Chapter Six

The Golden Age of Empire –
Derbyshire Trades Unionism 1848-1890

A new generation of professional trades unionists

The demise of the tramping system (1850-1913)

The birth and growth of Co-ops in Derbyshire (1850-890)

(i)         Nail making
(ii)        Coach building
(iii)       Cotton and Silk Textile Workers
(iv)      Lacemaking
(v)       Building
(vi)      Coalmining
(vii)     Railways
(viii)    Engineering
(ix)      Agricultural Workers

5 Notes and References

1 Super profits mean super wages: a new generation of trades unionists.

Industry in Derbyshire developed at a phenomenal pace in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The earlier part of the century had been characterised by a predominance of small-scale production. Trade in Derby in 1860 was still very much concentrated on marketing and on handicraft type products, evidenced by an analysis of the differing trades established then. [1]

Number of firms                           Number of different kinds
Factories                              159                                                     26
Handicraft workshops      387                                                     42
Retail outlets                       1634                                                   43
Wholesale outlets              77                                                        14
Building                                125                                                     10
Professional and service
establishments                   368                                                     25
Finance                                 118                                                     8
Transport                             33                                                        6

With increasing industrialisation came increasing urbanisation. Estimated density of population in Derbyshire in 1750 was between ten and twenty people per hundred acres, within a hundred years it had risen to fifty per hundred acres.

The nature of the skilled trades was to fundamentally alter. A survey of Derby’s charitably supported apprenticeships in the century or so prior to 1865, shows that 36% had been in textiles, while only 1% had been connected with the railways – and the Midland Railway had been in the town since 1836. While this analysis cannot necessarily be considered an entirely accurate picture of the breakdown of total apprenticeships, including non-supported ones, it is indicative of the general trend. A large number of highly selective skills were still required some thirty-four distinctive trades may be identified. But there are very few apprenticeships of the trades that would dominate the city in time to come. [2]

Analysis of 100 apprenticeships funded by charity in Derby (1749-1865)

Framework knitters                       20
Tailors                                               12
Carpenters/Joiners                         8
Cordwainers (Shoemakers)         6
Coachmakers                                   4
Iron Founders                                  4
China Painters                                 3
Jewellers                                            3
Others                                               40

There were, moreover, vast numbers of traditional handicraft apprenticeships to offer; 36% of all apprenticeships were in twenty-six different occupations:

TWO EACH*                                                               ONE EACH*
Baker             Printer                                               Bellhanger               Cooper
Clockmaker Potting                                              Chimney sweep      Merchant
Smith             Painter                                               Loco Engineer        Cutler
Whitesmith   Bricklayer                                         Engineer                   Farrier
Shoemaker Labourer                                           Slater                         Bookbinder
Dyer                                                                           Silk-Weaver              Petrifacturer

(*i.e. two or one references to these trades in the sample of 100)

In 1844 the building of railway carriages and wagons had begun in Derby and, sparked off by this burgeoning railway industry, there developed a general concentration of heavy engineering firms in the area. As one engineering firm set up, more followed, with this the workforce became increasingly wage laboured and this altered the character of the unions. Skills became concentrated into certain areas of mass production and the workforce divided into skilled and non-skilled sectors. Amongst the major engineering works established in Derby were Qualcast in 1848, Fletchers in 1860, Ley’s in 1874, and the Ewart Chain Belt Company, also in 1874. The setting up of a private tramway system in 1880 provided valued engineering work in the town. Firms like Handyside’s established important reputations for quality. Many of their supporting stanchions can be seen in the infrastructure of Victorian railway stations and bridges around the country, their name still proudly emblazoned within the metal.

The Victorian Age was a time of great wealth – The Golden Age of Empire! The United Kingdom level of imports and exports rose almost threefold in thirty years, or to be precise by 283% from 1831 to 1861 or an uplift from £97,623,320 to £373,491,000; this at a time when population rose by ‘only’ 43%. [3] Fortunes were made by the simple expedient of plundering Asia, Africa and Latin America, coupled with the forcible creation of a monopoly market for British made goods. Considerable concessions could be extracted by the workers in such a period – ‘super profits’ could mean ‘super wages’. Conflict of such a sensitive kind as that experienced during the GNCTU and Chartist eras endangered profits in this readymoney situation. A docile and compliant labour force was worth more than a concession or two. Moreover, the determined fight for the extension of the franchise had forced a new political situation. By 1844 the registered electorate in Derby, at 18% of the population, compared more favourably with the 1832 figure of 5.9%. (Figures in brackets are from alternative source data). Even so, the relative proportion of population to electorate did not improve much, since both roughly doubled in numbers over the latter part of the 19th century.
Derby’s         Derby’s
Electorate        Population
1868                 9,240            1861   43,091 (44,058)
1874               11,087            1871   49,810
1880               13,006            1877 53,200 (69,716)
1884               14,054            1881   81,630
1895               17,879            1891   94,140

This new situation bred a new style of politician, and Derby, in particular, became identified with a strain of benevolent Liberalism. In the 1865 General Election, the last whereby the franchise was limited to property, the town unusually returned one Conservative and one Liberal. But in the two succeeding General Elections, Bass and Plimsoll were elected as Liberals. In 1867 the franchise was extended to all male householders, but this excluded workers in tied and company cottages, such as miners and agricultural workers who did not get the vote until 1884. In consequence of the extension of the franchise, the Liberals in Derby increased their vote by five times that of two years earlier; the Tory merely doubled his votes. Electors were, however, still not the models of tolerance, for in 1874 there was some disorder and damage to property as rural Tory and Liberal supporters clashed.

It was in this setting that the old trade societies were beginning to give way to nationally organised trades unions with central leaderships. Trades unionists in the early part of the nineteenth century had regarded their societies as alliances of local lodges that were the centre of the union’s life. National Secretaries were called ‘corresponding secretaries’ – merely a point of contact. In the latter part of the century all this began to change – especially with a new generation of leaders. This generation however was a servile one, which accepted capitalism. The new General Secretaries of the more centralised organisations of the latter part of the century were men of substance in society, with wages to reflect. Three pounds a week with perks was quite common. [4]

Union, total membership and General Secretary’s                                                                                         weekly wage plus `perks’:

Stonemasons – £3, £70 per annum for rent                                          4,000
Engineers – £4 plus house, coal and gas                                            44,000
Ironfounders – £2 10s plus house, coal and gas                               12,000
Boilermakers – £3 plus house, coal and gas                                       15,000
Plasterers – £3 plus house, coal and gas                                              3,800
Steam engine makers – £2 10s plus house, coal and gas                3,500
Bricklayers – £3 plus a weekly 5s extra for attending the EC          6,200
Carpenters and joiners – £3 plus house, coal and gas and 4s for cleaning office                                                                                                                                13,000

Contrary to the working class of the Chartist era, which sought fundamental change, the new generation accepted the system and their lot, seeking to make the best of their position in society. During the high point of Chartism some sections of the working class had tended to reject organised religion, seeing it as simply an extension of the wealthy and powerful, even though they often expressed their rebellion in religious terms. Although this was less true of rural areas; in 1851, certain parts of Derbyshire could record attendance at Sunday religious services of as much as 40% of the total population, compared with less than 25% in the big urban areas of Nottingham and Leicester. [5]

So, new style, non-revolutionary, ‘new model’ unions grew. Marked by strong features of a benevolent nature – unemployment, sick and retirement benefits – they demanded high contributions. In a society which did not provide any social welfare insurance, the idea was of great attraction to well paid skilled workers. The Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) required one shilling a week in dues, such a large sum discouraged all but the better paid in steady employment. (Historically, the ASE represents the bulk of what became the AEU, now absorbed into Amicus.) The considerable financial activity created by these insurance provisions also discouraged militancy. For strikes would, of necessity, eat into funds and some unions actually debarred strike action partly to preserve Superannuation benefits.

Other structural developments occurred. Of considerable long-term significance was the creation of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in 1869. At first little more than an annual gathering of small craft unions, it was to grow in importance. Concerned to repel the political attacks of the employers that would result in local restraints for unions, the first Congress attracted thirty-four delegates. Whether anyone from Derbyshire was there doubtful, at any rate there is no one from the county obviously listed. Although the first President of the TUC, Nicholson, had to leave the Congress to go to Derby in order to attend a meeting of the Annual Moveable Delegates of the Order of Druids, of which he was General Secretary! [6]

There was little independent working class political life after the slow decline of Chartism. A sharply international character had marked the latter days of that movement. Chartists had strongly supported foreign revolutions and sheltered political refugees. The idea of universal suffrage had translated into a series of reform bodies. The most decisively independent section of the movement was the “International Working Men’s Association” (or the First International), set up by Karl Marx in 1864. Drawing much on the traditions of the old Chartists, it had yet to develop major influence in the countries in which it operated. It was, indeed, truly international, uniting radical groups in Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Denmark, Austria, Italy, the USA and elsewhere. The British membership of the International was almost exclusively composed of trade union affiliations. The prevention of the importation of foreign strikebreakers was an important role for the organisation. While not a major force in Britain, the International nonetheless kept alive the flame of the concept of independent working class politics. There is documented local support for the International. The Block Printers’ Union, which operated in Manchester and Derbyshire, affiliated in January 1867, on the basis of 1,000 members. While the Elastic Web Weavers in a number of areas affiliated and, at one stage at least, the International believed that the Derby Society would join the lead of the others. [7]

By the 1870s there must have been a well-established local group, for a deputation attended the International’s General Council, in December 1870. They sought assistance for members in dispute in Derby, due to their employers reducing agreed price lists, supposedly to come into line with Leicester. The weavers also wanted to complain about William Hales, a General Council member and the National President of the Elastic Web Weavers, who had allowed the introduction of female labour at two thirds of the male piecework rate. Moreover, Hales was purported to have told their employer that no funds were available from their society to support their dispute and there was a consequent attempt to expel him from the Union. A letter from James Parnell of Derby was read, it “insinuated that Hales had put £7 of the society’s money and entered it in the treasurer’s book as paid over”. ‘Citizen Marx’ – all comrades in the International were so dubbed – indicated that “they were not in a position to give anything just now” to the strikers, but that support for the circulation of an appeal could be given. At the next meeting of the Council, Hales attended and explained the attack on him, that Parnell had apologised, and that it was his advocacy of allowing women to work in the trade, which had brought him into trouble with the Elastic Web Weavers Society. “The men had not struck against such a reduction of wages as they stated, that was a lie.” [8] Subsequently, all charges against him were withdrawn, but the episode amply illustrates the detail of trade union work that the International got itself involved in.

