S Smith 849; J Norman 561.
There was more success in Beckett ward however; there, the Liberals agreed to allow Wheeldon to stand unimpeded in what was traditionally their ward, usually uncontested by the Tories. Their support was to ensure Wheeldon’s success in becoming councillor. The Liberals insisted that Wheeldon was one of their official candidates, because of this. But Hedley of the DTC disagreed, he believed that “Mr Wheeldon was the labour candidate and the labour candidate alone, If the Liberals liked to adopt Mr Wheeldon they might do so, but he must be returned solely and purely as the labour candidate.” Nonetheless, Wheeldon announced his candidature alongside the Liberal, Councillor Ann. Wheeldon gave his reasons in detail for standing; a Tory councillor, called Clemson, had been returned unopposed the previous year on promising to support a “standard rate of wage clause in the Corporation contracts”. Yet , as soon as he was declared elected, he “did his utmost to defeat it”. The DTC had therefore decided that the best way to win the fair wages clause was to have its own men in the council chamber to speak for it.
Wheeldon’s opponent, Walkden, was supposedly an independent, but as a company director for 20 years he had little difficulty in winning most of the local dignitaries of the town to supporting him. Their argument was that business experience was needed to run the town and, even if Wheeldon were elected, they would make sure he did not get on any of the committees of the council where the real work was done. While Walkden thought that “politics ought to have nothing whatever to do with municipal matters”, he was sufficiently concerned by the labour campaign to declare himself ready to vote for fair wages if elected. Wheeldon as a building worker for thirty years, much of that time on municipal contracts, was understandably greatly concerned with this question. He declared himself publicly proud to claim that “he had done his utmost to raise and better the conditions of working men. He took credit to himself for having been the means for obtaining for bricklayers last year (i.e. 1891) a rise in wages of 2 shillings a week.” Wheeldon thus became the first working class councillor in Derby, yet while it was technically an independent stand, it could not have been successful without Liberal support, in that sense Wheeldon was definitely a labour councillor, but equally definitely did not deserve the appellation with a capital letter! James Wheeldon was to die in September 1898, two years before the election to public bodies of the first Labour candidates, without Liberal support, none the less Wheeldon’s achievement was a vitally important milestone.
In 1893, the DTC proposed five candidates causing a major electoral contest in the town, to the anger and annoyance of the Tories. The DTC candidates were:
         Arboretum        Blakemore
         Derwent            Wigley
         Beckett             Mawbey
         King’s Head     Kirk
         Friar Gate         Norman
Three out of the five DTC candidates won seats and only Mawbey and Kirk were unsuccessful in being elected. William White, the Derby branch secretary of the UKSC – the coachbuilders – proudly boasted in a letter to the union’s executive that the branch president Augustine John Blakemore “was returned by a large majority and was at the top of the poll for his district. We feel proud in having the honour to announce to you and our fellow members this signal success of our worthy representative, and of course it goes without saying that Mr John Blakemore is very highly esteemed.” [38] Contests had been “few and far between” in the past in Arboretum ward, and while the proposed intervention of Offiler, the brewer, in the Tory interests did not materialise, there was a contest. A well-known local Liberal stood as “the working man’s friend” and, along with Blakemore, ensured the defeat of the official Liberals, and the election of the Labour man in this two-member ward.
Blakemore (Ind Lab) 815
Wooding (Ind Lib)     788
Unsworth (Lib)           719
Cox (Lib)                      624
A complex picture emerges, if the voting patters are analysed. At that time it was common for there to be two or more seats up for election in a single ward at one election, thus with two votes an elector could choose to be a little more fickle than has been the case for most of the 20th Century. Voting for only one candidate, where the elector had two votes at his disposal, was regarded as ‘plumping’ for a choice – hence the use of the word ‘plumpers’ to describe such votes. More exotic voting patterns – across party lines, or the complex alliances forged by the intervention of independent working class contests – were generally referred to as split voting, hence ‘splits’. Moreover, the full complexity of splits and plumpers was published in the newspapers, unlike today’s election counts, which only formally give the total result at the end. Straight single voting was strongly in favour of the radical candidates: Blakemore – 388; Wooding – 246; Unsworth – 11; Cox – 13. Adding the results of the split voting gave the seats to Blakemore and Wooding – as joint candidates – although of course there was no Tory opposition. The results where electors had used both votes made it clear that the radical and the labour men were strongly favoured and that voters split between those inclined to labour and those who were Liberal inclined:
Blakemore    Blakemore     Blakemore
& Wooding   & Cox             & Unsworth                       
377                  23                     27
Cox &             Cox &             Unsworth &
Unsworth      Wooding        Wooding
552                  36                     129
With such a success under his belt, Blakemore continued to play a significant role in the local labour movement. In 1895, he contested the election for the position of organising secretary for the UKSC, unsuccessfully this time. In a letter to the branches at the outset of the union election, he outlines his credentials. “I have been president of the Derby Branch for some four years, UKSC delegate to the Derby and District Council, and for the last two years secretary of same. During the greater part of my sitting on the Trades Council I have been one of the chief organisers for the various trades in Derby and the district. Two years ago I was returned at the head of the poll to the Derby Town Council as a direct labour representative from the Trades Council.” [39] Note Blakemore’s description of himself as a Trades Council candidate.
The second Labour councillor elected in 1893 was Thomas H Wigley in Derwent ward who, in the absence of a Liberal and faced with only one Tory and one independent, was able to squeeze into second place to take the second seat:
                Lowe (Con)                      396
                Wigley (Ind Lab)             248
                Basford (Ind)                   213
Also taking a second seat for labour in a two-member contest was Norman, who had been defeated in Friar Gate ward in 1892. This time he did well, beating the reigning Tory candidate, Ward. Raymond Slater, a local building employer, was a new Tory candidate who did win. The result was however not that much of a surprise, given that the Liberals were not contesting. In the circumstances, it was “generally thought that it would be a pretty tight thing at the finish”.
         Slater (Con)        896
         Norman (Ind Lab) 586
         Ward (Con)         567
With Ward only receiving 89 plumpers, or straight single votes when an elector might vote for two, he was clearly off to a bad start – Norman had 272 and Slater 572. While as far as the splits, or the pattern of double voting, was concerned, there were almost as many who voted Norman and Ward as voted Norman and Slater, thus contributing to the Labour candidate’s success.
Such an advance – three Labour candidates elected – naturally encouraged the DTC enormously and, in the following year of 1894, “great efforts” were made on the part of William Smith, the DTC candidate in Beckett ward. Even to the extent of providing the electorate with “a portrait of the labour candidate and a brief sketch of his career”. The committee rooms were in Gerard Street. The Mercury delighted in observing that Smith had no carriages at his disposal (naturally, only the very well to do had such things) and that, in consequence, he had “asked all his supporters to walk to the poll”. [40]
As the working class candidate, Smith did better than might have been expected, considering that his two successful opponents were supposedly independents:
John Pakeman (Ind)          1,760
John Smith (Ind)                 1,277
William Smith (Lab)               719
In Arboretum ward, the Labour candidate did well, but the amount of tacit Liberal support was limited. In this fight for two seats the result was:
Duesbury (Lib)        1,172
Blount (Con)            1,068
Moore (Ind Lib)           716
The failure of the Labour candidate was noticeably due to a very limited number of split votes being accorded to him; 562 of Moore’s votes were straight plumpers, while the rest were fairly evenly divided splits of Duesbury and Moore, or Blount and Moore. In Babington ward the sitting councillor – Evans – had fought against the fair wages clause. Therefore, naturally, the labour movement felt the need to challenge him at the polls. Henry Wells, secretary of the Typographical Association and an individual member of the ILP, stood. However, to little effect for the result was decisive, his two non-labour opponents each polling three times as much as Wells’ 318 votes.
The first independent labour contest in Glossop occurred this year, when the trades council put forward three candidates. Two, both building workers, won seats – James Langley, a stonemason was elected councillor for All Saints ward with 33% of the vote, while Thomas Anderson, a carpenter, took St James’ with over 25%. The experience more than encouraged the formation of an ILP branch in the town in the following year. The success in Glossop in winning council seats quite independently was not, however, the general trend, nonetheless the results did confirm the correctness of the course so far followed. Yet this course was not always smooth and, in some unions, the political loyalties of members were not easily changed. In the July of that year, the Derby Builders’ Labourers resolved to “withdraw from the Derby and District Trades Council on account of the Labour Party independency until further notice”. [41] This before there was even such a thing as the Labour Representation Committee, let alone the Labour Party! Interestingly, this attitude contrasts sharply with the industrial militancy shown by the labourers only the previous year. Although the ABL must have quickly acclimatised themselves to the new ideas, for within a year or less they had re-affiliated to the DTC.
The General Election of July 13th 1895 marked a watershed in the transformation of earlier, rather idealistic electoral interventions and the emergence of a newer, sharper attitude. The experience of the 1892-5 Liberal Government had contributed to hardening attitudes towards the Liberal Party and in favour of independent working class contests in the electoral sphere. Contrary to the expectations of some, the Liberal Government’s period of office was marked by no major social reform projects. This, despite the fact that the Derby Liberal MP, Sir William Harcourt, famously remarked at this time, in deference to the emerging consensus that social injustice was the business of government, that “we are all Socialists now”! In the circumstances of much disillusionment, two Tories were elected as Derby’s MPs:
                Bemrose (Con)            7,907
                Drage (Con)                  7,076
                Harcourt (Lib)               6,785
                Roe (Lib)                        6,475
Derby’s ILP branch had decided to abstain, on the basis that none of the candidates were of any use to the working class. So had the DTC, voting 18 to 3 for such a position, with many delegates abstaining from voting at the meeting that discussed the issue. Such a radical position was in marked contrast to a very similar debate in 1892, when out of 53 delegates present, 38 had voted to support the Liberals – with only six voting against the proposition. While the trade union sponsored abstentionism, which had clearly contributed to the defeat of the Liberals, must have made that party think again on the question of working class representation, the general view amongst Liberals was that they had allowed the whole issue to go far too far. Wheeldon stood again in 1895, in the local elections in Beckett ward, but this time without any Liberal support at all. As the Mercury saw it, a change had come “over the spirit of the dream”. Wheeldon was standing in direct opposition to his old ally Councillor Ann. While not winning, the result was more than respectable – for an independent labour candidate: [42]
         Ann (Lib)                                   1,591
         Brown (Con)                            1,156
         Wheeldon (Ind Lab)               706
         Parr (Temperance)                 535
Established politicians were annoyed at the DTC’s nerve in setting out to challenge the settled political map of the town. There was a persistent rumour in 1895 that, in Litchurch ward, an arrangement that four Liberals and two Conservatives would always represent the ward had been made between the two parties. This would seem to be borne out by subsequent electoral manoeuvres. For example, in Friargate ward, W Smith the DTC vice-president was unsuccessful. It had been expected that Bottomley, the retiring candidate and his running mate, John Walker, a well-known builder, would be returned unopposed. The rather irritating tendency of Labour candidates to insist on contests during elections prevented this. In the event, the result gave them much satisfaction. Interestingly the Liberals did not stand, not because of any love for Smith, but surely only because of the unofficial carve-up between themselves and the Tories in the allocation of council seats. Smith, faced with clear opposition did poorly:
         Bottomley (Con)                    1,036
         Walker (Con)                           933
         Smith (Ind Lab)                       266
This involvement of the local trades councils in the electoral process and in co­ordinating the overall response of the movement to trade problems, had a generally radicalising effect. Indeed so much so that, ostensibly to avoid duplication of delegations, but much more likely to exclude the socialist influenced trades councils, the 1895 TUC decided to exclude the trades councils from direct representation at the annual congress. Socialist ideas began to take root in Derby – Tom Mann and Robert Blatchford spoke at an ILP meeting in the town in January 1896, at an event chaired by George Christie. Blatchford specially commented favourably on the considerable progress made by socialism in the five years since he had last been in Derby. Throughout this period, the ILP kept up regular propaganda activities in the Market Place. Emanuel Merchant, later to be the Derby Co-op Society general manager from 1902-1 924, was the ‘librarian’ – or the literature secretary – for the ILP. Blatchford’s Merrie England was the most popular work sold. [43]
In the complex political situation following the General Election, the next year’s local contests – in 1896 – saw a strange duality on the part of Liberals beginning to express itself. On the one hand, there was the need to satisfy the strong desire for working class representation, on the other hand, the more this was done the more it fuelled the wish for unreservedly independent representation. The fair wages issue remained an aspect of policy that the Liberals were prepared to advocate to retain working class support. A Fair Wages Clause was adopted by the Town Council in Derby in 1894, by a vote of 20 to 8; but the terms of the resolution were so vague that it proved all too easy for contractors to evade its intention. A later attempt to improve the original resolution enabled the local Tories to jettison the whole idea, for some had supported the 1894 vote. Their rationale was that the resolution simply was not working! Moreover, since it was the Trades Council that had proposed the terms of the 1894 resolution and it had won all that it sought, the argument was put that the notion was unworkable. Specific complaints about trade union rates not being adhered to, in 1897, were:- a) the Corporation used painters at the Little Eaton water works at only 12/- a week, well below the standard union rate; b) police clothing had been purchased by the Watch Committee from tailors who did not pay the union rate to their workers. [44]
This whole question of fair wages continued to dominate politics, at least from a working class point of view, for some years. It was to alter radically attitudes to Liberal industrialists – for the obvious conflicts of interest became clearer. What was the point of trades unionists agreeing rates of pay and conditions with their employer, if in his capacity as an MP or councillor he undermined the whole principle of unionism? Despite what seemed to be a clear intention of Parliament, its Fair Wages Resolution was successively undermined by case law precedents established by judges. So much so, that a trade union sponsored resolution to firm up the position was put before the Commons on May 14th 1902, to the effect that “legislation is necessary to prevent workmen being placed by Judge-made law in a position inferior to that intended by Parliament”. Unfortunately, this was lost by a vote of 203 to 174. Local MPs split fairly predictably; the Liberal Sir T Roe and the Lib-Laber Richard Bell were in its favour, while the Tories were either against or were absent from the debate. Jacoby and Bolton were against, Gretton and Cavendish were absent. [45] Meanwhile, in the 1896 local elections the Tories tried to make political capital out of the paper-thin Liberal support for independent labour candidates. In Arboretum ward, Blakemore was actually ousted from his seat by the Liberal intervention: [46]
                         J H Ottewell (Con)             1,106
                         J Johnson (Lib)                  1,097
                         G Unsworth (Lib)               1,018
                         AJ Blakemore (Ind Lab)               857
In Derwent ward, Thomas Wigley, the labour man was the retiring candidate. Again, the Liberals put forward a strong candidate for the single vacant seat, while the Independent stood with Conservative support:
                         B A Yates (Lib)                    551
                         Wm Lowe (Ind)                   499
                         T H Wigley (Ind Lab)         448
Elsewhere in the county, in Chesterfield North ward, the miners’ leader Haslam -partly due to Liberal patronage – managed to get on the council that year on his second attempt. However, his colleague, Harvey, trailed in the poll in South ward. Yet within the next two years, Labour representatives made their mark in Chesterfield. This came only very slowly, for the town was to be dominated by Lib-Labism for a longer period than the county town of Derby. In 1898, now a councillor, Harvey moved that Chesterfield Town Council follow Derby’s lead in accepting a fair wages principle, however flawed that might be. However, the council split seven votes to seven on the issue and the casting vote of the Mayor caused the defeat of the proposition. Even Haslam’s attempt to get the vote recorded was defeated. The Mayor was openly hostile in casting his vote. He felt that trade unions were interfering bodies of the “worst tyranny that could possibly be”. [47] Eventually, the council did concede a fair wages clause and Chesterfield Trades Council was especially vigilant in taking up cases of failures to observe the policy, setting up a special sub-committee to over-look the matter.
The biggest success for independent representation was in the election of Richard Bell, the ASRS general secretary, as one of Derby’s MPs. In August 1899, at the monthly meeting of the trades council at the Bull’s Head in Queen Street, it was announced that the DTC would nominate Bell as a candidate for the two-member constituency. A prepared statement declared that it should “not come as a general surprise locally that he wanted to run along with Sir Thomas Roe (the official Liberal) but the ASRS would not allow Mr Bell to connect himself with any particular party”. There were clear signs that some wanted to arrange a deal with the Liberals, but as one ILP activist, Tom Taylor, recalled ASRS delegates were forcible in making “it plain that if it was not a straight fight for Labour, we should go against any man, as we had sufficient already of place hunters and time servers”. [48]
Bell was certainly a Lib-Laber, but was only by a technicality not an official Liberal. His own union, at least nationally, was firm that independent working class candidates should be “absolutely disconnected from the Liberal or Conservative parties”. However, the local ASRS thought otherwise, one branch putting forward a motion at the October 1899 ACM to rescind existing union policy, which “prevented the General Secretary coming forward as a candidate of either of the two political parties”. There was no possibility that this could be won, indeed the resolution was overwhelmingly rejected. [49] The DTC called a mass meeting at the Temperance Hall to publicise Bell’s candidature. There, Bell stated how much he thought the ASRS vote a great pity, pointing out that one of the Derby union branch secretaries was a Tory, the other a Liberal. Both supported Bell’s candidature and both believed firstly in increased working class representation, rather than party allegiance. While Sir Thomas Roe was there to reveal that the “attitude of the Derby Liberals towards Mr Bell and his supporters was quite friendly”. Bell’s political stance is graphically illustrated by his reply to a question about women’s suffrage. Apparently, he had not thought too much about it, but provided “the ladies would not treat the men badly he would support it (laughter)”.
That year’s TUC took the decisive step that would eventually lead to the creation of the Labour Party. Amongst others, W E Harvey of the Derbyshire miners unsuccessfully opposed the resolution at the 1899 TUC, which called for a conference of “Co-operative, Socialist, trade union and other working class organisations” to consider how to further advance independent representation. [50] Following this decision, in 1900 a national conference in London brought together most of these bodies to form the Labour Representation Committee. The SDF affiliated on 9,000 members, the ILP 13,000 and the Fabians nearly 900. Thus, the total socialist strength was some 23,000 – while the initial trade union strength was around a third of a million – mostly in two unions, but nonetheless clearly indicating where the balance of power would lie. The ASRS was alone amongst the large unions in its support of the LRC. Local LRCs began to be established and one was set up in Derby in the sawdust of a circus ring in Princes Street (later Exchange Street) on the “very spot where now stands the main buildings of the Derby Co-operative Society”. [51] The prospects of these newly formed LRCs were not very bright, at least at first.
The country was obsessed with the war against the Dutch settler Boers in South Africa, as the October 3rd 1900 general election approached. The Government maximised its support by appealing to the patriotic fervour of the electorate. The LRC had little time to prepare and, for that matter, had little experience of electoral work to call upon. What became known as the ‘khaki election’ was not a signal success for the new movement, which had produced a radical manifesto for the occasion. The LRC aimed for “maintenance for the Aged Poor, Public Provision for Better Houses, Work for the Unemployed, child maintenance, nationalisation of land and railways, independence for the Empire. Abolition of the Standing Army and the establishment of a citizen force, graduated income tax, No compulsory vaccination, control of the Liquor Traffic, central government grants to local rates … the object of these measures is to enable the people ultimately to obtain the Socialisation of the Means of Production, Distribution and Exchange to be controlled by a Democratic State in the interests of the entire community and the Complete Emancipation of Labour from the Domination of Capitalism and Landlordism with the Establishment of Social and Economic Equality between the Sexes”. [52] Only two of the 15 LRC candidates were elected, Keir Hardie at Merthyr and Richard Bell at Derby. The two men had very different views of the role of independent working class representation. Hardie was also an out-and-out socialist, while Bell was more comfortable with the policy and philosophy of the Liberal Party. Keir Hardie was none too enamoured of Bell, describing him as “a genial ass” and the latter quickly revealed his true colours as a Liberal, soon leaving Hardie as the only real Labour MP. [53]
The result in the general election in Derby was however quite a close run thing. A remarkable 84.5% of the electorate turned out in the two-seat division:
                                                                   actual vote        % vote
                Sir T Roe (Lib)                             7,922             26.6
                R Bell (LRC)                                 7,640             25.7
                Sir H H Bemrose (Con)            7,397             24.9
                G Drage (Con)                             6,775             22.8
The LRC’s national budget for the general election was a mere £33. Bell, due to the beneficent Liberal and ASRS support, was able to spend the colossal sum of £900 in his campaign at Derby. [54] No doubt this was a key factor in assisting him to win in such a close contest.
Problems between Bell and his close supporters on the one hand, and the town’s socialists on the other, emerged immediately the election was over, especially due to the growing importance of the ILP. In August 1901, a joint committee was set up uniting the Trades Council and the ILP to campaign for an official governmental enquiry into the municipal status of Derby – an example of the new status of the ILP. [55] Membership of the committee was:
ILP                   DTC
Hudson          Chambers
Purcell           Ravensdale
Mellor             Haywood
Bell was re-endorsed as LRC candidate by the Trades Council in May 1903, with only five voting against this. Mostly, Bell still had the general support of the movement locally, even the ILP. Although their Derby secretary felt obliged to write to the local press, making it clear that they “knew Bell was not a socialist” although he had been nominated, campaigned for and elected with ILP backing. After the 1903 TUC resolved by a majority of two to one no longer to work with Liberals and to completely go it alone, real problems set in for Bell. At the DTC’s last meeting at the Bull’s Head in September (it met in the new Friendly Societies and Trades Hall from October 1903) the 26 delegates present had resolved to continue working with the Liberals and the Liberal front organisation, the Democratic League. [56]
The TUC decision to go it alone caused considerable controversy in Derby’s labour movement. H Lindfield, of the UKSC, moved a resolution at the DTC on the work of the LRC, in the course of which he criticised some officers of the trades council for their views, It had been reported in the press that they were against the inclusion of groups like the Derby Socialist Society. They were disturbed that an independent and influential local body, somewhat influenced by Marxism, could be part of the LRC whilst the Liberals were excluded. The resolution criticising these outspoken views, which clearly leaned to Lib-Labism rather than socialism, was declared lost by the Chairman on a 14 to 13 vote. However, there was controversy about the accuracy of the result, causing another vote in which the left wing abstained. Allegations that the TUC’s decision on the LRC had caused the disaffiliation of some branches from the DTC were rebutted by the left delegates, who pointed to an actual increase in overall affiliation. [57]
A new LRC constitution was introduced nationally, which endorsed the TUC line on independence from the two main parties. However, Bell refused to sign in favour of this and, in 1904, the national LRC leadership very reluctantly had to formally decide to regard him as having lapsed from the LRC and he sat as a Liberal from then onwards. Before his defection, the small Labour group in Parliament had risen to five after a series of dramatic by-elections. The Bell affair dominated working class politics in Derby and its environs for five years afterwards, leaving an indelible mark on the character of the movement. The ASRS executive strongly condemned Bell’s attitude to the new LRC constitution and called into question his position as Derby’s MP, arguing that, as he had been elected as an LRC candidate, he owed it to the electorate to re-consider his position. A special meeting of the DTC was called in April 1904 to discuss the whole question. [58] Bell had written a letter to the trades council explaining his position. He told the delegates not to worry about finance, “I have no doubt that funds will be forthcoming from one source or another”, for future electoral contests on his behalf. Further, that he had appointed Mr A Flint of a prominent Full St solicitors’ practice to act as his election agent. “All that your committee need do”, he told the trades council, “is to get the machinery ready in the event of a general election being sprung upon us. A little conference between the trades council and the Democratic League … will be all that is necessary.” This was the Liberal Party working men’s front organisation.
Contrary to Bell’s obvious expectations that the DTC would simply support him, the whole affair caused a major row at a council meeting. Henry Sharpe, the DTC president, “yielded to no man in his condemnation of Mr Bell in his attitude to the Labour movement”. However, S B Dickenson (of the ASRS and DTC secretary) queried whether Bell had done any wrong, whilst others wondered whether anyone had the right to object to what an MP said or did in the House of Commons. Some delegates strongly attacked Bell and his supporters but the majority feeling was for him. The meeting was wholly disordered, so much so that the President was interrupted several times when winding up the debate, and Dickenson demanded, amidst controversy, the right to reply. A resolution adopting Bell once more as candidate for a future general election and calling on the ASRS executive to reverse their attitude to him was passed in a show of eventual unity, with only two votes against.
Thus, the council was tied to Bell and implicitly to his variety of Lib-Labism. At the June 1904 meeting of the DTC, Dickenson gave a report of a meeting of Bell’s Parliamentary Representation Committee, in the main a Liberal, Democratic League dominated body. Henry Sharpe, the DTC president, was outraged, “his position there had been made very unpleasant by the secretary owing to his not being acquainted with the business of the council until a few minutes before” the DTC meeting. For his part, he could not work with the Democratic League, which sought to “capture the workers for the Liberal party”. Sharpe, who was a prominent leader of the Derby Socialist Society, resigned as DTC president there and then. Bell’s supporters gladly accepted this. J Wardle, an ASRS delegate, said that if Sharpe had not resigned, he had intended to move that he be asked to do so. Another delegate, Wells, argued that all those who could not support Bell ought to resign from the council – “the sooner they parted company the better”. The Socialist Society members were clearly Wells’ target, but he may have missed the mark. Some other delegates appeared to have taken his suggestion to vacate the council. In a conciliatory gesture, James Wheeldon moved at this meeting that “thanks be tendered to Messrs Unsworth and Lindfield for their valuable service to this Council”. [59]
The trades council formally left the LRC over the Bell affair and a split began to emerge within the ASRS locally about LRC affiliation. Worley of Derby No 1 ASRS branch, in September 1904, moved that the DTC re-affiliate to the LRC. While the DTC secretary, S B Dickenson, spoke strongly against this move, winning the vote by 20 votes to seven, thus leaving the local LRC free from outright socialist influence from the Derby Socialist Society’s members in the DTC. [60] With the trades council, the railwaymen and the Lib-Lab MP effectively out of independent working class politics for the short term, a new start had to be made. It was generally almost impossible to even try to hire a hall, although the ILP’s premises – “a large room approached by a dark passage in Full St” – could be used. The problem was that it was not always big enough though and “every public hail and school room was barred to the LRC as it now stood, shorn of respectability”. [61]
In 1903, the LRC ran three candidates in the local elections in Derby, but only one – J T Hextall – was elected, and he had stood as a Lib-Laber. Tom Taylor and Bill Raynes stood proudly independent, but unsuccessful on a campaign platform centred around the establishment of school clinics, amongst other issues. An LRC supporter asked Raynes’ opponent about his position on the matter and the conversation, as humorously related by Raynes, reveals the level of political sophistication amongst local politicians.
“Are you in favour of School Clinics?” says the LRC man “What’s that – say it again?” asks the candidate.
“Are you in favour of School Clinics?” repeats the questioner.
“It sounds alright – just tell me when it runs and I’ll have a Bob on it”, quips the puzzled politician, quite unaware as to what his constituent is talking about. (For those educated in post-decimalisation currency days, a ‘bob’ was a shilling, or five new pence. To hide his lack of knowledge, the puzzled ‘politician’ is of course joking that ‘school clinics’ is a horse which he will bet on!) [62]
The general election of 1906 was to prove decisive for the labour movement. There had been not only the experience of Taff Vale to stiffen the resolve of the working class movement; there had also been a serious depression. In Derby, an official borough committee was set up to provide for the unemployed. Not to be accused of pampering the lazy, the committee paid out £750 in “wages” that were well below union rates, to those who had done work in levelling the Rowditch Recreation Ground. [63] Such circumstances did little to harm the increasing interest in independent working class candidates. However, for Bell, the arguments of 1903 began to surface once again. At a Derby Democratic League meeting at the Trades Hall in May 1906, he argued against his detractors that he was “dependent upon the electors of Derby for his position in parliament, not upon the LRC”. [64] The Labour Candidature Association – Bell’s ‘broad front’ supporters’ group – met at the Temperance Hall to hear “Bell answer his critics” once more, for this issue simply would not go away. [65]
Despite the controversy in the movement, Bell retained the Trades Council’s support and sponsorship of the ASRS. More amazing was the fact that he was on the TUC’s official list for support in the 1906 election. While Derby Liberals gave him every support, the local LRC simply refused to back him. [66] In the circumstances, the result was predictable. Bell and Roe retained their seats with greatly increased majorities. That year saw resurgence in the general fortunes of the Liberal Party and a new growth for the fledgling LRC. The Derby result took place in an atmosphere of great public interest, reflected by the massive 88% turnout:
                                R Bell (Lib-Lab)           10,361
                                         T Roe (Lib)           10,239
                          Capt Holford (Con)            6,421
                Spencer-Churchill (Con)            6,409
In Chesterfield, the Liberals accepted James Haslam as a Lib-Lab candidate but mainly only because the sitting Liberal was unable to stand for the seat due to ill health. A split in the anti-Tory vote thus averted, Haslam was able to win a clear lead:
J Haslam (Lib-Lab)                         7,254
G T Locker-Lampson (Con)         5,590
Nationally, the various Labour candidates did very well; a block of 29 seats were won in all. Although the real victors of the 1906 election were the Gladstonian Liberals, who took 377 seats, which gave them an overall majority of 84. Of the LRC’s 50 candidates, only 18 were opposed, many only technically so, by official Liberals. Clearly, with such a deluge of support, the Liberals could afford to be generous in giving concessions to organised labour.
Once the General Election was over, the experience stimulated new initiatives. At its quarterly meeting held on May 10th 1906, the Derby branch of the UKSC passed a resolution in favour of selecting one of its members as a candidate for Parliament. H Lindfield wrote to the union’s journal, saying that “the employers are well organised both in and out of Parliament, and are using political power, backed up by laws of their own making to crush the Trade Unions. To successfully defend ourselves we must meet them on their own ground … If we had our man in Parliament he would be able to voice our claims, air our grievances, speak from practical experience   [67] Lindfield, who had moved to Derby in July 1900, was a candidate in the 1906 local elections. Even more reflective of the changed situation created in the labour movement by the 1906 election, was the fact that Sharpe was able to get a resolution through the DTC that the trades council approach the Derby Socialist Society and the local LRC “with a view to action being taken to bring out Labour candidates at the November local elections”. [68] Unfortunately, this excellent idea failed to reach fruition and the only working class contest that year was in Abbey ward, where Hextall once again sought a council seat – on this occasion successfully:
J T Hextall (Ind Lab)           628
J North (Con)                       377
The slow slog of building interest and support for, not just independent working class representation, but for full-bloodied socialism, continued apace. In 1907, George Titt, organiser for Derby ILP and the District ILP Federation, conducted a series of meetings over the period of one week in the Swadlincote area, as the movement sought to spread its influence. [69] A surge towards specifically socialist ideas was best exemplified by the spectacular socialist victory of Victor Grayson in Come Valley. This convinced Lloyd George of the absolute urgency, for the Liberal Party, in introducing a much needed reform programme to stem the tide of the rising Labour Party, which the LRC now took to calling itself. Alongside this problem for the Liberals, developed another – the desire for the extension of the franchise to women, which saw its highest expression in the campaign of the votes for women movement.
iii) Votes for Women – Now!
Women had of course always participated in the struggle for democracy; many were as active in the Chartist movement as the men. The first specifically women’s suffrage societies were founded in the late 1860s. As the vote was gradually extended to all men, the issue of women’s rights naturally came to the fore. In 1898, a national federation of women’s suffrage groups was formed with the assistance of the workers’ movement. However, frustration with the progress of the campaign saw the emergence of a new, more militant movement under the leadership of the Pankhursts.
Contrary to myth, the women’s suffrage movement was not the exclusive preserve of young women from rich families. Working class women, albeit often encouraged by more ‘well placed’ women, had an important contribution to make. The National Union of Women Workers set up a branch in Derby in the late 1890s, but the fact that it was initially dominated by the well-to-do inhibited its growth. Geoffrey Drage MP chaired one branch meeting in 1900, when Mrs Hogg of the National Council of NUWW delivered an address on ‘Wage Earning Children’. Amongst the dignitaries were a couple of clergymen and a doctor. In time, the NUWW became less of a philanthropic exercise and more of a trade union – eventually it became part of what would in time become the future GMB. Other women’s groups were more obviously class orientated. In 1906 a National Federation of Women Workers, requiring membership of a TUC affiliated union was formed. The predecessor of this experienced a rejection of its approach for support from the Derbyshire miners in 1904, because they thought it was for women’s suffrage. (The NFWW could trace its origins to 1871, when the Women’s Protective and Provident League had been set up. This was changed to the Women’s Provident League in 1889, and two years later to the Women’s Trade Union League, which was the body that was rejected by the DMA.)