The increasingly theoretical arguments between the anarchist element, strong in the Latin countries and the followers of Marx, did not meet the taste of the British adherents of the International. Interest here began to flag and Marx and his close friend and political co-worker, Frederick Engels, turned their attention to events in France when, in 1871, the Parisian working class seized power for three months during the momentous days of the Commune. One such, named Gerband, was buried at Ilkeston on May 4th 1873. His coffin was draped in a red flag and over 80 mourners marched in a funeral procession. In Nottingham, a parallel organisation to the International was even set up. Called the Nottingham Working Man’s International Labour Protection League, this gave large sums of money to the Derby Silk Throwers, to assist their dispute in 1872.

But, despite these relatively surprising signs of continued local radicalism in the East Midlands, the International did not have widespread support in Britain, by any means. However, a fact even less well known is that the International did see there to be a basis for, and encouraged, the foundation of a socialist working class political party and called it the ‘Labour Party’. Its main aim was to harass the Liberal’s ‘Labour’ (Lib-Lab) candidates, but it did not have any real basis in the working class. After the International itself broke up in 1872, this `Labour Party’ faded away without ever really fundamentally influencing the direction of trade union or working class political activity.

Largely unchallenged, the Liberal trade union leaders sought to avoid militancy. Some were won to the deceptively interesting idea of emigration as a panacea for workers’ problems. Arguing that labour was like any other commodity, advocates of this approach believed that the only way of raising the price was to create scarcity. Some unions even introduced an Emigration Bonus. The main passion of Liberal union leaders was conciliation and arbitration rather than conflict as a means of settling grievances. Moreover this strategy was considered as a matter of course obligatory upon union members. The Liberal Party was in office from 1874 to 1880, and the whole period was marked by a general illusion that workers’ interests could be represented by it. Early in the Seventies, major reforms had been won for unions. As the Tories again took over, unions became obsessed with the single idea that a solution to their problems lay simply with the re-election of a Liberal Government – ‘their’ Government, at least in the sense that it could be pressured to make reforms in the interests in workers’ organisations in return for some electoral loyalty.

This reliance was not entirely without some foundation, since important advances had been achieved. With the passing of the 1871 Trade Union Act, unions found themselves no longer illegal in Common Law simply because their purpose was to restrain trade. Moreover, registration as a Friendly Society now permitted unions certain legal advantages. They could, for example, now sue a former official who might have absconded with society funds. But another law, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, immediately imposed severe restrictions on trades union strategies. ‘Threats’, ‘intimidation’, ‘molestation’ and ‘obstruction’ of individuals in trade disputes – i.e. effective, even non-violent, picketing – were subject to severe penalties. Widespread opposition to this resulted in the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act in 1875, which permitted effective, but peaceful, picketing. For the first time employee/employer relations became a purely civil affair. At last it might be said that Britain had allowed ‘free trades unionism’. The immediate effect of this development was to spread unionism amongst mainly skilled workers.

Great advances in money wages coincided with the periods of exceptional trades union activity, stimulated by favourable trade conditions. In the last fifty years of the century average real wages rose by 70% and the average span of life grew from thirty-six years of age in the 1860s, to forty-four years in the 1880s. State reforms, like the Education Act of 1870, were introduced; tentatively setting out on the road of assuming social responsibility for elementary education, the Act set up School Boards to be elected by ratepayers. Within another sixty years education was made compulsory for children up to the age of twelve. Trades Unions would have to mould themselves to meet the challenge of all these new developments. [9]

2 “Doing away with public house club houses”
The demise of the tramping system 1859-1913

An increased professionalism evident amongst trades unions reflected itself in the way local branches or lodges organised. The hallmarks of the old secret friendly societies or trade clubs began to fade and the most important victim of this process was the death of ‘tramping’. As we have seen, the skilled trades kept control over the supply of labour by means of tramping. When work was short in one town or region, the skilled worker would tramp off to another place where vacancies existed. The society would feed him and provide shelter as he went from town to town. Sometimes, after completing a full tramp, a worker would have to accept that there was no work in the trade. Recalling how his father trained as a printing apprentice at Becket Printing Works in Colyear Street, Derby, finishing in June 1901, Mr J. H. Pentney related that: “Because he would not take work at less than the price set by the Typographical Society…he never went back to the trade.” Pentney’s father had tramped from Derby to Chesterfield, Sheffield, Doncaster, Gainsborough, Lincoln and Kings Lynn, before he eventually enlisted in the Royal Auxiliary Medical Corps, serving in the Boer War. [10]

During the mid-period of the nineteenth century tramping was still very much in evidence. The Masons had a house of call in Derby, the Masons’ Arms in Edward Street, and another, the Bakers’ Arms, in West Road, Buxton. The Tailors of Chesterfield used the Moulders’ Arms and took over from the Masons at their Buxton Pub in the 1880’s. Of sixteen Derby lodges of various trades unions in 1861, only two of them had meeting places anywhere than at a public house. Almost certainly, most of them were used as tramping calling stations at the same time:

Trades union meeting places in Derby in 1861 [11]

Society                                                      Meeting Place

Boot and shoemakers                              Buck in the Park, Friargate
Bookbinders’ Consolidated Union       Rose and Thistle, Chapel St.
Boilermakers                                               Lamb Inn, Park Street
Brushmakers                                              Nelson Inn, Wardwick
Cork cutters                                                 22 Abbey Street
Cabinetmakers                                           Half-moon Inn, Saddler’s Gate
Carpenters                                                   Bull’s Head, Queen Street
Coachbuilders                                            Green Man Inn, St Peter’ Churchyard
Compositors and Printers                       Buck in the Park, Friargate
Amalgamated Engineers                          New Inn, King Street
Engine Drivers                                            Red Lion, Canal Street
Ironmoulders                                               Talbot Inn, Irongate
Stonemasons                                              6 Erasmus Street
United Order of Smiths                             Bull’s Head, Queen Street
Tailors                                                           White Hart, Bridge Street
Ribbon Weavers                                         Dove Tavern, Nunn Street, William Street

The pub was a very important place for workers’ societies. Often the only place available for hire, it constituted the society’s meeting place, hotel, library, post office and job centre. Labour Exchanges were only introduced in the 1910s and most societies kept a vacant book in ‘their’ pub. Very soon after they had been founded, the Derby Builders Labourers’ lodge resolved to: “Keep £1 10s 0d in hand for the relief of tramps”, and established a clubhouse to provide hospitality. Later, in 1897, they decided to get a “frame with a glass door made to be hung up in the vaults to enter names of members… in search of employment”. A member was obliged to ensure fresh labour for building jobs was supplied via the clubhouse. It was a serious offence not to do so, for if a member failed in this duty he would, “be fined 2s 6d first offence, 5s 0d for second”. [12]

The landlord would often be the society’s `banker’, holding onto, and perhaps paying out, union funds and benefits. Usually little money formally crossed hands, the hire of the room being considered enough to bring custom, or `wet rent’; although, as the century exhausted, the custom of payment increased. Derby Builders’ Labourers voted two shillings a week to their landlord for room cleaning in June 1893 and, during the plasterers’ lockout in 1899, he was granted five shillings for the extra use of the room during the dispute. (By a process of gradual name change from the National Amalgamated Builders Labourers, the organisation ended up as the Altogether Builders’ Labourers’ & Constructional Workers’ Society – for ease of reference it has been referred to as the ABL throughout t .)

The tradition of meeting in pubs and clubs lives on today. Even though the big brewers have tried to eliminate the very ability to hire rooms in pubs, most towns have a few pubs where union and left-wing meetings are frequently held. However, there was once a fierce controversy over the practice. Under the influence of the anti-drink lobby, strong in sections of the Liberal Party, many unions tried to discourage pub meetings, not always with success. The coachbuilders considered the idea as early as 1873 “of doing away with public house club houses”; especially as stationary relief for unemployment had become more common than travelling relief. Despite this trend, the society advised that a compromise along the lines of “providing for the members on travel must be the primary consideration, and afterwards, it will not be very difficult to find places to conduct the business at”. In time, various social developments, including the demise of the inn as a hostelry, made the former increasingly difficult.

Tramping was a well-accepted part of the coachmakers’ life. A trade highly conscious of its skills, found the tradition especially relevant in the boom/slump economy of the last half of the nineteenth century. A study of the ‘blank’, or tramping card, of one UKSC member on the tramp reveals much about the state of the trade. Even if it only reflects the personal choice of one particular individual, there is no doubt that many coachmakers were only able to find work this way. [13] James Reilly, a coach trimmer, membership number 9637 and a previous member, re-enters the society at Wakefield in August 1873, no doubt on his way to his first recorded job in the blank at Dublin, which lasted one year. Using his card, he tramps to Liverpool where six months work is found for him. When this stint is over, he tours the North West, passing through three society towns before finding work, lasting a year and a half, in Shrewsbury. Unemployment again hits, but Reilly is lucky and finds a couple of month’s work in Birmingham almost immediately, followed by six months in Swindon. But times are tough at the beginning of 1877 and despite a couple of day’s work at Newcastle under Lyme and Openshaw, he has to tour no less than fifty nine lodges, including Derby (some were visited more than once) before he obtains a year’s work in Liverpool. After that, in April 1879, Reilly hits another bad patch as trade worsens and, apart from two week’s work at Bolton; he relied on the lodges of no less than fifty-six separate towns until September of that year. Six months work at Gloucester and he was off again, tramping via five towns, and the last we hear of James Reilly is that on the 13th April 1880 he is waiting for a job in Wolverton. Over a seven-year period he actually worked for only four years and seven month in nine towns. The rest of the time Reilly was tramping; perhaps a quarter or more of his “working” life in this period was thus spent.