There were mixed views within the working class movement, the 1907 ILP national conference held in Derby passed a motion of support for women’s suffrage, but it was by no means unanimous. Henry Sharpe, as chairman of the Derby Socialist Society, had welcomed the delegates to Derby at the Temperance Hall. He must have been pleased with the 181 to 60 vote to send a letter of congratulations to suffragettes recently released from prison. That a vote was taken at all is symptomatic of the attitude of some on the left to the issue. [70] Working women tended to be concentrated in particular trades, especially textiles. In the Derby silk trade, women outnumbered men by nine to one. More common employment for women was as domestic servants in the homes of the moderately well off. Female domestic servants formed 2.9% of the total population of Derby. Yet there were changes coming, even before the First World War put everything into turmoil. The Midland Railway Loco and Carriage and Wagon establishments employed some 10,000 workers at this time, 9.2% of them married women. While there were also around seven thousand women employed in Derby in engineering and machine making. [71]
Initial activity in the county amongst women’s campaigners was low key but sustained. Evidence that it reached even small towns is shown by the fact that a Mrs F T Swanwick spoke in 1908 at Wirksworth for the North of England Society for Women’s Suffrage. [72] Whilst the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, formed in 1897, represented a vast number of ‘non-militant’ women’s groups. The North of England Society, based in Manchester, was a component part of NUWSS. However, it would be the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which would capture the headlines in the years to come. By 1909, women’s suffrage was news everywhere, because of the unique methods of campaigning undertaken by the WSPU. The WSPU first appeared in Derby in 1909, when on November 12th Christabel Pankhurst spoke at the Drill Hall. The meeting was violent and the platform was invaded by angry males. Christabel Pankhurst vowed to come back again and two further meetings were held before Christmas. Gradually, male outrage was contained, as the population became accustomed to WSPU meetings. So much so that in April 1910 the WSPU’s leader, Mrs Emily Pankhurst, was able to address a civil gathering, again at the Drill Hall.
That year, Lord Lytton – the brother of a key suffragette campaigner – set up, with a group of MPs, a Conciliation Committee which drafted a suffrage bill. However, the progress of this was delayed due to the calling of a general election in 1910. The main proposals of this bill were very much a compromise but, nonetheless, were the basis of the campaign of the women’s movement. Towards the end of the year, the local campaign bore fruit when the DTC passed a resolution calling on “the government to grant facilities at once for the immediate passage of the (Conciliation Committee’s) Women’s Suffrage Bill into Law”. [73] Throughout 1910 and 1911 the trades council fought a public campaign on the “sweated trades” issue, that is to say, those highly exploitative industries dominated by female employment. The campaign won general support for “Trades Boards”, or what would become known as Wages Councils, which were set up in a variety of industries in 1910. These in turn stimulated trades unionism in the sweated trades, although the essential weakness of the trade boards was that they tended to confirm the lowest wage as the average and to hold back negotiated improvements. Much more consciousness that trade unionism need not be a male preserve emerged. Reflecting this, the organiser of the Warehouse and Cutters Society, a print industry union, spoke at the DTC on organising in his industry. Following this, the council “approved the idea of the better organisation of women”. [74]
However, the women’s movement was not ready for a long patient campaign of gradual social equality; votes now were their aim. Moreover, the decision of the newly elected 1911 Liberal Government to finally extend manhood suffrage to its limits, to the exclusion of the Conciliation Bill, caused deep resentment amongst women. The effect of this was to encourage a new, but negative, tactical style to the suffragette campaign. Specifically, a wave of violent rioting and window breaking campaigns broke out. In Derbyshire, there was at least one window breaking attack on Morley Manor, while what was almost certainly an accidental fire was blamed on the suffragettes. The 900 year old Breadsall Church, near Derby, was devastated on the night of Thursday June 4th 1914. While the suffragettes were blamed by the newspapers and the authorities, the evidence to support this view was really quite flimsy. A hatpin was found near to a window supposedly used to enter the building, while the window itself could have only admitted a slight person. A cryptic and ambiguous note was sent to the Rector of Breadsall, the day after he had prophesied that the suffragettes would own up to the act. However, the established women’s movement refused to accept liability or responsibility for the incident. Madeline Onslow for the Derby branch of NUWSS positively denied the allegations. Most comments on the affair, in retrospect, now generally accept that the fire was in all probability an accident. The suffragettes were generally held in such fear by some in the establishment that they would go to great lengths to protect themselves against what was actually a paranoiac vision, much the creation of the media of the day. For example, the Squire of Shipley, Edward Mundy, had a high 300-yard wall added to his estate in 1911, simply to protect himself against an imagined suffragette terror.
The long-established NUWSS had its Derby branch meeting at the end of 1911 reported. [75] It was well based in Derbyshire and the north, having stronger links with the labour movement than the WSPU. The latter, moreover grew out of a specific critique of the LRC and ILP – a fact that did not always win it support. Whilst the WSPU engaged in a campaign of mild terrorism from 1909-1914, the NUWSS turned increasingly to the Labour Party from 1912. Its membership almost doubled and at least one paid organiser, possibly several, was active in the county. By 1913, even the TUC was won to support the enfranchisement of women through the endeavours of the NUWSS. The NUWSS organised a march from Newcastle to London that passed through the county. Several thousand people packed into Chesterfield’s Market Place on Monday 7th July 1913, to greet the marchers with tremendous cheers. Councillor H Cropper, president of the Chesterfield Trades and Labour Council, was at pains to distance the event from the WSPU. The main speaker was Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the key figure in the NUWSS, and she was accompanied by the socialist, Edward Carpenter, and the Derby NUWSS leader, Norma Smith. The arrangements had all been in the hands of the Chesterfield NUWSS secretary, Mrs E Pearson of Brockwell Terrace. Five meetings were held between Chesterfield and Pleasley as the march wound its way to Mansfield. “At all the villages the people have turned out to greet us, cheering women’s suffrage, giving us flowers”, was how one contemporary described the response in these very working class communities.
Keeping the campaign going did not prove hard, the Derby Trades Council once more resolved to support the idea of “a Bill for the women”, quite unequivocally in December 1913, if rather patronisingly so in retrospect. In contrast, the Derby Daily Express was vitriolic in putting the view of the establishment, when it urged the “shaving of the heads of every militant suffragette” and the use of the “cat o’ nine tails”. However, the First World War was to interrupt the suffrage campaign, especially as the Pankhursts (other than the honourable exception of Sylvia Pankhurst) exchanged their zeal for votes for women for patriotic fervour. This was based on a rationalisation that argued that support for the government would be returned on a good favour basis after the war by the introduction of a women’s enfranchisement bill. The experience of the campaign moulded the views of many a young radical woman. Very many years after these events Elsie Armstrong, who later achieved the distinction of the Mayoralty of Derby, remembered being actively involved in the women’s suffrage movement locally. In one procession, she walked with her baby daughter in one arm, in the other a sign: “I can have a child why not a vote?” [76]
iv)               The emergence of Labour as a national political force (1906-1914)
After the successes of the 1906 general election and the growth of socialism in the subsequent years, many trade unions that had remained aloof from independent working class politics began to revise their attitudes. The Derby Builders’ Labourers’ union branch, which had briefly disaffiliated from the DTC over the issue, affiliated to the local LRC in September 1909. By the following year it had elected a young man, Charles Brown (who would later prominently feature in their society’s local history) to the position of delegate to what was now being called the Derby and District Labour Party. [77]
The transition from electoral pressure group to a fully-fledged political party had been rapid, the LRC calling itself the Labour Party now that it had established a solid block of MPs. However, it was still largely a parliamentary party with little effective, localised structures. Moreover, individual membership was still not a feature of the Labour Party. It was a federation of a working class groups and ideas, from nearly Liberal to fully Marxist. Yet, while the party was now a more generally accepted part of politics, it was by no means plain sailing. The movement had a real struggle to win the right to free speech. The police, backed up and encouraged by the magistrates, clamped down on any socialist who dared speak in public. Will Raynes, in his unpublished memoirs, relates a story dating from an experience in this period, when he had been invited to speak at a Methodist open-air meeting in aid of temperance and against alcohol. As he did just that, a policeman stopped him from speaking, saying that “he had instructions to stop all attempts at socialist meetings in the streets”. Raynes told him of the real nature of the meeting and, in the circumstances, the policeman withdrew. As Raynes himself put it, “the right of free speech had some peculiar limitations”. [78] A socialist could speak at a Methodist meeting, but a Methodist could not speak at a socialist meeting.
However, in Derbyshire, the socialist character of the movement was marginal. For all that the Labour Party now existed, the local electoral contests of this time were still hardly distinguishable from Lib-Labism. The Derbyshire miners had a welcome success when their general secretary, William Harvey, who had succeeded Haslam, was elected MP for North East Derbyshire in a by election in 1907 and the Liberals gave Harvey a clear field:
W Harvey (Lib-Lab)   6,644
J Court (Con)             5,915
Similarly, another by election in 1909 for Mid-Derbyshire (Alfreton and Belper) saw Hancock, the Nottinghamshire miners’ agent, contesting as a Liberal. However, the Miners Federation of Great Britain had just affiliated to the Labour Party. Hancock portrayed himself as a Labour candidate, standing with Liberal support and, amid much confusion, he was nonetheless decisively elected:
J Hancock (Lib-Lab) 6,735
A Peters (Con)           4,392
With one confusion begun, another ended. Richard Bell announced that he would not be standing for election again. He wrote to the secretary of the Derby Labour Party (DLP) giving the Osborne judgement, in which a railwayman sought to prevent his union using its funds for political purposes, as his reason for such a decision. [79] It was a strange excuse, perhaps the fact that a successor to himself, as the ASRS general secretary, was due had more to do with it.
The ASRS was successfully taken to court by W V Osborne, a member of that union, with the aim of preventing the collection of funds for the use of political purposes, the issue eventually coming to the House of Lords in 1909. The decision had great consequences for the rapidly developing Labour Party, which began to be starved of funds with which to support municipal and parliamentary candidates. The Labour Party launched a national fighting fund to combat the Osborne judgement, the news of which was stoutly welcomed by the Derby Trades Council. [80] But the danger of continued attacks on the political role of trade unions was seriously heightened following the judgement. A similar case was pursued in Derbyshire by a miner called Fisher, who took the Blackwell lodge of the DMA to court in 1910. The threat of further legal repercussions was averted when the union gave an undertaking that it would not discriminate against those who objected, nor would it prevent any member who wished to abstain from paying towards political funds from doing so. [81]
Barnet Kenyon
Later that year, well attended meetings of Derbyshire miners considered the establishment of a levy of one shilling a year from each consenting member to insure the union against potential problems arising out of the Osborne judgement. The Lib-Laber, Barnet Kenyon spoke to a crowded gathering of Horsley Woodhouse, men who were unanimous in their consent to the notion. [82] For workers had begun to realise that many of their problems in life either arose out of parliamentary decisions or were alleviated by Parliament. Only by the introduction of the 1913 Trade Union Act was the spending of union monies on political purposes from a special fund legalised. Strict rules governing the administration of the political fund were provided for, in particular in respect to the opportunity to opt out of paying the levy.
This reform was only one of a series of positive developments, which a combination of industrial militancy and parliamentary strength was able to obtain for working people. A wide range of social and economic reforms was won. There was legislation concerning underground operations in the coal industry, the introduction of Trade Boards to fix minimum wages in the sweated industries and the beginnings of the welfare state. The Old Age Pensioners Act, which came into force on January 1st 1909, applied only to those over 70 years of age, whose income did not exceed slightly over 12/- a week. The amount of the pension varied from 5/- a week down to only 1/-, depending upon a scale of income, It was a welcome step but no more than tinkering with the problems of working class people. Bad housing, poor education and health facilities and a total lack of job security were fundamental problems hardly even tacked. Some workers began to scorn these limited reforms as doing no more than glossing over the depth of social problems.
What had been the Social Democratic Federation – the SDF – became the British Socialist Party (BSP). The established rigidity of the old SDF was now under challenge from within the organisation, which began to take a more realistic view of life. Yet, almost contrary to this trend, the BSP disaffiliated entirely of its own volition from the Labour Party in 1908. In view of the obsequiousness that most Labour MPs had shown to the Liberal Government – in return for what the BSP saw as palliatives – perhaps the decision to disaffiliate was not entirely without logic. However, the decision deprived the Labour Party at its most formative time of an organised expression of Marxist ideas. The Party was imbalanced towards Liberal ideas, the very thing the BSP detested. In Chesterfield, in particular, the strongest base of Lib-Labism in the county could be found. A fact that urged the local BSP organisation to denounce the tendency as “contrary to the best interests of the organised workers … who have declared for independent political action”. [83]
The concern about the soul and direction of the Labour Party was not confined by any means to the BSP. The ILP had very firmly stayed in the new electoral alliance that constituted the Labour Party. However, the ILP was worried about the attitude of the Derbyshire miners. As one writer in the ILP’s paper, `Labour Leader’, put it later that year, if the DMA MPs “prefer the Liberals to the ILP well and good, but it must be made quite clear that they cannot have both”. [84] J Thornhill, an active ILPer in Derbyshire, wrote to Ramsay MacDonald, then ILP leader, in January 1911 about the Derbyshire miners MP, Harvey. “Talk about being loyal to the Labour Party, Harvey does just what he likes. Why not let him go to the Liberal Party, and finish deceiving innocent miners.” [85] But Thornhill was wasting his time. MacDonald aimed to keep such figures as Harvey in the new party – irrespective of ideology, reasoning that “the Labour Party is not Socialist”. [861 That was indeed so, but MacDonald’s approach was almost calculated to keep it that way.
v) The Co-operative Movement
If there was concern amongst some about the soul of the Labour Party, then similar fears existed about the Co-operatives. In November 1906, the Derby Trades Council was disconcerted to hear that the Derby Co-operative Society (DCS) was involved in sending “blacklegs over to Mansfield to break the strike” of what was probably Co-op workers there. [87] But the notion that such a thing could even occur was now generally accepted, even if it caused horror. The Co-ops had become big business, far exceeding the original ideas of the small groups of workers who had started co-operativism. This development had been aided by a process of concentration of the small, original societies. In 1896 the DCS had taken over the Little Eaton Co-op, and the Spondon Co-operative Society the following year. By 1908, the DCS had no less than 19,000 members, with 30 branch stores in the town itself.
With the success of the retail co-ops, interest in the application of co-operative principles to other aspects of economic life emerged. Organisations like the Labour Co-Partnership Association were set up in Derby as elsewhere. The idea was to spread the co-operation of the retailer-consumer trade to tenant-landlord relationships. The major slum districts of Derby at the turn of the century were Bridge Gate, Willow Row, Walker Lane, Bold Land and especially Cotton Lane. To replace areas like these, the DCS built its own houses in Walbrook Road, Violet Street and an estate of 44 cottages in Alvaston – all for rent or sale to its own members. £22,856 was spent by the DCS on cottage property, scattered all over the town. Even though they were thoroughly decent homes, a net profit in 1904 of some £500 or 2.5% return on capital invested – was attained. Despite this initial success, the notion did not take firm root and the Co-ops stayed predominantly retail outfits. There was another co­operative idea tried out at this time. Derby Builders Ltd. was set up on co-partnership lines – what we would call a worker co-op. Although shares of one pound each were issued, receiving 5% interest and one-tenth of all the disposable profits. [88] Similarly, but with the initiative coming from the print unions, a co-operative printers was established.
Relationships with the co-operative movement were not generally as good as the trade unions would have preferred. A very real fear existed that commercial pressures were isolating the Co-ops from the movement as a whole. Throughout the period up to the war, the unions in Derby were seeking to exert greater influence over the DCS. However, despite contesting every election for the Board of Directors, there was great disappointment at the failure of trades unionists to win seats. The DTC eventually decided against any further contests in July 1917, but the movement was later able to exert greater authority in the inter-war years. [89] A new concept, designed to ensure that trades unionists only bought goods from organised firms raised doubts about the co-ops’ commitment to unionism. The idea was that a “trade union stamp” – a mark affixed to the goods to prove that trade union labour had produced – it would help protect the trades unionists against under-cutting.
After the DTC had discussed the general notion in January 1912, pressure was put on the DCS to consider the system. Questions were asked at the DCS quarterly meeting in February as to why the co-op had decided to oppose the idea of placing a trade union stamp on boots and shoes. The Boot Committee considered that there were “certain people who traded with us who were opposed to it”. A self-satisfied reply calculated to enrage the trades council. Then the question was extended to bespoke and factory made clothing. An agreement existed between the DTC, the DCS and the Tailors Society, guaranteeing the individual conditions that every suit and garment were made under. However, the DCS positively resisted the introduction of a stamp or mark guaranteeing that this was so. There was a strong element of self-interest involved here, for the Co-op. Custom of anti-trades unionists might be lost by flaunting the name of the unions of the employees who had made the garments. Despite being put to a membership vote, the directors received a large majority endorsing their refusal and the whole issue of the trade union stamp began to fade.
Not that a general sense of exasperation with the role of the co-ops, when it came to trades unionism, receded in the least. The DTC officially took up with the DCS in October 1913 its failure to employ union-only labour. While, in early 1914, a stonemason called Drabble was dismissed by the DCS Building Department for reasons which are unclear, but which the DTC deprecated. Drabble was a DTC delegate and a trade union activist, so perhaps his dismissal had more to do with his union activities than ought to have been the case. Despite all this, the co-ops retained strong links with the trade union movement beyond their own employees. As in the 1912 coal strike, when 10 or 12 gallons of new milk were given away in the Cotton Lane area by the DCS. Soup made from goods supplied by the DCS was also distributed in Spondon.
Meanwhile, the co-ops were themselves seeking a greater political role. In January 1887, the Long Eaton Co-op Society had successfully contested a local election. Seven years later, when the Urban District council took over the functions of the local board, three Co-op candidates had won seats. However, this example was not followed up in Derby. Although a suggestion had been made in 1901 that the DCS put up municipal candidates for the November elections, this had never been carried out. In 1912, however, the DCS decided to form a committee to investigate the idea in more depth and this began its work in February, deciding to recommend that the Society seek representation on the local council. While this political outlook was strictly speaking separate from the Labour Party at this stage, it was generally appreciated that there would be no question of competition between working class candidates. [90]
vi) The demise of Lib-Labism
Following the MFGB decision in 1909 to join the Labour Party, about a dozen miners’ MP5 who had maintained allegiance to the Liberal Party switched their support towards the Parliamentary Labour Party. It was the beginning of the end of Lib­-Labism. However, in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire the outlook held on tenaciously, with the assistance of some miners’ leaders. There were two general elections in 1910. At the first of these, in January, hardly anywhere did Labour score a reasonable result, let alone victory, without Liberal support. J G Hancock, W Harvey and J Haslam were all re-elected in both elections for their respective constituencies of Mid-Derbyshire, Chesterfield and N E Derbyshire, again with strong Liberal support.
Hancock won a decisive 63.9% in January and in December 60.5%. However, there was serious doubt that he was indeed truly a Labour candidate. The Alfreton ILP decided to take no part in his campaign, unless there was a clear undertaking that meetings would be called under the Labour colours. Harvey polled 57.6% in January and 56.3% in December, while Haslam had a convincing lead of 59% over his Tory opponent. In Derby, Roe stood in the two-member constituency again as the only official Liberal, leaving the field clear for Richard Bell’s successor. This was the new ASRS general secretary – J H (Jimmy) Thomas, a former engine driver, who now stood as the first official Labour Party candidate. Bell had retired as MP, amidst controversy, to a post as an official in the Labour Exchange section of the Board of Trade at a salary of £600 a year – half as much again as he received as ASRS secretary. In his resignation speech, he claimed he was a “victim of political prejudice”. The Derby Mercury called it “socialist tyranny”. Although, in his letter of resignation to A. R. Flint, the secretary of the “Derby Labour Association”, Bell had announced his “great reluctance” to stand again citing the limitations on trades unionists political activity after the Osborne case. Bell was indeed under attack and out of tune with current opinion in the labour movement, but it was arguably the plum job offered to him by Winston Churchill, which drew him away. [91] Whatever the cause of Bell’s defection, none of this made any real difference to the actual result.
Labour activists were already familiar with Jimmy Thomas, as he had campaigned for Bell with vigour in the 1906 election. Derby railwaymen asked him to forego his intended contest at Cardiff, as the 1910 election approached, arguing that the divisions had raised the possibility of the seat being lost and only he could save it. By agreeing to do so, “there was trouble with the union and he was ‘carpeted’ “. [92] Naturally, by winning the Derby seat he avoided too much difficulty after the event. His election began links with Derby that would last him a quarter of a century. Thomas polled 27.9% and the voting pattern was very similar to that of the 1906 election:
Roe (Lib)        9,515
Thomas (Lab)          9,144
Beck (Con)    8,160
B Fuller, one of       Thomas’ friendly and semi-official biographers, wrote of his involvement in these early electoral contests in glowing terms: “the Labour leaders were in despair. His rivals did not have to find cheap lodgings and consider shillings spent on meals and travel”. [93] The tale must surely have come from Thomas himself and reveals a lifelong personal dread of poverty – a trait that led to his persistent and abiding flaw, an obsessive taste for luxury. “Money”, Fuller continues with no trace of irony, “was so scarce that it was necessary to collect funds at party meetings.” In a similar vein, another biographer wrote that these collections were “not a very dignified proceeding, but the exchequer had to be filled somehow.” [94] Thomas later recalled the support he had received from Sir T Roe (later Lord Roe) in very warm terms, as well as welcoming the advocacy of his election by the “Liberal organ the Derby Evening Telegraph”. In truth, Thomas and Bell were of exactly the same ilk. Immediately after his victory however, initial steps were taken to qualitatively change the situation. The setting up of a permanent local Labour Party, in the fullest sense of the word then possible, was actively sought after a conference at the Temperance Hall called by the unions, the DTC and the Socialist Society. A committee was established to draft a constitution. [95] By August, Thomas was able to address a General Council meeting of the Derby Labour Party (DLP), saying that “until now there had never been a real independent Labour Party in Derby, with an organisation of its own; and further to the fact that Derby was far from being well organised even from a trade union point of view”. [96]
Committed socialists were however not entirely convinced that the DLP was a good thing – there were far too many Liberals in it for their liking. Some socialists tried to get the trades council to support the setting up of a “Socialist Representation Committee”; to no avail, for the DTC easily passed a resolution of “loyal support’ for the DLP. [97] The foundation of the DLP was not marked by immediate electoral success. In the municipal elections of November 1910, only two wards were contested and the Mercury thought it a “Rebuff for Socialism”. [98] Both the Labour candidates, Frank Porter and James Bennett, lost by margins of roughly three and one hundred respectively. The DLP had established that it could get the vote out -even without the Liberals, if necessary. More importantly, the party had learned how to practically conduct an election, so that when the December General Election came it was able to put up a very professional performance. For the first time, the Labour agent – James Bennett – set up a campaign shop in Cheapside in Derby. The DLP began to set up a sophisticated structure of support. By 1911, 22 trade union branches with a total membership of 551 were affiliated to the new party, donating in excess of some £83. [99] Amongst later entrants were both the United Machine Workers and the ILP, both at first a little suspicious of the initiative.
In a spirit of unity, the trades council proposed that the DLP, the Socialist Society and itself should cooperate in a joint committee to organise for the May Day celebrations of 1911 and one of the most successful demonstrations ever of rising working class confidence was held in the town. Later that year, the future municipal giant of Derby, W R Raynes, was at last elected in his sixth attempt for Osmaston ward as a town councillor. It was at a by election, arising from a councillor’s death, and Raynes had tried once there before. This time there was a remarkable turnout, by today’s standards for a local by-election, of 74.79%:  Raynes (Lab) 554 Wildsmith (Ind) 411 Markham (Lib) 97. [100]
In the official elections that followed one month afterwards, three seats were fought by the DLP out of the four being contested. A Waterson took Derwent ward by the narrow margin of six votes, J Norman narrowly missed winning Friargate and the agent, James Bennett, took Pear Tree ward easily. [101] At its November meeting, the DTC noted with pleasure that the “class solidarity of the workers” had secured 2,382 votes, “an indication of the coming strength of the workers”. As a practical example of this pleasure, Raynes was made an honorary member of the trades council. [102] One of the first moves of the newly elected Labour councillors in 1911 was to table a motion for the fixing of a minimum wage of 6d per hour for the corporation’s labourers. These were very poorly paid at 1s 1d for a 55 hour week, with no other benefits of any kind. However, the vote on Labour’s proposal was predictably lost, there being 62 abstentions or votes against, while only the Labour councillors voted for the motion. Despite an intensely reasoned case put by them, their opponents simply ignored their arguments – Raynes was furious. The DLP resolved to give assistance to the corporation employees in establishing trade union organisation and, within a single year, the same resolution was put to the council with success, simply because the authority was threatened that “if justice was not conceded the whole of the municipal work of the Borough would be at a standstill next day”. The council labourer won his “tanner” by industrial muscle rather than logical persuasion. [103]
At the end of 1911, 73 delegates attended the DLP quarterly meeting to review progress. Henry Sharpe presided over the meeting, which generally considered the position of the new party as favourable. Individual and affiliated membership had also doubled in one year. Steps were being taken to form a Women’s Labour League, while the financial position was good, as the total expenditure on the election showed: [104]
                              Ward      £           s          d
                        Derwent     9           13        0
                       Friargate     9           17        6
                      Pear Tree    13           1          0
                     Osmaston     8           18        9
                          TOTAL    41           10        3
Formal Labour Parties began to be set up as distinct entities everywhere. In 1910, the Ilkeston Trades Council decided to set up their own local Labour Party – indeed the organisation that was created went under the name of ‘The Ilkeston Trades Council and Labour Party’- a strictly joint body. The influence for such a development very much came from Councillor Tom Pounder, who had been elected unopposed in 1907 as the trade council’s independent Labour nominee, following a controversy over the cutting of the tramway men’s wages by the Town Council. Pounder was a trades council delegate for decades – indeed he had been a founder member and he was to serve as a councillor until 1914. However, elsewhere in the county, Lib-Labism was still deeply rooted. Even as late as 1913, the Derbyshire miners gave support to their agent, Barnet Kenyon, as a Lib-Lab candidate in the Chesterfield constituency, or division as parliamentary seat was then known. The Labour Party formally renounced him after much local pressure from the ILP and other socialists. However, no candidate opposing him was put forward in the August 20th by election. While Kenyon was no longer a member of the Liberal Party, he still held their ideas. Nonetheless, the DMA was annoyed at what it saw as interference in a miners’ concern. The DMA was “astonished to hear that the executive of the National Labour Party refused to sanction the adoption of the candidature of Mr Barnet Kenyon”. [105]
In the absence of an official Labour candidate, it was left to the BSP to field the dockers’ union leader John Scurr. He was later to become Labour Mayor of Poplar in London, during the noted rebellion of that council against central government dictates. The BSP had launched a major campaign of recruitment after its disaffiliation from the Labour Party. Within very short space of time, it could claim a membership of around 15,000, rivalling the ILP as the main socialist society. Nonetheless, ILP membership had also soared and, by 1910, it had 15 branches in Derbyshire – Clay Cross, Alfreton, Belper, Bolsover, Codnor, Crich, Darley Dale, Derby, Heanor, Langley Mill, and Long Somercotes. However, the contest in Chesterfield was an unequal contest. Even though Scurr had had the backing of the Labour Party, which was denied to Kenyon, it is unlikely that he could have seriously dented the latter’s local support. As it was, Scurr’s 4% of the vote did little to back up the BSP’s view that socialism could win major electoral support without the broad church that was the Labour Party. Support for the strategy of seeking reform from within the Labour Party, gradually winning a rejection of the Lib-Lab ideas that still largely dominated the wider labour movement, was strengthened by the by election. Unfriendly commentators like the Derby Mercury saw the result as another “Rebuff for Socialism”. Kenyon took 55.8% of the vote, while the Tory polled 40%. Immediately following the result, Barnet Kenyon quite unashamedly re-joined the Liberal Party, prompting Keir Hardie much later in a speech in Derby’s Temperance Hall to reveal that he had been shocked at Kenyon’s betrayal.
From herein, the Labour Party faced serious electoral problems. The strength of the Parliamentary Labour Party was reduced from a peak of 42 in December 1910 to 37 in 1911. Yet the years 1911-1913 were marked by an upsurge in industrial militancy and disillusionment with the parliamentarianism of the Labour Party was noticeable. The DLP had slightly improved its’ membership amongst affiliated organisations in 1911-1912 through the efforts of its activists, the next few years saw this position deteriorate slightly. While individual membership, having at first Increased, fell back to the foundation level by 1914. [106]
           Annual Report      DLP                           DLP
                                 individual membership        affiliated membership
        1910                         113                               551
        1911                         229                           1,228
        1912                         163                           1,625
        1913                         222                           1,369
        1914                         119                           1,369
The national trend for Labour’s earlier successes to fade away slightly seemed to be confirmed in Derby, despite the victory of Alien Mycroft in a by-election in October 1913. For the following month’s annual local elections saw what the Mercury called a “Socialist Rout. Substantial majorities were recorded for the anti-Labour candidates. T Taylor being beaten in Normanton ward by 414 votes, almost as many votes as he had himself won. Similarly a young engineering worker at Rolls Royce, George Oliver (later to become a long serving MP for Ilkeston) lost in Peartree by half as many votes again as he had himself received. [107] But Oliver was the only industrial worker amongst the Labour candidates, Taylor was a fruiterer and Spencer was an insurance agent.
The miners’ MP Harvey died, causing a by-election in North-East Derbyshire in May 1914. However, the contest was easily won by the Conservatives, Labour coming a poor third after the Liberals. The result was significant and was generally seen as such. Almost as soon as the Labour Party had registered electoral success, disillusionment with the political road set in. The practical experience of town hall political life provided few immediate solutions to workers’ problems. Interest in a solely trade union avenue developed alongside this disillusionment with party politics – the phenomena of syndicalism. Central to this was the view that socialism could be won by seizing power through the use of trade union action alone. Leaders were mistrusted and the role of the rank-and-file activist was prized. Industrial unionism rather than craft unionism was preferred, whilst the notion of ‘one big union’ style organisational unity in trades unionism – was especially favoured. Parliamentarianism was viewed with grave mistrust.
Syndicalists like Tom Mann, the founder of the ASE and the Workers Union, were looked upon with much admiration by many workers. The trend was very much in favour of intellectual analysis of the capitalist system, as a means of achieving greater understanding of society. As we have seen, as early as 1910 Derby’s Trades Council was amongst 16 councils represented at Tom Mann’s Industrial Syndicalist Education League’s first congress at Manchester in November. Such an attendance marked the DTC as amongst the most militant, certainly it possessed a sharp sense of the need for wider trade union unity. Early in 1911, the DTC “decided to act as an Education Committee for the promulgation of syndicalist principles”; in particular, it was interested in a scheme for the amalgamation of the unions in the railway industry. [108] The Derby Socialist Society had already established a track record for being greatly interested in educational activities and the town also saw the creation of the second oldest branch in the entire country of the Workers Education Association. Founded in 1905 on April 28th, this was initially called the Association to Promote Higher Education of Working Men. Meeting at the Guildhall, it carefully insisted on a non-party political stance.
In 1912 the DTC withdrew from the Derby Conciliation Board, a move directly reflecting this turn to syndicalism, During the debate on this question at the trades council, an ASE delegate named Wozencraft – almost certainly Lewis Louis Wozencroft, who joined Rolls Royce in 1909 and later became a foreman – put the syndicalist view: “how can you conciliate the capitalist who was out to secure higher profits and the worker who was seeking to improve his economic position”. Opposing this view, another delegate – Turner pleaded that conciliation helped unorganised workers to get a better deal. Nonetheless, the decision to withdraw from the conciliation board was only confirmed narrowly, by a vote of 18 to 15. [109]
A certain denting of the support for parliamentary action, combined with a rise in industrial militancy, proved to be the basis for a growth in revolutionary socialist ideas. Naturally, this caused tension; when J H Thomas addressed the annual May Day rally in Derby’s Market Place in 1914, the BSP was specifically excluded from the event for political reasons. Whereupon, the party held their own meeting in another part of the square. [110] The BSP began to gear itself up for massive activity, seeing this as the “coming red peril”, the Mercury revealed that eight weeks of campaigning would culminate in “Red Week” from June 7th to the 14th, when “conductors, hairdressers, milkmen, tube workers and postmen” would argue for full-bloodied socialism. [111] Revolution was not around the corner but jingoism and bunkered nationalism was. Trade unionists and socialists believed themselves to be internationalists. Calls to defend the Empire were lost upon them, or so it was supposed to be. The Tripoli wars of 1911 (as a result of which Italy took Libya from the Ottoman Empire) had been attacked by the trades council. A unanimous resolution had been passed in 1913, in which the DTC declared itself horrified at “the latest outburst of capitalistic tyranny as evidenced by the shooting down of our fellow workers in Johannesburg”. The brutal exploitation of the colonies albeit where this involved white workers – held little pleasure for trade unionists.