We should be careful not to suppose that this was the life of the average coachmaker, for many remained in good jobs and never, or very rarely, had to tramp. Others, without families perhaps, were happy to roam and, in a sense, played an important role in acting as a skilled mobile reserve. Others were simply unlucky and hit on difficult and hard times. Some would leave the trade, while others, like Reilly, held on waiting for something to turn up. The tramp system thus acted as a social security device in times when unskilled workers, who did not have a union, faced personal disaster when unemployment came. The coachmaker, in contrast, could relax in relative comfort.

The Derby branch of the National Amalgamated Society of House and Ship Painters and Decorators (NASOHSPD) moved its clubhouse from the Fox and Goose in Friargate to the Bull’s Head in Queen Street because, “at the old clubhouse we were in far too close proximity to intoxicating drink and were being constantly pressed to buy it”. Those who were teetotallers, like Will Raynes, later a famous local Labour politician in Derby, who recalled the problem, had severe difficulties; for, unlike many, “the publican was prepared to give house room to the despised trade union”. In his unpublished memoirs, Raynes wrote of the House Painters that “we liked to see the long and imposing title in print, but among ourselves we contracted it to `The Club’ “. Other builders called the painters’ society the “Skibbo’s Union”. (It is today part of UCATT, by virtue of a series of amalgamations.) [14]

Even the aristocrats of skilled labour in the engineers’ society (ASE) used the tramping system. For example, a James Alexander of Hull 2nd Branch of ASE visited ten towns, including Derby, in 1865 before he got a job in Stoke. [14] But as improved conditions developed, tramping became less frequent. Combined with this, the unevenness of the capitalist economy of the latter part of the nineteenth century caused the practice to become increasingly costly to the unions. In 1868, an average of 18s 3 1/2d per member was paid out by the UKSC on travelling benefits. This sank rapidly, but erratically, with odd ups and downs, until 1894, when only 1s 4 1/2d was being spent per member. Very soon the coachbuilders were paying next to nothing on travelling each year, and the introduction of the Labour Exchanges Act of 1910 rapidly eliminated the practice altogether. Total spending on the tramp had diminished from £5,042 in 1868, to a handful of pounds in 1911, while spending on postage alone escalated by seven times over the same period. [15]

The lithograph workers were also in the process of changing their commitment to tramping. Their rules were changed in 1895 to allow for meetings to be held in public houses only if absolutely necessary, largely where, as in small towns like Derby, it proved impossible to find alternative rooms. So, if tramping was killed off, the practice of holding the lodge in a society’s special pub was not. A national analysis of the meeting places of all unions, conducted by the Temperance Society in 1903, showed that 72% of branches had their meetings in pubs. [16] But the legacy of tramping, travelling relief and society clubhouses is still very much strongly with us in the wealth of old pub names linked to particular trades. Along with the Masons’ Arms and the Bakers’ Arms, were the Patternmakers’ Arms in Crown Street and the Tailors’ Arms in Green Lane, Derby, used by those trades that had given them their names? [17]

UKSC Clubhouses in Derby from 1854 to 1915 were as follows:

1854                                     Green Man, Peter Street
June 1868                Royal Oak, Market Place
November 1870                  Masons Arms
December 1892                   Plough Inn, Nottingham Road
November 1893                  Telegraph Inn, London Road
August 1894                        Grapes Inn, Green Lane
1896                                       Telegraph Inn
1901                                       Grapes Inn
1904                                       High Street Tavern
July 1915                              Labour Exchange, London Road

The Chesterfield Clubhouses were:

December 1860                   Cross Daggers, Bertwell Street
November 1893                  Turf Tavern, Holywell Cross
August 1894                                    Free Trade Inn, Saltergate

The amount spent by the UKSC on travelling from 1908-1911 was reported in the union’s journal.

Year          total yearly amount         spent per member
1908               £147 8s 8d                4d
1909               £61 19s 0d               2d
1910               £27 15s 3d               1d
1911               £19    1s 6d              3/4d

By the time travelling relief was abolished by the Typographical Association in 1913, one of the last societies to do so, tramping was destined to pass into folk-lore – the memory of which is only revived by contemporary humourless cartoons of ragged dossers, with chequered handkerchiefs – a far cry from the craft pride and cosy friendliness of the old-time tramp.

3. “Dividend was not the Alpha and Omega of the movement”
The birth and growth of Co-ops in Derbyshire – 1850-1900

Long before the famous Rochdale Pioneers, some 70 people attended a meeting on January 4th 1829 at the Bull’s Head, Duffield to set up a retail co-operative; local Owenites initiated the idea. [16] But this attempt to establish an ongoing co-operative, twenty one years before the first permanent body was set up in Derbyshire, did not really take off. However, in the 1840’s, a newer, more enduring application of the co-operative developed; firstly at Rochdale, then spreading throughout the North and Midlands, as the idea took hold. The Derby Co-operative Provident Society Limited was set up in 1850, the third society to be established in the county after the example of Rochdale. Its roots were directly in the early trades unions. The carpenters and joiners had a society clubhouse at the Bull’s Head in Queen Street. There, in 1849, trades unionists learnt of the initiative of the Rochdale pioneers from a tramping member on travelling relief. Jonathan Henderson, the carpenters’ secretary in Derby, immediately wrote to Rochdale, asking for more details and, very soon, an initial capital of £2 was raised. Most of the men who started the society were employed by Mr Mansfield Cooper, whose workshops were in St. Mary’s Gate. The first committee meeting was held at Thomas Brown’s house at 56 Abbey Street. A hay loft in George Yard, Saddler’s Gate, was rented and Henderson became the first secretary of the co-operative food store, which was open three nights a week and manned by lodge committeemen. The co-op bought a pair of second-hand scales and weights, together with a bag of flour, from Shaw’s the Millers in St. Michael’s Lane, and a parcel of food from Bakewell’s, the grocers at Market Head. The entire scheme was to be a self-charitable initiative; the very first act of the Carpenters’ & Joiners’ Co-op was to send a gift to the wife of a sick union member, a Mrs Lean, of a stone of flour, a quarter of tea and two pounds of sugar. The members of the committee were Thomas Brown, James Cooper, Thomas Whittle, Samuel Lean, James Walker, George Allen, Robert Riley, William Corner, John Aslin, William Johnson, Jonathan Henderson (Secretary & President) and Samuel Smith (Treasurer). [18]

The carpenters were the ideal group of workers to start such a venture. Thrifty, yet philanthropic, the unionised membership saw themselves as models of virtue amongst Victorian workingmen. Those eligible to join what was later to be the united Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, as the union’s General Secretary put it at the 1867 Royal Commission on Trade Unions, had to “be in good, health, have worked five years at the trade, be a good workman, of steady habits, of good moral character, and not more than 45 years of age”. [19] After a while, the co-operative night store was open three times a week, from eight o’clock to ten o’clock. The co-op boomed and a new store was opened in 1855 in Brigg’s Yard, Victoria Street, moving to 47 Full Street a year later, when it was extended to non-union members. The co-op survived two constitutional attempts by some members to break it up in 1857, but even though it was still called the Co-operative Association of Carpenters and Joiners in 1859, it was rapidly expanding beyond its original base. The first branch store was set up in the Labour Hall in Park Street in July 1861, by which time membership had risen to 706 from only 40 a year previously. Membership simply exploded; 36 members were admitted in one single night in 1860. By 1862 there were 1,385 members and sales had risen to £22,000. A dividend of 1s 8d in the pound was declared and five years later a major site in Albert Street laid the basis for the prime position of the Co-op in Derby’s shopping centre in the modern era.

Such success was based on sheer hard work on the part of the co-operators. One pioneer, the Nottingham Chartist, William Peck Hemm (1820-89), was a committeeman for the DCS between 1863 and 1868, when he worked for Midland Railway in Derby. He was fond of recalling how “the committee had to personally prepare and serve out the provision and groceries to the members in the evening after working hours, his own duty being to weigh up and sell flour”. With 12 new branches established in the 1870’s, by the end of the century the DCS had become a major retail force in the town and its environs, as its membership testified: [20]

Membership of the DCS
1862   1,385
1872   1,750
1882   3,705
1892 8,132
1899   13,179

Naturally, such a good idea spread like wildfire. In Clay Cross the “Pioneer Industrial Society” was set up in 1859 in a house in New Street (now King Street). Within fifteen years a more ambitious venture was launched by the Clay Cross lodge of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire Miners’ Association, which met to “consider the best means of encouraging co-operation amongst the working men of the district…and it was proposed that a committee of twelve be appointed to encourage co-operation”. [21] At Ripley, in March 1860, six people attended a meeting, called by some of the originating organisers, at the house of Patrick Parkin. By the end of six month’s of collections, £4 in capital was raised to start the Ripley Co-op. As elsewhere, it established prime shopping sites early on. This was done in 1870 by means of a little trick. A meeting of all the members was called and all, but the secretary, were locked in the hall to prevent word getting out that the Society was to buy property. Meanwhile, the secretary went to the owner of the premises they had in mind and purchased the house outright. Only the next day, as the town began to talk about it, did he realise that he had sold his property to this collection of crazy radicals!