Keir Hardie had expressed the views of many when he had spoken in Derby in early 1914: “Patriotism apparently found its highest embodiment under the millionaires of the Rand”, he declared with grim irony. “If crime was to be committed with impunity under the Union Jack, the sooner the red flag was hoisted the better. Patriotism took the form of conquering fresh pieces of earth, not for the good of people but for exploitation”. [112] Honest and brave words, but opinions which would soon be ignored by Britain’s workers. The Second International, the body that following the example of Marx’s First International united the world’s socialist organisations, had pledged itself to organise an international general strike if imperialistic war broke out. For tension between the great powers had been increasing for some time. In the event, when the rival armed camps of Britain, France and Russia faced Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey, working class movements everywhere capitulated in favour of a four year carnage, as the guns of August 1914 boomed across Europe.
3 Trades Unionism in particular industries
i) Railways
Railway trade unionism had spent the first decades of its existence campaigning for better safety legislation, an approach that attracted much informed middle-class support. As a result of this pressure, the proportion of fatal accidents to the numbers employed fell from one in 334 employees killed at work in 1875 to one in 1,006 by 1899. [113] But the rail unions had made little headway in improving the wages and status of the workers in the industry. Starting this period as the poor relation of new unionism, railway workers ended it as the success story of the movement. New unionism first evidenced itself in the industry with the setting up of the General Railway Workers Union (GRWU) in 1889 – an ‘all-grades’ alternative to the ASRS. One leader of the GRWU, Watson, visited Derby to address a large meeting in the Guildhall in September 1890. Arguing against sectional trade unionism, Watson warned also against those MPs who promised all things but delivered none. For him “working men should have no politics – at least their only politics should be bread and butter” politics. [114]
The GRWU established itself in Derby with some difficulty, actually receiving more interest in the workshops than on the platforms. Kelly, the GRWU general secretary, spoke at the Temperance Hall in Derby in September 1891, pointing out that sawyers and machinists in the town were being paid only 20/- a week, some 10/- below the rate elsewhere and this became a pre-occupation of the union for some time. Kelly shared his platform with W S de Mattos of the Fabian Society, who spoke of the need for general unionism and linked the immediate demands of the men with the socialist case. [115] The GRWU used Derby as the location of its October 1893 national conference, perhaps as a symbol of its hopes for improved recruitment in the town. However, three years later, little progress had been made by either the GRWU or the ASRS. The latter, at a meeting in the Co-op Hall in Exchange Street in Derby, was told by W Smith (the trades council president) that apathy of railwaymen in the town was “making a difference of between 2s to 6s a week”. [116] Because of this poor level of organisation, the trades council and local socialists periodically attempted to rouse the railway workers of the town. T Mawbey chaired a meeting of shunters, who were aiming for the 8-hour day, at the Green Dragon in St Peter Street in May of 1897. [117]
More significantly, Derby railway clerks that year showed considerable interest in the establishment of the Railway Clerks Association (RCA). The organisation directly links to today’s Transport and Salaried Staffs Association(TSSA) The RCA aimed to cater for all grades of salaried employees of the rail companies – station masters, inspectors, foremen, draughtsmen as well as clerks. [118] It was not an easy task getting a local organisation going. A meeting was held one Saturday evening in 1902 at the Derwent Hotel to consider the formation of a RCA branch. Despite the select party of individuals on the platform – the RCA president, Sir Fortesque Flannery, five MPs and a Lord were there – the RCA did not really take root. The Midland Railway and the Great Northern employers were strongly against trades unionism establishing itself amongst their staff employees. [119] It was not until 1906 – nine years after the formation of the RCA – that a Derby branch was formally set up. Sixty new members were immediately enrolled in October of that year by the organising secretary, C J Whitehead of 3 St James Street, who was employed at the GNR coaching department. With such a start, the RCA hoped to have a thousand members in their new branch in a short space of time. [120]
Amongst the manual grades, the depression of the’ first’ years of the century somewhat dulled desires for unionism. The only major activity of the ASRS in Derby which involved a public presence would seem to have been the establishment of an annual ASRS church parade in August 1901. Moreover, membership was hard to obtain. The ASRS had only 609 members in two branches in Derby in 1900. [121] It was difficult to get started everywhere, Rowsley marshalling yards appear to only become well organised much later on. Whilst loco drivers were organised in a variety of organisations. The Derby United Engine Drivers Association, which had been going for twenty years, had 102 members in 1892; within seven years this had risen to 212. A branch of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) had been setup in Derby for the Midland loco men in February 1892, the GNR men not joining until the end of the First World War. Thomas Suntor, the General Secretary of ASLEF addressed twenty men at the inaugural meeting at the Bridge Inn, London Road, Derby. By 1907, it had eclipsed the local Derby Association, which had disappeared by the 1914-18 war. ASLEF was to maintain dominance of the loco driving grades thereafter. The Staveley Midland branch of ASLEF was first set up much later than the Derby branch, at the coffee rooms in New Whittington in September 1906. [122]
The rail companies flatly refused to negotiate with any of the five national unions in the industry, thus making it very difficult for any real progress to be made on wages and working conditions. The ASRS revealed that, in 1901, 38% of railway employees received wages of less than 20/- a week, 50% got less than 30/-. [123] Discontent about this position had grown over the first half dozen years of the century and began to express itself in a surge towards unionisation. All the unions collaborated on a campaign for the eight-hour day, premium payments for overtime and a guaranteed week. ASRS membership rose by almost 40% in one year, as this struggle gained momentum. [124]
A national railway strike appeared imminent; in Derby, a large crowd gathered outside the Trades Hall in June 1907 to hear speeches from Richard Bell and others. The railway companies absolutely refused to accept Bell as spokesman for the men, maintaining that union membership in the industry was minimal – at best a clear minority of the total workforce. A major dispute over union recognition was sparked off by this stubborn attitude, but this was cut short by the intervention of Lloyd George, then President of the Board of Trade. As part of the settlement, a conciliation scheme was put into operation in the industry. Union recognition as such was not conceded, the workers would have to put their own personal grievances to the conciliation boards themselves. No trade union officials were to be allowed to represent their members. Moreover, the machinery of the boards was unbelievably slow, passing through two stages. There were also restrictions on the subjects that could be brought before the panels, disciplinary affairs being specifically excluded. The outcome of the dispute caused much dissatisfaction, a fact underlined by the tenor of the October meeting of Staveley ASLEF, called to discuss “the question of enforcing recognition”. [125] The unrest evident before the dispute did not go away by any means. Wages continued to fail to keep pace with rising prices and railway workers who were disillusioned with Labour’s electoral politics found favour with syndicalism in this situation.
During 1909 and 1910, a rash of sudden local disputes spread throughout the country. A particularly sharp, but short, dispute took place amongst the London Midland Scotland men in Derby in 1909. Eustace Mitton, the company secretary of the Butterley enterprises, was “angrily reproved” by the Midland Railway when he drove one of the Butterley’s railway engines during the stoppage down to St Mary’s Gate sidings, so that “the poorer citizens of Derby might have coal”. [126] These localised strikes did little to calm the feelings of the men. On the contrary, they only served to encourage the tendency to action and militant unity between all grades. Yet, early in 1909, the Staveley ASLEF branch firmly rejected the notion of amalgamation with the ASRS and the GRWU, because these unions did not conform to the “true principle of Trade Unionism”. What especially rankled with ASLEF was the failure of the ASRS in particular to force recognition from the railway companies, and the ease with which the leaders of that union had accepted the new conciliation boards and their limited role. [127.1 Moreover, the special sense of craft pride possessed by loco drivers and footplate men tended to distance them from the more general trades. Within months of this critical assessment of other unions, Staveley ASLEF was re-assessing its position. A sense of unity among Ioco men themselves encouraged the branch to believe that some organisational form could be given to this. Beginning a new recruitment campaign, Staveley ASLEF produced 500 leaflets to call an open meeting on August 8th 1909 at the coffee and reading rooms at New Whittington, near Chesterfield. A good turnout ensured the unanimous decision that loco-men should band themselves together in their own Trade Union and by Federation link up all the grades of the railway service”. [128]
The work of the syndicalists, who especially favoured trade union unity, was significant in these developments. In Chesterfield, Charles Watkins, a railway signalman, was an influential local militant. He had a major article of his featured in the May 1911 issue of Tom Mann’s ‘Industrial Syndicalist’. [129] During the strike of 1911, he was to play a particularly central role in the Chesterfield area. The average wage of the railwayman was only 25s 9d – a penny less than it had been four years previously. The conciliation machinery had thus made very little difference to the position of workers in the industry. Working conditions were still harshly disciplinarian, sometimes dangerously so. In May 1911, Staveley ASLEF debated the “question of guards intimidating drivers to go by signals at danger and running on single lines of railway without train staff’. [130]
Railwaymen saw the 1907 conciliation scheme as too slow and weighted to the employers. A major review of the scheme was planned for 1914, until then strikes were banned on pain of dismissal. Union leaderships were committed to doing nothing in the meantime. Influenced by radical industrial ideas, workers began to be inclined to act by themselves. A strike at Liverpool began over these general grievances and spread, entirely unofficially, to every rail company in the country during the course of 1911. The key demands were repudiation of the conciliation scheme, recognition of the unions, a 48 hour guaranteed week with time-and-a-quarter for overtime, a two shilling across the board increase and 10% on piecework. Trying to keep control over the unofficial movement, in the face of these swingeing demands, .the rail unions asked for a recall of the conciliation boards and amendments to their constitutions to make them more effective. On August 15th 1911, the unions announced a national official strike of all four railway trade unions unless negotiations began. A Royal Commission, which would review the conciliation scheme, was offered by the government, but this was rejected as inadequate and the strike began officially on August 17th. The strike message was received at Staveley ASLEF at 8.35 that evening and, as the branch had enthusiastically approved their EC’s call already, the men began to stop work immediately. They were not to resume work until 9.00 am on August 20th. [131] The strike had already set in before the official call, in some areas. When Sheffield, Liverpool and the other centres of the strike came out, the Derby men gathered in a midnight meeting at the Morledge, to agree an embargo on any traffic coming from these places. At the same time, they had agreed to pursue the same demands themselves – subject to joining the unofficial strike, if the rail companies failed to make concessions.
With the official declaration of strike action, the Derby workers assembled on the Wednesday evening in the Market Place. Two thousand massed to enthusiastically support the strike. Similarly, hundreds gathered in Long Eaton. The strike gradually began to bite, especially as shift changes occurred. At St Mary’s Goods Station, 150 walked out at the end of the day shift at eight o’clock on the Thursday evening, to be followed by another 60 on the night shift. A deputation of 50 went to Chaddesden Sidings to encourage the men thereto come out. [132] A massive police presence was established in preparation for what seemed to be a potentially major conflict. Sixty constables were brought from the north of the county and stationed permanently at the Midland Railway Station. [133]
On the Thursday evening, major disorder did indeed break out at the Bridge Gate, near St Mary’s Goods Station. The police later claimed than an attempt was made to force the gates at 8pm and that there was much stone throwing. At a later trial of two men for assault on the police their solicitor, A R Flint, tried to pin the police down in cross questioning about what was publicly generally believed to be excessive and unwarranted police violence. However, to no effect, for the police witnesses did not veer from their stories. According to Flint, police had charged. women and children with, batons – an “unprovoked attack” he called it. Suspiciously detailed allegations about gratuitous violence on the part of the police were made, only to be boldly denied by wide-eyed PC5. For the magistrates, a sentence of three months hard labour for the two men was deemed to be appropriate, whilst the police were “congratulated … upon the manner in which they had discharged a difficult duty”. [134] Considering the claims and counter-claims of police and rail workers and their families, it now remains rather difficult to prove the reality of the actions of the police. Certainly, A R Flint later earned a reputation of informed, moderate respectability – very much in the centre of British politics – and it seems difficult to believe that he repeated the stories of police brutality without believing in them. More significantly, the actions of the police that Thursday in August had so enraged the local community of working class people. that two thousand gathered the next day in the Market Place to protest at the police behaviour. This atmosphere of distrust and hostility towards the notice continued. The strike committee complained of an unprovoked attack by police against pickets at Holland Street, off London Road. Whilst police, with their batons drawn, charged crowds of strikers at Alfreton. [1 35] All of the men at Ilkeston, Long Eaton and Toton were out. The streets of Ilkeston being permanently crowded with excited workers and their families. Troops were mustered there and the Riot Act was read at Long Eaton, where the police had to be reinforced by one hundred men of the Devon Regiment who were sent across from Derby.
Six trains were held up at Long Eaton, in what the press called an act of “sabotage”. A rail worker called Potter had refused to come out on strike on the Friday evening, causing an enormous crowd of men to gather in anger. Just at that moment, the Scottish Express came along and the strikers managed to push the level crossing gates in front of the train, it being only able to stop some 15 yards from the gates. [136] On Saturday evening, the 19th of August, an attempt was made at Chesterfield to burn down the railway station, while shop windows were broken and 14 people were injured. The troops were called out and the Riot Act was read by the Mayor, C P Markham, a member of the coal owning family. [137] Following this, there were baton charges by the police and bayonet charges by the military. The 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers arrived in the town shortly after in large numbers. Parts of Derbyshire resembled a country under occupation. [138] Outside the Staveley rail complex, some 1,500 people gathered when a single blackleg, one John Weatherall, attempted to go to work in defiance of his community. [139]
A near unanimous turnout of rail workers had been recorded, causing a frightened government to hurriedly insist on negotiations, which began on the 19th August. Terms of settlement were agreed in no time at all, but workers in the industry still had to be convinced of them. A Royal Commission would investigate it all, meanwhile strikers were to resume work and no dismissals of activists would take place. All grievances would be dealt with under the conciliation scheme … but still no union recognition was conceded. The railway companies would only meet employees as individuals, not as collective representatives. Such an omission really denied all that the workers in the industry had been fighting for over the previous few years. Despite such reservations, the workers returned to work. There had been important concessions; the Central Conciliation Board was to be eliminated, allowing for much more immediate handling of problems. Sectional bodies were to cope with the difficulties that would arise from day to day, moreover for the first time paid officials of the unions might represent their members at internal company hearings under the newly revised conciliation scheme. Whatever the limitations, in itself the result was a magnificent victory given the previous state of industrial relations in the industry.
The Derby rail workers had been on strike from Thursday morning in the main, many other areas in the county only coming out the following day. It had been a very short, very sharp dispute. Clearly, the outcome delighted all union members, even though they had hoped for more. It was the start of things to come. Within 48 hours of arrogantly threatening to carry on with railway services, regardless of the four unions’ official dispute, the employers had climbed down. Not enough perhaps, but they were doing what they had said they would never do, negotiate directly with the trade unions’ leaderships. The employers had broken the first golden rule of industrial relations and international diplomacy – never say ‘never’! The news was conveyed formally to the local men in Derby at Unity Hall on Sunday. One speaker, George Spencer, drew sharp attention to the fact that the euphoria actually hid the reality and that did not bode well for the future, for the employers would be back to seek retribution. “We have not won the fight … the real struggle has not yet begun… It was only a preliminary skirmish … there could only be one finish … the overthrow of the capitalistic system.”
Three open-air meetings had been arranged for that Sunday in anticipation of the need to maintain morale during the strike. In the event, the character of the events was completely changed by the negotiated settlement. George Oliver, of the ASE and from Rolls Royce [later to be MP for Ilkeston], addressed the rally at Normanton’s Vulcan Grounds. His speech was decidedly militant. Similarly, Wozencroft, also of the Rolls Royce ASE, paraphrased Marx: – “Workers of the World Unite. You have the world to win … you have nothing to lose save your chains.” [140] These two speakers were obviously strongly influenced at that time by radical ideas, but were not directly involved in the dispute. The special sense of class solidarity, evidenced by their involvement, is worth noting. During this very brief dispute, members of the United Pattern Workers at Rolls Royce had even arranged to levy themselves in aid of the railwaymen; there was clearly some relish for the struggle. The resumption of work, on the Monday, took place in a holiday atmosphere and the immediate effect of the end of the dispute was a massive rise in union membership. The GRWU signed up 280 new members in a fortnight in Derby. [141] While ASLEF’s Staveley branch provided a union medal to one member, a Brother Foster, for recruiting 32 new members single-handedly and proposed over two branch meetings. To put this into some perspective, by the end of 1911 the branch had about one hundred members. [142]
While the unions were reaping the benefits of success, the authorities began to extract retribution for the social tension that had characterised the dispute. Eighteen men were brought before the Derby Assizes for supposed offences committed at the Chesterfield ‘riot’ on the 19th August, when an attempt had supposedly been made to burn down the railway station. Seven were found guilty but more significantly, given the hysteria which the press had’ deluged the short-lived strike with, eleven were actually acquitted. Even so, the seven faced periods of between six months and one year in prison. [143] In a separate case, seven men were charged at Long Eaton with forcing the level crossing gates near the station on the 18th, four of them being subsequently sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour and another to four months for obstructing the traffic. [144] Two men, a guard and a driver, were singled out as the culprits of the Staveley ‘riot’ and were found guilty of assault, albeit with the strongest “possible recommendation to mercy”. [145] The guard, William Jones, and the engine driver, John Weatherall were however sentenced to three months in goal. All the men charged over that particular ‘fracas’ had 30 or 40 years service with their own companies, not that it made any difference. Strikers thus received punishments from the establishment, while the scabs reaped their rewards. The Midland Railway decided to give men who had remained especially loyal to themselves “substantial monetary recognition beyond the extra week’s wages (which had been given to all strike breakers) according to the particular circumstances”. [146] All now awaited the report of the Royal Commission, which eventually – but predictably – went no way towards resolving the workers’ demands. The unions officially rejected this, whereupon the rail companies and the government refused to meet them. Therefore, the trade unions began the process of once again testing whether there was support amongst the rank and file for maintaining militant action. In Derby, some 200 attended an enthusiastic ASRS meeting to provide just this. The Derby Mercury was forced to accept that “the bulk of the Derby railway unionists are in favour of a strike rather than accept the findings of the Royal Commission”. [147] Yet, after modifying the wording of the Commission’s report in certain unimportant ways, which enabled the unions’ leaderships to argue that it was now an acceptable package, a settlement was reached on December 11th and the strike threat was withdrawn for the second time. On this occasion causing a certain dissatisfaction amongst the rank and file. Against the strict instructions of mass meetings throughout the country, the ASRS Executive Committee accepted the report – even without waiting for the result of a ballot then in process. Most Derbyshire rail workers, indeed most British railway workers, were strongly in favour of a second strike. A fact exemplified by the ferociously hostile response that J H Thomas had at a joint ASRS­ASLEF meeting held in Nottingham in late December. [148] Thomas defended himself by admitting that two more days of strike might have gained recognition of the unions themselves, but that “strike at Christmas would be disastrous”. Remarkably, as criticism of Thomas grew even sharper, he was later to accept his “full responsibility for his share in preventing a railway strike at Christmas”. [149] Thomas had found his special role in life; in the next two decades he was not to lose his touch. Soon after this affair, never one to fail to miss an opportunity to indulge in the social graces, Thomas had his new born son christened Thomas Roe Thomas, after the longstanding Derby Liberal MP Thomas Roe. It was almost a ritualistic affirmation of J H Thomas’ total dislike of strikes. For he had proved then, and would do again, that he preferred to find any way out of them, regardless of the consequences.
The Royal Commission had considered the relative merits of the recognition of the three manual trade unions for the industry. The separateness of the footplate men was a particular concern for them. For a time, it seemed that the agreement of December 11th might be in jeopardy. The Derby ASLEF leadership thought their society held the key to the acceptance or otherwise of the Royal Commission proposals. The branch believed that the Commission “would give them recognition and thus enable them to control the whole of the service”, perhaps a rather exaggerated version of the possibilities, but indicative of the aspirations of the society. Eventually, the Commission’s proposals went into operation, regardless of the views of ASLEF and the other unions. The new conciliation scheme was however only a mild improvement on the old one. While the scope of the boards was widened, the resolution of grievances still had to be through direct personal approaches to managers.
Many were upset with the outcome, as when the Clay Cross Midland Railway branch of the ASRS unsuccessfully moved a resolution to the union’s annual conference in 1912, seeking to totally abandon the conciliation scheme. Strangely, the hard-headed pragmatism that had ensured the defeat of the Clay Cross motion dissolved, when faced with another resolution that committed the union and the working class to fight to “abolish the capitalist class and take over the possession of industries themselves”. [150] Perhaps it was not untypical of the movement, moderate when real commitment was called for, but militant when it was possible to be distantly and indulgently philosophical. In a similar vein, the Staveley ASLEF branch thought the aims of the dispute had been too limited and that the “industrial battles of the future (should) be on a wider basis”. Urging the need for the rail unions to fight together, the branch decided that a federation of all rail workers would be a good thing, but that this must “allow for the fullest departmental self-government for efficiency”. [151] Reflecting a comparable concern, a joint committee of ASLEF, ASRS and the GRWU was set up in Derby. However, ASLEF thought it desirable for the facility whereby it was agreed that members of the joint committee visit the branches of other unions be modified, to allow that these delegates withdraw “in the event of special business being brought forward”, thus keeping a certain independence. [152]
Throughout this period, the minute books of railway unions abound with references to the virile debate over fusion versus sectionalism in the organisation of trade unions, composite boards or sectional boards in the conciliation scheme, whether these would deal with problems geographically or within trades and, above all, militancy versus conciliation as a strategy. All these issues were at stake in a period or vigorous controversy. Complaints to the conciliation boards over disciplinary matters became more and more frequent and the unions were increasingly concerned with such matters. The attitude of the railway employers towards their employees had hardly altered, despite the settlement of 1911-2. Speaking of a typical disciplinary case on the Midland Railway in 1912, the Derby ASLEF branch used the phrase “tyranny in the extreme”. [153] ASLEF branches were faced with regular claims from members for financial assistance, to relieve the distress occasioned by the deduction of disciplinary fines for work-a-day disasters, such as:  [154]
           Disciplinary Action             Offence
           1 day’s suspension            train 4 minutes late
           2/6d fine                                  failing to stop at Tamworth
           2/6d fine                                  breaking a water scoop
           1 day’s suspension            slight collision in the fog
           1 day’s suspension            running short of steam when working
                                                             passenger special
Derby ASLEF maintained a lively welfare function, which often buttressed industrial militancy. The branch met in Room 15 at Unity Hall, where benefits were paid out to members each Thursday from 7pm to 9pm during the 1912 miner’s dispute. In the following year, major strides were made in welding loco men’s’ wives to the ambitions of the society by the establishment of a Women’s’ Guild.
Rail union membership slightly less than trebled in three single years from 1911 to 1914. The effect on rail towns like Derby in particular was enormous and permanent. Railway unionism as a mass phenomena was here to stay. No longer would the militaristic discipline, which passed for a management style on the railways, be easily tolerated. That this was so was more than revealed by the events of the Richardson affair. A railway guard from Normanton in Derby, Richardson was dismissed after twenty years service for refusing, albeit on safety grounds, to take extra wagons over a steep gradient -when he had only a 10-ton brake instead of the usual 20-ton one. [155] No doubt the lessons of the previous strike were fresh in the memory of the men, for demands for his reinstatement on pain of industrial action rapidly developed.
The 750 strong No. 2 branch of the ASRS in Derby specifically resolved to this effect. There was absolute unity on this point and the LMS, fearing a repetition of earlier events, backed down over the affair. J H Thomas later told a crowd of one thousand people in the Market Place in Derby that “victory was won over the case of Guard Richardson not because of the cleverness of the leaders but because they were able to demonstrate that they were speaking for the men” [156] Despite the success of the Richardson affair for the unions, complaints that the actions of foremen at Derby were “a violation of the spirit in which the settlement of August 1911 is being carried out” began to be voiced at the ASLEF branch. [157]
The manual unions had worked very close together during these strike movements and the experience had strongly fuelled the arguments for further organisational unity. On 29th March 1913 the ASRS, the GRWU and the small, specialised United Signalmen and Pointsmen’s Society all joined together to the form the new National Union of Railwaymen (NUR), the precursor to today’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). ‘The executives’ of the four manual unions had continued to meet periodically after the joint approach to the 1911 strike. Late that year, they had all joined in a “Fusion of Forces” conference. However, in an attempt to safeguard the special problems of their members, ASLEF withdrew from the unity discussions. This very special sense of uniqueness, which was characteristic of most footplate men and enginemen, would dominate ASLEF-NUR relations for generations to come. The strong feel for a union of workers of a particular responsibility, which conditioned ASLEF’s desire for both unity and independence at once, was best exemplified by a real determination not to weaken their ranks. Derby ASLEF refused to admit even locomotive cleaners’ labourers to their society in February 1913. While the Railway Clerks Association was even more isolated and aloof from the new NUR.
At its foundation, the NUR had almost 180,000 members, within one year this had soared to 273,000. The ASRS had provided some 85% of the new membership, with the GRWU providing 13%, and the Pointsmen’s’ Society about 4,000 actual members
– or 2.25% of the total. As if almost underlining the origins of the NUR, the new union adopted the slogan “Workers of the World Unite” – a commitment that oddly stayed with the union even through many years of right-wing collaborative leaderships. In the beginning, it was but a reflection of the taste for further militancy. Throughout the year of 1914, there was a growing feeling that major confrontation was looming in the industry. A programme of demands, encompassing full recognition of unions and an all-grades wage increase of five shillings a week was established. When J H Thomas received a letter of offer of negotiations from the railway companies in March, it was rightly seen as a sign that the new union at least was firmly and at last formally recognised. [158]
Derby’s NUR and ASLEF men on the footplate came together in 1914 over local matters, a fact which serves to stress that, despite the reluctance of the latter to simply give up its independence, no bar to unity in action existed. In May, a special meeting of the Derby loco drivers considered the problem of hot axle boxes. Second and third class engines did not possess “underpads”, which inhibited the problem of hot axles on new engines. It was resolved that something be done, as “no other company’s men are working under the same harsh conditions as do the Midland men and that they consider it high time that such conditions be abolished”. To make matters worse, men were constantly “being suspended and otherwise punished” for having hot axles, “when it was in no way their own fault”. The men decided to seek a meeting with the company’s General Manager and with the Board of Trade, in an attempt to resolve the problem. Presumably, this met with some degree of success, for the Derby ASLEF branch minutes make no further mention of the matter. [159] But the arrival of war, more than any other incident, did a great deal to temporarily silence the new railway militancy; the last vestiges of which were extinguished for the duration, in October 1914, when both ASLEF and the NUR agreed both to the continuation of the conciliation boards as they were and a general suspension of industrial conflict in the greater national interest. [160]
ii) The Building Industry – Labourers, Plasterers, Bricklayers, Painters, etc.
“Jerry-built’ housing was the order of the day for ordinary people at this time. As a former building worker – a painter – Will Raynes was able to describe the last decade of the nineteenth century, with personal knowledge, as “the achievement of the lowest depth in unbridled competition and dishonest commercial industrialism”. [161] This approach brought phenomenal profits to the master builders, even if it meant sub-standard houses for the workers and the prostitution of the skills and crafts of the building worker. It was against this specific background that the 1890s, in particular, saw the emulation of the general trend to militancy amongst building workers.
The National Association of Builders’ Labourers emerged from 25 localised societies, on the initiative of the Hull Builders’ Labourers in 1889-90. Following later adherence to the union of other small bodies, it was renamed the National Amalgamated Builders’ Labourers Union. (Later amalgamation discussions amongst all labourers’ societies, in 1919, saw the emergence of the ‘Altogether’ Builders Labourers’ and Constructional Workers Society, mainly from the old National Amalgamated.) Despite the repeated insistence of the craft unions that the labourers try to merge into one body, two main bodies remained outside. The National Amalgamated Builders’ Labourers Union – same name but different union – remained aloof, along with the Navvies Union. Although the bulk of the latter did eventually fuse with the ‘Altogether’ amalgamation in the 1 920s, a section of the Navvies Union stayed independent for another decade, after which it simply faded away. The independent National Amalgamated remained aloof until 1952, when it joined what was then the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers, which itself was to be one of the key constituent parts of today’s Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT). The Altogether Union joined the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) in 1934. Explaining the complexity of the various builders’ labourers’ unions, in an albeit brief manner, seems to assist in making certain links and comparisons at a later stage. Suffice to say that, in the history of Derbyshire’s labour movement, the Altogether Union featured more than any other builders’ labourers’ association. (As this body has been variously called the NABL, NABLU and ABLCWS, it has been simply called here the ABL, or even more simply – Derby Builders’ Labourers.)
A local Derby and District Society of Builders Labourers, with 112 members had agreed to merge into the National Association of Builders Labourers in 1889. From the start, the organisation was dominated by the influx of Irish workers which so characterised certain industries at this time – at least this was the case in Derby. The minutes book of the branch in the first decade of its existence testify to this, for the names of Padian, Degnan, Kilmartin, Duffy, Callaghan, Kennedy, Conlon, Connolly, Halloran and Mullins appear time after time, whole families. The committee elected on February 28th 1891, when there appears to have been something of a renaissance, shows the same tendency:
Bernard Degnan    Pat Callaghan
Ned Doud                 John Sheridan
Michael Hollaran    George Shaw
Pat Ruth    James Brown
James Walker
     However, while the stimulus for the setting up of the branch was undoubtedly from Irish labourers, the union locally was by no means exclusive to that group of workers. The first recorded meeting conveys a touchingly human character. It had been proposed that the secretary keep ten shillings in hand – in fact, it was the only business that day, March 21st 1891. Then, James Brown and Bernard Degnan proposed, “we remove to the 3 Tuns Inn”. The proposition was carried without dissent!
     The ABL in Derby was rapidly thrown into struggle, electing delegates to the Trades Council at its next meeting and by April 21st 1891 was planning its first strike. A strike committee was elected to meet once a week at 6 o’clock in the evening. Appeals for funds to assist the strikers were made. The Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers – a craft union, it should be noted – gave £5 from its National Executive. The dispute lasted one month and, by 16th May 1891, the men at “the old Prise Hill” (presumably a major building project) had, with the sanction of the ABL, returned to work. Some, however, went back to work before the settlement and were fined 5 shillings by the branch for their pains, tantamount to an expulsion by virtue of membership arrears if the fine went unpaid.
     No full time officials operated at local level in most unions at this time, membership being insufficient to support such an initiative. Nevertheless, clearly there would be a need from time to time to deal with matters of organisation and trade disputes in some detail. To lose time from work on union business with the assistance of the employer was then utterly impossible. Consequently, the ABL branch elected one William Parker, the first branch secretary, as “building delegate for one month at 5d per hour”. (The term district delegate was still sometimes used in parts of Derbyshire to signify a full time trade union official, even up to the early 1980’s.) A short period of funding a full time delegate was agreed to in May of 1892, for nine weeks, and for many occasions thereafter. In July 1897, the branch decided that where there were cases of the “building delegate being boycotted he shall receive his respective wage”. No doubt, there had been instances of the activist who had at any time undertaken the job as delegate handling some especially difficult problem, then finding difficulty in obtaining work once again after his period of full time work for the branch had finished.
     Disputes in the building industry have traditionally been carried out in the spring and summer months and in 1892 the ABL organised itself in preparation for just such a battle. Back in October 1891 the ABL had given the Derby master builders notice of their desire for 1/2d an hour increase from the following summer. However, success did not come to the union. It is not very clear exactly when the campaign of industrial action began, probably in May, but certainly by June 1st 1892 the ABL had decided “to let the strike drop through for the present or until we think it proper to alter the said proposition”.
The Carpenters were somewhat more successful in that. In May 1892, they were able to extract an agreement detailing full working rules mutually acceptable to both the master builders and Derby’s carpenters and joiners, most of whom were in the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners (ASC&J). The agreement was signed by major employers such as William Walkerdine, John Walker and Ford and Co., along with six representatives of the ASC&J.  Amongst other things, the rule provided for a standard rata of wages at 8d per hour – overtime rates of time-and-a-quarter only applied after 8 p.m.; summer hours were to be fifty-six and winter hours were fifty and a half. “Walking Time” was payable for working out of town, beyond a series of points, mostly pubs.  The agreement only provided for two hours notice on either the employer or the workman of termination of employment and the final clause established a conciliation committee of three from either side.
Map of Derby Carpenters’ Walking Time agreement – 1892, detailing the limits out of town to which walking out to jobs was payable:
The Derby branch of the ASC&J met regularly at this time at the Bull’s Head Inn, Queen Street – every alternate Saturday at 7.30 p.m. [162]. While the carpenters’ and joiners’ societies were racked with splits and divisions throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, in Derby the ASC&J seemed to be the stable organisation of local woodworkers. Each trade had its own organisation or organisations, but there had of course always been a yearning amongst building workers for the kind of organisational unity that the GNCTU had been able to provide sixty years before then.
     In Derby, the builders’ labourers met in late 1892 with the bricklayers and the plasterers to form agreed working codes between themselves. The ABL lodge had written to “the secretaries of different branches in the Building Trade to lay before their branches a scheme to try if we cannot come to some arrangements of Federation”, meaning of course not actual amalgamation but the establishment of joint co­ordination on matters of the trade. The next year, 1893, the ABL waged its summer offensive on the employers, in collaboration with the plasterers, for a 1/2d rise. They met at the NAOP lodge on June 1st and both resolved to “give notice to the masters if they don’t meet us then (we will) go to their houses” to speak with them. The next week, the ABL went to the builders’ lodge, where there was again general agreement on the need to maintain unity in the struggle for better wages and conditions. The building workers of the town engaged in industrial action, but to no avail. The dispute dragged on and the ABL general secretary came to Derby to see if he could assist in arriving at a settlement. Some workers had definitely drifted back to work by July 19th, when one Thomas Hallon was fined 2/6d by the ABL for “going to work without orders”. Indeed, even a list of the strike committee of the Derby branch reveals that four of the original six went back to work before the strike was called off:
Pat Brannan
     Thomas Kennedy                      gone to work July 24
     Thomas Hallon                           struck off Oct 2
     Samuel Orme                              gone to work July 24
     Joseph Healey                            gone to work Sept 7
     John Raubey
     Michael Conlon                          elected July 24 as replacement
     George Amos                              elected July 24 as replacement
     Horace Buxton                           elected September 7 as replacement
     James Hagger                            elected October 2 as replacement
     It is quite clear that the strike, while suffering many lapses, was long and no doubt widespread. Curiously, there seems to be no reference to the conflict in the local press. Picketing must have been quite fierce and the ABL lodge was insistent that all members do their share. Any man refusing to do so was not to receive strike pay. Presumably, tensions would have risen in the lengthy dispute inside the branches of the participating unions. Certainly two men were fined 1/6d each at the end of July for “fighting in the (ABL) clubroom”. The overall unity of the men seems to have been tremendous; the ABL lodge met every Friday night amidst great enthusiasm. Nevertheless, increasing numbers were being fined by the branch for scabbing. One member was fined 2/6d in September and another as much as £1 in October for “working black” during the strike – large sums of money, which would ensure the effective expulsion of these members unless they paid the fine. The fines themselves were indicative of a feeling that the dispute was in practice lost, but the branch was undaunted. As late as November 10th, the proposition that “the strike be kept open till we get the halfpenny increase” was won by 48 votes, compared with the view that “the strike be closed” which attracted a mere eleven votes. The dispute had to end of course, it had lasted probably seven months or more. Most of the ABL’s membership was still out when the strike ended, though just when that was remains unclear. Certainly, winter had arrived shortly after the November 10th vote, a time when employers usually laid off, especially the unskilled labourers.
Nonetheless, the experience bore fruits, for the ABL’s membership continued to increase over this period. The membership admissions book records as many joining the union in the year after the strike as in the year of the strike:
       1891      260
       1892        37
       1893        86
       1894        80
That the ABL and the plasterers had been able to reach amicable arrangements, as regards the 1893 dispute over wages, should not necessarily come as a surprise. While such close relations were somewhat unusual amongst craftsmen and labourers, the plasterers had a special approach to these matters. Martin Deller, the leader of the National Association of Operative Plasterers, expressed the union’s opposition to the narrow craft approach favoured by the Stonemasons’ society when he replied to their suggestion of a federation that would exclude unskilled workers: “We do recognise that our labourers are men”. While the first general secretary of the NAOP had argued that the history of the trade union movement proved that the “interests of both (skilled and unskilled) are indissolubly bound together”. [163] It was but a little step from this view towards joining the biggest general workers union in 1968, when the NAOP became the TGWU Building Craft Section.) Other skilled workers’ societies had very different ideas. One bricklayers’ leader put a more traditional view, when he replied to requests from labourers for assistance in organising their union: “You cannot do it … It is impossible to organise labourers.”
Experience in organising labourers was certainly mixed. In 1894, 36 of Chesterfield’s labourers set up a society but membership halved within two years and it was dissolved two years after that. Long Eaton’s labourers were only able to keep their society going for eight years, after founding it in 1897, and membership only ever ranged from 11 to 40. However, Derby’s ABL certainly set out to prove the statement of that bricklayers’ leader wrong. Membership recruitment was very high in the first year of effective organisation but, for the next five years, new members continued to enter the branch replacing lapsed ones:
New members recorded in the entrance books of the ABL Derby Branch 18911 914
        Year        Annual Total
        1891        260
        1892        37
        1893        86
        1894        80
(Figures for 1895 to 1909 not available)
     In many ways however, it aped the organisational structure of skilled workers’ societies. The first documented use of the word shop steward” in the ABL’s minutes was July 11th 1895, when twelve were elected to cover the whole of the union’s membership in Derby. The branch subsequently arranged in December for 100 shop stewards’ “authority cards”. All building industry unions operated quite formally, retaining many of the trappings of the earlier secret societies. Rulebooks were honoured rigidly and sometimes rather ruthlessly. The Derby ABL branch president was fined 6d on three separate occasions, according to rule, in the summer of 1892. Whilst the doorkeeper, John Sheridan, was fined 1/6d for “admitting 3 strangers into the clubroom” in April 1893 and a member was fined 6d in December of that year for “using bad language”. Local branches of many unions, and the ABL was one of these, often had local rules supplementary to the national ones. Derby ABL for example decided not to accept members under 18 years of age in June 1896. Few rules existed between unions about the proper sphere of an individual union’s membership, or recruitment activity at this point and some delighted in ‘poaching’ members off others. Derby ABL had a running battle with the Gas Workers Union’s No. 1 and No. 2 branches in the town throughout 1894-5. An inter-union agreement was reached concerning transfers between one union and the other. The ABL discovered that one of their members had been “poached”, as it was put by them in June 1894. This became an irritating commonplace and, the next year, the ABL gave notice to the Gas Workers that they were to withdraw from the agreement. In future, the ABL would recruit indoor labourers at will, as well as those who worked outdoors, its proper area of preserve. As a result, the two parties met at the stokers’ clubhouse, the Portland Hotel, where it appears that a satisfactory return to the areas of influence previously agreed was arrived at.
     Building has always been, indeed still very much is, an exceedingly difficult industry to attempt trade union recruitment in. The ABL lodge arranged the printing of handbills and posters from time to time, in periodic attempts to bolster membership, 500 in May 1891, 1,000 leaflets and 100 posters in April 1893- and so on. Having received the benefits of solidarity, building workers were also ready to provide it. Throughout the period, the ABL branch in Derby showed itself more than willing to support other trades unionists in struggle. A special meeting was held, on March 8th 1892, in aid of the strike in the dyeing and trimming trade at New Basford – £3 was donated to the strike. Whilst, around the same time, a fellow ABL branch in Birmingham received £5 and a levy of 6d on each man in the branch was decided upon to assist the West Bromwich ABL branch, which faced lock-out. The engineers’ strike fund in October 1897 got £5 off Derby ABL and the men on strike at Jobson’s foundry were backed by a public subscription, to which the branch contributed. It was only what the ABL itself had experienced during the mammoth strike of 1893, when many trades unionists had donated sums of money to assist them – the Derby Steam Engine Makers’ Society for example had given £5.
     The National Amalgamated Society of House & Ship Painters (NASOHSP) was a long established craft union that had a base in Derbyshire. Being a very specialized craft, the union did not have many members; there were only 1,863 in 35 branches in 1888. [165] Like most building trades, house painting was particularly seasonal in character. Six months of full time work in the summer and half wages for the rest of the year was the desired position to be in. Most, however, did not even get that. Will Raynes, later to become chairman of the Derby Building Trades Federation and then president of the local NASOHSP branch, was a painter for the Co-op. Therefore, his employer was probably a little more sympathetic to the plight of their employees than a master builder would have been. Raynes wrote that his ideal as a painter was the rather hopeful “Eight hours work, eight hours pay. Eight hours rest, And eight Bob a day”. [166]
The painters did not however display any signs of being prepared to put in much of a fight for such an ambition. A strike of NASOHSP men was very hurriedly abandoned in May 1893 at the start of the agitation in the industry in Derby. This enabled the master builders to isolate possibly some of the crafts for a period and certainly the labourers for months. Not that NASOHSP achieved any success, for it was recorded that the “masters gained their point” as a direct result of the involvement of the general secretary of the painters’ union. The men were, like the other unions, asking for 8d an hour and the masters had offered 71/2d. Additional to this, the men wanted 3d a day “country money”, for working out of town. It had been this particular point that had aroused the painters to come out on strike, but this simply collapsed when their general secretary refused to support them. [167]
The plumbers displayed a similar docility. In 1897, the Derbyshire branches of the Operative Plumbers Association organised a conciliation board with the Master Plumbers Association. The president of the board was W Roe, the leader of the Derby OPA branch. Rarely did the board need to meet and while conciliation as a union tactic was receding in many industries, the plumbers (perhaps by some virtue of their trade) never seemed to engage in industrial action. [168] But conciliation did not satisfy the needs of all building workers by any means, especially the ABL. The master plasterers were given notice of intention to seek an advance of 1/od an hour by the plasterers’ labourers in November 1895 for the period starting May 1st 1896. For the first time a formal building trades federation was set up, making the possibilities for labourers more favourable, if they could maintain unity and solidarity with the craftsmen.
The Derby Federation helped to outline precise agreed working practices between the different societies. The ABL was able to reach agreement with the skilled plasterers, whereby each would only work with members of the other’s society, and this was entered into the minutes books with due regard over the branch stamps of both unions in January 1896. “No member of the National Association of Operative Plasterers will use any stuff (i.e. plaster made ready by the labourer for the craftsman to apply) from any other labourer but what belongs to the Derby and District of Builders Labourers, also that no Labourer but what belongs to the same society carries any stuff to any plasterer but what belongs to the NAOP and that both parties produce a Federation card (i.e. membership card of a federated union) when asked.” [169] By 29th April the plasterers’ labourers were out on strike with the sanction of the ABL branch, which decided to support them out of branch general funds. Some members were obviously able to obtain the desired increase from their employer before others. For, on May 12th, the branch decided that all plasterers’ labourers that had received the “1/2 penny advance shall pay it to the members that was on strike roll”. [170] It is not exactly clear how the dispute was resolved but the fact that some employers had already caved in only two weeks into the strike suggests an eventual victory for the ABL.
As the century began to expire, the large-scale building employers decided to go for a showdown in an attempt to stem the tide of rising militancy in the industry. Unfortunately for them, they chose the wrong body when they decided to take on the plasterers. For, especially following the election of Martin Deller as General Secretary in 1896, the NAOP was associated with a “revival of a conscious fighting policy … and politically the support of a Labour Party … like fresh air into the building trades”. [171] The Master Builders Association locked out all plasterers in England in March 1899, asking for an assurance that the other unions would not support their fellow workers in any way at all, on threat of a general lock-out in the trade. In Derby at least, this did not totally work, for their labourers supported the plasterers. A meeting for all labourers was advertised in Derby’s local press in the first few days of the lock out and this subsequently endorsed the showing of solidarity with the craftsmen. The masters alleged that the need for a showdown was the excessive disruption caused by strikes against strike-breakers and non-union foremen, as well as inter-union disputes between bricklayers and plasterers. In fact, it was a trial of strength and every effort was made to break the men.
The terms of the masters’ ultimatum were detailed in a six-point memorandum. On receipt of the NAOP’s reply, the masters met in Derby to consider this. They viewed the reply as an “evasion”, but allowed the men an extension of one week to accept their terms. After this respite, the executive of the Master Builders’ Association met again at Derby to review the second reply from the NAOP to their six-point ultimatum. In summary this was their position:
1. In response to the masters’ indignation at the “coercion” of foremen into the union, the NAOP said it would continue to sign up those foremen who were in work but not those out of employment.
2. The level of apprentices taken on ought to be a matter for local negotiation.
3. The boycotting of firms by the plasterers, which the masters claimed to be wrongly taking place because these firms did adhere to the national agreement, was not officially known of, as far as the NAOP was concerned. The masters claimed it to be a widely practiced activity. Whatever the truth, local rates of pay would obviously tend to rise, if firms found themselves short of skilled labour for whatever reason. The men may have simply avoided firms that they felt uncomfortable with.
4. In a similar manner, the union disclaimed all official knowledge of its members refusing to work with non-trade unionists. It is perhaps important to remember that the union might have wanted to officially deny practices that might have led to severe damages being accorded against them for acting in restraint of trade.
                     The men considered themselves equally qualified as the masters, if not more so, to decide who carried out what kinds of work. Disputes had arisen over bricklayers doing the cementing around hot water cisterns and the introduction of “lathers” in plastering, which enabled labourers to do the relatively unskilled preparatory work. The employers were particularly incensed that, unlike many other building unions, the NAOP tended to ignore local unofficial action. Obligatory references to a conciliation panel were generally the order of the day before, or instead of, industrial action. Clearly, it was often more in the interests of the worker to pursue their grievances with vigour and win their demands quickly. References to a conciliation panel invariably meant too much compromise and often lead to absolute defeat; always it meant long delays before the issue at hand was settled in one way or another.
                     The masters viewed the NAOP response as wholly unsatisfactory and pointed out that the practices they objected to were not sanctioned by any rule or agreement and that the assurances that they sought of their ending had not been forthcoming. In consequence, the lockout set for March 6th would go ahead. At 11.30 a.m. on the following Saturday, all NAOP members in Derby – over 100 – received notice that they were paid off, unless they gave verbal assurances that they were no longer connected with a union. [1721 The employers had at last learned that the presentation of a ‘document’, renouncing the union, was relatively worthless – verbal assurances were all that was now required. The ruling circles fulminated against the plasterers in the columns of the Times. Lord Wemyss, who had recently had his house repaired, and saw himself as an expert on the whole affair, complained that the men would be superseded by “truly artistic Japanese woodworkers” whose pay was 7d a day, on which they managed to “live and thrive, though their food consists only of rice daily and two or three times a week the heads and tails of fish; they cannot afford to buy the bodies also”. [173] The masters were stupid enough to reprint this rubbish, as evidence of their case; for such an approach only served to stiffen the resolve of the plasterers. The Derby men took a “very militant attitude and fully believe that in the long run the masters will have to give way”, as the local secretary, H Fathers of Bedford Street, put it to the local press. [174]
                     This sense of resolve was common to the vast majority of the NAOP membership and, sensing a damaging defeat, the masters sought to find a way out. A national meeting was held in Derby in June, when the four national secretaries of the other building trades unions met together in an atmosphere of deep concern. No doubt, considerable pressure was exerted by these upon the NAOP for them to concede but, by the same token, the masters appeared to be won to the idea of setting up a conciliation board that would establish mutual agreements. By July, an agreement had been reached over the board, but the employers wanted a system of fines for non-observance of agreed rules, a condition absolutely unacceptable to the unions. [175] At the eleventh hour it became clear that no national building agreement for the entire industry could be attained. Loosing a battle to the plasterers was one thing, enshrining their success into formal recognition of their power was another matter. The national procedure agreement had to wait another two decades and the dispute with the plasterers was resolved.
                     Hard on the heels of the plasterers came the bricklayers. Over 100 Derby bricklayers came out in June 1899 after their society, the London Order of Bricklayers, had applied for an increase for them six months earlier of 1/2d an hour, taking the then rate to 9d an hour in all. In Derby, the men were split between membership of the Manchester based and the London based orders of bricklayers. The Manchester union had not applied for an increase, so many masters used the argument that it would be unfair to treat one of their employees differently to another, as an excuse not to pay the increase and to deliberately widen the rift between the two unions. Nevertheless, two prominent contractors in the town of Derby who were not members of the masters’ federation acceded to the London Order’s demands. The Masters, meeting at the Bell Hotel, decided to resist the application for 112d an hour, citing as their main reason the fact that the two unions were not acting in unison. At the same time as this was developing, the bricklayers’ labourers at Long Eaton came out on strike, over the refusal to grant them a 1 1/2d increase to 51/2d an hour. The secretary of the local builders’ labourers’ union received a reply from the Long Eaton masters, saying that “they could not entertain the application as the summer contracts were fixed and that six months notice of an advance was required”. [176] Thus, the entire trade was experiencing major turmoil, which could only be averted by conceding the basic demands of the workforce. Every trade seemed to be aping the militancy of the plasterers. In August, the ABL attempted to reach agreement with the Slater’s’ labourers’ union in Derby that neither side would infringe on each other’s work. The agreement, entered formally into branch minutes books, was a close copy of the arrangements between the plasterers and their labourers and represented another symptom of the growing feeling for unity in the industry.
                     If some of the unions were strong, the masters were not necessarily so. ClIr Brown, speaking at the Derby Master Builders Association in 1901, drew attention to the fact that of the 60 builders in the Derby area only 30 were members of the association. His view was that “the men had already got a strong trades union … the masters were duty bound to safeguard themselves by combination”. If they would not, then the men certainly would. [177] During this period the ABL began to expand beyond Derby itself. In March 1897, the Derby branch decided to open a separate branch at Burton, which became quite a successful venture. The experience in Belper was however not so happy. A delegate had been sent there to open a branch in March 1898, but by May the Derby ABL had decided to “have nothing to do with opening a branch at Belper … until they have done something themselves”. [178] Much of the success of this new wave of building workers’ unionisation owed its fulfilment to a boom in the trade which abruptly ended in 1901 and was not to recover, even partially, for the best part of a decade. Wage cuts rather than wage advances became the order of the day. As profits were squeezed the masters cut costs to the bone and it was the workers who always paid the price for recession. Tragedy would be the frequent result, as when one nineteen year old bricklayers’ labourer for Walker and Slater – George Parsons – died after failing from scaffolding on the new extensions then being worked on for Leys Malleable in Columbo Street. [179] Derby ABL began the new century auspiciously by appointing a district delegate for two months but, quickly reflecting the slump, the branch entered the doldrums in the first part of the new century, beginning with less frequent meetings in 1900. From here onwards, until 1906, there were hardly any minutes kept, while the branch entrance books are simply blank for the whole period.
The Navvies Union organised for a period in Derby. Indeed, the National Organiser of Col. John Ward’s Navvies, Bricklayers and General Labourers’ Union, Tom Cusack, (later to become a councillor and a TGWU District Organiser in Stoke-on-Trent) was recruited by Ward at Derby Sewage Works in the early part of the new century. In very specialised jobs, the Navvies Union had membership locally of a variable size and nature. [180] In 1904, navvies employed on Derby’s sewage works were locked out for two weeks for refusing to accept wage reductions imposed by the main contractors, Aston Smith & Sons Co., from 51/2 to 41/2 pence per hour. A compromise was struck of 5d per hour which would only be accepted by the men on the basis that the loss of the 1/2d be referred to the Corporation Drainage Committee, for them to agree on its maintenance in the light of the Fair Wages Resolution. The navvies gave profuse thanks to the public of Derby for its generous aid and to John Taylor and the Derby Socialist Society for guidance and the use of their hall, itself an interesting example of the close links being forged between the new socialist movement and new unionism locally. [181] (The Navvies Union began to lose its earlier militancy and in later years veered sharply and strangely towards an aggressive support for British Imperialism. John Ward, speaking at the General Federation of Trades Unions annual council in Derby’s Temperance Hall in 1915, wore his uniform as a half-colonel in the 25th Middlesex Regiment. He spoke of race and nation, that “no matter how many Englishmen may die outwardly, spiritually they continue to live”. [182] Having no coherent industrial policy with relevance to the working lives of potential members, the union disintegrated in the 1920s, especially after Ward became obsessed with an international anti-Bolshevik crusade.) The borough council in Derby considered the reference from the Navvies Union members at Aston Smith & Sons Co. but the special Drainage Committee refused to meet a deputation from the Trades Council to discuss the whole question. A move that stirred the DTC to strongly condemn the council’s attitude as an “insult to organised labour in the town”, going on to organise a public protest against the refusal to meet their deputation. [183] After this abortive exercise little more is heard of the Navvies Union.
Craftsmen maintained their organisations, even in the face of the deep recession in the industry. There was even a plan drawn up for a National Committee of the Building Trade at a meeting in Derby between representatives of the carpenters (ASC&J), mill sawyers (ASWM), plumbers (OPU) and the bricklayers (Manchester Order). However, the idea was only tentative and got nowhere. With the onset of recession, conciliation once again became more popular as a system of resolving grievances. A Derby Building Trades Conciliation Board was set up jointly with the employers and this lasted until the 1911-13 period of industrial unrest. The General and Amalgamated Carpenters’ societies were involved in the board, along with the stonemasons and both the London and Manchester Orders of Bricklayers.
The builders’ labourers’ societies did not fully emerge from inactivity until the period around the second decade of the century. The Derby ABL branch admission books saw a remarkable uplift in recruitment after the five or so years of the doldrums which it had undergone, especially after the vigorous local secretary, Brown, took over.
new members admitted
1909   2
1910   12
1911   90
1912   174
1913   127
1914   174
Year and                              Quarterly Figures                Year and       Quarterly Figures
Quarter                                of new members                  Quarter                      of new members
1909                                                                                       1912
1                                                                                  1                      25
2                                             –                                    2                      63
3                                            2                                    3                      64
4                                             –                                    4                      22
1910                                                                                       1913
1                                          11                                    1                      10
2                                                                                  2                      28
3                                                                                  3                      64
4                                            1                                    4                      25
1911                                       1914
1                                            4                                    1                      46
2                                          23                                    2                      86
3                                          41                                    3                      30
4                                          22                                    4                      12
However, this growth was also paralleled amongst skilled workers. The ASC&J grew in all parts of Derbyshire, most notably in Derby and Long Eaton. There were 624 members in eight branches, with a new branch being opened in Belper in 1912.
Derbyshire ASC&J membership and meeting places in 1912 [184]
Branch                   Meeting Place                                                 Membership
Belper             Duke of Devonshire Hotel                                              unknown
Long Eaton   Turks Head, Gibb Street                                      51
Glossop         Star Inn, Norfolk Street                                        49
Chesterfield Lord Nelson Inn, Stephenson Place                19
Derby              Labour Exchange, London Road                     244
Buxton           Swan Hotel, High Street                                      28
Ilkeston          Church Institute, Market Street                         10
Matlock Bridge Railway Hotel, Bakewell Road                     23
An idea of the nature of the activities of these branches is provided by the Derby lodge’s accounts. Nearly £122 was paid out in unemployed benefit, over £48 in funeral benefit, £92 in sickness benefit and as much as £216 in superannuation benefits. The Glossop branch was formed in October 1887, with an initial membership of 10. Average age was about 30 years – so it was a young organisation initially. By 1895, membership had risen to 47 and average age was now 47 years. By this time, Derby’s carpenters had won especially favourable wages during the summer months, earning as much as £2 is 71/2d for 55.5 hours. These rates compared very favourably with other towns locally and in the country at large. Even offset against the £1 13s 41/2d for 44.5 hours paid in winter, which actually compared poorly with other towns, the overall annual earnings were fairly high due to the exceptional summer working conditions. That this was so is easily discerned by a comparison of the position in Chesterfield, Buxton and Derby: [185]
Town                    Summer                                        Winter        
                                      hours and wages                                      hours and wages              hourly rate
Derby                                     55.5    £2 1s 71/2d                44.5    £1 13s 41/2d                         9d
Chesterfield                         56        £1 17s 4d                  47.5    £1 11s 8d                  8d
Buxton                                  49.5    £1 14s 0d                  49.5    £1 14s 0d                  81/4d
Local rates such as these were negotiated by the lodge, indeed the union was quite protective about these varying advantages and disadvantages. Local negotiating bodies, called management committees, were a sort of agreements protectorate. These dealt with a variety of matters. For example, in 1909 the union had a dispute with contractors at a school in the north of the county over apprenticeship pay for a person over 21 years of age – and also over his being employed alone. A deputation from their local trades council was very helpful, in that it discussed the issue with the schools sub-committee. In 1913 another dispute arose when, a labourer refused to do the work of a joiner at a paper mill at Glossop – the ASC&J became involved and the labourer was reinstated after being dismissed. In contrast, Derby’s General Union of Carpenters’ branch had assumed a strong resistance to socialist ideas, exemplified as when their secretary, Gaskill, threw out a challenge to the Trades Council that it should debate with him the issue of Tariff Reform. A suggestion which on the surface of it would seem to imply Tory sympathies; whatever the position, the DTC politely ignored the request. [186] Interestingly, this contrasts with the fact that the Glossop British Socialist Party secretary shortly before the 1914-1 918 war was a member of the local ASC&J branch.
iii)        Mining
Conditions in coalmines had improved enormously as the new century approached. Progressively, various Mines Acts had lowered the minimum wage of underground child labour, although the reality often dragged behind the legislation.
   Mines Act                             Minimum Age of Permitted Child Labour
             1842                            10 years
             1887                            12 years
             1900                            13 years
             1911                            14 years
What seemed like improvements were not always so; the introduction of flame safety lamps gave off poor light, thus straining the eyes and causing painful eye conditions. Unless there was a lot of dangerous gas, miners tended to maintain use of lighted candles for this reason. Colliers often had to travel long distances to the pit in special workmen’s’ trains. One took miners from Dronfield to Grassmoor pits and another from Staveley to Glapwell. These, trains were known as “Paddy Mail” and the open carriages were chilly and icy, often causing minor ailments. Working conditions for the miner were as primitive as ever. There were no canteens or showers. Whilst the introduction of pithead baths was resisted by miners, it was not so much for the oft-quoted reason of a fear that water would weaken their backs, more that they would have to pay for it themselves – to the tune of 2d per week. Most miners in any case bathed at home on completion of their shift.
The need to establish a strong fighting union to advance their case for better earnings was the key concern for miners in this county as in others. There never was a golden age when miners were totally united and totally militant. Whenever miners did struggle, did stand together, they created a powerful display of their potential strength. Contention over agreed price lists grew after 1888 and a campaign began for them at collieries where the practice had not yet been adopted. This movement grew at local level, independently of Derbyshire Miners’ Association (DMA) officials. Nonetheless, a spurt of recruitment to the DMA paralleled the organisation of unskilled labour that was particularly characteristic of new unionism.
There were attempts to set up non-radical miners unions, to divert this tide of interest away from the DMA, but these moves came to little. An Ilkeston Conservative Minors Association was formed in 1890 as an alternative to the Lib-Labist DMA, but this disappeared between 1901 and 1907. It was however re-formed in 1910 with 98 members. A similar body, the Chesterfield Working Men’s’ Unionist Association was set up as another Tory influenced union in 1896 with only 13 members, but four years later was extinct. The Conservatives could never tap into the mood that enabled the formation of class-conscious trade unions. [187] A meeting of miners was held in June 1891, at the Mill Lane School, Codnor, with the aim of organising the Butterley Company’s miners. One collier, called Shacklock, from Kirkby pit took a leading role at the meeting, complaining that the Butterley men had 41/2d per hour less than elsewhere. [188] But while many men joined the DMA, it was a difficult and uphill struggle to organise the Butterley Company, which only recognised the union in 1902. Although some were in the union well before this, as James Haslam put it: ‘There were heaps of men under the Butterley Company that would be nothing but scoundrels … (who) … accept the benefits to be derived from the honest achievements of those men who were members of the union.” [189]
Elsewhere, there was a successful strike at the Blackwell collieries for an advance in prices, in June 1891. All the Blackwell pits in Alfreton were involved – Blackwell ‘B’, Winning and Shirland. However, outbursts of activity such as these came up across a fundamental problem, far too many men were not members of the union. It became a crucial difficulty, needing urgent attention. As part of the campaign, the DMA produced six thousand medals or badges, between 1889 and 1891, at one penny each. These were given to all DMA members to wear so as to “detect those unprincipled men who profess to be in the union”, but were not so.
The first effective attempt to enforce union membership was in September 1891, at Pilsley colliery, when men struck to force all the workers there to join the union. The owners of Pilsley were the Houldsworths – typically anti-union employers, who had tried vigorously to prevent the DMA getting into their pits. A mass meeting of the union miners resolved that “from Monday next week we will begin to wear our medals, and further resolve that after due notice has been given to our employers of our intention, we will not ride or work with men who are not in the union”. Faced with such an uncompromising resolve by the vast majority of the men, the coal owners conceded at Pilsley, thus paving the way throughout the country. The DMA targeted each pit in turn and gradually achieved widespread membership. Some areas needed a lot of work, Haslam had told a rally in Ilkeston in June 1891 that it “was one of the worst organised districts in Derbyshire”; but that he thought they “would soon mend their ways”. His comments raised a laugh, but it was true. Many a town and village seethed with interest in unionism. [190]
This example of the active use of union badges as a means of identifying potential recruits, actually on the job, is one of the few in Derbyshire which has evidence existing in the shape of some particularly fine samples of DMA membership brass medals in the collection of TGWU Region 5, held at its West Bromwich office. They are detailed here and all of them are from the Ilkeston District of the DMA, unless otherwise stated. It will be readily seen that each was highly distinctive and reflects the fact that the union regularly changed the current badge, usually once a quarter, so that members would be able to publicly display that they were up to date with their union contributions.
In one order, the DMA issued 6,000 badges, to be sold at a penny each. These were sewn onto the men’s caps, worn at work, and were an easy way to identify paid up union members in on the job.
A description of some DMA brass contribution medals:
1 Shaped like an anchor with “DMA” on the cross-bar and “Ilkeston District’ on the points.
2 Diamond shaped with a large letter “C” cut out.
3 Oval shaped with Grassmoor lodge DMA embossed on it.
4 16-pointed ‘sunburst’ star with two-handed handshake.
5 six pointed star with the letters “DMA” and “JD”.
6 Round medal with two-handed handshake and an eight-pointed star.
7 Clover leaf shaped with super-imposed triangle and the inscription “Ilkeston District”.
8 ‘Z’ shaped with “Ilkeston District DMA” inscribed, one word on each arm of the letter.
9 Shaped like a Celtic cross.
10       Unequal hexagon, twice as wide as broad, with “Derbyshire Miners Association” above and below. “Ilkeston District” in the centre.
Winding and engine men, responsible for the pit-head engine rooms and the cages which descended the shafts into the mines themselves, saw themselves as a highly skilled elite and as such remained aloof from these developments amongst the colliers themselves. Many were already influenced by the trend to mining unionism, as at Alfreton where a meeting of the local lodge of the Amalgamated Society of Enginemen, Cranemen and Firemen (ASECF) was held in July 1891 to consider the prospects for further organisation. The lessons of Pilsley were not therefore lost on the craftsmen in the coal industry and before long there were serious attempts to set up a countywide organisation. In November 1891, a meeting was held at the Old Angel Hotel in Chesterfield of representatives of local craft associations from all over Derbyshire. [191] Following the conference, a formal organisation was set up with Hosea Marriott as president and Samuel Rowarth as secretary, operating out of the Crown Inn, Clay Cross. Starting out with a mere 48 members, the membership was gradually built up first in Derbyshire and later in Nottinghamshire. The union grew phenomenally, to 301 members in twelve branches in one year. By 1900, there were 872 members and over a thousand three years later. Even the Butterley enginemen organised in 1907 and that year the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Enginemen’s’ and Firemen’s’ Union had a membership of 1,464 in 23 branches in both counties. The union worked very closely with the Derbyshire and the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Associations, but jealously guarded its independence from both, although it did join the national miners’ federation, the MFGB. [192]
There were other craft societies, but these were very short-lived. The Derbyshire Colliery Mechanics Association was founded in 1893 with a membership of 85, but only lasted two years. While a Yorkshire and Derbyshire Colliery Deputies Association was set up in 1893, with a very small membership, but again this was dissolved within four years. One small sectional body experienced an instance of the legal difficulties that still faced trade unions, especially isolated, local societies. This was the problem that beset a small body in Ilkeston. The Ilkeston and Erewash Valley Enginemen’s, Smiths and Carpenters Society was an unregistered friendly society, begun in 1874. Discrepancies in its funding began to occur from 1877-9, but were only discovered when the secretary, William Ashley, ceased to hold office at the beginning of 1892. The society brought a County Court action, heard at Ilkeston in August 1893, to recover the large sum of £20 from Ashley. He promptly pleaded that the statute of limitations should mean that he not answer allegations which dated from a dozen or more years earlier, His defence might have argued that the society was not protected in law, by virtue of not being registered under Section 4 of the 1871 Trade Union Act. However, the judge said it for him, regarding the union’s action as a “personal action to which the statute of limitations might be pleaded”. The society pleaded that as he had concealed a fraud, this prevented discovery and the statute of limitations should not apply. Ashley escaped legal retribution, the judge arguing that a High Court hearing might preclude such a defence as Ashley’s, but not a county court. The lesson was clear, trade unions had to be much more professional in their approach to organisation, or continue to run such risks as had the Ilkeston society. [193]
As for the coal getting miners, more serious matters arose in 1893, when a great, national lock out took place, arising out of a refusal by the men to accept a wage cut of 25%. On 30th June, the coal owners’ federation had posed this as a demand and this was subsequently put to the men in a ballot. Naturally, an overwhelming vote to resist the cuts in already meagre wages was recorded. From July 28th, some 300,000 miners were locked out across the country and the dispute was to drag on for four months. In the lead up to the lock out, there had been continual arguments with the owners about wages. The miners had won a 10% advance in wages in 1888, as a result of determined strike action. While advances in 1889 and 1890 were won with greater ease, in 1891 an advance was conceded only after a major dispute. In 1892, while wages were held intact, there were many problems at local level heralding the storm to come.