Membership of the Ripley Society grew rapidly:

1865        24
1870      291
1895   8,353

By the nineties, Ripley Co-op had branches in eleven nearby towns and villages: Somercotes, Kilburn, Belper, Alfreton, Ambergate, Shireland, Heanor, Crich, Riddings and Marehay were the others. This was doubled to twenty-three branches by 1900. Towards the end of 1873 the Borrowash Co-operative Society was set up, while the Little Eaton Society (which unfortunately only lasted a few years until it was taken over by Derby) was registered on 7th May 1880. Ten years later a Society was registered in Burton on Trent. [22] Elsewhere in the county, fifty men at Clayes Wagon Works in Long Eaton had tried, unsuccessfully, to set up a meat co-operative in 1886. The experiment came to an end when some of the participants (who themselves ran a small shop) opposed certain proposals. In October all the money raised, some £17 or £18, less one shilling each, was returned to the members. However, towards the end of that year, some of the men, and others associated with the Primitive Methodist Chapel, launched the “Long Eaton Workingmen’s Co-operative Society”, with an initial capital of £20 and thirty five founder members, amongst them William Burns, the first Chairman. Yet another co-op was thus launched. [23]

As retail societies sprouted everywhere across the northern part of England, the practical idea of coming together for the purpose of wholesale trading grew alongside a more idealistic feeling for cooperative unity. A Midlands conference of Coops was held in 1878 in the National School at Ripley. About forty delegates were present from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and the conference was to conclude amongst other things, that “dividend was not the Alpha and Omega of the movement. They must do something to bring about a higher tone of Society, to import truth and justice into trade, to recognise their duty to their fellows as well as to themselves…” Ripley Co-op from its commencement had followed the practice of issuing checks in recognition of purchases, which led to the apportionment of dividends. The surrounding societies had not yet adopted this custom. Even so, the example of success that Ripley held out did not cloud the minds of delegates to the idealism of co-operativism. There was a realisation that cooperativism was about more than providing dividends, but that if it did not do so then members might not personally value their custom with the Co-op over and above that given to the capitalist competition. This combination of altruism with common sense practicality was a hallmark of the relationship of working class folk to the Co-op and is memorialised even now in the bricks and mortar of the enormous numbers of prestige premises that were built by the movement in the latter part of the Nineteenth century in particular.

The Derby Co-op had its own Building Department from 1876, which assisted members financially in building or buying their own houses. Towards the turn of the century the Society began actually building these houses itself. The Co-op stamped its mark on the very geography of the town. Derby Street, Co-operative Street, Provident Street, Industrial Street and Society Place were a part of the Society’s plan. Together these streets in New Normanton, then a prosperous new housing development, now a deprived inner-city area of Derby, constituted the Co-op’s full title – “Derby Co-operative Provident Industrial Society”.

The movement did not restrict itself to commerce, the Derby Society being instrumental in assisting the trade union campaign for a half-day closing holiday for employees in the distributive industry in the week. Sam Smith represented the Amalgamated Union of Co-operative Employees (AUCE – a forerunner of USDAW) in conferences with the local Grocers’ Association on wages and conditions. Most shop workers had to work as late as eleven and twelve o’clock at night for between fourteen and sixteen shillings a week. From 1882 Smith pressed the Grocers to adopt the Tuesday half-day holiday, which the Co-op employees enjoyed. By 1884 they were closing early at 5.00 p.m., then 3.00 p.m. To avoid the argument that the cattle market met on Tuesday and therefore the half-day closure was impractical, the Co-op, at Smith’s request, switched their half-day to Wednesday. Thus, the private grocers had no argument and were made to come into line. For the first time in the town all distributive workers had a half-day holiday in the week.

These new retail and wholesale co-operatives had sprung up out of the trades union movement. Despite attempts to distance the co-ops from the Labour Movement over the years, a tendency pressed by commercial desires as much in the formative years as in the modern era, they would never lose sight of their origins. [24]

4. Trades Unions in Derbyshire: 1848- 1890

(i) Nailmaking

As explained earlier, the nailmakers had organised very early on and the industry was particularly important to Belper. There were nineteen manufacturers in the town in 1835, many of them related to each other. Amongst these family names were Hunts and Masons, Melbournes, Walkers and Websters. The nineteen manufacturers’ premises nestled by each other in Chapel Hollow, Fleet, Common Side, the Market Place and Queen Street. That close family ties were a particular feature of this mode of production is amply revealed by the fact that two-thirds of the businesses shared a common surname. [25]

Edward Blackham, High St                                   William Melbourne, Fleet
Carr and Bridges, Queen St                                 Henry Mold, King St
John Harrison and Sons, Lawn Hill                    Joseph Spencer, Fleet
Abraham Hunt, Common Side                              Joseph Walker, Common Side
Samuel Hunt, Market Place                                   Samuel Walker, Chapel Hollow
William Jones, Chapel Hollow                              Watson and Webster, Queen St
Thomas Mason, Chapel Hollow                             John Watson, Market Place
John Mason, Field Head                                       Edward Webster, Market Place
John Melbourne, Gutter                                        William and John Webster, Queen St

By 1844 the industry had grown dramatically and there were 191 nail shops and six nail warehouses, as well as other metal trades; three wheelwrights, four blacksmiths and thirty five framework manufacturing shops. The nail trade grew apace; by 1857 there were five hundred workers making ordinary nails and three hundred making horse nails in Belper, generally in their own homes.

A major dispute affected all the horse nail makers in 1851, when a strike of several weeks duration took place. Their grievance was the employment of “foggers”, or middlemen, by the masters and the dispute was extremely successful. The “fogger” system was abolished and each workman was to fetch and return his own work to the manufacturers. Heavy fines were to be imposed on manufacturers or workmen who reverted to the “fogger” system. But the victory was brief, for by the following week the nailers were out again and “many of them” simply moved to alternative work at Netherton, near Dudley, in Staffordshire’s ‘Black Country’, as the employers evaded or avoided their responsibilities.

In 1858 the nailers were on strike again; this time over a cut in piecework prices. While a few returned to work “without submitting to a reduction of the price for work” only after another week out. The dispute must have been most effective, for a soldier in the Guards at Windsor wrote to his parents in Belper that he had “been working in the nailing business for his regiment since nails from Belper, on account of the strike, were not forthcoming”. [26]

Two years later another battle occurred when the Black Country nailers’ strike spread over into Derbyshire. Tremendous hardship was felt and game poaching became rife, so much so, that it was almost another industry in the town. One of the tombs in St. John’s Churchyard was used to hide and store food that had been poached by the strikers. Their demands were for an extra sixpence (6d) for every thousand nails. Although one nail master verbally promised an increase of three pence (3d), this did not materialise. In the end the strike failed to achieve its objective, despite eight months of struggle.

But the industry continued to thrive and this defeat did not deter trades union action, particularly as the workforce became proletarianised. By the 1870s firms like John Harrison of Laund Hill had a factory in Marsh Lane, which employed five hundred men. By this stage the industry had moved out of back garden anvils in the workers’ homes to fully-fledged factories. With this level of activity came the inevitable capital investment to reduce costs. Trouble flared up when a ‘new technology’ device was introduced in 1872, the ‘Tommy Hammer’, or ‘Oliver’. The device was used to strike the head into the nail and immediately large numbers of nailers were laid off. In retaliation there were attacks on the hammers and bellows in the workshops in Belper, which rapidly spread to Wirksworth, when managers had to escape from the workshops “in fear of injury or life”. [27] With the new techniques and increasing specialisation in the ‘Black Country’, nailmaking quite rapidly lost its significance in Belper as this comparison of the relative workforce in different factories in the town in 1876 shows:

Nailers 600
Park Foundry 30
Brettles 220
Wards 160
Manloves 50
Strutts 1,500
Lace hands 100
Chevening 200

By 1889, when traditional nailmaking was still rapidly waning, the Belper workers were still well organised, even at the trade’s death. In December, a demand for a significant wage increase was met with two offers of piecework increases within five weeks. The second, of three pence (3d) per thousand nails, fell short of the demand of five pence (5d), causing a short dispute that was soon ended by a return to work. Within the next few years the industry was dead in Belper and so was the Nailmakers’ Union.

(ii) Coachbuilders

Upwards of sixty attended the Derby Coachmakers’ Society annual supper at the Green Man Inn, St. Peter’s Street, in November 1846, and the branch, part of the United Kingdom Society of Coachmakers, had some fifty members in 1851. [28] Derby was frequently visited by tramping coachbuilders. In the last quarter of 1851, the lodge paid out £8 6s 5d in benefits, indicating a very high level of usage of their clubhouse at the Green Man.

The Chesterfield lodge had only eight members, but nonetheless held their own clubhouse in the Barley Mow, open to travelling brothers. [29] Nor was the branch inactive with its tiny membership. In March 1859 the branch appealed to the executive council for intervention in the case of a painter who went to work for a farrier who had begun coach building, and the case is illustrative of the work of the society. Full time officers were a long way off. “Delegates”, or workingmen who were paid loss of earnings for the time it took to handle a society trade problem, were more common. The UKSC “sent a delegate and found a small shop and a blacksmith was at work finishing a smith’s job… Men not in the trade did most of the work”. After the report, the society resolved that the painter could not work for the employer and belong to the society until the employer “provided separate apartments for coachworks and employed none but coach-makers.” [30]

Such protective concern for the trade enabled the UKSC to maintain a strong power base in coachbuilding and the union grew significantly.

Membership of UKSC Derbyshire Branches [31]

Derby       Chesterfield
1852                        66                 9
1856                        96               18
1862                      111               16

Moreover, there was a remarkably high level of involvement in the UKSC. In mid-1860, for example, in excess of fifty members attended a vote at the Derby branch on certain rule and policy proposals. There were four shops organised in 1862 in Derby, when the society established 6 am to 6 pm working in the week, ending work at 4 pm on Saturdays. There were one and half-hours for meal breaks. The three shops in Chesterfield operated similar hours that compared quite well with the rest of the country. [32]

Each clubhouse or branch assisted the other to maintain trade standards. A delegate was sent to Chesterfield in 1865 to deal with the grievances in all the small shops there. In Mrs. Kirk’s shop, an engine-smith and a coach-smith were working together, at the same hearth; after his intervention, the manager agreed to the delegate’s suggestion to build another. The delegate’s report concluded: “the town being now quiet, we hope it may continue so for a long time to come”. The society had done its work well, for that is exactly what happened.