Derbyshire’s miners adopted a hard line over the lock out, stubbornly refusing any notions of submitting; as shown by the results of a ballot in mid-September, in which the DMA obtained a strong vote for continuing the resistance, compared with some areas. Nevertheless, a crucial factor in weakening the unions was sheer starvation. The county unions simply did not have the reserves with which to feed the men and their families, but arrangements were made to lessen the distress. Soup kitchens were set up everywhere in the mining areas. The Clay Cross Allotment Society provided fresh vegetables to a community that sorely needed such food. About 100 men from the Clay Cross Company had been on strike from May, well before the lock out, and did not return until December after the lock out had ended. Even then a few still refused to return to work, so Clay Cross fared particularly badly during that year. The local relief committee gave away 45,000 meals, £91 in groceries, £17 ;n fish and £125 in bread. (A sense of relative monetary value might be attained by multiplying by, say, one hundred and fifty.) The Co-ops were generally particularly generous. Derby Co-op donated to a variety of funds, including the Clay Cross relief committee. Ripley Co-op allowed members to draw one shilling of their shares out “without coming before the committee”. The miners were provided the use of the Co-op Hall free of charge and a grant of £150 per week for six weeks was made to the miners’ relief fund. Free soup was distributed at thirteen Co-op branches and bread was issued free to the relief committees, over 20,000 relief tickets being issued. Over £1,170 in donations was collected and distributed. [194]
Such activities were common throughout the county and by no means restricted to the Co-ops. In Chesterfield, 9,150 free breakfasts were distributed to children in one week in September alone. [195] Many local tradesmen gave help and massive public donations and collections of food assisted to allay the cruel bite of hunger. In the mining villages in particular, small shopkeepers depended on the trade of the colliers in the good times and thus found themselves obliged, not only by community feeling, but also by sound business sense to give credit during strikes and lockouts. Many tradesmen ensured that miners’ families did not actually starve, often to the detriment of their business and some went bankrupt. Haslam commented that they had “behaved well towards the men, and it was their (i.e. the miners’) bounden duty to deal with these tradesmen until they had paid off their honourable debt’. [196]
Despite all this assistance, desperation began to set in with the consequence that there was often violent opposition to the introduction of strike-breakers. The first sign of this was at Killamarsh, on 28th August, when over 700 miners picketed a few blacklegs attempting to load wagons at Holbrook Colliery. Two days later, some 200 colliers blocked the main railway line at Eckington and subsequently two railway wagons were overturned. At Bolsover, non-unionists repairing roads at the pit bottom were roundly abused. One thousand men led by a red flag marched into the colliery premises to check that the work they were undertaking was indeed repair work and not production. A black flag led several hundred men at South Normanton, when they marched on Alfreton, gathering some 3,500 people with them to check that work was not in progress at Shirland Colliery, on the pit bottom. The unnecessary and provocative arrival of the police angered the crowd and provided an excuse for the reading of the Riot Act and the calling in of the military.
Similar disturbances took place at Ilkeston and Tibshelf. Strike breakers were stoned, rail trucks overturned and burned. One culprit was paraded through the streets, with a rope around his neck, in a symbolic gesture of contempt. Meanwhile more police and army reinforcements arrived from throughout the country, to the displeasure not only of the miners and their families but to the community at large. Contemporary newspaper accounts fudge the issue of police harassment and provocation, but this side of the story must have been sufficiently disturbing to have prompted the Liberal MP for Mid-Derbyshire, J A Jacoby, to condemn the presence of “a great many blue-coated gentlemen and some red-coats”. A force of some 800 red-jacketed Royal Irish Fusiliers was already at Alfreton and was soon joined by a trainload of Second Dragoon Guards. The police from Derbyshire itself could no longer be trusted to maintain a vigorous stance and thousands of police were imported from far-away counties. Those at Pleasley Colliery were from Montgomery, in Wales. The police and army were naturally well fed and well dressed, and the very sight of them aroused great indignation.
A contemporary photograph shows a group of hungry children at Chesterfield, watching from afar, while soldiers prepared massive pots of stew from fresh meat and vegetables. By the roadside stand “two hungry white faced men guarding a basket with a board bearing the inscription ‘Chesterfield Trades and Labour Council collection in aid of miners’ “. [197] The fare enjoyed by the forces contrasted sharply with that endured by the miners and their families. One soup kitchen organiser wrote to the Derbyshire Times: “we have a great deal of dripping given and I am sure that if it were known that broken bread and dripping would be accepted, many people would give it gladly. These pieces of bread can be dipped in water and then (if possible) put in a very cool baker’s oven to get crisp through and if put away in a flour bin will keep fresh for weeks. The little bits should be thrown into the soup and boiled with the vegetables, they make an excellent thickening.”
Already existing bad living conditions were made unbearably worse by the sharpness of the experience. T P O’Connor, an Irish MP, visited Chesterfield and wrote that “some 2,000 or 3,000 live in Chesterfield itself; if ‘live’ be a proper word to apply to mere worming and burrowing and suffocating in dog holes”. He described what he called the ‘dens’ in which the colliers and their families lived: “They are long, narrow, stone runs; they consist of a couple of wretched rooms on the ground floor and a loft on the second floor. The average rent is two shillings a week. There is not even bedding. In many others the beds – if such they can be called – consist of a number of rags on the boards.” [198] Despite the poverty, misery and starvation by October only five or six collieries had resumed work. Negotiations to settle the dispute continued throughout October and November, with the mayors of many northern towns making peace initiatives, including the Mayor of Derby. The owners dropped their wage reduction demands down to a 15% cut, but still with many strings attached to the settlement on this basis and without conceding the need for an agreed minimum wage.
The government intervened at this late stage and negotiations under the chairmanship of Lord Rosebery, the Foreign Secretary, resulted in a compromise. The men were to return to work immediately on the old rate of wages and meanwhile a conciliation board was to determine the rate of pay operative from February 1St 1894. Subsequently, the board proposed a minimum wage of 30% above the 1888 level. While this was progress, the board also provided for a two-year freeze, accompanied by a 10% wage cut and a guarantee that wages would not go above 45% of the 1888 rate. A conciliation board would be kept in operation for two years to oversee the industry. The DMA leaders recommended acceptance of the deal on the basis that the minimum wage was proposed, but the Derbyshire men balloted only marginally in favour, although it was more decisively accepted elsewhere. The DMA’s council reviewed the settlement by saying that “no-one likes reductions in wages. Still we believe the right thing has been done … It is the first time in history of Trade Unions that a minimum wage has been obtained.” The non-militant craft trade society, the Engineers, Smiths and Carpenters – a small Ilkeston based union, saw the struggle of 1893 as “disastrous”. For their part they were glad that they had “succeeded in preventing the introduction of politics” into their society. [199] It was not a clear victory, but the union was stronger by far as a result of a trial of strength which had been solved by compromise.
From herein, for the best part of two decades, conflict between the DMA and the owners resolved itself around local problems, for the minimum wage agreement generally satisfied the men. New techniques and approaches to coal getting would be the source of many difficulties. In 1895, the men at Staveley Company’s Hollingwood pit were told to use forks instead of shovels when filling their tubs, in order to reduce the amount of small coal sent to the surface. It was a practice which would spread over the years until detailed arguments about the kind of fork and the space between the prongs became commonplace. There were conflicts in the courts and at the collieries about the confiscation of coal as a form of fining workers and over cuts in the prices of coal, containing what the owners thought as ‘too much dirt’. While there were persistent conflicts over the accuracy of the weight of coal actually mined.
The relative success of 1893-4 and the continuing struggles of a local character acted as a stimulus to a growing feeling of confidence amongst the rank-and-file. A massive demonstration of over 20,000 miners was held at Chesterfield in July 1896, reflective of the huge potential for mass action now available. Derbyshire saw a rash of local strikes the following year, designed to resist what was seen by Harvey as the owners’ determination “to nibble wherever they could”. [200] In circumstances of improved trade, miners were able to exert maximum advantage from their bargaining position. A 10% wage increase demanded by reference to the settlement arising out of the 1893 lockout was answered by an offer of 2.5%, if a 2-year conciliation board was established. Moreover, the gains of 1893-4 were to be formally honoured thereafter. The DMA leadership strongly advised the men to accept the offer, arguing that the only alternative was strike action. The offer was by no means unpalatable, despite an implicit attempt to hinder local bargaining and the men easily resolved to accept their leaders’ advice.
The DMA did not really extend into the far south of the county, where most miners were not in a union. However, the upsurge in interest in trades unions which demonstrated itself in this decade spread to south Derbyshire, albeit quite some time after it had done so in the north of the county. The South Derbyshire and North Leicestershire Miners Trade Society was founded in 1873 but only survived for five years. An independent South Derbyshire Miners Association was founded in 1889 with 247 members. It was enginemen and firemen, rather than coal getters, who led the way when they struck at six collieries in the South Derbyshire coalfield in June 1899. The action began one Wednesday at 2 pm and was “amicably arranged” late the same night. The stokers had been pushing for an eight hour day from the previous November, along with 4/6d a day and free coal. The engine drivers followed this demand up with the same claim, plus 6d a day increase. Much cajoling of the owners by G H Copley, the South Derbyshire General Secretary and J Wright, the agent, failed to move them. The crunch came when the men flatly put their demands for free coal and a wage for engine minders of 5/6d and for firemen and stationary engine men of 4/6d. The men’s leaders wanted arbitration, but the refusal of the owners to negotiate further saw the following collieries out: Bretby, Stanton, Granville, Swadlincote, Old Field and Cadley Hill, Netheral, Rawdon and Reservoir.
No doubt shocked by this sudden militancy, the owners simply crumbled. Within hours the terms of settlement were offered and agreed:- reduced rates of coal for everyone, plus: winding enginemen 5/6d for an eight hour day; stationary enginemen – a 5% increase; firemen – 5/2d for a twelve hour day. [201]
The DMA featured fairly strongly in the campaign for the eight-hour day in the 1896-7 period, but saw the strategy for its achievement as centred around Parliament. Petitions collected by the miners were presented by Liberal MP5, and during all of this campaign the DMA placed all its hopes in them. W E Harvey in particular was deeply hostile to the ILP. He refused to speak at a miners’ meeting in Durham, when he discovered Keir Hardie was also there as a speaker. The union’s attitude to the eight-hour day campaign was but an extension of its general style. Beatrice Webb attended a meeting of the DMA council in 1895, to further a research project she was engaged in. She was appalled by the conservatism of the members of the executive. “Is it the abnormal quantity of whiskey these good fellows drink – without getting drunk – that deadens their intelligence … the miners’ radicalism is largely traditional made up of allegiance to the Party that gave them the vote” (i.e. the Liberals). [202]
If the miners supported the Liberals, they were more than reluctant to support the anti-brewing attitude that was the position of some members of that party. A typical mining village would be Clay Cross, which possessed no less than 23 pubs in its centre alone. However, action began to be taken against the number of public houses. Licences were confiscated and the landlord compensated for the loss. Miners viewed the issue of temperance quite differently than did the press, the liberal middle class, religion and the establishment at large. After finishing twelve hours a day in a dark, dusty mine, carrying out backbreaking work, the sweaty collier must have thought kindly of the beer that would cleanse his dry, dusty throat. While the affection for beer that the miner had would prove to be very difficult to end, his political views were another matter. The conservative Liberalism that Beatrice Webb observed would gradually be turned to conservative Labourism. The distrust of radical solutions, which was the hallmark of the DMA, reflected itself in the union’s attitude to even a body such as the Women’s Trade Union League. For in 1904 the DMA refused to send a donation to the organisation, because their executive suspected it of supporting women’s suffrage. [203] Even more significant was the fact that the DMA violently opposed affiliation to the Labour Representation Committee from the start, rejecting the idea in a ballot in 1906 by a vote of six to one. [204]
One factor that would serve to radically after the attitudes of many miners in Derbyshire and elsewhere was the attack on the high wages, which had been a product of the 1890s. With the new century, wage reductions became frequent and the gains of the 1893-4 struggle were easily jettisoned by the employers.
                                                               wage reduction
                           1899                           5% + 2% later
                           1900 .                         5%
                           1901                           15%in3stages
                           1902                           10%
                           1903                           5%
                           1904                           5%
A very severe depression set in during 1904 and 1905. The Derbyshire Times said, of the effect that this had in Clay Cross, that “there is much silent heroism. Very little is known of the acute suffering that some people are undergoing … children faint in the school because they have no food.” [205] While the NSPCC described the children of a Ripley miner, typical of so many, as “wretchedly clothed … scarcely an ounce of bread in the house”. There was practically no furniture in the house, an “apology for a bed”, dirty and unhealthy – with a single sheet – served the entire family of five children and parents. [206] The infant mortality rate was startlingly high in these years. Simply to compare the mining villages of Derbyshire with the rest of the rural part of the county, or for that matter the general position nationally, reveals the full scale of the tragedy: [207]
deaths per thousand births
                         Shirebrook          236.4
                         Chesterfield        217
                         Blackwell             188.5
                         Ashbourne            88
                         England and Wales 151
With such dreadful poverty and suffering often came desperation. A miner’s wife was taken to court in 1909 for sending her young son onto the streets of Chesterfield to beg money for the necessities of life. [208]
With experiences like these being common, it is little wonder that some workers began to rethink their attitudes. Even Liberal governments, it seemed, could do no good for ordinary working people. The conversion of the miners to the notion of supporting the Labour Party really only came after with the loss of bargaining power that they experienced during the recessionary years. Industrial militancy was severely dented by the hardship but, with the resurgence of trade that accompanied the build up to major war between the world powers, the miners were given a chance to redress the imbalance somewhat. There had been growing concern over the kind of make-up payments provided for working in especially poor geological conditions when, in 1910, the men of Parkhouse colliery struck for 14 weeks to resolve just this question. Unfortunately, the dispute was unsuccessful, so much so that the leader John Renshaw was victimised and never worked underground again. The men bought him a pony and cart, which he utilised to sell fruit for a living. [209
Tension in the Derbyshire coalfield grew. More coal was being mined as more men were employed, following a cut in the working week, in areas where geological conditions favoured it. With the extra labour force, there was a tendency for earnings to be reduced overall as the employers sought to maintain a desired rate of profit. A general sense of unease about a variety of matters existed.
Early in September 1910, there was a disorderly meeting at North Wingfield at which the men were sharp in their criticism of their union’s leadership. So much so, that the chairman of the meeting reminded the men that new laws existed governing unruly crowds. He went even further and warned them that he could see a policeman on the edge of the crowd and that ‘it was a most serious matter now to interrupt”. [210] The president of the Markham lodge was more in touch with the mood of the men, when he told them that if they were not satisfied with their leaders “the same vote that put them in would turn them out”. [211] The discontent was made worse by an enormous amount of short-time working and the rising cost of living. One miner, at a meeting at Stonegravels, believed that this was the greatest period of conflict between the masters and men for more than fifty years. He thought it was more than due to the “deplorable fact that the miners took home today less wages than they did in 1888”. [212]
Both the employers and the union leadership were alarmed at all this rising militancy and agreed to set up a county conciliation committee, chaired by an ‘independent’, which would decide finally on all disputed matters. The decisions were to be binding on both sides. For a while, the bubbling enthusiasm of the men to re-assert themselves was thus diminished – a trend paralleled in other mining counties. But, in 1912, the pressures that had been behind the discontent surfaced in a full-blown dispute. Most districts put in for a major advance in wages, carried along as they were by the general surge of militancy in this period. The Derbyshire rate compared favourably with others, but nonetheless a substantial demand was submitted – higher than some counties and at least equal to most.
                Area                        Claim in 1912 [213]
                Scotland                             6/-
                Yorkshire                           7/6
                Nottinghamshire             7/6
                South Wales                     7/- to 7/6
                Durham                              6/1 1/2d
                DERBYSHIRE                  7/- to 7/6
More important was the general demand for a minimum wage, preferably on a national basis but, failing that, on an area-by-area basis. A particularly militant mood prevailed at Staveley. The Markham No.1 pit voted unanimously for a 5% wage increase and for a minimum of 8/- a day. The local lodge leader was quoted as saying: “Whenever our leaders are ready to go in for an advance or not we are ready to push them.” [214]
The idea of a minimum wage was popular amongst most Derbyshire miners used to the butty system. But the DMA leadership was quite unhappy about the strike from the beginning. Frank Hall, the DMA Vice-President, did not want the miners “to be led away by certain men”. [215] He was referring to the fact that the desire for a strike was really a national phenomena and that Derbyshire’s men were to some extent influenced by what was happening elsewhere, rather than by what their own local leaders were advising. Hall declared himself ready to follow the desires of the men, whatever his own personal view of the tactics of the impending struggle. The DMA Secretary, Haslam, was firmer in his opposition. He had been against the county union joining the MFGB and had been long well-known for his Liberal sympathies. Haslam had also opposed the MFGB’s affiliation to the Labour Party in 1908.
The MFGB balloted the men, when the owners positively refused to concede the notion of a minimum wage and it was this issue which the Federation spotlighted on the ballot paper. 17,999 Derbyshire miners voted in favour of action to win a minimum wage with only 6,816 against. Nationally, a two-thirds majority was easily achieved. Miners were themselves jubilant but the press was perturbed. The Derbyshire Times thought it was a case of the tail wagging the dog: “the motive power of the tail in this instance, it is feared, has been largely provided by that Socialist element which has been insidiously capturing the miners’ lodges of the country for some time”. [216]
Most of the notices to the employers of intention to strike ran out on the 26th or the 27th of February 1912. The first miner supposed to have reached the surface at the first colliery in the country to cease work was John Marshall of Alfreton. In a flippant move which reflected the drama of the event, he was actually offered a contract by the manager of a chain of London music halls to appear on stage wearing pit clothes and carrying his pick and safety lamp! [217]
By March 2nd over a million men were out. The Derbyshire Times ominously declared that: “The great coal strike of 1912 has begun and all the miners of Derbyshire have now come out, rendering every pit idle.” [218] From the start there was no doubt that the miners would win. Within a week or two, the effects were beginning to be felt. Railway and tram services, Street lighting and other public utilities were all affected in Derbyshire. Many engineering works were closed down or worked short time. Even so, there was considerable sympathy for the strike and, while soup kitchens were opened up, there was nowhere near as much distress as in the 1893 lock-out. There was little disturbance in the mining areas, the strike was treated as more of a holiday. Marbles became the most popular street activity. “In every street miners were playing, old men of sixty pitting their skill … against the pit lads of thirteen and fourteen.” [219] Football matches and pit pony races were also very common throughout the coalfield. But picketing was also engaged in, twenty men returned to work at Shipley Colliery and mass rallies were held in the area. The DMA ensured special grants to prevent hardship being used as an excuse for strike-breaking. The fact that there was little disorder is mainly due to the absolutely solid nature of ‘the strike.
At this time, Tom Mann produced “The Miners Next Step”, a pamphlet which would have great influence on the miners. This argued for a more radical, more political use of the strike weapon. Harvey violently denounced the pamphlet, proposing his belief that the men would turn a deaf ear to the “tub-thumping clap-trap” of the syndicalists, who were so much at the centre of the 1912 strike movements. Harvey raved and ranted: “syndicalism and rabid socialism were no good to the working men syndicalism was an abominable and unclean thing”. [220] Sensing the problem that the miners’ leaders had, the Government put forward a compromise which conceded a legal minimum wage but avoided the full scale of the men’s demands. The MFGB decided to ballot the men for a return to work on these proposals, the result showing reluctance to abandon the strike while the going was good. In Derbyshire, 13,428 voted to stay out against 8,080 who voted to return. There was a small majority nationally against a resumption of work, but the executive of the MFGB declared that a two-thirds majority was necessary to continue a strike, even though its rules were actually silent on the issue. The dispute had lasted six weeks and while the concept of a minimum wage was conceded – even then only by a third party – the substance of the full claim was not. The strike officially ended on 9th April 1912. In Derbyshire, difficulties that emerged around the conditions affecting surface workers prevented an immediate return for all in the county.
A small general workers union, catering in the main for labourers, the National Amalgamated Union of Labour (NAUL), had been organising amongst the surface workers in the county for four years and had established a membership of about two thousand, much to the distaste of the DMA. Surface workers had demanded a minimum wage following the example of the underground men. Even so, the DMA made an agreement with the owners, without consulting A J Bailey, the Derbyshire NAUL secretary, ostensibly to get a speedy solution. The terms accepted by the DMA for the boys employed on pit banks and screens and the improved daily adult rate of 4s 21/2d compared to the old rate of 3s 4d, were rejected by NAUL. The adult rate fell short of the claim by 21/2d. Because of this rejection, some pits were unable to return to work, leaving about 10,000 men still out. The DMA had to pay the price for its elitist over-concern for underground workers and in the future would have to pay more attention to those who worked on the pit brow. For the one group could not work without the other, a very important lesson for the miners at large. Only by concluding a joint procedural agreement with NAUL was the dispute finally resolved and a complete return to work arrived at. [221]
The Government introduced its Minimum Wage Act but it was to have little effect. The miners themselves were very dissatisfied with its terms. The ending of the strike for such little reward was the source of much criticism for the leadership from its members. DMA officials were shouted down at meetings and cries of “traitors” generally greeted them. One official tried to convince the men that they had got a good deal. “We have something now”, he argued, only to receive the cynical jibe of one miner – “And that’s nowt” – amidst great laughter. [222] Alarmed by the radicalisation of the miners which had clearly taken place, the miners’ leadership sought to re-assert their authority. An example of the aggressiveness with which this was done was the suing of George Wilson, a miner from Chesterfield, who had written a syndicalist pamphlet in which he queried whether the Durham miners’ leader had properly “served the working class”. Wilson lost the case and had to pay £200 in damages, a colossal sum. The more long-term relevance of the 1912 struggle was that it firmly established the DMA as the union for Derbyshire miners. Membership had risen quite dramatically, from just under 19,000 in 1891 to over 42,000 in 1912. (The South Derbyshire Amalgamated Miners Association, with an office in Woodville, Burton-on-Trent, had 3,622 members in 1911. The Derbys and Notts Enginemen’s and Firemen’s Union, based in Thanet St, Clay Cross, had 1,430 members.) [223] While the experience of the DMA leadership in action, or perhaps we should say inaction, convinced many miners that a change in the union was overdue. The potential for the DMA to never be the same again was there.
iv) Textiles
In the middle years of the 19th century, textile unions tended, like many others, to be for specialist, skilled workers. However, after 1886, more general trade unions developed for the auxiliary and finishing sections of the lace trade. The Auxiliary Society of Male Lace Workers and the Bleachers and Dressers Association, in particular, were set up with some support in eastern Derbyshire. (These later became the Amalgamated Society of Operative Lace Makers and Textile Workers, which in turn was to amalgamate with the National Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers (NUHKW) in 1971.) The employers reacted quickly and sharply to the establishment of the Auxiliary Society, locking out workers whenever and wherever they joined. A lock out committee was established in the lace trade in Long Eaton, when employers in the ‘levers’ section of the industry attacked unionism. While trades unionism was not destroyed as a force in textiles, neither was the dispute a success.
Despite all this, some employers in the industry were open-minded about the possibilities of unionism helping to even out wage rates and consequently to ensure a fairer degree of competition. In particular, Nottingham wage rates always exceeded those in east Derbyshire. Ilkeston was especially difficult to organise. Some employers still operated rather out-of-date wages and conditions of work. John Bowmer’s tape manufacturing mill in Wirksworth still relied to a certain extent on twelve-year-old children for a brief part of the 1890s. The failure of the unions to establish generally accepted wages and conditions led the employers in 1890 to dismiss the notion of convening an arbitration board and their own employers association – devices that in the past had done much to even out wage rates. The unions were driven to act where they could in defence of working conditions. Some employers resisted unionisation of their workforce quite fiercely. Two men were sacked at W Hemsley’s Kendrick Mills at Melbourne in July 1890, in real terms for belonging to the Midland Counties Warp Hands Association and attempting to maintain an effective union presence at the mill. A strike against this blatant anti-unionism developed into something of a cause celebre. The famed agricultural workers’ leader, Joseph Arch, spoke at Ilkeston at a solidarity rally in November, a symptom of the seriousness with which trades unionists locally took the whole affair. The newly formed Ilkeston Trades Council, which was so much concerned with the textile trade, tried hard to flex such muscles as it had in the solidarity campaign for the Kendrick strikers. [224]
While the mills were to remain largely unorganised, the battle had sparked off great interest in unionism amongst textile workers. However, despite the prevailing mood, unskilled workers in the trade remained difficult to organise. Skilled workers were another matter however. This was dramatically evidenced in the tailors’ lock out of 1892, which initially began in Liverpool over the issue of out-working and then spread to the rest of the country. The union had been trying for three years to get all work carried out on the premises of tailoring establishments. Naturally, the employers resented this, for it was often cheaper to undercut the union-rated regular workers. The Liverpool lockout spread, almost like a disease, to Ashton-Under-Lyme, then to Derby. The Derby Tailors’ Society was quite strong, with over 200 members, all of whom refused to renounce their union and to accept that the masters could dictate on matters of work. The natural consequence of this was that the principal tailoring firms in Derby locked out all their employees. These were:
                        Name of Tailoring Firm
                    Brigden                                     Frazer
                    Houldsworth                            Thompson
                    Cunningham and Gamble    Walker
                    Potter                                         Booth
                    Simpson                                   Vaughan and Hughes
The solid nature of the tailors throughout the North and Midlands must have astounded the masters and there was much public sympathy for the workers plight. Again, the lock out was seen as an outrageous affront to the civil liberty of the right to belong to a trade union – at least by many ordinary working people! However, the lock out dragged on and the tailors’ society began to exhaust itself. Warren of the Derby Journeymen Tailors Association told the Trades Council that the lock out had cost the local branch over £120. Therefore, to assist them, the council launched a fund to reimburse the society. In the end, perhaps because of the strength of the Tailors’ membership and the level of solidarity, the employers made the very important concession of agreeing to go to arbitration on the whole dispute and this eventually produced a vague, but moderately satisfactory solution for the union. [225]
In the knitting industry, the previous dominance of the hand frame knitters was by no means still the case. There were no more than 5,000 hand frames in the whole of the Midlands by 1892. Hand knitters accepted wage cuts without argument and rarely bothered to join a union, so depressed was their sector of the textile industry. Only about 300 hand knitters were members of any union in the three’ traditional counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. In Belper a small trade society of 40 framework knitters was still in existence in the early nineties. [226]
Unions in the more up-to-date areas of the industry were severely constrained as the trade depression of this decade developed. The Ilkeston Hosiery Union, founded in 1888, entered the nineties full of hope, if not always success. A meeting to form a female branch of the union in Ilkeston in 1891 was very poorly attended, although the chairman saw it as “not bad for a commencement”. The union faced a massive reduction in existing membership, as much as half of the total over this period. [227] In Nottingham, lace manufacturers gave notice of reductions of between 30% and 50% in 1896. The Derby Mercury commented that whilst “the leaders (of the unions) advocate conciliation and compromise, the rank-and-file have adopted a ‘no surrender attitude’ “. [228] Despite this, with such an inauspicious beginning to the dispute, the employers naturally had their way.
In Derby, the textile industry was itself less significant than it had been. Only 662 worked in the silk trade in Derby, the industry now being just a shadow of its former self. Thirty years before, as many as 4,000 were in the industry in the town and its immediate environs. However, in the eastern part of the county, the industry began to take on a new and special significance. In Long Eaton, over 64% of the working population worked in textiles, according to the 1911 census. A separate union of twist hands – the Long Eaton and District Association of Operative Lacemakers developed as a local phenomenon, which would have nothing to do with the Nottingham based lacemakers’ society. Although an unsuccessful attempt at a merger was made between 1901 and 1903. The Long Eaton union grew slowly, with 53 members in 1898 and 156 in 1911. By 1914 it had 334 members and did eventually merge in May 1921, but only with the Workers Union, which in turn joined up with the TGWU in 1929. In the meantime, there grew strong elements of rivalry between the local society and the Nottingham based Amalgamated Lacemakers, itself a product of two societies that had operated independently in .the Long Eaton area up to about 1901. The very success of the independent Long Eaton society itself ensured that the Amalgamated Lacemakers would allow greater autonomy for its own local branch and this situation would have important long-term ramifications. Long Eaton itself was certainly dominated by lace; it was the centre of the lace world, housing 1,400 lace-making machines and employing over 4,000 people. [2291
Despite all this prestige for the town, lacemakers’ wages in 1906 at 44/8d a week compared very unfavourably with the position some 50 years before when it was is 1 d morel [230] The Amalgamated Lacemakers appointed a full-time secretary for the Long Eaton area in 1905, a fact which must surely signify a considerable degree of unionisation. No doubt as a result of his endeavours, a Draycott branch was set up just up the road briefly from 1907 to 1909, while a Sandiacre branch survived more effectively from 1908 onwards for 20 years. Both of these were merged with the Ilkeston laceworkers’ branch. There the hosiery trade really tended to dominate, although the 26-year-old laceworkers’ branch had a substantial basis of 101 members in 1902.
Only with the return to prosperity in the trade did the unions discover a new zest in their activities. The Amalgamated Lacemakers meeting at Ilkeston’s Durham Ox, in August 1898, viewed with “pleasure the attempt of the Lacemakers Society to popularise the principles of trades unionism”. There were then 3,421 members and “ten-thirteenths of every penny paid in” by them were returned in benevolent payments. “Their society did not exist for the purpose of keeping up wages, but also for the purpose of helping members to tide over difficulties.” As for the Ilkeston (Hosiery) Union, by 1899 it still had all of its membership in the original five branches but trade depression and victimisation had caused membership to halve. Within four years, it had a membership of 500 and was growing outside of the original area of support. In 1906, the Ilkeston Union opened a branch at Derby, as the textile trade began to prosper once more. This was in spite of the active opposition of Moore and Eady, one of the largest firms in the area by 1910, the company conceded union recognition. Moreover, when the union tried to win a large factory at Lea Mills to the union, it took a 17-week strike to achieve this. What is more, it had been the union’s second attempt. Even though formal recognition was not yet granted, the firm agreed. to employ trades unionists. [231]
By 1914 the Ilkeston Union membership had reached the one thousand mark and, more remarkably, had pushed wages up to the Nottingham level. Most of the union’s members were men, about 80% in all. Thus, the potential for growth was very considerable, given the numbers of women in the industry who were unorganised. The struggle of women for the vote added to the prevailing sense of unease that affected all women and had repercussions on the textile trade. In particular, a campaign to ‘end the ‘sweated trades’, many of which were in textiles, developed nationally when the National Anti-Sweating League was formed. This was a problem locally, providing immediate support for the new body. A Mrs Booth of the Derby Co-op Women’s’ Guild was one of many delegates to attend the League’s national conference in London on the minimum wage question in October 1906. [232] This campaign gathered momentum with public protests and petitions. A crowd of up to 4,000 assembled in Derby’s Market Place to listen to Miss Adela Pankhurst in July 1910. She linked the “sweating evil” with the right to vote – for women were generally accepted as the main victims of the practice. Interestingly, on this occasion the event was large and well ordered. In the previous year there had been major disorder at a similar meeting at the Drill Hall, mainly because of the links with women’s’ suffrage. [233]
Derby’s Trades Council was especially concerned with the question of sweating and organised several events of note on the issue. At one meeting, a major scandal emerged when it was discovered that the Salvation Army was involved in exploitative sweating in London. The Trades Council organised a rally specifically on the Salvation Army’s involvement in sweating, in the Market Place on August 14th 1910. While the Lacemakers held a similar meeting in the market place in Long Eaton; the main speaker being W Pickles, the Labour candidate for Holmfirth, who spoke against the practice, accusing workers of under-selling their labour. He quoted cases whereby youths were employed at 14/- to 18/- to do a man’s job, when the normal rate would normally be several pounds. [234] Even many years after the Truck Acts had supposedly ended the practices of payment in kind and disciplinary fines in the textile industry, prosecutions for violations of the legislation were difficult to win. For example, in Derby, a prosecution under the Truck Act for making deductions for waste created in silk production at Thomas Smith and Sons of Abbey Mills in Abbey Street failed. This was despite the fact that the practice was not followed at Unsworth’s, Dould’s and Dyer’s, three other silk mills in the area. [235]
That it proved difficult to enforce even the law of the land was symptomatic of the deep problem facing trades unionists in the textile industry. Half a century of compromise, defeat and despair had left the workers in the industry still largely unorganised. Textile unions were really in a shambles. Even the relatively well-organised hosiery industry had independent town unions, loosely federated, but really largely quite separate. The Ilkeston Union was such an entirely separate union. Although, within the wider federation, there was sometimes co-operation. As when the Leicester Union offered assistance to Ilkeston in October 1913 with recruiting activities. Even though Bassford, the Ilkeston Union’s secretary, wrote to the other town hosiery unions in that year, suggesting a joint approach to wage bargaining, nothing came of it. Generally, each went their own way.