Not so in Derby, however. In the summer of the following year a dispute was declared with a Derby employer, when a delegate called upon a Mr Smith to encourage him to introduce the Saturday ‘half-holiday’. As the only coach-maker in Derby not to do so, Smith was told that the men would be coming out on strike; he obstinately declared himself bankrupt, rather than be told what to do by the society. His business was sold to new owners who, not being coachbuilders, appointed one of the men, naturally, a UKSC member, as manager, whereupon he promptly introduced the Saturday half-day. In the meantime, the society’s procedures had been put into operation and an embargo had been declared on the company throughout the kingdom, which would mean that no society, and consequently no skilled coachmaker, would work in it. However, after “receiving a full report of the circumstances of the case from the members”, the UKSC decided to consider the shop as never have been boycotted and the new foreman-manager entirely free from blame. [33]

The men of Derby proved themselves ever ready to act, for later in 1866 one shop was financially supported by the society for “resisting a reduction of wages”, which in turn showed that the union was always ready to assist, unlike some bodies. For the UKSC was a trade society and a mutual benefit association in equal measure. Funeral benefits were substantial – £12 on the death of a member. Derby members, John Evans and John Steer, who died on the 9th July and the 26th July 1869 respectively, were able to rely on their families receiving a benefit which would more than pay for the funeral and perhaps even ease the financial loss of wages for a couple of weeks or so. [34]

The complex rules governing union benefits were often subject to considerable argument within the society, and the UKSC retained the constitutional practice of resolving such problems by votes in all the branches. The Derby lodge pursued a claim for Superannuation benefit for four members throughout 1869 and the following year, which ended in such a ballot vote. As usual, the precise details of the case were printed in the quarterly journal, for all to consider on “Quarterly Night”, the branch meeting night every member had to attend or pay a fine for absence. In this case, John Hall (76 years old), James James (74), William Watson (72) and James W. Furniss (68), all with membership of the society pre-dating 1834, made a claim for a union pension in 1869. They were allowed eight shillings a week, but claimed that as they had first made the claim in 1861, but had allowed it to lie since then, they were entitled to Superannuation under the rules from that date, not the rules operating when they had reactivated their claim. It seems that from 1861 onwards they were continuing to earn, as top craftsmen, the very high wage of thirtytwo shillings a week and had waived their rights to claim in order to save their society money. The executive made much of these high wages, expressing considerable disbelief of their declared generosity, to the displeasure of the Derby lodge.

The rules of the society had been altered in 1861 to introduce a scale of payments according to the age of entry. To qualify for the full rate of twelve shillings a week pension, a man had to join immediately after apprenticeship and, for a ten-shilling pension, before he was thirty years of age. Joining after that age entitled members to an eight-shilling pension. The essence of the Derby case was that when the men first applied the rules were different and the debate about the fairness, or otherwise, of their case raged throughout several issues of the journal. The Derby secretary pleaded for justice and the issue was generally complicated by lack of records and membership cards from the early days. While the executive was concerned greatly that a too flexible approach to benefits under rule would cost the society dearly. For benefit expenditure had risen from £102 per quarter in 1865 to £303 a quarter just a mere four years later. Despite the eloquence of the argument, the ballot predictably went against Derby: 1,747 voted against them, while only 296 voted for the branch’s position. [35]

As in many industries, the early Seventies saw a concerted offensive on reducing the working week amongst coach makers. Most, like Messrs Hall, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, were operating a 56 1/2 hour week in 1871, but the main demand was for the nine hour day then being vigorously pursued by railway workers and engineering workers. The wheelwrights of Derby took up the demand at Cowlishaw’s of London Road and readily won it. UKSC deputations were sent to Woolley’s at Allestree, and elsewhere, and were able to win their demands. [36]

Herbert and Arthur Holmes, a well established and long since organised firm of coach makers, at London Road, Derby, conceded a 54 hour week in March 1872 and the UKSC journal commented: “We have to return thanks to the Messrs Holmes of Derby for granting the half holiday to their men on Saturdays, which we do most sincerely, hoping they may find that at the end of a year, that although so large a firm, they have lost nothing by their generosity”. So, Holmes’ had given the nine-hour day and then the UKSC had maintained its insistence on half day working on Saturday. [37]

Derby had been historically an important centre in the manufacture of horse-drawn coaches and carriages, especially in quality work. The rapid development of a new industry, the railway coach manufacturing operated by Midland Railways, was at first untouched by the UKSC, which viewed the whole thing with a kind of horror that gradually turned to hesitation. Once their concern for the maintenance of trade standards was satisfied, the UKSC soon began organising. Particularly strong was the demand for accepted trade wages and the coachmakers employed by the Midland expressed their gratitude in the UKSC journal to the secretaries of other branches who “so promptly replied to the letters sent to them requesting a statement of wages paid to their branch in the railway districts”. No wonder they were pleased; it had been the means of their obtaining an advance of twenty-eight shillings per week. If other areas helped Derby, it was very much a two way process. We have already seen that the lodge played its part in providing delegates. Some were sent from the town to Leicester and Birmingham in the spring of 1873. No doubt the success of the UKSC in Derby on the hours battle would enable their delegates in their task of helping to “persuade the employers to concede the 54 hours”. [39]

Indeed, as the UKSC journal revealed, it was as easy to obtain the 54 hours as it had been some months previously in Derby. Like the railway workers, who had won a similar battle, which had inspired others to emulate them, the coachmakers realised the importance of not only winning the 54 hours, but also establishing when those hours should apply. The UKSC recommended 6am to 5pm on weekdays and 6am to 1pm on Saturdays, but many employers simply met the demand by making the men work after 5pm on fewer days. As there was no overtime agreement, the employers had a clear escape route, unless the hours were fixed very firmly as the society recommended. The UKSC was very dissatisfied with it all, as they would have to “agitate for proper hours, thus having to fight two battles where one would have accomplished the object sought if a firm stand had been made at first”. [40]

The ten years from 1879 to 1888 was a time of extreme trade depression in coachmaking. [41] Employers forced a tactic of retreat upon the union as there began a trend to impose wage cuts of up to 50%. The vehicle builders of the North-West of England were locked out in 1879, when the employers tried to compulsorily introduce a 56.5-hour week. In other towns, the employers maintained solidarity by blackmailing their workers into refusing to assist the lockouts. However, by and large, this tactic failed and the battle went on for an entire year. Many UKSC members voluntarily levied themselves a day’s pay a week, including the entire Derby lodge.

The coachbuilders were rapidly forced to rethink their strategy generally. The masters began to toy with the idea of combining more effectively and the UKSC itself had to think about centralising some of it s activities. Even so, many of the virtues of the old trade society were retained – especially a strong commitment to locality and democracy. As the century began to draw to a close, the challenge in Derby for the society was to determine how to maintain its tight control over craft standards and wage the battle as a modern trade union. [42]

(iii) Cotton and Silk Textile Workers

The textile unions also retained much of the character of the old trade societies. They largely federal alliances of local craft associations. Negotiations were directed towards establishing agreed price lists, modified by adjustments from time to time. Unlike `new model’ unions, like the engineers, the textile unions matched a federal structure with central bargaining – the very reverse of the ASE, which projected a central structure with a fondness for local bargaining.

Without doubt, the most important development in the cotton and silk industries was the process of mechanisation, which continued apace. Adherents of the stocking frame simply failed to appreciate that it was possible to mechanise further. J W Hancock, a manager of Ward’s of Belper, repudiated the idea in 1844: “you may as reasonably expect to weave a coat by steam as to weave a stocking”, concluding that the frame was likely to remain a domestic machine. [43] Despite such inaccurate projections of historical possibility, mechanisation of hosiery did take place. Throughout the Forties and Fifties, the hosiery workers battled to maintain standards in the form of agreed price lists in the face of this.

Early in 1846, the framework knitters of Duffield were “thrown into the deepest distress” as a result of “another attack…on their prices”. [44] The workers spontaneously decided to resist the cuts, with marginal effect. The dispute lasted only a few weeks and, by the end of February, the village had begun to “resume its usual appearance by the silk glove hands returning to their employment”. [45] Within another month, it had become clear that the “silk glove hands of Duffield, Belper and Holbrook (had) joined the consolidated trades union”. [46] An important lesson had been established, but it became difficult to act upon it everywhere. The recession in the trade, partly inspired by the shift to factory production, bit hard, especially in Chesterfield where framework knitters had been out of work for some time in 1846. The numbers of frames were diminishing rapidly: “Some years ago many hundred stocking frames were at work at Chesterfield and its vicinity: At present the aggregate does not exceed twenty”. [47] Chesterfield, unlike Derby, did not seem to be able to make the transition – “Many (framework knitters) have forsaken the trade for the more lucrative one of day labourer”. [48]

The problems of what was, by now, a generally stagnant textile industry, spread elsewhere. A major strike of workers of F Ball’s lace manufacturers in Ilkeston developed on the 5th October 1847, when the masters imposed another reduction in wages. This turnout proved to be most `singular’, for having met at the cricket ground to discuss the problem, the workers agreed to resolve the difference that existed between them by playing a cricket match! An offer made by the employer was at stake and “the game was won by the party for the refusal with upwards of one hundred notches (i.e. runs) to spare”. [49]

The “wrought cotton hose hands” of Belper demonstrated in May 1849 to oppose wage cuts. Two hundred and fifty “hands” assembled one Wednesday evening and paraded the streets of the town, publicising their aim of regulating “the present statement and cause manufacturers to pay the same rate of prices”, that is to say to maintain the previously agreed price lists. The masters resisted and a strike throughout the district began. By June, it was reported by the local press that the “artisans still remain out and avow their intention of continuing so till they have obtained an advance”. Old tactics surfaced when, on 13th June, a “nocturnal visit was paid to the shop of Mr George Barker, (of) Smalley, and three frames were fractured”, no doubt, to prevent the making any more hose during the strike. [50]

Another month passed and the workers were still out. Some manufacturers had offered spun silk work at the 1828 `statement’, or price lists, on the same conditions as paid by an Ilkeston manufacturer. The workers refused this, demanded the full restitution of two shillings a dozen extra on the cotton prices and one shilling for “black” work. [51] The strikers were, by now, in a terrible state of starvation and poverty. The market in Belper on one Saturday in July was “completely besieged with them asking alms” and the shopkeepers complained bitterly about the constant “demand for provisions” of the strikers. [52] They were still in struggle by the 18th July, after ten weeks, but we hear no more of them in the local press thereafter. It seems likely that some settlement, perhaps not to the liking of the workers, was arrived at to secure a return. Yet in May 1850, the Derby glove makers were out on strike again. One of their leaders, speaking at the Mechanics Hall, referred to their grievance as being the “tyrannical treatment at the hands of the middlemen in the town”.