Other specialist textile unions did take root to some extent in the county. The Derby and Nottingham United Surgical Elastic Bandage Makers Society was founded in 1857 and by 1890 had two separate branches, with 155 members two years later. Membership fluctuated marginally, according to the state of trade, but by 1910 the Society had 126 in membership. One of the last stockingers, William Ward of Uttoxeter Street, Derby, recalled in 1960 how he started work in 1891 at F Longdon’s Agard Street factory, where there were 150 hand frames. The Society kept quaint rules, harking back to an earlier age. On the front page of the rulebook was the stern warning that: “Anyone entering the room in an inebriated state, or disturbing the business of the meeting by unruly conduct, shall be requested by the chairman to retire and should he persist in disturbing the meeting he shall be fined 6d.” This was also still very much a family trade, Ward’s grandfather, Tom, father Walter and some brothers and cousins were already working at Longdon’s when William was first apprenticed. There was also a Derby and Derbyshire Dyers, Bleachers, Scourers, Trimmers and Auxiliary Workers Association. This probably merged in a later amalgamation. Certainly, a trades hail was built in New Mills by the Amalgamated Society of Dyers, Bleachers, Finishers and Kindred Trades in 1911. (Part of the Textile Trade Group of the TGWU, today.) The whole of the town turned out in carnival mood on the day of its opening and a procession headed by a brass band and the union banner marched through the streets. However, this union never really penetrated far into Derbyshire, remaining a largely Yorkshire based body. [236]
The Derby Elastic Web Weavers Society, which was founded in 1857, had 150 members by 1892 and was based at 41 Quorn Street six years later. Membership fell to only 62 in 1900, 40 two years later and by 1903 it had been dissolved; perhaps it merged with the Elastic Bandage Makers, or was possibly dissolved. Each of the surgical bandage societies were largely based upon particular enterprises and may have been vulnerable to the fortunes of these businesses. Another sectional body was the textile machine workers union, formally called the Bobbin Carriage, Comb, Dropped Bar Makers Amalgamated Society, which was setup in the Long Eaton area in 1903 with 53 members, but it seems to have survived only for two years. [237]
It cannot be surprising therefore, that with the general failure of the established textile unions to cope with the changing nature of industry, that the new and young products of the New Unionism of this period stepped in. The Gas Workers and General Labourers had already moved into quarrying and foundry work in the north of the county, while the Workers Union was beginning to establish itself in engineering and general trades in the south. From these bases, it was practically certain that some expansion would take place into an open industry like textiles. It was easy for this to be so, for these unions were general unions looking for unskilled and unorganised workers.
From 1911 onwards, under the influence of Norman Gratton, the Gas and General Labourers (GGLU) established itself in Litton Mills. That they were able to do so was entirely due to the fact that the established textile unions would have nothing to ‘do with the workers’ there because ‘they had accepted shift working. This was possible despite the hostility of the mill owner, Matthew Dickie, who said to Gratton, “I’ll sell the shirt from my back before I’ll recognise your union.” The union nonetheless took strong root in the Tideswell area and at the mill. Mr Dickie, like so many other employers at the time, had to swallow his words and did not ‘sell his shirt’! [238] By 1914, the once vibrant GGLU branches in the Belper light foundry industry had fallen by the wayside. The local organiser, Hayward, tried to set them up again. However, in the process he found himself successfully organising in the old Arkwright mills – at Milford especially. [239] By now the company was called the English Sewing Cotton Company. It was still a very paternalistic employer, but was now a major capitalist concern. Nationally, it had capital of more than £3 million in 1897 and was listed by the stock exchange as 27th out of the top 52 companies. [240]
It is possible that word had spread to Derbyshire of the success of Scottish women workers employed by the company for, in August 1910, twenty women went on strike against wage reductions imposed at the English (sic!) Sewing Cotton Company’s mills in Neilston, Scotland. They were rapidly followed by a thousand others. Every one of them joined a union and the strike was an absolute success. [241] It cannot be that this experience had no influence upon the Derbyshire mills, but what is absolutely certain is that, following Hayward’s activities, a branch of the GGLU was formed in the mills with 126 members within two months. Trouble broke out when two girls who had come from Burton-on-Trent to work at Milford were dismissed. The actions of the company were clearly seen by Hayward as victimisation – perhaps the two girls were leading lights in the new branch, or at least were members. James Grant, the manager, denied any such thing. The two had been “discharged on account of shortage of work”. A dispute did not develop and the two girls bowed out gracefully. Although they did receive benefits from the union and substantial collections from the mill girls. [242] At the end of the day, the dismissals stood because of the reluctance of the GGLU to act and it would actually lead to the failure of that union to really grasp the membership potential at English Sewing. In the end, it would be the WU that would maintain a basis in the mills but even then it would be years and years before the TGWU would be able to boast of organising the company properly.
v)   Engineering
By the turn of the twentieth century, engineering and foundry work had become a major source of employment in Derbyshire. The 1901 census showed that there were almost 20,000 workers in the various metal trades in the county. [243]
                   trade                                females
                   Pig Iron               784                   –
                   Rolling Mills ‘    607                   –
                   Steel                    145                   –
                   Engineering 16,800                48
                   Tool Makers   1,259                38
                   Needle makers   39                34
                   Nailmakers          36                  1
33 foundries were in existence; indeed iron making had grown phenomenally, registering a five fold increase in production over a half-century.
Iron furnaces in Derbyshire          County production per-annum in tons
                      1848-20                      95,160
                      1901 -47                   457,519
Nailmaking had declined to relative insignificance, while general engineering work had come to dominate the metal trades. Within the metal trades, the union that was to become dominant was the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE). The ASE was very much a skilled man’s union. However, the industry was at a technological crossroads. Indeed, Britain’s imperial expansion was somewhat dependent upon the development of new techniques of mass production. These would enable British manufacturers to flood markets abroad, captured by military might and diplomatic stealth. This new style production opened up enormous numbers of factory jobs for unskilled and semi-skilled workers. These would need trade unions just as much as the skilled men. Piecework became general in the industry, a tendency that favoured the semi-skilled worker. While only some 11% of machinists were on piecework in 1886, by 1914 this figure had soared to 50%. [244] The older established craft unions were strongly geared to a unionism which stressed conciliation and benefits. The Steam Engine Makers, which had branches at Derby, Chesterfield and Ripley was one such. Speaking at the annual dinner of the society in November 1891 at the Bull’s Head in Derby, the local headquarters of the society, James Simpson, the local secretary, and the visiting general secretary both spoke of the need to avoid disputes and to conserve the funds of their union. It is no exaggeration to say that conciliation was the main aim of the Society.
For its part, however, the ASE began to view things differently – under the pressure of technological changes. In 1892, the ASE revised its constitution to allow the admission of most skilled trades in the engineering industry. Friendly society benefit contributions were mainly optional in character from herein. Moreover, the ASE began to adopt a more aggressive industrial policy and new branches emerged, such as the Ilkeston ASE which was set up in December 1893. In 1897 a strike, which spread into a lock out involving the key industrial centres, developed around a series of issues: the fight for the eight-hour day, mutuality in piecework price setting and control of over-dictatorial management systems. Derby was not at first directly involved in the dispute, for major advances had been secured in the previous year. The two local branches of the ASE held a joint dinner early in 1897. The event, which was presided over by the “organising delegate”, Albert Bigley, approvingly referred to the dispute then beginning in London. WG Haslam, of Haslam Engineering, spoke at the event, saying that trade was good and that he was glad that both the masters and the workers had not missed this – an increase of 2/- a week had been conceded. Haslam said, to much laughter, that he was “glad to meet them under these conditions (of a friendly dinner), rather than being told they were going to strike”. [245]
Despite Haslam’s relief, the conflict spread as the struggle lingered over 1897 and into the following year, assuming major proportions. In these circumstances, it was not surprising that the Derby ASE came out in general solidarity with the London men. For, just as employers took sides throughout the country, locking out union men, so did workers. A dispute committee was set up in Derby and, as its accounts show, it proved to be quite active. Interestingly, much money was paid to non-ASE men who came out along with the union.
Derby Dispute Committee Accounts [246]
Income                       £            S            d
Local collections 40            6             0
Central Office Grant 148     10             0
Total Income        188          16             0
Expenditure              £             s           d
paid to ASE members      38          18      6
paid to non-society men 109         17      5
paid to other societies        0          15      0
paid to children   19             8        101/2
expenses              17             1          31/2
Total Expenditure 186         1            1
Vast sums of money were sent to the ASE’s central funds from other local societies, from ASE branches and from local factory collections. The Ripley Co-op granted £300 to the ASE in November 1897. [247] While the following recorded donations give a flavour of the sort of support received by those ASE members who were locked out:
Derby Builders’ Labourers                     £5
Derby ASE No 2                                          8 shillings
Derby ASRS                                                 10 shillings
Derby Trades Council                               £24
Derby Typographical Society                 £14 11s 7d
Chesterfield Tailors                                   £11 4s 9d
Wilkins & Co, Derby, job collection       18 shillings
Derby factory collections                         £196 18s 5d
Over £180,000 was raised to grant relief to the locked out men nationally, but to no avail. While the men stayed out for a very long time, the employers gained victory. Despite this, Derby’s engineering workers remained sufficiently strong to win substantial advances in 1899. The experience was not easily forgotten and some feared any further conflict. At a meeting of trades unionists in Derby in 1901, presided over by T Mawbey, the former secretary of the Boilermakers spoke strongly in favour of arbitration and against militancy, to the general approval of the assembled workers. He wanted a Conciliation Act, which he believed would obviate the need for industrial conflict. At the same meeting, T H Jones of Derby spoke of the need to support the National Industrial Association, which he said, aimed to promote “good feeling between master and man and the prevention of disasters”. [248]
Clearly, the general mood was not one of confidence. Some sections, like the Plate and Machine Moulders at a Derby Iron Works, were reported to be tussling for an advance in wages in June 1903. [249] The Boilermakers reflected the more general view amongst engineering workers. Thomas Morton, the Derby branch secretary of the Boilermakers’ Society revealed at the annual meeting in 1903 that the branch had by then over 200 members and income for the year had been the phenomenal sum of £2,619 1s 10d. Morton proudly detailed the expenditure on benevolent items:
                                                            £           s          d
Remitted to the EC                    900           0          0
Sick Money                                 659           9          10
Home donations                          43           0          0
Superannuated members       342           9          0
Disabled Members                   200           0          0
Funeral grants                           109           0          0
Widows benefits                          26           0          0
In three years, the branch had boosted its own funds in hand from £476 8s 10d to £878 4s 11d. If large sums were spent on benefits, very little was spent on subsidising strikes. Indeed, in presenting awards to long-serving members at this dinner/meeting, one of the branch officials underlined the strongly benevolent aspect to the society and its distinctive industrial policy. One of those honoured endorsed this general line, indicating that he believed in “using methods of peace and did not believe in creating strikes”. [250]
While the boilermakers were rather blatant in their endorsement of conciliation as opposed to conflict, the ASE followed a similar but more subtle approach. For example, W G Sykes the No 4 Divisional Officer reported that “the question of payment for overtime at Nestlé’s Milk Factory, Tutbury, which along with the Progress Works is now under the jurisdiction of the Derby District Committee has had further consideration during the month and instructions (have been) given to our members which are thought to be calculated to bring about a satisfactory adjustment of the matter”. Just one small example of the style adopted; we are left in no doubt that negotiating tactics were considered prime and industrial militancy considered improper. ASE membership remained small in the Derbyshire area, despite the growth of the industry, as the union’s monthly record and journal revealed in August 1904. [251]
                                                               The state of trade was
                 Membership                       recorded in each town as:
 Derby No 1         223                         BAD
 Derby No 2         162                         BAD
 Chesterfield       180                         BAD
 Glossop                97                         MODERATE
Only in those trades with railways was there a good trading circumstance for most of the time and, hence, where there were strong bargaining positions for the unions. For example, in 1904 the men at S J Claye’s wagon repairing works at Long Eaton were successfully involved in a dispute. There were scenes of great controversy, when the police issued warnings about “intimidation” and several missiles were thrown at strike-breakers. Some 35 men were “sent away” by the picket. [252]
Such flashes of militancy apart, the general picture were one of very poor levels of unionisation. G N Barnes, MP for Blackfriars and the ASE’s general secretary, spoke at a local meeting in December 1906. It was, in fact, an organising meeting held at the Long Eaton Zion Hall. Accompanied by Bell of the ASRS, Barnes went on to argue that “Derby was one of the most unorganised places in the Midlands, with one exception (the railway workers). In Derby the wage rage was about 33s weekly… There might be many who were not getting that … because … trades unionism was weak.” [253] While there were only 430 ASE members in Derby, there were about 1,500 eligible and membership had remained fairly static for two years. Barnes thought that “if we could organise 1000 we might be able to go for the 36/- weekly wage”. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties of obtaining new members, the ASE positively shunned the idea of organising unskilled workers, with the eventual outcome that the Workers Union was able to make major inroads into the engineering industry, most notably within the Loco Works. There, the union was able to make headway amongst the unskilled workers from about 1912 onwards. [254] The very poor position of engineering labourers provided a unique opportunity for the unions to recruit. The precise poverty of the position of engineering labourers was shown when W G Wilkins JP of Derby produced a pamphlet that revealed that of the 19s 41/2d which engineering labourers normally earned, the breakdown of expenditure was as follows:
     Item of expenditure      percentage of total expenditure [255]
Food 45.3%
            Rent                                      17.5%
            Clothing                               14%
            Fuel and light                     18.7%
            Insurance                              4.5%
Specialised unions operated in the area of course. The Derby and District Friendly Society of Braziers and Tin Plate Workers was formed in February 1872, by a group of 24 tinsmiths at the Midland railway workshops, with E Elliot as its first secretary. The Derby Coppersmiths had 24 members in 1912. The Sheffield Tin Plate Workers tried to recruit in Chesterfield, but intimidation and victimisation of potential members prevented much happening.
The Derby and Burton Brass Founders and Finishers Society, founded in 1875 had 93 members by the turn of the century. This had risen to 185 members in 1910, after establishing a branch in Coventry. It was one of some ten small localised brass founding societies which united in 1912 to form the Amalgamated Association of Brass Founders, Turners, Fitters and Coppersmiths, which in turn was one of those unions which merged to create the Amalgamated Engineering Union in 1920. The strategy of seeking to control metal forming trades within the locality, which implied many small, isolated societies, was clearly mismatching the development of modern industry. The value of the amalgamation was proved when six tin plate workers moved from Manchester to Derby in 1908 to work at the new Rolls Royce car factory. They were paid 36s for a 54-hour week, less than the 81/2d an hour minimum set by the national amalgamation for the motor industry. Negotiations ensured that the difference was made up by a piecework bonus. Whilst such a payment was in opposition to national policy, the union did not want to loose the foothold thus established and it turned a blind eye. [256]
Another small, specialised union was the Derby and District Farriers Society, formed in 1895 with 30 members. Catering for journeymen horseshoe smiths in the area, it had combined with three other societies within a few years, to form a Midland Counties amalgamation, which in turn became part of a national amalgamation around the turn of the century. The subsequent union was eventually dissolved in 1964, simply extinguished by the decline of horse transport. In other specialised trades, the local trade societies formed also did not stand the test of time. In 1895, the Ripley Amalgamated Hollowware, Casters and Turners Trade Society was formed, but it seemed to fade away some four years later. Whilst the United Pattern Makers Association’s Chesterfield branch worked closely with the ASE and the Steam Engine Makers on an application for a district increase of 2/- a week in 1910. [257]
Derby itself saw the growth of entirely new industries in the engineering field at this time. Companies that would dominate the area for much of the rest of the century were established. Aiton’s factory was opened in 1907, Derwent Foundry was built quite early on in Exeter Place. Later this would become Qualcast, moving in the course of time to Victory Road. Henry Royce and Charles Rolls started their company on March 15th 1906 and Rolls Royce’s Nightingale works were opened on July 9th 1908. It would be with the production of aero-engines for planes like the “Eagle” and the “Falcon” in 1914 and 1916 respectively that the company would really prosper. By the end of the First World War over 8,000 were working for Rolls Royce in Derby. It was against this background that the engineering unions would have to rethink their organisation and approach. Important technological changes took place, especially as the run-up to war hastened the pace of developments. Practical changes reflecting this in the lives of engineering workers were things like shift work and piecework. The latter had come to dominate the industry. In the twenty years from 1886 the percentage of workers on this system had risen from only 5% to 27.5%.
In the railway carriage and wagon building industry, which was of course particularly strong in Derby, payments by results systems were used for as many as 67.6% of all workers. There were naturally many very unpopular innovations. One such was when a “One Break” system was suggested in Derby engineering factories. This entailed a start at 7 am, with one break for dinner instead of a 6 am start with two breaks, breakfast and dinner. By 1907 many firms were working this system, but it was not at all popular with the workers themselves. Unless hours were reduced to 48, it was preferred to start early, at 6 am, with shorter shifts. A final example of an issue, which the engineering unions would have to return to, was the premium bonus system that operated at Rolls Royce. This incentive scheme returned savings, arising from increased productivity, equally to employees and the company, but it was a non-negotiable discretionary arrangement that did not allow the unions any rights of challenge.
i)   Printing and Associated Trades
Of course skilled print workers were organised throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, by virtue of their membership of a trade society – something almost obligatory as part of their craft. Newer techniques strengthened the value of these skills and the epoch was especially notable for the vast explosion of demand for printed material. Papermaking had traditionally been a Derbyshire industry and this continued in the new situation. The Amalgamated Society of Papermakers was formed in 1894 from the existing two papermaking unions which had previously been united from 1854-69. The new society had a base in some Derbyshire paper mills right from the start. [259]
The Bookbinders’ Consolidated Union was well established in the county fairly early on also. In 1859 the Derby branch proposed that “no local society be allowed to nominate itself as the Seat of Government’ and that any local branch nominated as the centre should be neutral in voting for themselves. Unions had yet to tie themselves down to a single national centre or office and it was quite a common practice to operate a revolving centre based on particular branches. What is interesting about the Derby proposal is the parochialism it betrays. The branch went on to hope that other branches would not see their proposal as being the result of a fractious spirit but would appreciate that they were only concerned for the justice “of preventing one or two large societies (i.e. branches) having the entire power between them”.
A National Typographical Association, formed in 1845 by the linking up of several local societies, dissolved within two years. Although, in 1849, most provincial bodies drew together in a loosely knit federation for some time. In 1863 a linking up of the local associations on the basis of benevolent provisions – especially the tramping network – came about. There was a Derby Typographical Association involved in all this right from the beginning.
The Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Printers and Auxiliaries was founded before 1860, but a local branch was not established in Derbyshire until 1880. The event was later recalled by two veterans of the branch who had both joined in December of that year. J Darnell and F Tunnicliffe, who had 35 years as branch treasurer. One of the first disputes they remembered was over boy labour, a part of the union’s attempt to control the intake of apprentices.
A major local printing employer was Bemrose’s, which grew phenomenally as literacy spread and the demand for printed material grew. The expansion of the company is startlingly evidenced by the number of employees:
                                                Number of Employees
        1840                                    12
        1855                                    57
        1871                               228 (of which there were 58 women)
Always a pioneer of benevolent paternalism at this time, Bemrose’s was the first Derby firm to reduce working time to 57 hours a week.
The world of print workers began to change dramatically with the introduction of new technology. For one thing, women entered the trade in certain unskilled capacities for the first time – something that the Typographical Association took a dim view of. Indeed, the TA positively refused to recruit women, taking the view that to do so would be to recognise low wages as a basis on which the industry could proceed. The end result of this was that the National Society of Operative Printers and Assistants was set up, taking any print worker into its ranks.
Many print workers were involved in the drive to provide a political voice for the working class. One TA member who achieved considerable success in the field of municipal politics in Derby was Harry Wells, who had served his apprenticeship at Mozley’s and worked for Bemrose’s from 1882. Wells was secretary of the Derby TA for 16 years to 1912. [260] Both the Derby branch of the TA and the Amalgamated Society of Litho Printers (ASLP) were prominent in the growing labour representation movement. Another activist of this ilk was T Mawbey, again of the TA, although by 1912 he seems to have set himself up as a small-scale master printer. At a joint meeting and dinner with the ASLP in 1897, Mawbey freely argued for the view of independent working class representation. This, despite the presence of a Tory MP and the employer Bemrose, who was actually chairing the event. Mawbey proposed that “the sole motive of the labour party was to secure representation on public bodies who had a knowledge of the conditions of life under which the working class lived”.
The relationships between employers and their workers were however generally very good in the print industry at this stage. The special trading position of the industry allowed for concessions to be relatively easily made. At the same dinner, Councillor Home was able to say that he was “pleased that there had never been any serious friction between the masters and men in Derby”. [261] The fact that the industry had conceded, without conflict, a further major reduction in working hours operative from May 1897 no doubt ensured such cordiality between classes at the dinner. [262] But, within a decade things were to change dramatically.
One by-product of the impact of socialistic ideas on print workers however was a growth in interest in co-operative production. Throughout the 1890s, branches of the TA set up printing offices on co-partnership lines to provide work for unemployed members. Indeed, by 1898, the executive was empowered to specifically encourage this development by investing society funds in such bodies. [263] In 1899, a co­operative was established in Derby after a meeting in a Mr Haverson’s house at, appropriately enough, 72 Co-operative Street! “It was decided by the seven members present to start paying into a fund so as to be in a position to register a Printers’ Business”, worked on co-partnership lines, which was to become Derby Printers. The workers in the co-operative agreed to pay 3d a week into a fund. Seventeen members took up 126 shares of £1 on which £39 6s 3d had been contributed in weekly sums. On August 26th 1901, work was commenced in two rooms at the corner of Copeland Street. Later, a move to the bigger three room premises of 318 Normanton Road enabled expansion. By 1903, a profit of £51 was being attained in a year and the co­op not only managed to survive, but also prospered on the influx of printing work sent its way by trade union, labour and co-operative organisations. The company was to move to Castle Street in 1910 and within the next decade to Willow Road where it remained as a workers’ co-operative until it ceased trading in 1983. However, at the beginning, the capitalist printers of the town were much concerned with what they saw as the “cut prices” offered by Derby Printers. [264] Cut prices they may have been, but clearly the co-op offered the best wages and conditions. The 48 hour week was introduced in the town for the first time in the industry at Derby Printers on October 31st 1904. Again, in 1919, the company lead the way by bringing in the 46-hour week. [265]
Of particular significance for the industry locally was the setting up of the Derby Master Printers’ Association (DMPA), the employers’ association for the industry in the town of Derby, in April 1899. The central force in the DMPA was Bemrose’s, but all the printing employers in the area were united in the body. The very first test the DMPA had to face as an organisation – in some ways it was also the spur to its formation -was the printing employees’ application for a 3/- a week increase. One rather liberal-minded employer, Peach, thought that faced with the threat of a strike it would be better to offer another 6d. [266] Some employers were for resisting the demand but a compromise proposal amongst the masters was arrived at whereby, on the basis that the minimum wage question “not be raised again for 7 years”, the DMPA would agree to offer an increase of 1/6d – half that asked for – to take the minimum rate to 32/6d per week.
Within a week of this, a letter was sent to the DMPA from the TA reporting that their men had rejected this offer. The masters met again to consider the position. Mr Wright Bemrose, the then DMPA chairman, voiced the anger of most employers during their private meeting. “Our offer must be final … we must stand firm.” [267] None-the-less, they decided to meet the men’s’ representatives. One of their spokesmen was T Ogden, who referred to the mood of the men, as expressed at the TA’s most recent meeting. It had been the “largest meeting of members ever held and the feeling was that 2/- should be asked for, not less”. Recognizing the genuineness of this, Bemrose as chairman of the employers – partially moved to the men’s’ position by now offering an increase of 1/- from the next pay date and another 1/-from January 1st 1900. The union side agreed to “convey this to their members”. A drawback was the seven-year embargo, not part of the agreement formally proposed, but clearly still seen by the employers as a pro-condition for settlement. The TA consulted the men and reported back on May 10th, indicating that the men had accepted the formal written offer of the two stage increase. The TA saw the settlement as a victory for themselves through negotiations. Importantly, as T Harpur (the DMPA secretary) wrote to the employers, “no written agreement’ had been achieved on the seven year freeze. [268] In the event, the men did honour the muted verbal assurances of their leaders on the question of not coming back for more within seven years – although no doubt the relatively stable period of retail prices encouraged such an attitude.
As soon as the January 1900 increase had been implemented, the printing employers were looking to their customers to recoup their increased costs. All the masters agreed to a general price increase of 10% – double that received by the men – from January 11th. Interestingly, the masters had insisted to their men during the pay negotiations of the previous year that they were unable to concede any increase in wages as they were powerless to increase prices! [269] The DMPA assumed the role of a price-fixing ring from herein. An estimating committee was set up, which began to agree the quotes that would be put in for public works contracts. Specific work for which the profits were thus artificially rigged upwards were for the corporation, the prisons, school board, the Poor Law Union and the electoral registrar. If a firm quoted contrary to the employers’ agreement, as Messrs Walker and Sons’ did for a corporation contract, then expulsion from the DMPA followed. [270] Apart from these regular contracts, periodic meetings of the estimating committee took place to consider the prices to be quoted for sudden contracts. One for example, for the Gas Company, was considered at a meeting of key DMPA members at Bemrose’s in 1904. [271]
True to their word, the members of the Derby TA did not come back on the minimum rate until 1907, when an application for a 2/- increase was put forward. [272] Meeting jointly a week later with the employers, the men argued that something had to be done for “coal, food, education all cost more”. [273] The masters offered 1/- as an increase and this was taken to the men. Unless someone backed off, a showdown in the industry was inevitable. The printing unions must have been very conscious that their localised system of bargaining had been out-manoeuvred by the formation of Master Printers’ Associations in every town and the subsequent national and regional linking up of these bodies. One employer had bitterly complained at a DMPA meeting that the men “use one town as a lever against another”. [274]
In consequence of just this style of bargaining, the employers in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham brought together their Master Printers’ Associations to try to resist a general demand for a 2/- increase in 1907. This was much to the regret of the local TA officials. At a joint union / management meeting on June 21st 1907, the Derby TA secretary Henry Wells said that “when we asked for 2/- we meant it. We didn’t ask for a larger sum, with the hope of getting something less.” [275] The three master associations faced that year’s negotiations with the benefit of their joint expertise and the unions found the rather simplistic negotiating responses adopted in the 1899-90 wage claim no longer very effective. The union took the offer of 1/- to their members and at a mass meeting of the Derby TA, on June 22nd, out of a total branch membership of 208, there were 45 rejecting the offer and 108 who voted for it. With this settlement, a new wage of 34/- was thus established.
The experience of these wage claims were not lost on the men. The 1909 TA national annual conference stimulated a discussion at the Derby branch that concluded that the “men were much better organised than the masters”. While at the DMPA there was much acid criticism of the offensive “tone of the speeches” at the Derby report back meeting. During the course of 1909, the employers began to show signs of toughening their outlook under the chairmanship of Colonel W Wright Bemrose JP. There was much concern that the proceedings of the DMPA be kept secret. Perhaps there was a suspicion that some of the master printers with small businesses, by virtue of their strong regard for the craft had more in common with their workers than the giants of the industry. At any rate, it is clear that the large capitalist printing firms decided to stand closer together.
Both the Derby Daily Telegraph and the Derby Daily Express affiliated to the DMPA in 1909, bringing much needed muscle to the employers’ organisation. The DMPA operated not only as a price-fixing ring and as a counter to the unions; it also operated as a mutual protection association against customers. On the proposition of Mr Knight the DMPA decided to “issue periodically a black list of customers” [276], presumably bad debtors. There was however, some fear of libel so while the black list was agreed to; it was decided not to put the list in writing because it would be risky in legal terms to do so. [277] Late in 1910, the Typographical Association decided to establish a national set of terms and conditions of employment suitable to itself. This ambition was much to the annoyance of the masters, who debated the specifics of the TA’s aims at length. The DMPA noted the TA’s resolutions on this with their own comments. [278]
New TA rules and resolutions                            DMPA decision and view
“That machine men be members                       Does not seriously affect
of the association                                                   Derby … Disagree
Platers Number of men to work
restricted to size of machines                            Disagree
Man to work not more than two
cylinders                                                                   Agree
Wages A little extra on Quad
machines, say 1/- or 1/6d                                      Agree
Ditto A little extra on
machines with Auto Feeders                              Agree
Nightshifts 20% extra                                            Disagree
Conciliation                                                              Disagree with men’s contention
Rule 40 Maximum 52 hours                                 Do not feel very strongly but inclined
Ditto wages minimum 30/-                                    to favour this rule
Indicators                                                                 Object to new Rule very strongly
Hours overtime 12 hours                                     Agree but prefer monthly average
(with exceptions)
Ditto overtime 8 hours                                          Disagree
Apprentices compo                                   We have no objections to the table given
Ditto  machinemen                                                 The list must be improved
Aged Employees A suggestion was made that a concession be asked for from the Printing Trades Federation as to employees who are past their best days.”
Of even more concern to the employers was the determination of the workers to achieve a shorter working week. The DMPA decided to stand firm when it had become clear that the print union was determined to press for a reduction in the working week, in addition to the observance of its new ‘rules’. The DMPA agreed to a “strike or lock­out in support of the present hours”. Only Basford, for the local press, demurred, arguing that as a “newspaper publisher he must preserve freedom of action”. [279] Throughout the North and the Midlands the employers created a working alliance to resist the demands of their workers. Earlier that year the DMPA had considered, but not acted upon, a suggestion that they join the national employers’ federation. However, this failure to act was rectified in January 1911. Paralleling this development, amongst the print workers themselves, there was much activity that culminated in the establishment of a body that united all sectors of the industry. The Derby and District Printing and Kindred Trades Federation immediately called a mass meeting, after it had been set up to demand the reduction of the basic week to 48 hours. [280] Everywhere, the employers decided to stand firm and the DMPA agreed to lock out the local men whenever called to do so by the employers’ federation. [281] However, this never became necessary. Throughout the early part of the year the pressure was kept up and a compromise agreement on 51 hours as the basic working week became operative in mid-May. [282]
The print unions maintained strong control over their trade and it is significant, during the course of the militant 1911 railway strike, that the DMPA was eager to urge a government inquiry into the operation of the 1906 Trades Disputes Act. For the printing industry did not escape the general trend to industrial militancy in this period. Even so, membership of the union was seen as in itself a mark of craft ability. A master printer, Mr Pike, reported to the DMPA that his foreman wanted to resign from the TA but that the union’s EC would not let him do so, as it would then be a “Rat Shop” if his resignation were allowed. [283]
The partial settlement of 1911 had not resolved the problems of the industry. In March 1913 the Printing and Kindred Trades Federation in Derby put a request in for an advance all round of 3/- on the basic and improvements in overtime, taking the first three hours of extra time to 25% above the normal rate and the next three after that to 50% above. Saturday working would attract the same time-and-a-half premium, if the claim were met. The DMPA point blank refused to meet these demands, pointing out that there had been an advance in 1907. [284] The Leicester, Derby and Nottingham Master Printers’ Associations held a joint meeting to agree on a united front, as had been decided would be the case, in 1907, when faced with future wages claims. The Derby print workers asked for a 3/- increase, while in Leicester 3/6d was demanded. However, the DMPA declared its interest in maintaining the Derby differential of 1/- to 1/6d below the other two main East Midland towns. The employers agreed a joint pact across the three towns. Firstly, not to recognise the Printing and Kindred Trades Federation and to deal individually with each society. Secondly, to keep the industry in Nottingham out of any potential conflict and, thirdly, not to concede any more than 1/- as an increase without full consultation within the regional joint committee. [285]
The workers balloted overwhelmingly to strike, seeing the employers’ refusal to meet the joint trades union committees as in itself a recognition issue. Despite the public assurances of the masters that this was not so, the confidential minute that they would not deal with the Federation belies this. Faced with such strong resistance from the workers, the Derby employers agreed to meet the representatives of the Federation and were empowered, as a last resort, to concede a 1/6d increase by the Nottingham and Leicester master printers. [286] After the masters had met the Federation and the last resort offer had been put to the mass meetings of union members, it was clear that even this had been rejected by the workers and an immediate embargo on overtime was imposed. The masters fulminated against this “absolutely illegal action” and refused to meet the workers’ representatives until the embargo was removed. The dispute was by no means confined to the traditional male, unionised print workers. There were not only compositors, stereotypers and binders involved, but also machine minders, assistants, warehousemen and female general operatives. Indeed, the “Women’s Branch” of the trade protested to the DMPA that they should not “ignore their Trades Union”. [287]
The masters had resolved to stand firm but, as the newspaper employers had been specifically excluded from the DMPA resolution calling for employer resistance, it came as a great disappointment to the masters when the Express granted the full 3/-to their operatives in Derby. (The Derby newspaper proprietors finally formally withdrew from the DMPA in 1917.) Despite the set-back, the DMPA prepared for strike breaking and Wright Bemrose informed all the masters that he could “give the members the names of some London Non-Union Houses (printing firms), who would be glad to help”. [288] But it proved unnecessary, for within days a meeting with the Derby P&KTF had been set up to achieve a settlement of the dispute. The employers recorded that they had seen “the power of collective bargaining, as we have never seen it before. Each Delegate on the men’s’ side supported the others, and refused to accept any settlement to which they were not parties.” As for the employers, the Leicester and Nottingham masters left the Derby MPA alone to “fight its own battles”. [289]
It was totally clear to the employers that they potentially faced utter defeat. The last nail was hammered into the coffin, when the executive of the Warehousemen and Cutters Society (which included the special women’s branch) threatened total strike action. Bemrose, as chairman of the DMPA tried to isolate all other trades from the union, getting the masters to all agree that strike notices had been handed in without proper consultation of the P&KTF and asking the men to “stand by the masters”. [290] The stratagem worked to some extent, but only slowly. Arguments between unions and the employers pressed on for two months but, in the end, a compromise acceptable to both was reached, It had however been a distressing time for the masters. The print unions had not only broken out of the shackles of narrow craft interest, adopting the tactics of a full-blooded trade union. The craft societies had also allied themselves not to the masters but to other workers – the non-skilled, and women as well. Some disunity had set in at the end but the general experience must have severely perturbed the masters.