Months later, there developed yet again a strike among the Derby ribbon weavers, at a “large house”, that is to say `business’. The strike, lasting three months, came to an end in February 1851, when the workers returned on the same terms as they went out on. The immediate cause of the dispute had been “the company’s rules and regulations”, but certainly the general stagnation of the industry and its low wages was at the heart of it. [53]

In 1853 the tape hands of Wheatcroft, Tatlow and Hackett in Wirksworth were on strike for several weeks over the definition of a new development in relation to the fixed price list. A new kind of medium size tape, containing 52 `picks’ was introduced. The agreed price list contained prices for medium kinds containing between 40 and 52 picks and the masters argued for a price midway at 46 picks, while the workers insisted on the minimum figure, which produced the maximum piece-work payment. [54]

For all this often-unsuccessful struggle, new technology would dramatically restructure the textile industry and its industrial relations. Experiments with power-driven knitting frames led to the establishment of the first modern style hosiery factory in 1851 in Nottingham. The concept was just what the industry had been looking for and a dramatic shift to steam power began. In 1850 there were still six thousand hand frames in Derbyshire, including seven hundred in Derby itself, many being concentrated around the Bridge Street area. However, by the end of 1853, steam power was generally applied to seamless hosiery manufacture in Derby, rapidly killing off the thousands of hand frames and the occupation of hand framework knitter in the process. By 1862 there were only four factories engaged in hosiery in Derby, but they began to supplant the hand frames and other factories were set up following their example. By 1870, it could truly be said that factory production had eclipsed the hand manufacturing process, although Brettles only finally conceded to mechanisation two years later. [55] One of the last stockingers in the county was Edward Haslam, who kept a frame in his home until 1913. Brettles broke up the last surviving hand frame at the end of the 1920s, although two hand workers continued to produced occasional special orders until they retired in 1936.


Power frames dramatically increased production, whilst diminishing costs. One comparison at the 1851 great Exhibition showed a four-fold production increase for a four-fold selling price reduction, a 1,600% increase in productivity!!

weekly production                selling price per
of square yards of                  square yard
silk gloves

hand-warp frame                                50                                       2s 0d
in 1830

power-warp machine                                1,200                                            6d
in 1851

By 1857 a separate union for power frame operatives was organised – the Nottingham Circular Framework Knitters’ Society, the roots of which today lie in the National Union of Knitwear, Hosiery, and Footwear Workers (KFAT) – which organised spasmodically in Derbyshire. With the prosperity that began to return to the textile industry workers no longer would have to simply accept wages and conditions after a fruitless battle. Local societies formulated clear rules of organisation as the climate proved increasingly favourable to trade union growth. The Derby General Skein Dyers Society was formally founded on May 14th 1859. Rule XI made it clear that its key object was to “afford its members redress by legal means”. The society held fortnightly and quarterly meetings, according to need. For a 2d a week subscription, members enjoyed a negotiated district rate and generally recognised working times and conditions. But this was no benevolent body, alone. Strike benefits were available, given the consent of a general meeting of all members.

The Derby Elastic Bandage Makers Society, which emerged in the Sixties, only admitted recognised framework knitters. Like the Skein Dyers, the prized the strike benefit rule. For 15 shillings a week, lock out or strike pay was available, plus a provision in the rules for any sum of levies on members. A tight organisation structure included a town’s committee of management of the union, composed of one delegate from each shop of up to 20 men and two delegates where the shop was bigger.

After a protracted struggle in the textile trade in 1860-1, consisting of quite a number of strikes, the masters emerged from this experience only to find themselves contemplating a lock out to eliminate the newfound militancy. One dispute lasted eleven weeks, another at Bridett silk mill was many months long. Sensing a more profitable route, some of the major employers, led by A J Mundella, proposed the setting up of a Conciliation Board that was to cover Derby and Belper, along with Nottingham and Loughborough. The unions and the masters engaged in negotiations; despite initial suspicion on the part of the union side, it was eventually agreed to establish such a body. For two years the board acted as a mechanism for the avoidance of disputes. The unions’ negotiators had been able to extract major concessions, but it was only because of the potential for successful strike action that their members had demonstrably acquired. A trade depression in the period 1862-1865 had some very severe effects on the industry in two ways of particular interest. This crisis was brought on a cotton famine due to the civil war in the United States.

The first obvious effect was to diminish Derbyshire’s importance as a cotton county. Lancashire, nearer to the ports, took over as the numbers working in cotton in Derbyshire fell from 20,000 in 1851 to 12,000 twenty years later. The second repercussion was on the character of industrial relations. For the economic crisis in the trade much reduced the bargaining power of the workforce. The need for the Conciliation Board as a means of averting strike action simply went away. Only with the return of good fortune to the industry did the board need to begin to respond again t pressures from the workers. The United Framework Knitters’ Society was set up to co-ordinate the work of the employees’ representatives on the board. A loose federation of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire local societies, it held meetings in Heanor and elsewhere to organise those willing to support joint regulation of the trade. Not all employers were by any means happy to accept this concept. There was a lockout in Derby in 1865 over the reduction of wages in some firms. By and large however the concept of the board was successful and the industry went through a period of strike free and lockout free peace.

By June 1866, unity proved possible for the textile workers in the three hosiery counties and the three trades of cotton, silk and wool. Three county delegate meetings of framework knitters were now genuinely able to establish the United Society “to protect our wages and to render assistance to all the members who subscribe to our funds and conform to our laws” (i.e. rules). [57] However, the long-standing sense of the separateness of the various branches of the trade ensured that little came of the initiative. Sectional consciousness rose above class-consciousness. Despite this, success bred success and the sheer effect of the unity process both stimulated and reflected a new confidence amongst trades unionists. Agreed printed lists detailing thousands of items brought stability in wages to the workers and fairness in competition between employers with the large measure of uniformity that followed. There were obviously some employers who preferred independence and preferred paternalistic management to this new concept, but change to a set of industrial relations that would be familiar to the modern day was underway.

In 1872 this was to lead to a general conflict in the silk trade locally. One key local employer was John Smedley of Riber Castle, whose Lea Mills near Matlock had well over a thousand hands spinning and manufacturing long, fine merino wool hosiery. Smedley was able to avoid the conflict and gave his reasons for why he believed he was able to do so. He advised taking lessons from the employers of old. “My ancestors’ idea was that those who rode inside the coach, should make those as comfortable as possible who are compelled, from mere accident of birth, to ride outside.” Smedley repudiated those employers who paid low wages, there was no `truck’ at Lea Mills and earnings were “fully up to the average of the district”. Moreover, no strict codes of rules kept order in his enterprise. Smoking and beer were not allowed, but were not formally prohibited. The workers “abstain … from them regards to my feelings on the subject” believed Smedley. No supervision, he asserted, was necessary, “nor any person appointed to keep order because it is never needed”. There were no “boisterous hands” and “bad language … (was) … never heard the year round”. [58]

This was obviously the particular view of one rather paternalistic master, with a very old-fashioned sense of magisterial obligation, in one relatively remote mill. It could certainly not be a unanimous view for the trade by any means, especially as the silk industry in Derby was beset with difficulties when four thousand throwsters were locked out. [59] A massive rally was held in the Temperance Hall to review the developments that had given rise to this and to decide what next to do. 180 men had asked for a two shillings a week rise on their rather low basic wage of eighteen shillings, along with the introduction of time-and-a-quarter for all overtime. It was, in effect, a claim for parity with Nottingham, but the Derby masters refused to even consider negotiations and locked everyone out. The unreasonableness of the silk masters startled the lockouts. As the chairman at the Temperance Hall rally put it, “if the employers of Nottingham can afford to give the advance, why not those of Derby?” Some increases had been made before the lock out, only to be undermined by the employers demanding a corresponding increase in the workload. For example, at the Agard Street mills, which the lockouts sharply and adversely contrasted with Smedley, who was cited as “a perfect example of what an employer should be”.

The workers steeled themselves for a long battle. A delegate from Nottingham referred to the recent loss of a “great struggle in the iron trade” and asked if they were to lose the present one. “No! No!” came the shouted reply of the lock-outs who resolved to “stand out until we obtain our reasonable request” and called for public donations for the lock out fund to be sent to W Richards, Scarsdale Arms, Colyear Street, Derby. Faced with the unused to solidarity, the Derby masters seemed to have allowed for some measure of conciliation to succeed, although the demand for parity with Nottingham was historically never to win through. Indeed, to certain extant, the Nottingham employers began to use this relative weakness as a rationale for moving their machines to eastern Derbyshire, away from the union. Although the Circular Knitters’ Society had organised one factory in Ilkeston in 1874, by and large, the area between Derby and Nottingham remained a no-man’s land. “A regular exodus” to places like Ilkeston and Heanor began in 1878. The union began to organise in these areas, but was unable to shift the rates up to the Nottingham differential. [60]

Most unions, like most mills, were becoming very male dominated, women being assigned to the lowliest of trades. The Seamers’ and Stitching Union was founded in December 1874, with some financial assistance from the Women’s Trade Union League. These skills were home-working occupations, paying as little as five shillings a week. Mainly centred in Leicestershire, the union had strong support in Derbyshire, probably several hundred members. The depression that came in the late Seventies, along with the death of the union’s leader hit hard and within a decade it had faded away.

Frame rents in hosiery were finally abolished in 1874 by Parliament and disputes about frame rents were gradually superseded by more modern arguments. Brettles in Belper faced a major strike in 1876, when management complained that the workers had treated them very badly! It was, however, a good time for the masters and their solidarity was strong. Ward’s offered to let Brettles use their machinery and premises to continue production. A terrible trade depression, lasting a decade, had begun and it was an opportunity for the masters to seek the breaking of union power of these new bodies. The transition form outwork to factory work gave workers in isolated places like Belper a high `market’ value for their labour. A general determination to stamp out the wave of enthusiasm for trades unionism emerged. The Derby and Nottingham Elastic Web weavers were in battle in 1880 and the Derby Dyers’ Society followed two years later.

Unemployment rocketed in 1885 and 1886 but, as the worst years receded and in time turned to boom, the past experience of unionism was rapidly put to use once again. Hosiery workers at Ilkeston established a local union in 1887 and enabled a three county discussion to take place about the formation of a power-frame workers’ union once again. The Midlands’ Counties Hosiery Federation was set up by the end of the next year and the first delegate meeting held in Ilkeston in June 1889, where the Ilkeston Union was given two out of the twelve seats on the joint federation committee. Greatly encouraged by the Federation this union grew rapidly, despite frequent lockouts, spreading into both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. H Bristol, the Ilkeston Union secretary, helped launch a recruiting campaign in Belper and elsewhere in 1890. In April of the following year the knitters of Heanor organised. All pretence at maintaining an agreed uniform price list was now dropped, for the Ilkeston hosiery workers were as worried as the masters at the prospect of attaining the Nottingham rate. After all, their relatively cheap labour had got them their jobs in the first place. Whilst advances in wages and conditions were tenaciously fought for, the concept of a negative differential with Nottingham was very much at the heart of the eastern Derbyshire trades unionists. [61] By 1893, the Ilkeston Union had recruited most male knitters in the five towns it covered; 640 out of some eight hundred belonged to the union. The problem of organising the largely unskilled women workers remained. Out of around a thousand possible members the union had only won forty. [62]

(iv) Lacemaking

By the Great Exhibition of 1851 there were new model unions for the three separate sections of the lace trade, that is to say levers, plain and net. These covered four thousand lace workers in the county. Like the other unions of the type, they charge very high subscriptions and were very selective about who was allowed to join. In consequence, very few workers were organised, but the effectiveness of trade union pressure saw the establishment of a joint arbitration approach, as in the rest of the textile industry, which helped to push up Derby lace workers’ weekly earnings from 33/- to 45/9d five years later. A depression in the trade in 1873 brought the end of conciliation and the masters tried to cut wages. The strike that resulted was so effective that the lace masters became determined to end the influence of the Nottingham based unions. In consequence, lace manufacture began to be concentrated around Derby and on the outskirts of Nottingham, much to the gain of the former.

Following on from this, the three lace societies came together in 1874 to form the Amalgamated Society of Lacemakers (ASL, which later joined the NUHW, later NUH&KW, which then joined KFAT a union that became part of Community), which was the main union in the lace trade in Long Eaton and Ilkeston for the next two decades. Organisation was patchy though. Two years after its foundation, the Long Eaton lodge’s activity was “very cool”. [63] Even when the ASL cut contribution rates in 1878, many men would not join out of fear. “Everything regarding the societies in Long Eaton seemed dead.” [64] Wages remained relatively low at between twelve shillings and twenty-two shillings a week and employers continued to drift towards the eastern Derbyshire belt. After a serious wage dispute in 1877, F P Norris, a major lace manufacturer in Nottingham, took on men who travelled from Long Eaton at his expense. The next year, he moved lock, stock and barrel to Long Eaton, where he began to pay lower than the Nottingham rate. [65]

In Derby, Fletcher Brother opened a new lace factory in the 1880s on Osmaston Road, making it quite clear that trades unionists need not apply. Against this unpromising background, the lace workers only very gradually unionised. A recruitment campaign in 1878 did not do very well, but the eighties brought more success, especially in Long Eaton. As part of a recruiting campaign, Joseph Arch, the founder of the agricultural workers union, was invited to speak in Long Eaton in 1884. However, the employers countered this by a lock out. Nevertheless, considerable numbers joined and the lock out changed to a long drawn out guerrilla war. By March 1885, the ASL was able to declare all Long Eaton shops as `open’ to them and five hundred members were organised. Employers were reluctant to employ trades unionists, but at 25% more wages a week, the men were naturally more than happy to combine.

However, by the end of the decade there were only one hundred and fifty members of the ASL in Long Eaton and only thirty-nine by 1902. Competition became fierce between the craft orientated Amalgamated Society and the Long Eaton and District Association of Operative Lacemakers (LEDAOL – later part of WU, today part of the T&G’s Textiles Trade Group). The latter tended to be favoured by the employers in the town, because of their lack of contact with the higher paid Nottingham lace makers, which enabled LEDAOL to more easily accept a lower district rate. Additionally, the trend to mechanisation – there were over two hundred lace machines in Long Eaton by 1889 – considerably undermined the craft ASL, whereas LEDAOL easily organised unskilled workers. [66] The craft union continued to struggle unsuccessfully for dominance into the Nineties.

(v) Building Workers

One effect of the rapid economic growth of the entire Victorian era was a vast increase in the scale and importance of the building trade. Houses, factories, railway stations and public buildings of all kinds were constructed in great numbers. This development took place in an industry in which skilled tradesmen had always had trade unions. Societies like the Stonemasons’ had at one stage been the most powerful in the trades union world. After the collapse of GNCTU, the builders’ unions simply carried on as before. As well as lodges of all the key traditional trades – masons, bricklayers, joiners and carpenters – other bodies were also set up. Some thirty people attended a supper at Derby’s Rose and Crown; they were members of the “Journeymen Painters’ Friendly Society”, which had recently been established for the “relief of widows … (and) … also for protecting the trade from unqualified persons”. [67]

Derby’s builders were organised, as elsewhere, entirely along trade lines. Although joint disputes did sometimes take place, like that of 1847 when local bricklayers and labourers jointly struck for an advance. A demand was posed for 24/ for bricklayers and fifteen shillings for labourers, “being an increase of two shillings per man, per week”. This at a time when a ten-hour day rate for bricklayers was calculated to be 5/- and for labourers to be 3/-. [68] Generally the unions were for skilled men and there must have been a sense of the labourers being `theirs’ for the bricklayers to work jointly with them. Each trade demanded its own society and there was often violent hostility between them. Consequently the trade unions were tiny organisations, an elite amongst workingmen. The Operative Plumbers’ Trade Union and Provident Society had only seven lodges nationally in 1852 – one of them in Derby – though with a total of eighty one members nationally, there could only have been a handful of men in the society in the town. [69]

The building worker was faced with his biggest challenge over the campaign for the nine-hour day in 1859. Fearful of the rising tide of unity and militancy that grew with the demand, the employers resorted to old tactics. The `document’ reappeared and members of the various trade unions were locked out until they signed a repudiation of their society. A massive publicity campaign was waged, especially in London, where the battle was at its fiercest. Vast collections of money were made in solidarity with the lockouts and one by one the masters gave in. By February 1860, the lock out was at an end. Though only half a victory, it gave a tremendous boost to the small, localised craft societies. As the lock out drew to a close, George Potter, the carpenters’ leader, called a conference in Derby around the campaign towards establishing a nine-hour day association. This was entitled the “United Kingdom Association for Shortening the Hours of Labour in the Building Trade”. All the societies attended the conference, which was successfully countered by a proposal from the masters to introduce hourly payments on the basis of flexible working day. Quite simply, this enabled the employers to cut the pay of those who worked the nine hours. In the face of this, the masons and the bricklayers withdrew in March and the plasterers soon followed. [70]

Despite setbacks, building unions blossomed in the generally confident mood that prevailed after the lock out. The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners (ASC&J) was founded in 160 on the close model of the engineers’ ASE. Strikes were made difficult by rule in the ASC&J, a twenty one-part questionnaire intentionally aimed to inhibit applications for dispute benefit. The Plasters came together in a similar mood of unity on the 28th March 1860 in the National Association of Operative Plasterers (NAOP – today part of the T&G’s Building Crafts Section). For their part they followed the stonemasons’ constitutional model, which tended to allow them to respond with more militancy.

Potter was a leading trades unionist of the day, born in 1832 at Kenilworth, he was himself the son of a carpenter. He became secretary of a local carpenters’ society in London in 1853 and within four years was the virtual leader of the 9 hours movement. Secretary of the Council of United Building Trades, he was also publisher of the radical newspaper, the Beehive. Potter tried to weld all building unions together, traversing trade loyalty. Aiming to build on the gains of 1860, he convened another national conference in Derby. His speech is recorded in the “Proceedings of a Conference of Delegates from the Building Trade held…at Derby, January 1861”, published n London later that year. Old Owenite and more recent Chartist desires can be sensed, not merely the aim of maintaining basic economic standards. Potter believed that the “question was not a pounds, shillings and pence” one, but it was a matter of “the right of the workman to have his intellectual facilities properly educated”. In passing, it might be observed that all these national goings-on in Derby – the site of the infamous lock out only a quarter of a century before, well within living memory – must have had an effect on the local movement of building workers. The choice of the town as a conference centre may even have perhaps even reflected the state of organisation and opinion locally. [71]

But, nationally, Potter was badly isolated. His opponents were a new style trades unionist, less concerned with social change than with the change in their members’ pockets! As if in reply to the 1861 conference, the Carpenters’ and Joiner general Union was re-organised in 1862 into a more centralised and businesslike body. Many of the lodges criticised the lack of independence now due to them and were circularised by the Manchester and Derby lodges against the new rules. Special exception was taken to the replacement of tramping by an out-of-work benefit. [72] Derby continued to display a unity of purpose locally, when bricklayers and other trades jointly stuck in March 1865. During 1875, the ASC&J absorbed the National Association of Carpenters and Joiners, which was itself a splinter from the General Union and had a branch in Derby.