From herein, the P&KTF continued to act as a focus for local bargaining between the major printing employers and unions representing typecasters, stereotypers, bookbinders and typographers. [291] An agreement on rates for the various trades was arrived at only in January 1914, almost a year after the argument had first begun. [292]
Occupational Group                     Wage
Compositors                                    35/6d (36/- from July 1914)
Machine Operators                         12 1/2% above compositors
Stereotypers                                    36/6d (37/- from July 1914)
Stereotypers’ Assistants             23/-
Binders and Rulers                        33/6d
Lithe Machine Minders                 36/-
Warehousemen, Cutters etc       an increase of 1/6d
Females                                             day work rates: from 4/6d to 13/6d depending on
                                                             service, piecework: a 10% increase
Moreover, all workers gained on overtime, as the premium was increased to time-and-a-quarter for the first three and a half hours and time-and-a-half thereafter. Sunday work would be paid at double time. Such premia began to become common. In the spring of 1913, the National Union of Paper Mill Workers won a dispute against Olive and Partington Ltd of Glossop. The workers attended a rapturous meeting at the ILP hail there, to hear that their demand for time-and-a-half for overtime working after 1 pm on Saturday had been conceded.
vii) The Gas and General Labourers’ Union
The 1890s was the decade of the unskilled general labourer, as far as trade unionism was concerned. The roots of the present day large general workers unions like the GMB and the TGWU lie firmly in the spread of unionism in this era. The successful strike of London dockworkers stimulated others to follow their example. The dockworkers union laid the basis for the TGWU, while the rising strength of gas workers would play an important part in the development of the Gas and General Labourers’ Union, which began by organising gas workers and then spread to other general workers. It was this body that provided the genesis for the GMB. Separate gas workers unions had initially been formed in key areas and, by August 1889, the unrest had spread to Derby. [293]
Stokers, firemen and others at Litchurch and George Street Gas Works put forward a thirteen point demand in November 1889, most of which was conceded. It was the first sign of an awakening of the general labourer in Derby. The core base of the G&GLU in gas would enable it to spread to other industries in the county – in particular the quarrying industry in North-West Derbyshire – still a significant base for the GMB. Derbyshire quarries were all privately owned and operated as an almost feudal enterprise. One contemporary of those times, Norman Gratton recalled how it was in 1982, shortly before his death at a very advanced age. [294] Workers had to sign annual indentures that bound them to specific quarries. Like lead miners before them, quarry workers were often small farmers paid by the tonnage worked and not by the hour. Explosives had to be paid for out of their earnings and were bought from the employer. Naturally, in these circumstances, unionisation would only be conceded after a bitter struggle. Gratton recalled a two week strike taking place about 1897, the first action by Derbyshire quarry workers. The local leader was Tom Hartle who had already been victimised for organising G&GLU membership in the quarries after having worked at Peak Dale.
There was more action in 1901, when two thousand quarrymen took strike action. The men refused to sign the usual annual contracts on their renewal date due to the “obnoxious conditions” they had to suffer. A mass meeting was held at the Oddfellows Hall in Buxton at which the then District Secretary of the G&GLU was the main speaker. This was J R Clynes, who went on to become a Labour MP and was Labour Home Secretary from 1929 to 1931. A main contention of the men was the appalling record of accidents that might otherwise had been avoided, given a more serious intention on the part of the employers. At the beginning of 1901, such an instance was recorded when a man was severely injured at the Cawdor quarries of W E Constable and Co near Matlock Bridge Railway station, after he fell the whole length of the rock face along with several tons of rock. Another had his leg broken when repairing a rock crusher. [295] The resolution of the dispute, largely to the favour of the men, opened up a new arena of organisation for the union in North Derbyshire in the important mineral extraction industry.
Gas workers continued to be the main base for the union however. A relatively settled relationship was established, so that when the thirty members of the Ripley branch of the G&GLU held their annual dinner at the Cock Hotel in November 1904, they could be replete in the knowledge that their union had a firm foothold in the gas industry. [296] With this base, the union sought to expand further. Despite the activities of the Stove and Grate workers in Belper, the very nature of the union did not give it exclusive control over the unionisation of that town (see later section). The G&GLU therefore sought to exploit the vacuum thus created. As we have already seen, the union tried to make headway in the Milford mills of English Sewing Cotton. There were also attempts to organise the light foundry industry in that area. In 1906 Will Thorne, MP for West Ham and founder of the G&GLU, attended a meeting in Belper called by the union at the Cross Keys Inn. Thorne and Tom Jones, the local secretary, had been handling problems at Park Foundry. Significantly, the threat of industrial action was averted by a negotiated settlement.
A few months later, another meeting with Thorne was held, this time in Ilkeston, where a presentation was made to mark his election to Parliament. S Bostock of Ilkeston SDF presented the memento, complaining that the Bennerley branch of the union was not active, whilst its members were working 12 hours a day. The union began to establish itself in this area and it maintained a significant base for many decades at the Stanton and Staveley iron and steel works. A trade society had been established at the works well before 1868 but general workers did not have a union until the G&GLU won membership around the turn of the century. Will Thorne had tried to organise the Staveley ironworks labourers in 1899. Taking advantage of a boom situation, he wrote to the company asking for a 10% rise for furnace men. At first, the company refused to even meet him but offered a 5% rise. Eventually, due to the determination of the men to have Will Thorne involved, they were to win 7.5% in negotiations led by him. [297] It was a magnificent beginning and, no doubt, strongly influenced many other workers to join this union. The Ilkeston branch started with five members, three of whom had never missed a meeting up to 1905. By 1901, there were still only twenty members but the next few years would be a decisive period in the union’s growth locally.
A strike, which broke out in 1901 over proposed wages cuts at Butterley’s iron works, was eventually settled by modifying the massive cuts sought by the employers. Enginemen were to get 4s 9d a day, stokers a pound a week for a twelve hour day on shifts. Furnace men had to accept a 5% reduction. [298] The most important development to emerge from the strike was the establishment of a conciliation board for the blast furnaces in the area. Stanton, Riddings, Butterley, Bestwood and Denby were all brought into a new system of negotiations, whereby the intention was to avoid disputes by linking wages to the price of pig iron.
G&GLU leader, Pete Curran proudly boasted that the Ilkeston branch had around 400 to 500 loyal members by 1905 and that, in the three years previous to that, the union had secured close to £2,000 in compensation for industrial accidents for their members unfortunate enough to sustain such. Its organisation was such that it was worthwhile for the Penryn quarrymen to visit Ilkeston in 1907 (where they were put up by the local branch), as part of their national tour for money and food to sustain them in a lengthy dispute. Despite the settlement in 1901, another dispute broke out at Butterley in 1907. Initially starting off amongst skilled fitters and turners, the strike spread to the loco men, firemen and labourers in the yards. These came out for a general increase of two shillings a week and for overtime rates over 54-hour working. However, the G&GLU pickets in effect persuaded large numbers of other workers to back them. So much so that the Boilermakers handed in a notice for an increase of a similar nature; possibly this was however more to do with retaining a differential in case the G&GLU succeeded. A sudden, but partial, settlement was attained when the loco men got a is 6d increase, skilled men took a full 2/-, while cranes men and labourers got a shilling rise – taking them to the magical figure of one pound a week. [299]
Despite the sweet victory, the pressure on the men’s’ wages never quite relaxed. Only three years later, Will Thorne had to revisit the area to meet dissatisfied ironworkers at the Cross Keys pub to consider what might be done about more planned reductions in wages. [300] A major dispute broke out in 1911 at Staveley’s Devonshire works, when a new manager tried to substitute piece work for the old day-rate method of payment in the pipe shops. The strike was only ended when the directors agreed to guarantee the previous level of earnings and to abolish contractors and the contract system then in operation. [301]
viii) The Workers Union
Pic: Derby Workers Union leadership with their banner
The Workers Union, which would merge with the transport based Transport and General Workers Union in 1929, established a more prominent position in Derbyshire’s wide-ranging industrial base than the G&GLU, especially in Derby itself. The TGWU before the merger was locally next to insignificant outside the bus and tram workers, but not so the WU. Tom Mann, who had been of particular help to the dockers during their historic strike, became the first President of the Workers Union -and his involvement signified the radical origins of the union. Mann was variously a member of the SDF and the ILP and was later to become a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. At this stage, he was the leading exponent of the ideas of syndicalism that was especially current from 1911 to 1913. As a revolutionary socialist, Mann welcomed the formation of the Workers Union (the name itself being significant) as an organisation which would be “a Trade Union and a Political Organisation for advancing the true interests of Labour”. [302]
Founded on May 1st 1898, the Workers Union barred no worker from its ranks and welcomed all. Only about one twentieth of all unskilled workers were unionised, so there was a tremendous reserve potential for such a body as the WU. The union was above all intended to be a political union. Mann had toyed with calling it the Labour League, initially. [303] But many socialists were sceptical at Mann’s objectives, arguing that the existing political societies filled the bill and that there was no real need for a new union. While Mann’s political hopes for the WU were unfulfilled, the union did find a mass base as a major trade union but one very different from Mann’s conception.
The ‘new’ unions of the nineties eventually became uncomfortably like the older, much criticised, unions in structure and policy. Indicative of this was the leadership that began to emerge in control of the new union. One of the three initiating national officials of the WU was one Charles Duncan. He had been a skilled engineering worker in Middlesborough and an ASE sponsored candidate in the 1906 election at Barrow-on-Furness, and was later to become one of Derbyshire’s Labour MPs. Duncan was instrumental in turning the WU towards just the very things which it had initially been contemptuous of, especially the benevolent nature of the ‘coffin-club’ societies of some skilled workers.
The dread of not having a proper funeral was a common and serious concern to many ordinary people. But there were real dangers for a union which sought to popularise itself on the basis of providing generous welfare benefits of all kinds. A stable and high level of membership was needed. Much as a contemporary insurance society takes great care of how many and what kind of insurees it underwrites, so ought a union consider the benefits offered through its membership contributions. In many ways, the provision of high benevolent benefits was at once the reason for the WU’s ability to thrive beyond its first years and the actual cause of its eventual forced merger with the TGWU, an act that finally averted bankruptcy.
The WU did not progress at all well at the beginning, being almost exclusively based in London. It was only after Mann had departed from the country for a spell that the union began to take on the shape of a pale imitation of the ‘coffin-club’ craft unions. An entirely new system of benefits came in. The generosity of these naturally began to usher in a new wave of recruits. Consider the benefits against the contributions recorded on the 1905 membership card:
·        Strike Pay – 10/- a week (an extra 3d quarterly contribution gave 12/6d)
·        Accident Benefit – 10/- a week (for the first and second week of illness)
·        Total Disablement Grant – £20
·        Victimisation Pay – 54 days at 1/6d a day for dismissed activists
·        Sick Pay (optional extra) – for 3d a week a maximum of 10/- for 20 weeks down to a minimum of 3/6d for 5 weeks was payable
·        Out-of-work Fund (optional) – for 3d a week 10/- for 6 weeks, or 5/- for 4 weeks Funeral Benefits – of between £3 and £9 depending on age at joining for the death of a member. The death of a wife – from £2 to £4.
All this for payments of only 3d a week to the general fund and only 1/- entrance fee. From 1905 onwards, Duncan dominated the WU and his style of leadership was, given the course the upon which the union had embarked, utterly obsessed with the union’s finances. Nevertheless, it was a grim approach to trades unionism.
Only as late as 1905 was a branch of the WU opened in Derbyshire, the initiative emerging out of a dispute in which a Derby company pressed for a substantial reduction in wages. Due to the ferocious resistance given to this demand, only a tiny, almost minimal, reduction was registered and the whole dispute proved to be the spark that began the organisation of the WU in Derby and subsequently the county. However, there was only moderate enthusiasm for the union and the branch did not really take off for another six years. [304] Not that the WU did not try to make headway in the town. R E Stokes, the local organiser of the union, announced at a meeting of the Trades Council in Derby in June 1906 that the WU general secretary, Duncan, was “coming to do some organising work for the WU”. [‘305] The success of the visit remains unrecorded, perhaps in itself eloquent testimony to the ineffectiveness of such an approach. Certainly some hint of desperation is reflected, a year later, when the Trades Council decided in June 1907 to help the National Federation of Caretakers to set up a branch in Derby. Stokes objected strongly to such a proposition, because he thought that caretakers ought to be members of the WU. [306]
The union was doing much better in the area around Burton-on-Trent, especially in South Derbyshire. Clay-getters and yard labourers in the pipe works around Swadlincote were organised by the WU towards the end of the first decade of the new century. [307] This base widened enormously after a dispute, characterised by intense militancy, won significant wages advances. The yard men won rises of 5/- a week and the WU membership rose to some 800 out of the 2,800 employed locally in the industry. The success was reported in Tom Mann’s “Syndicalist’ (he had now returned from a long spell of organising in Australia). As a result of his experience, Mann urged that “increased attention be given to more organising”. [308] Joe Clarke, who had worked in Swadlincote in the clay pipe industry began full time work for the WU in 1911, based in Burton. He was to be responsible for the whole division.
In 1909, out of around 400 unskilled workers in one Midland Railway workshop, only 12 were in the WU, so clearly there was a lot of potential for the union to work on. [309] Only in 1912 did the WU emerge in a major way in Derby, when some 50 recruits were made in the railway workshops, which were still rather poorly organised, with the engineering unions being very skill conscious. One of those early recruits was to become very important both to the WU and to Derby. A young man called Herbert Arthur Hind – “Mick” to his friends – joined the union on 11th October 1912. Hind had started work at Handyside’s factory at the age of eleven. Later, working at the rail workshops and after the example of a boilermakers’ strike, he began to organise the unskilled men. He was so successful at this that, by 1917, he had been awarded a gold badge by the WU for his efforts at recruitment. He had brought in no less than a hundred new members during the course of 1916, although formal recognition would not be obtained until 1918. The solid base in engineering which people like Hind gave to the WU, filling the gap left by the skilled unions, provided the union with the lever it needed to emerge as the largest union in Derby in the years to come, after amalgamation with the TGWU in 1929. A move of some significance was when the women workers of Rickards, in Derby, joined the WU en masse in 1913. [310] It was the first effective sign of growth in an important new area of membership for the unions – women workers. One of the first examples of minimum rates for women being established in Derby was in 1914 at a firm of electrical cable manufacturers. An increase for all labourers of 4/- a week, with 2/6d for machinists, was conceded. [311]
The WU had a major dispute with the foundry firm of Leys, when some employees were dismissed simply for belonging to the union. As Stokes put it, “the firm refused recognition of the union and reinstatement of the men – some of whom had been with the firm ranging from 3 to 25 years”. [312] Despite labour movement support – Derby ASLEF agreed to support “the Leys men on strike financially” – the strike ended, technically only “temporarily.” Sharpe, the Trades Council president, bitterly referred to Sir Francis Ley’s “harsh and authoritarian treatment” of the trades unionists at his factory. [313] But, while it was not the first time Ley’s workers had tried to organise, it was also not the last. It would be another 30 years before Ley’s would finally concede defeat and accept trades unionism at the company.
ix) Distributive Workers
Shop workers were poorly organised when a Derby branch of the National Amalgamated Shop Assistants, Warehousemen and Clerks was set up in 1899. An earlier meeting of the union, held two years later at the Friar Gate Coffee Tavern, reveals some probable middle-class influence; the main speaker was the Reverend A T Talbot. It took some years before the union established a significant base in the town and county. Following some mergers, a new organisation (the Amalgamated Union of Cooperative Employees – AUCE) began to organise locally. AUCE organisers visited Bolsover, Clay Cross, Ilkeston, Clowne, Ripley and Long Eaton in 1906 to recruit Co-op employees. In 1906, Derby AUCE was able to defeat an attempt by the Derby Co-op to reduce wages with the assistance of the Trades Council. By 1912 it had 419 members and had begun a long and distinguished special relationship with the Labour Party. The union began with a major base in retail co­operatives, and it was this that enabled it to grow and establish a limited foothold in the distributive trades generally. [314]
This special relationship with the Labour Party began to be matched by a similar relationship with the Co-ops. The first signs of a link with the local Labour Party was when Labour councillors met the Derby branch of the AUCE on January 20th 1913. This was chaired by J Sawyer, the branch president, and addressed by ClIr W A Raynes. It was “one of the best meetings” the union had ever organised and resulted in a decision to affiliate to the local Labour Party. [315]
AUCE membership in Derbyshire 1903-1916
Branch           1903      1910           1916
Bolsover               5           20                 8
Chesterfield          –           31               51
Clay Cross         24           12                  –
Clowne               16              –                  –
Codnor Park         –           17               17
Derby                133        355             453
Hasland                               8                 8
Ilkeston                 9           60               52
Killamarsh             –              –               29
Langley Mill 17                 46             109
Long Eaton       55        165             316
Matlock                  –             5                 3
Pinxton                 1             8                 9
Ripley                     –        102             200
Staveley                 –          22                28
Tibshelf                 1             9
TOTAL              245       ‘ 876          1,283
X) Corporation Employees
Public service workers were not just badly unionised, they simply were not organised at all. Tramway workers were only just beginning to flex their muscles. One, J Sutton, vigorously protested in a speech “against the petty tyranny to which the Tramway workers were subjected”. They were paid savagely low wages. In a publicly circulated poster, proclaiming the position of their workers, the corporation said that drivers earned 4/- a day, while conductors got between 2/7d and 3/- a day. T Taylor, the Lib-­Lab candidate in Litchurch ward in the 1901 local elections, preferred to put it another way. Conductors got 22/-, drivers 27/-, both for a 90 hour week, whereas a town like Huddersfield gave the same pay for a 48 hour week. [316]
Tramway workers in Derby were certainly organised to some extent around the turn of the century. There were .several potential bodies to join, in Derby the choice was the Amalgamated Association of Tramway and Vehicle Workers, which was based in Manchester and popularly called the “blue button” union after its insignia. (Another, London based, body was dubbed the “red button” union.) The Derby branch of the blue buttons was certainly in existence in 1906, when it first affiliated to the Trades Council in Derby. Along with other unions, it was prominent in the National Transport Workers Federation, which itself was a key component in the setting up of the Transport and General Workers Union in 1922. The union had a base at Ilkeston, where wages were cut to 41/od an hour by the Town Council in 1907, stimulating much interest in the need for political representation of working people to counter such activities.
The poor working conditions of tram workers were paralleled amongst the rest of the municipal employees. Generally, the only paid holiday in the entire year was Christmas Day, there was no sick pay, pension or superannuation scheme. While that was not necessarily unusual for manual workers, the long hours and poor pay which was the particular lot of the corporation worker certainly was out of the ordinary. The daytime ash cart drivers (i.e. refuse vehicles) for the Sanitary Department of the borough were day labourers, getting only between 3/6d and 3/1 0d a day in the best part of the year – the summer time – when they could work long hours. The carters, or horse-drawn commercial vehicle drivers, and their mates at the Highways Department worked a 61 hour 30 minute week. Skilled workers at the Highways Department fared somewhat better. Hours varied from 40 to 56 according to the weeks in the year, with summer hours being longer. Wages were quite high for the skilled worker, for the authority had to compete for labour with the private building. firms and this higher rate of pay tended to rub off on their labourers:
Trade                                 Hourly Rate
Masons                             8 1/2d
Paviors                             7 1/2d to 8 1/2d
Masons Labourers        5 1/4d to 5 1/2d
Paviors Labourers         S 1 /4d to 5 1 /2d
This meant that masons could earn over 7/- a day, while their labourers could pick up 4/7d, considerably better than other unskilled corporation labourers.
The established building unions all sought to recruit corporation employees and there was also a specifically Derby orientated paviors society. A branch of the Municipal Employees Association (a precursor of the later National Union of Public Employees – NUPE – now subsumed within today’s Unison) was setup in Derby in 1901, but all the general unions began to seek membership as well.
xi)   Stove and Grate Workers
More than 200 workers employed at John Smedley’s Park Foundry, a stove and grate works, joined the recently organised National Union of Stove Grate Workers (NUSGW) in 1890. (The fore-runner of today’s National Union of Domestic Appliance and General Metal Workers.) The union had been founded by men who had been refused admission into the skilled craft unions, because they were only semi-skilled.
Its first base had been established that February in Rotherham and its first leader was Councillor Haydn Sanders. He had been elected as an SDF candidate in Walsall, probably one of the first avowedly socialist councillors in the whole country, and may have been sympathetic to William Morris’s Socialist League breakaway from the SDF. Sanders had moved to Rotherham on a recruitment drive for the American organisation, the Knights of Labour, which for a brief time had something of a base in the Black Country. Sanders had been able to engage in revolutionary activities by virtue of being in business on his own account in Walsall in a small way. This resulted in his being excluded from the TUC in 1891 by a new rule, which insisted that only those who had been at some time in their lives bona-fide working men could attend Congress. Initial support for the US organisation was now fading and Sanders had shifted roles to assist in the formation of the NUSGW.
As a general union, the NUSGW had poor relations with the craft bodies which already organised in this and other sectors, but it found a niche. Within a few months the NUSGW had established itself in eight towns, including Derby and Belper. The Union really took off in Belper in 1890 after a major dispute flared up when, on hearing of the union’s recruitment of workers in his own firm, John Smedley sacked the key officers of the NUSGW branch. The president, J Blount, the secretary, G Ward, and the treasurer, H Turner, were all dismissed. At first they were given notice of severe wage reductions personally but, when that failed to produce their desired resignations, notice to quit was given to them. A public notice was issued on 21st July:
“All workmen … dissatisfied with his work, wages or masters can by bringing his tools have his money without the usual noticewe reserve the right to dismiss anyone at a moments noticewe declare ours a non-union shop and under no circumstances will we employ a union man.” [317]
A declaration of war had been uttered, and the town set itself ready to engage in battle. The entire labour force came out on strike, making demands not only for union recognition and the reinstatement of the dismissed men but also for a 10% increase in wages and the withdrawal of the threat of wages cuts. Led by a band, the workers marched to Belper Market Place. Over 2,000 people listened to speeches from Blount and Sanders. The streets were crowded for hours with excited workers from all sorts of employment backgrounds, furious at Smedley’s high-handedness.
John Smedley, as a prominent Liberal, had in the past gone on record as supporting the idea of workmen combining to advance their interests. But only in other industries like mining, not in his own firm it seemed! The local NUSGW branch was actually stunned by Smedley’s actions, they had actually believed in his apparently progressive outlook. Such a background to the dispute tended to ensure a massive public sympathy for the strikers. A week passed and Smedley declared he would never open his factory again, while the union made an appeal for funds which received a “liberal response”. The men met during the day, every day, at the Rose and Crown, where they cheerfully played games and entertained themselves with music. Only one labourer, together with a foreman, reported for work on the Monday of the second week. All others remained solid and no work was actually done at the factory. When the solitary strike breaking labourer went home for his mid-day meal he was followed by several hundred women and children, all ringing bells, beating pans and tins from the kitchen in contempt at what they rather old-fashionedly called the “black sheep”. The event was redolent of the Derby Turnout of just over five decades before, within the life memory of Belper’s oldest citizens.
At 11 am on that second Monday, the Liberal link with the miners was exploited when W Harvey, the assistant secretary of the DMA, arrived by train at Belper accompanied by Sanders of the NUSGW. They both went to discuss the dispute with Smedley and later that day, in the afternoon, a meeting of the men was held. Harvey spoke to them in his capacity as a ‘third party’, offering the basis of a settlement. He had strongly rejected Smedley’s suggestion, that some men take a wage cut to provide an increase for others, and had insisted on the strikers’ terms being met. Smedley was however unmoved by Harvey’s involvement and the dispute continued, with attitudes hardening. The area was dominated by the strike, Belper was “crowded with visitors from the surrounding villages … (when) … it had got abroad that 3 men who had turned blacklegs … were to be represented by effigies and were either to be burned or buried”. A mock funeral card was printed:
“In Remembrance of
G. DAYLIGHT, A. WINDSON & HAY CROFTER who were faithful wage slaves on the Park Plantation, & at the time of coming out on strike, July 26, one was submitting to discount of 25% in the £ from his wages.”
Enormous crowds of people turned out to support a procession of some 200 strikers which marched from their clubhouse, the Rose and Crown, carrying effigies in long orange boxes. The supporting crowd was “supposed to number about 10,000 persons”. Meanwhile, Sanders had written to the textile magnate, F Strutt, hoping that he would intervene to suggest arbitration to Smedley:
“Albert Street
 Belper August 7th 1890
Dear Sir, – I am strongly requested by the stove-grate workers on strike here to draw your attention to the matter, and to solicit a candid expression of opinion from you, on the question. I enclose you various printed information, and shall be pleased to supply any further particulars that lie in my power.
H. Sanders
Maybe this struck a chord, more likely it was well timed, for three weeks into the strike John Smedley replied to Strutt, who had proposed arbitration. “We cannot for a moment allow arbitration on the question as to whether we shall manage our business or not and the 10% advance we really cannot afford to give … They insist on every man who has stuck to us being instantly dismissed; they insist on appointing the foremen. We should not have power to discharge a single workman … without the consent of Mr Sanders … WE SHALL NEVER OPEN OUR DOORS TO MR SANDERS AND HIS UNION RULES.” [318]
Sanders denied that he had ever asked for such powers, the company’s arguments were a great distortion of what was intended. He reasoned that the workers merely sought a measure of fair play in the matter of discipline, whilst the company desired to retain its absolute dictatorial powers. Thus, it is clear that, whatever the gloss each side put on it, in every sense the dispute was about management’s ‘right to manage’. The demand for a 10% advance was merely the icing on the cake, although it was a serious demand. The Rotherham and Ecclesfield stove and grate employers had already conceded this. For all of Smedley’s belligerence, there had to be a settlement sooner or later. He had made the greatest mistake that any employer or union can do in a dispute – one should never say ‘never’! Smedley had made it an absolute condition of a settlement that the union be smashed, he would never recognise the union, never allow any form of negotiations, even on pain of closing down the firm. Such an approach simply united the workforce and won them public sympathy in a close knit community.
Eventually, Smedley had to climb down and a settlement conceding every one of the men’s’ demands was reached. Summing up the situation after the strike, the Alfreton and Belper Journal commented as follows: “The men are altogether in a much sounder and firmer position now that they have already won the battle … Several men who had turned black legs have re-joined the Union and left the Park Foundry, and there are now only a few hands left in. These are receiving … as much as 20 per cent more than they were before the Foundry men joined the NSGW and Missers Smedley forced the strike. Never were a body of men more united, and the support they are receiving from the Trades Unions of the country makes them very cheerful indeed.” Work was resumed in September, with full re-instatement agreed, along with the 10% increase. The only flaw in an otherwise fulsome victory was a last minute hitch over the re-instatement of the secretary and treasurer of the branch. A more important consequence arose when Herbert Strutt, despite sending a £25 donation to the fund, was accused of not offering sufficient support, a fact which undermined his political base.
Despite the fact that the existence of the union had been conceded, it was not to be long before further confrontation ensued. By 1892 Smedley had begun to undermine union organisation at the foundry in a petty way. He had not bothered about union notices put up at the company since the return to work, but now refused permission for this because, as Sanders put it, he “would not allow his glue to be used to stick up the notices”. More seriously, this was followed by cutting the wages of everyone by 10% unilaterally. A meeting of Derby NUSGW members was held, at the Masons Arms in Albion Street, to consider the situation in Belper. Sanders reminded the men that they ought recollect “that the Park Foundry at Belper had sprung from a very small shop indeed … and … that the Smedleys were once little better off than some of them”. [319] The meeting took the view that not one cut could be tolerated in the 18 company employers’ federation and that the whole 1,500 membership of the union should pledge itself to back the Belper men. Not only was the meeting opposed to cuts, it was against a sliding scale of wages based on selling prices. There were two Derby companies which were potentially to be affected by any solidarity action -Jobson Bros. and Russell and Sons. The biggest firm in Derby was Jobson’s and it was here that the employers acted to break the district’s solidarity. In 1893, a major dispute broke out there. Picketing was especially vigorous, for the company brought strike breakers from Birmingham to their Derwent Foundry.
In June, a legal case against Sanders was dismissed, amidst loud cheers in court from his supporters. A non-unionist called Stevenson who was employed at the works had summonsed Sanders for following him and annoying him with a view to preventing him from working. Fortunately for himself, Sanders was able to convince the magistrates that the picketing carried out by himself was within the law. [320] The men had been out for nine weeks, when a massive rally of 2,000 heard Ben TiIIett, the dockers’ leader, praise the determination of the men, who in the end were able to extract an honourable compromise, the respect of their employer and an intact trade union organisation on their return to work. [321] The union maintained its dominance of the unskilled sections of the light foundry industry in this area until modern times, although the style of bargaining became much cosier.
xii) Coach building
Even quite small trade union branches were able to maintain fairly efficient and prosperous existences, as is exemplified by the accounts of the Chesterfield lodge of the United Kingdom Society of Coachmakers (UKSC – the fore-runner to the National Union of Vehicle Builders, today part of the T&G’s Vehicle Building and Automotive Trade Group). With only 19 members, it was able to end the year November 1892 to November 1893 with over £78 in hand. Something like £32 in contributions had been taken and expenses were quite low. Fourteen travelling brothers had been granted relief, costing a total of £2 is 9d, stationery at over £5, rent of the club-room at a pound and the “salaries” of branch officers totalling over £3, were the most expensive items of administration.
The Derby lodge had 76 members at this time but had only about £22 in hand. There had been more expenditure on benevolent matters. Over £75 in superannuation, £42 in funeral expenses and over £13 on sickness payments had all obviously depleted the branch’s resources. [322] 21 travellers had had relief, the stationery bill was £65, committee “salaries” almost £13- all testifying to an obviously higher level of activity than in the Chesterfield branch, where the state of trade was variously described as “moderate” to “good” over the period. The Derby branch was actually gaining in strength at this time, as trade in the railway workshops expanded. Apart from a “depressed” or “slack” report in 1903, trade was generally reported as stable or “good”.
Derby UKSC membership     Chesterfield UKSC membership [323]
1896          67                                                             19
1900          91                                                             18
1905       104                                                             18
Much of the traditional character of the old craft union was evident in the UKSC. The benefit side of its activities was more important to it than much else. The union’s journal provided in minute detail every issue of interest in this respect. For example, a coach painter, Thomas Whewell, a UKSC member since 1868 and who lived at 254 Normanton Road, Derby, had to provide no less than seven certificates of one kind or another to be certain of union benefits. All of which was published in the journal verbatim! Three doctors from the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, E D Dingle BA MB BS, C Collin Green and N Benthall MB, certified that Whewell was suffering from “paralysis of the right side” after an “apoplectic seizure”. Moreover he had “only one eye and that is not a good one”. In the opinion of the doctors, he would “not be able to work at his trade again”. [324]
With a new type of member, occasioned by the introduction of new techniques in the trade, the union began to assume more of the character of a bargaining trade union. The presidents’ addresses in the reports over the 1905-1910 period show a marked change in emphasis over the value of benefits paid and available. The new technologies and changed market requirements actually caused a slight decline in the union’s membership from a peak in the first decade of the new century:
Derby UKSC membership    Chesterfield UKSC membership [325]
1909         104                       17
1910           76                       14
1911           74                       14
1912           77                       14
Faced with this dilemma the UKSC had to remodel itself. It began to copy some of the organisational and policy stances of the new unions. The UKSC would emerge from the war years as the revamped National Union of Vehicle Builders. Strengthened and renewed thus, it would be noted for militancy and an extremely democratic outlook.
xiii) Agriculture
While a resurrected agricultural labourers’ union nationally made gains in the latter part and earlier parts of the 19th and 20th centuries respectively, no organisation in Derbyshire was at all evident until after the First World War. This, despite the fact that there were 7,672 agricultural labourers recorded in Derbyshire in 1886. [326] Labour market pressures in the county exercised a strong competition from the mining and textiles industries pushing up farm labours’ pay. Weekly earnings in Derbyshire rose from 15s 6d in the late 1860s to 19s lid in 1898, a markedly better position than in the rest of the Midlands, which saw rates rise from 14s ld to 17s 10d in the same period. Derbyshire farm labourers were paid as high as 20% above those in Worcestershire, for example. The average weekly wage of agricultural labourers in the county rose only is 2d above the then figure of 17s 6d in the twelve years from 1898. [327]
xiv)           Baking
The Amalgamated Operative Bakers and Confectioners Society had a Derby branch from at least 1895, as revealed at its annual dinner in 1906 by Harfield and Sims, the branch secretary and district delegate respectively. [328] The union experienced one major dispute in this period, in 1899. The usual quarterly meeting of Derby Co-op which met in the Drill Hall on Friday May 19th 1899 considered the refusal of the thirteen DCS bakers “at the eleventh hour to make (hot) cross buns” for Easter. The concern of the bakers’ appears to have been the unusually early start that would have been required. They indicated that they were prepared to do the work given “a few hours rest after finishing bread making and before going on with the buns”. Although the local management claimed that this proposal had not been made.
The Co-op dismissed the men, the manager believing it to be an issue of whether “the 13 bakers, or the committee elected by the members should be given the business of the society”. The membership of the Co-op supported the actions of the officers and committee by a vote of two to one, with 1,273 members voting in all. Appeals to do otherwise by officials of the union, Messrs Nansen and Selvey, were thus ignored by the majority.
The Derby branch of the Bakers’ Union never really played a significant role in the local labour movement, preferring to keep very much to itself. A major problem for the industry, arising out of the nature of bread production then, was the tremendously long hours worked. It was something that was eventually much alleviated by legislation. It was on this issue that the union often sought the support of the movement and the public at large. An open-air meeting was held at the Market Place in Derby in 1911 with the aim of winning sympathy for the Bill, then currently before Parliament, limiting working hours in the trade. Examples of men working 88 hours a week for 20/- or 22/-were quoted. [330]
xv) Pottery workers
Derby had a long history of pottery production, particularly in the chinaware field. Unionism had fluctuated throughout the nineteenth century but was all but non­existent in the county as the new century dawned. A local potters’ trade society was founded in Chesterfield in 1899 with 58 members, but it was dissolved within two years. [331] More successful was the Hollowware and Sanitary Pressers Society (HSPS), which had nine branches – mostly in Stoke-on-Trent – at the turn of the century. Organisation of unions in factories making sanitary pipes paralleled the unionisation of the clay pipe industry in South Derbyshire, generally. A lodge of the HSPS was established in Swadlincote at least by 1900, when a merger with another society created the Amalgamated Society of Hollowware and Sanitary Pressers, Mouldmakers and all Clay Potters in the UK – a bit of a mouthful perhaps! It was the first key amalgamation in the industry since the early part of the nineteenth century,
By 1905, a new lodge at Langley Mill was opened and there were several hundred members in Derbyshire out of the 1,800 total union membership. The following year the Printers’ and Transferers’ Society, together with the China Potters, joined up to make the biggest pottery union since 1830. The new union took the title of The National Amalgamated Society of Male and Female Pottery Workers. A major dispute involving the new union developed at Lovatt and Lovatt, a Langley Mill bottle works in 1906. A large meeting on the dispute was held in the locality, Walter Keir presided and Councillor H Bassford, of the Ilkeston (Hosiery) Union spoke, along with officials of the potters’ union An offer from the employers to settle the dispute was accepted by the meeting on the condition that there should be: (a) no prejudice against the men or the union after a return to work and (b) that all the men were to be started back at the same time. However, as six potters’ wheels were to be discontinued, six men would have to accept lower skilled work and therefore lower wages of from £1 to £1 5s for a short while, until the firm could regain lost orders. The workers decided to accept this, provided that no new bottle makers would be employed until old hands had been taken back at their old skilled rate of pay. [332]
Following this success, the union was able to establish a branch at the Denby Pottery works, after a meeting had been held at the White Lion Hotel. The union soon had 17 branches nationally, including several in Derbyshire. The county formed an electoral division within the union for the purposes of electing the executive and had 672 members in lodges in Chesterfield, Langley Mill, Denby, Derby and Swadlincote. Nationally the union had 6,060 male and 1,030 female union members and was, following later amalgamations, to become today’s Ceramic and Allied Trades Union (CATU)
xvi)     Professional Workers
One significant product of the late nineteenth century was the creation of a new middle strata. In 1851, those in ‘professional’ occupations were only some 2% of the population, with the commercial middle strata forming about 4%. By 1881, professional groups had tripled in relative size and the commercial strata had almost doubled. Before the crisis of the 1890s, profits rose faster than wages, so that not only unskilled workers turned to unionism as a way of extracting their share of the good life but professional workers did so as well. Especially as many of their jobs became ‘proletarianised’ by new techniques of industrialisation and mass production.
The Provincial Post Office Clerks organised in 1886 and some workers at Derby were amongst them. The National Union of Elementary Teachers was founded as early as 1860, but railway clerks (as we have seen) did not organise until 1889. It was to take another 40 years before firemen were properly organised, but as early as 1889 an organisation of a mainly professional character was in existence. Ilkeston Borough Council actually funded the travelling and other expenses of four local members of this body to the extent of 15/-, when a deputation attended an annual conference in London. [333] The society held its next annual conference attended by 100 delegates, including 10 from Ilkeston, at Leicester in April 1890.
Health workers were completely unorganised and were expected to see their job as a sacrifice for humanity. Some might say that things have changed little! However, some form of unionisation did begin to emerge in the hospitals at this time, particularly as a reaction to atrociously long hours and poor pay. The National Asylum Workers Union (later COHSE, now part of Unison) emerged after eight charge nurses from Winwick Mental Asylum met in Lancashire. The union was formally constituted in July 1910, at the end of the wave of new unionism. Average hours of general nursing staff were 84 a week and as much as 90 in mental hospitals. Female probationers got only £18 per annum – or 7/- a week. By the following year the union had 4,400 members in 44 institutions, including the Pastures Hospital in Derby, then called the Public Asylum. The effect of organisation can be judged by the fact that membership was to quadruple in nine years, while the average working week was to drop to SO hours and wages quadrupled to 27s 6d for females. [334]
The National Union of Teachers began to organise in the 1890’s in the county and had certainly well established itself by 1892. Twelve years later the union was so sufficiently developed that 27 members attended the NUT national conference as delegates from Derbyshire. [335] By 1906, the NUT had as many as 969 members according to the Derbyshire secretary, H Morrell of Nun Street School, Derby. (336] No doubt the NUT saw itself as very much a professional body, certainly the conditions of teachers then did not exercise an especially radicalising influence upon the bulk of the union’s membership. Teachers had relatively good security of employment and earnings compared very favourably with manual workers earnings. The salary of a woman teacher in 1908 in the county was £100 per annum, while a man’s salary was £140. [337]
For reasons that are not clear, the NUT’s membership in Derbyshire plummeted between 1906 and 1907 down to 358. Perhaps it was due to the union’s lack of enthusiasm for equal pay for women teachers. In 1909, the breakaway from the NUT on the issue – the National Union of Women Teachers (the latter half of today’s National Association of Schoolmasters – Union of Women Teachers) – soon established significant support in Derbyshire. The National Federation of Class Teachers held its annual conference in Derby in September 1913, perhaps due to the influence of its national vice-president, W B Steer who was a teacher in Derby and a well-known ILP activist.
The Derby Municipal Officers Guild was formed at the turn of the century for local government employees in non-manual occupations. A representative of this body was one of 14 delegates at a national conference of such societies in 1905, which led to the founding of the National Association of Local Government Officers (NALGO – now part of Unison). The first national executive of NALGO met at Derby’s Guildhall. [338]
Civil servants combined in Derby, albeit in a rather genteel way, in 1899. A mass meeting of civil servants was held at St James Hall in Derby, to “discuss the question of superannuation and deferred pay”. A pension scheme had been running for 130,000 civil servants for about 2S years, but serious grievances existed about the administration of the scheme, which was entirely funded by employee contributions – hence being “deferred pay”. One particular concern existed where a death in service took place, since the widow and family did not receive a pension, the contributions being deemed lost. A resolution calling for a parliamentary investigation into the whole affair was proposed by T Thomas the “Derby Centre Secretary” and subsequently some slow, but satisfactory, progress was recorded on this issue.
Many civil servants were in the developing communications industry and Derby was particularly strong in this regard, mainly because of its railway connections. The First Congress of the Postal and Telegraph Officials Joint Association was held in Derby in October 1899 and J Pountain of the Derby Telegraphists was in the chair. Other technical and professional workers who began to combine were the draughtsmen.
The Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen was founded in 1913 and a delegate from Derby was at the first formal conference. [339] Through a series of name changes, the union became the Technical and Supervisory Staffs union (TASS), which merged with ASTMS to form MSF, which merged with the AEEU to form amicus.
The National Union of Insurance Workers was founded in 1913, again with local support. While the Musicians Union (originally called the Amalgamated Musicians Union) was formed in Manchester in 1893, with membership mainly in theatres, music halls, concert orchestras and in silent film cinemas. Derby’s Trades Council helped to get a Musicians’ Union branch set up in 1913. [340]
1    G D H Cole “A Short History of the British Working Class Movement 1789-1947”;George Allen and Unwin (1948) p469
2    R Postgate “The Builders History” NFBTO (1923) pp343-5
3    S & B Webb “History of Trade Unionism” Longman’s Green (1902) pp413, 489
4    Derby Mercury February 27th 1895
S    Derby Mercury June 23rd 1898
6    Derbyshire Times January 17th 1903
7    Robert Barltrop ‘The Monument – the story of the SPGB” Pluto Press (1975)
      pp 11-15
8    Derby Mercury June 17th 1903
9    D Glass “Population Policies and Movements in Europe” Frank Cass (1969)
10 Derby Mercury January 31st 1908
11 Derby Mercury July 5th 1905
12 Derby Mercury June 2lst 1907
13 A Clinton “The Trade Union Rank and File – Trades Councils in Britain 1900-40” Manchester University Press (1977) p43
14 Derby Mercury May 13th 1897
15 Derby Mercury May 14th 1902
16 Derby Mercury December 20th 1907
17 G D H Cole “A Short History of the British Working Class Movement 1789-1947” George Allen and Unwin (1948) p480
18 Derby Mercury September 6th 1910
19 Derby Mercury January 20th 1911
20 Derby Mercury October 5th 1912
21 Geoff Brown “The Industrial Syndicalist’ December 1910 – reproduction by
Spokesman (1974) p 166, p189, p 304-5; Howard Evans “Our Old Nobility” Daily News, Manchester (1913) pp 63, 79, 96, 102-5, 116-9, 251-2; Information supplied by Joan Sinar, County Archivist 1982
22 Ted Brake “Men of Good Character” Lawrence and Wishart (1985) p219; Derby ASLEF minutes December 7th 1913, September 1913 (undated); Derby Trades Council Minutes January 14th 1914
23 Derby Trades Council Minutes May 10th, May 13th, June 7th, 1914
24 Engels’ letter to Sorge 12th May 1894- in “Labour Monthly” (1934) p755
      Peter Wyncoll “The Nottingham Labour Movement 1880-1 939” Lawrence and
      Wishart (1985) p86; D Marquand “Ramsay MacDonald” Cape (1977) p49
25 Laurence Thompson “Gentlemen of the Socialist Press” essay in “People for the People – radical ideas and personalities in British History” ed. D Rubinstein, Ithaca Press (1973) p174; N & J Mackenzie “The First Fabians” Quartet (1979) pp140, 214
26 Derby Mercury April 5th 1907. Derby Trader August 17th 1983.
27 J Bellamy and J Saville “Dictionary of Labour Biography” Vol II MacMillan (1974) p86;       Peter Wyncoll “The Nottingham Labour Movement 1880-1939” Lawrence and Wishart (1985) p84
28 A Clinton “The Trade Union Rank and File – Trades Councils in Britain 1900-
      1940” Manchester University Press (1977) p213
29 Ilkeston Pioneer July 31st 1891; A Clinton “The Trade Union Rank and File – Trades Councils in Britain 1900-1940” Manchester University Press (1977) p50
30 Derby Mercury September 2nd 1891
31 Derby Mercury September 30th 1891
32 W A Raynes unpublished memoirs p59
33 Derby Mercury November 18th 1891
34 Derby Mercury October 7th 1891
35 J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history”
      George Allen and Unwin (1962) p254
36 Derby Mercury November 4th 1891
37 Derby Mercury November 2nd 1892
38 Derby Mercury November 3rd 1893
39 letter dated November 7th 189S – UKSC quarterly reports
40 Derby Mercury November 7th 1894
41 ABL minutes July 13th 1894
42 Derby Mercury November 6th 189S
43 Derby Mercury January 29th 1896; Derbyshire Advertiser February 7th 1958
44 Derby Mercury May 12th 1897
45 GFTU quarterly reports 1902
46 Derby Mercury November 4th 1896
47 Derby Mercury June 23rd 1898
48 Derby Mercury August 30th 1899; David Howell “British Workers and the ILP 1888-1906” Manchester University Press (1983) p78
49 Derby Mercury October 11th 1899
      PS Bagwell “The Railwaymen” Allen and Unwin (1963) p 207
50 R Moore “The Emergence of the Labour Party 1880-1 924” Hodder and
      Stoughton (1978) p75
51 W A Raynes unpublished memoirs p57
52 F W S Craig “British General Election Manifestos” MacMillan (1975) entry for
53 J Bellamy and J Saville “Dictionary of Labour Biography” Vol II MacMillan (1974)           p36
54 R Moore “The Emergence of the Labour Party 1880-1 924” Hodder and                 Stoughton (1978) p80
55 Derby Mercury August 21st 1901
56 Derby Mercury September 16th 1903
57 Derby Mercury October 21st 1903
58 Derby Mercury April 6th 1904
59 Derby Mercury June 15th 1904
60 Derby Mercury September 21st 1904
61 W A Raynes unpublished memoirs p69
62 W A Raynes unpublished memoirs p70
63 Derby Mercury March 28th 1906
64        Derby Mercury May 6th 1906
65        Derby Mercury May 24th 1905
66        J Bellamy and J Seville “Dictionary of Labour Biography” Vol II MacMillan (1974) pp34-9
67        Letter dated May 5th 1906 in UKSC reports
68        Derby Mercury September 19th 1906
69        Derby Mercury June 14th 1907
70        N C Soldon “Women in British Trade Unions 1874-1 976” Gill and MacMillan, Dublin (1978) p75; Derby Mercury April 5th 1907
71    Derby Mercury February 7th 1908
72    Derby Mercury February 28th 1908
73    Derby Mercury September 3rd 1910
74    Derby Mercury November 17th 1911
75    For an account of the Breadsall fire see the Derbyshire Advertiser September
         14th 1956; Derbyshire Times July 12th 1913
76    DTC minutes December 9th 1913; Derby Daily Express June 8th 1914;  Derbyshire Advertiser February 18th 1966
77    ABL minutes September 27th 1909
78   W A Raynes unpublished memoirs p64
79        J Bellamy and J Saville “Dictionary of Labour Biography” Vol II MacMilIan (1974) pp34-9
80        Derby Mercury May 20th 1910
81        DerbyMercuryJuly22nd 1910
82        Derby Mercury October 21st 1910
83        Derbyshire Times January 15th 1910
84        J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p503
85        A Gregory ‘The Miners and British Politics 1906-14” Clarendon, Oxford (1968)           p46
86        J R MacDonald “The Socialist Movement” Home University Library (1911) p235
87        Derby Mercury November 16th 1906
88        Derby Mercury May 17th 1905;Derby Monthly Record (DCS) April, May 1900
89        Derby Trades Council Minutes July 1917
90        Derby Trades Council Minutes October 13th 1913, January 18th 1914;             Derby Co-operative Record (DCS) March & June 1912;G Kingscott “Long Eaton Co-operative Society – a Centenary History 1868-1 968” LECS (1968) p111;             W L Unsworth “Seventy Five Years of Co-operation in Derby 18S0-192S” CWS, Manchester (1927) p174; D Boydell “The Centenary Story – 100 years of co-operation in Derby” Co-operative Press, Manchester (1950) p88
91 Derby Mercury January 14th 1910;PS Bagwell “The Railwaymen” Vol I G Allen and Unwin (1963) p 240
92 H A S Philpott “The Right Honourable J H Thomas – impressions of a remarkable career” Samson Low (1932) p144
93 B Fuller “The Life Story of the Right Honourable J H Thomas – a statesman of
the people” Stanley Paul (1933) p60
94 J F Moir-Bussy “From Engine Cleaner to Privy Councillor” Manchester University
Press (c. 193S) p38-9
95 Derby Mercury February 2Sth 1910
96 Derby Mercury August 12th 1910
97 Derby Mercury August 19th 1910
98 Derby Mercury November 4th 1910
99 Derby Mercury March 10th 1911;DLP Annual Report 1918
100 Derby Mercury October 27th 1911
101 Derby Mercury November 3rd 1911
102 Derby Mercury November 17th 1911
103 W A Raynes unpublished memoirs p106
104 Derby Mercury December 22nd 1911
105 Derby Mercury August 29th 1913
106 DLP Reports 1918 – figures cover period March to March for previous year
stated, except for 1910.
107 Derby Mercury October 31st 1913
108 A Clinton “The Trade Union Rank and File – Trades Councils in Britain 1900-
1940” Manchester University Press (1977) pp84-85
109 Derby Mercury February 21st 1913
110 Derby Mercury May 8th 1914
111 Derby Mercury May 1st 1914
112 Derby Mercury November 17th 1911, August 22nd 1913, February 27th 1914
113 PS Bagwell “NUA Golden Jubilee 1913-63” NUR (1963) p13
114 Derby Mercury September 22nd 1890
115 Derby Mercury September 30th 1891
116 Derby Mercury June 17th 1896
117 Derby Mercury May 12th 1897
118 Derby Mercury May 19th 1897
119 Derby Mercury April 16th 1902
120 Derby Mercury October 25th 1906
121 PS Bagwell “The Railwaymen” Allen and Unwin (1982) Vol 2 p378
122 Derby No 1 ASLEF minutes February 2nd 1913; Staveley ASLEF minutes September 2nd 1906
123 PS Bagwell “NUR Golden Jubilee 1913-63” NUR (1963) p22
124 PS Bagwell “NUA Golden Jubilee 1913-63” NUR (1963) p22
125 Staveley ASLEF minutes October 10th 1907
126 R H Mottram & C Coote “Through Five Generations – the History of the Butterley
Company” Faber and Faber (1950) p 11
127 ASLEF Staveley branch minutes March 28th 1909
128 ASLEF Staveley branch minutes August 8th 1909
129 Geoff Brown – introduction to “The Industrial Syndicalist 1912-14” Documents in Socialist History No 3 Spokesman – facsimile reproduction (1974) page ix
130 ASLEF Staveley branch minutes May 28th 1911
131 ASLEF Staveley branch minutes August 27th 1911
132 Derby Mercury August 18th 1911
133 Derby Mercury August 23rd 1911
134 Derby Mercury September 1st 1911
135     Derby Mercury August 23rd 1911
136 Derby Mercury November 24th 1911
137     Derbyshire Times 26th August 1911
138     T P Woods Almanac 1914
139 Derby Mercury November 10th 1911
140 Derby Mercury August 23rd 1911
141 Derby Mercury September 1st 1911
142     ASLEF Staveley branch minutes September 24th, October 29th 1911
143 Derby Mercury November 17th 1911
144     Derby Mercury November 24th 1911
145 Derby Mercury November 10th 1911
146     Derby Mercury September 1st 1911
147     Derby Mercury December 1st 1911
148     Derby Mercury December 22nd 1911
149     Derby Mercury January 12th 1912
150  “The Industrial Syndicalist 1912-14” Documents in Socialist History No 3 Spokesman facsimile reproduction (1973) November 1912 issue – Vol 1 No 10
151     ASLEF Staveley branch minutes March 10th 1912
152     Derby ASLEF branch minutes April 14th 1912
153     Derby ASLEF branch minutes September 8th, October 11th 1912
154 Details extracted from various Derby ASLEF branch minutes 1912-1914
155 Derby Mercury February 28th 1913
156 Derby Mercury May 9th 1913
157     Derby ASLEF branch minutes August 16th 1913
158 Derby Mercury April 3rd 1914
159 Derby ASLEF branch minutes May 14th 1914
160     Derby Mercury October 16th 1914
161     W A Raynes unpublished memoirs p4S
162     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 3” Gower, Aldershot (1987) p112; Derby ABL branch minutes – dates as cited “Working Rules of the Carpenters and Joiners of Derby” (1892)
163     A Postgate “The Builders History” NFBTO (1923) p229
164     R Postgate “The Builders History” NFBTO (1923) p34S
165 A Postgate “The Builders History” NFBTO (1923) p332
166     W R Raynes unpublished memoirs p48
167     Derby Mercury May 3rd 1893
168     Derby Mercury March 17th 1897
169     Derby branch ABL minutes January 24th 1896
170     Derby branch ABL minutes April 29th 1896
171     A Postgate “The Builders History” NFBTO (1923) p364
172 Derby Mercury March 8th 1899
173 A Postgate “The Builders History” NFBTO (1923) pp366-7
174 Derby Mercury March 8th 1899
175 J 0 French “Plumbers in Unity – history of the Plumbing Trades Union 1865-
1965” PTU (196S) p68
176 Derby Mercury June 28th 1899
177 Derby Mercury April 24th 1901
178 Derby ABL branch minutes May 1898
179 Derby Mercury August 4th 1903
180 D Sullivan “Navvyman” Coracle (1983) pp182, 229
181 Derby Mercury March 16th 1904
 182 D Sullivan “Navvyman” Coracle (1983) p219
183     Derby Mercury June 15th 1904
184     ASC&J 53rd Annual Report 1912 (publ 1913)
185     ASC&J 53rd Annual Report 1912 pp xi and xii; Richard Stone “Organised Labour in Glossop – Carpenters & Joiners – the Formative Years” Privately published (1984) pp 3-5
186     Derby Mercury May 8th 1914
187     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 2” Gower, Aldershot (1984) pp208 and 221
188     Derby Mercury June 17th 1891
189     J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p378
190     Derby Mercury October 7th 1891; Ilkeston Pioneer July 31st 1891
191     Ilkeston Pioneer November 11th 1891
192     J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners-a study in industrial and social progress” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p255; A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 2” Gower, Aldershot (1984) p212; Ilkeston Pioneer August 25th 1893; A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 3” Gower, Aldershot (1987) p461
193     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 2” Gower, Aldershot (1984) p213 & p257
194     W Pilcher and H Bridge “Jubilee History of Ripley Co-op 1860-1910” CWS, Manchester (1910) p90
195     J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners-a study in industrial and social progress” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p330
196     Derbyshire Times March 31st 1894
197     J German “To Build Jerusalem” Scorpion (1980) p49
198     “The Sun” quoted in the Derbyshire Times October 28th 1893
199     J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners-a study in industrial and social progress” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p349; Ilkeston Pioneer April 19th 189S, July 17th 1896
200     Derbyshire Times March 20th 1897
201     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 2” Gower, Aldershot (1984) pp 208, 247;Derby Mercury June 28th 1899
202 P Poirier “The Advent of the Labour Party” Allen and Unwin (1958) p21 n
203     N C Soldon “Women in British Trade Unions 1874-1976” Gill and MacMillan, Dublin (1978) p75
204 J E Williams ‘The Derbyshire Miners-a study in industrial and social progress” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p487
205 Derbyshire Times July 29th 1905
206 Derbyshire Times February 18th 1905
207 Report of the Medical Officer Chesterfield RDC (1901)
208 Derbyshire Times April 3rd 1905
209 C Williams “A Pictorial History of Derbyshire NUM: 100 years of progress” Derbyshire NUM, Chesterfield (1980) plate 13
210 Derbyshire Times September 10th 1910
211 Derbyshire Time’s November 19th 1910
212 Derbyshire Times November 26th 1910
213 A Page Arnot “A History of the Scottish Miners” George Allen and Unwin (1955) p121
214 Derbyshire Times September 23rd 1911
215 Derbyshire Times October 7th 1911
216 Derbyshire Times January 13th 1912
217 Derbyshire Times March 9th 1912
218 Derbyshire Times March 2nd 1912
219 Derbyshire Times March 30th 1912
220 Derbyshire Times March 30th 1912
221 Derbyshire Times April 13th 1912
222 Derbyshire Times April 13th 1912
223 Derbyshire Times November 9th 1912; H H Schloesser “Trades Unionism” Methuen (1913) p 139
224 Derby Mercury November 18th 1890
225 Derby Mercury September 7th 1892
226 R Gurnham “200 Years – history of the trade union movement in the Hosiery and Knitwear Industry” NUKHW, Leicester (‘1976) p31
227     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 4” Scholar, Aldershot (1994); Ilkeston Pioneer May 15th 1891; H Clegg (ed) “History of British Trade Unions since 1889” Vol 1 (1889-1910) Clarenden, Oxford (1964) p192
228 Derby Mercury June 10th 1896
229 K Reedman “The Book of Long Eaton” Barracuda Books, Buckinghamshire
(1979) p141
230 N Cuthbert ‘The Lacemakers Society” The Society (1960) p270
231 Ilkeston Pioneer August 12th 1898; GFTU Monthly Report March 1903; R Gurnham “200 years-history of the trade union movement in the Hosiery and Knitwear Industry” NUKHW, Leicester (1976) p 62
232 National Anti-Sweating League – Report of Conference (1907) p91
233 Derby Mercury July 22nd 1910
234 Derby Mercury September 9th 1910
235 Derby Mercury November 18th 1910
236 A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 4” Scholar, Aldershot (1994) p333; Guardian August 25th 1960; P Booth “A Short History of the ASD” Part 2, p8. Bulletin No 3 of research notes on the History of the NUDBTW (1980)
237     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 4” Scholar, Aldershot (1994) pp46, 347
238 Derby Evening Telegraph December 16th 1982
239 Derby Mercury April 3rd 1914
240 Thomas Skinner “The Stock Exchange Year Book of 1905”
241 S Lewenhak “Women and Trade Unions – an outline history of women in the British trade union movement” E Benn (1977) p133
242 Derby Mercury April 3rd and 17th 1914
243     William Page (ed) “The Victoria History of the Counties of England – Derbyshire” Vol 11(1907) University of London Institute of Historical Research/Dawsons (facsimile reprint 1970) p361
244     J B Jeffries “The Story of the Engineers 1880-1945” Lawrence and Wishart (1946) p129
245 Derby Mercury May 26th 1897
246 Notes on the Engineering Lock Out 1897-8 (Birmingham Library)
247 W Pilcher and H Bridge “Jubilee History of the Ripley Co-operative Society 1860- 1910” CWS, Manchester (1910) p90
248 Derby Mercury October 16th 1901
249 GFTU reports June 17th 1903
250 Derby Mercury July 29th 1903
251 Engineers Journal August 1904
252 Derby Mercury May 18th 1904
253 Derby Mercury December 14th 1906
254 Annual Report 1912 Workers Union
255 Derby Mercury November 17th 1911
256     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 2” Gower, Aldershot (1984) p11 & p31
257 A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 2” Gower,
Aldershot (1984) pp322-3, p122; T Brake “Men of Good Character – a history of the Sheet Metal Workers, Coppersmiths, Heating and Domestic Engineers” Lawrence and Wishart (1985) pp286, 289; W Mosses “The History of the United Pattern Makers Association 1872-1922” UPMA (1922) p 222
258     J B Jeffries “The Story of the Engineers 1880-1 945” Lawrence and Wishart (1946) p129
2S9     C J Bundock “The Story of the National Union of Printing and Bookbinding and Paper Workers” NUPBPW (1959) p380
260     Derby Mercury December 31st 1920
261 Derby Mercury May 26th 1897
262     Derby Mercury May 12th 1897
263     A E Musson “The Typographical Society” OUP (1954) p361-2
264     DMPA minutes March 25th 1908
265 Derby Co-op Record September 1933
266     DMPA minutes April 20th 1899
267     DMPA minutes May 5th 1899
268 DMPA minutes letter of May 25th 1899
269 DMPA minutes January 10th 1900
270 DMPA minutes October 30th 1900
271 DMPA minutes May 27th 1904
272 DMPA minutes May 8th 1907
273 DMPA minutes May 16th 1907
274 DMPA minutes May 30th 1907
275 DMPA minutes June 21st 1907
276 DMPA minutes April 2nd 1909
277 DMPA minutes June 17th 1909
278 DMPA minutes November 14th 1910
279 DMPA minutes December 6th 1910
280 Derby Mercury January 13th 1911
281 DMPA minutes January 27th 1911
282 DMPA minutes May 6th 1911
283 DMPA minutes October 10th 1912
284 DMPA minutes March 27th and 28th 1913
285 DMPA minutes May 7th 1913
286 DMPA minutes September 2nd 1913
287 DMPA minutes November 4th 1913
288 DMPA minutes November 10th 1913
289 DMPA minutes November 13th 1913
290 DMPA minutes November 14th 1913
291 Derby Mercury December 4th 1914
292 Derby Mercury January 12th 1914
293 E Hobsbawm “General Labour Unions in Britain 1889-1 91 4” Economic History Review 1949 p164
294 Norman Gratton in the Derby Evening Telegraph December 16th 1982
295 Derby Mercury January 9th and 16th 1901
296 Derby Mercury November 23rd 1904
297 Ilkeston Pioneer March 16th 1906, June 22nd 1906; S D Chapman “Stanton and Staveley – a business history” Woodhead and Faulkner, Cambridge (1981) p168
298 Derby Mercury August 21st 1901
299 Derby Mercury December 20th 1907
300 Derby Mercury October 14th 1910
301 Ilkeston Pioneer November 6th 1953; S D Chapman “Stanton and Staveley – a business history” Woodhead and Faulkner, Cambridge (1981) pl59
302 A Hyman ‘The Workers Union” Clarendon Press (1971) p5
303 A Hyman “The Workers Union” Clarendon Press (1971) p7
304 R Hyman “The Workers Union” Clarendon Press (1971) p24
305 Derby Mercury June 20th 1906
306 Derby Mercury June 21st 1907
307 A Hyman “The Workers Union” Clarendon Press (1971) p29
308 “The Industrial Syndicalist 1912-1 4” Documents in Socialist History No 3 Spokesman – facsimile reproduction (1973) September 1912 – Vol 1 No 8, p4
309     As recalled by a contemporary, Alderman E A Armstrong, Derbyshire Advertiser November 12th 1943
310     WU Annual Report 1915
311     W U Annual Report 1914
312 Derby Trades Council minutes March 2nd 1914
313 Derby ASLEF branch minutes April 12th 1914; Derby Mercury March 27th 1914
314 Derby Mercury May 22nd 1901; Derby Monthly Record (DCS) November 1889, October 1912
315 Derby Monthly Record (DCS) February 1913
316     Derby Mercury October 31st 1901 ‘
317     T Brake “Men of Good Character – a history of the Sheet Metal Workers, Coppersmiths, Heating and Domestic Engineers” Lawrence and Wishart (1985) p330; NUSGW strike appeal letter July 28th 1890
318     Alfreton and Belper Journal August 22nd 1890
319     Derby Mercury September 3rd 1890, February 24th 1892
320     Derby Mercury June 14th 1893
321     Derby Mercury July 19th 1893
322     UKSC quarterly reports 1893 p41 and p44
323     UKSC quarterly reports for years stated
324     UKSC quarterly reports May 1906
325     UKSC quarterly reports for years stated
326     Derby Mercury September 15th 1886
327     R Groves “Sharpen the Sickle” Merlin Press (1981) p253; E H Hunt “Regional Wage Variations in Britain 1850-1 914” Clarendon Press, Oxford (1973) pp 28-9, 62, 64
328     Derby Mercury March 21st 1906
329     Derby Monthly Record (DCS) June 1899
330     Derby Mercury July 21st 1911
331     A Marsh and V Ryan “Historical Directory of Trade Unions – Vol 2” Gower, Aldershot (1984) p334
332     Derby Mercury, November 16th 1906; F Burchill and A Ross “A History of the Potters’ Union” CATU/Students Bookshop, Hanley (1977) p160
333     Ilkeston Borough Council – General Works Committee Minutes 14th February 1889
334     “COHSE (1 91 0-60) 50 years of progress” COHSE (1960)
335     Derby Mercury April 24th 1904
336     Derby Mercury April 4th 1906
337     Derby Mercury February 7th 1908
338     Derby Mercury October 3rd 1913; Alec Spoor “White Collar Union – sixty years of NALGO” Heinemann (p91)pp 15-17
339     J E Mortimer ‘The History of the AESD” DATA (1960) p39; Derby Mercury June 28th 1899
340     Derby Mercury February 21st 1913

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