So, trades unions at this time were almost entirely the preserve of skilled craftsmen. In the supporting materials industry, however, trades unionism began to grow, albeit rather slowly. Other unions were particularly able to establish themselves in this sector as it increasingly relied upon mass production techniques. The Derby branch of the Amalgamated Society of Mill Sawyers and Wood Cutting Machinists held its inaugural meeting at the Leviathan Inn in London Rd, Derby, in March 1850. Whilst the building brick industry expanded enormously with the building of massive brickworks like Butterley’s and Mapperley’s. First established to provide for the construction of pit shafts, engine houses and colliery offices, companies such as these moved into the new and massively expanding housing market. Initially, bricks had been made out of clay by hand. A top operative in this skilled trade could make six hundred bricks an hour. With the introduction of modern technology, the trade became de-skilled and only in the great union revolt of the unskilled in the Nineties did the industry become organised.

Similarly, the enormous civil engineering projects of the nineteenth century were not generally organised. Will Thorne, later to become founder of the Gas and General Labourer’ Union (part of today’s GMB), worked as a navvy on the construction of the Derby-Burton railway line. He was later to write that he believed that his subsequent activities had much to do with the experience of living with the “big hearted, carefree men” who worked on the project. “They were an independent type with the spark of rebellion glowing bright within them.” But the rebellion was largely individual, not collective. It would take the explosion of the Nineties to spread independent unionism amongst unskilled builders’ labourers. [73]

(vi) Coalmining

Distribution of coal measures in Derbyshire in the 19th century:

There were no serious attempts to organise the miners in the various coal mining areas of the county for quite some time after the disaster of 1843-44. Although, elsewhere some vestiges of organisation were shown when a public meeting of lead and copper miners was held at Bakewell’s Town Hall on May 28th 1855, to consider their concern over a parliamentary bill that would “render every Lead and Copper mine in England subject to the Poor-rate”. Already, the effects of `globalisation’ had visited the county, as British capitalism shifted its strategy for the exploitation of mineral resources to its increasing imperialist stance and sought such materials where they could be more cheaply resourced. But technology still required ample coal to be available at first hand to industry. Apart from an improved ability to extract better wages that perhaps came from this need, coal miners also experienced the growth of paternalism amongst some owners. Some built schools in the pit villages. The first secretary of the yet to be established Derbyshire Miners’ Association (DMA), James Haslam, attended one of these schools in Clay Cross, which was a converted stable. A later development was self-supporting and entry was possible only by virtue of a penny subscription. [74]

Despite all this, individual cases of action did continue. For example, a meeting of over one thousand coal and ironstone miners from Clay Cross, Staveley, Duckmanton, Dronfield and Alfreton was held at the Forge Hillocks, Brampton, in April 1851. A wage increase and reduction in working time was demanded. [75] The provision of school such as that attended by Haslam by no means dented support for wages struggles. Indeed, education was rare among the miners and their families. Poverty was a much more common commodity.

The Butterley Company undertook a survey of its adult employees in 1856. This revealed that a third could not read at all. In the same survey, the wages of skilled and ancillary tradesmen compared very well to the collier himself:

trade                          wages in shillings

windingmen                        15-18
carpenters and joiners    20
wheelwrights                       21-22
banksmen                            18-20
underground pitsmen       15-20

The infamous “butty” system existed at Butterley’s, as elsewhere in the county. The origin of this name is obscure, but it has been suggested that it is a `euphonious’ name, i.e. pleasing to the ear, or agreeably sounding. An obvious comment about how some academics lack roots in the working class comes to mind! Perhaps more realistic is the idea that it probably emanates from the word `booty’, for a prize or reward. [76] The system operated through the coal owner awarding a contract to small scale `bosses’, who owned the digging tools and hired the miners. These middlemen were rather like the framework knitters’ `bagmen’, or in a more modern version, the building workers’ `lump labour’ contractor. (All coal mining was then privately owned, although it is interesting to note that Derby Co-operative Society was involved in an abortive attempt to set up a co-operative colliery in Ripley. This failed through lack of capital, the society losing some £500 in the venture.) The butty man was at once an employer and a worker. His job was to supply coal at a fixed price and get what they could for themselves at the same time. Being men of limited capital, they faced considerable risks if they agreed a price and then found that the seam was not as good as they had originally thought. To pass on the risk, the butty men would use any tactics they could get away with to get the miner to work at low pay or a faster rate. Accidents were especially bad in butty districts, due to the dangerous systems of pit propping used, which allowed of a speedier pace of work.

The emphasis in safety legislation was very much on the individual miner, not the owner. One worker was imprisoned for a month in 1860 after a fatal accident at Clay Cross was deemed to be his fault, in that he had set insufficient props in the area he was working in. Trades union pressure on Liberal MPs did however ensure some reforming legislation, such as the 1860 Coal Mines Regulations Act, which stopped the employment of under twelve year olds and introduced the right for the men to employ their own official checkweighers. The first in Derbyshire to be so employed was Jonathan Catchpole, who worked at Springwell colliery, Staveley, in 1865. Catchpole (1843-1919) was involved in a rival organisation to the Miners’ Association led by Alexander McDonald in 1864. He was on the credentials committee when a conference was held in Chesterfield. However, in the year that he became checkweighman, he was elected secretary of the McDonaldite Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Miners’ Association. Subsequently, he was one of the founders of the Derbyshire Miners’ Association (DMA), the forerunner to the NUM’s Derbyshire Area. The personal insecurity that was then implied by being in a position of trade union leadership caused Catchpole to drop out and he became sub-postmaster at Holywell Cross in Chesterfield.

Miners in the northern part of the county were organised by the South Yorkshire Miners’ Association (SYMA), which had been formed in April 1858. The first SYMA branch in Derbyshire was set up in August 1861 in Chesterfield, after several meetings were held at the Three Tuns Inn. A sudden demand for coal had led to the employers in April introducing an eleven-hour day; instead of the area’s traditionally low nine and a half hours, much to the displeasure of the men. For the Yorkshiremen, their interest was in stopping the undercutting of themselves by the unorganised, lower paid Derbyshiremen. [77]

Dissatisfaction grew however with the SYMA’s treatment of the county’s new recruits. By 863, a Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Miners’ Association (DNMA) was formed, but operated only clandestinely until 23rd December 1865, when it was formally inaugurated at the George Inn in Eckington. Very soon, the employers were determined to check the growth of unionism.

Four thousand miners met in support of the union on Selston Common, with another thousand meeting at Chesterfield in the summer of 1866. The employers hinted that a lock out would ensue if the men did join the union and were as good as their word. [78] Very soon hundreds of families were evicted from their homes and feelings ran high. The union reached a membership of over seen thousand across the two counties, from its starting point of three hundred only a few months before:    [79]

Nottingham 2,500
Staveley        1,800
Clay Cross      700
rest of
Derbyshire   2,000

The union raised large sums for shelters and tents to accommodate the locked out and evicted families. Strikebreakers were brought in, not only to take the jobs but also, more outrageously, the homes of the union men. The coal owners created company `unions’, for example the Free Labour Society created by William Hunt of the Clay Cross Company, in competition with the lockouts’ organisation. As hunger set in, and the absence of a formal strike fund revealed itself, many men began to drift back to work. Trades unionists of all kinds rallied to assist the miners in their desperation. The London Society of Brushmakers granted £10 to a deputation of miners from the county, “who are locked-out because they have joined a trade society”, at a meeting on the 30th January 1678. [80] The Executive of the carpenters’ ASC&J gave £5 specifically to the Staveley miners.

By the beginning of 1867 there were still about 1,500 men out in Derbyshire, but after January the movement faded away. By June only about 500 members were left in the union in north Derbyshire, with around 1,400 in Nottinghamshire and south Derbyshire jointly. In May, 200 miners of Church Gresley and Swadlincote were locked out for being in the union. The struggle united the whole county and in June a tremendous `camp meeting’ to rally the miners was held in a field near Cotmanhay. Jonas Hooper of Church Gresley and Joseph Severn of Ilkeston were amongst the main speakers. As was William Brown, a lay Methodist preacher and miner from Yorkshire, who had come to the area to help organise the event, which was reminiscent of revivalist religious events common at the time. Their stirring addresses mingled trades unionism and religion in an evangelical vein. The oft-repeated received wisdom – more a half-truth than a half-lie but nonetheless mis-directional for all that – that the Labour Party owed more to Methodism than to Marxism arguably dates from this period, when dis-established religious figures were willing to openly speak for working class rights in a way that the Churches of England or Rome were not prepared to. The miners at long last gave in during March 1868, but only after all those long months of starvation and legal harassment. [81]

For four years the miners of the county became inactive, but in 1872 concessions to the nine-hour day began to be made. Two thousand workers came out in a technically non-union dispute at Ripley; they were followed by other workers at Alfreton and all successfully extracted these concessions. [82] Coal was once more in demand and in these favourable conditions the South Yorkshire Miners’ Association was able to once again establish itself in the county, At first only one lodge of a hundred and sixty five members were established in the New Whittington, Killamarsh and Unstone areas. From then onwards, the union’s revival was rapid. But the quasi-religious camp meetings of the Sixties gave way to a more secular vein. While religion often coloured the language of trade unionists, it had become much less important as an aim in itself.

Membership Growth

SYMA lodges                                   SYMA membership
in Derbyshire                                   in Derbyshire

October 1872                       17                                            1,311
January 1873                       21                                            2,134
November 1874                 38                                            7,018

Once again, parallel to this development, there grew a desire for a specifically Derbyshire county association. The DNMA again resurfaced, mostly in Derbyshire, rather than in Nottinghamshire. In 1873, there were 21 lodges and around 3,000 members, within a year this situation had almost doubled. The SYMA and the DNMA did not compete, except in Clay Cross, rather there were natural spheres of influence. The South Derbyshire and North Leicestershire Miners’ Trade Society was founded in 1873. The SYMA was strong in the very far north and its organisation of a miners’ parade in Chesterfield in 1873 was very impressive. Thirty thousand visitors poured into the town to watch the miners, their thirty brass bands and lodge banners. As always, miners prized their banners as a badge of battle. Such pride was exemplified on another occasion, when the Clay Cross branch paraded its new £60 banner through the town lead by a band. Considered the “finest piece of workmanship of its kind in the county – on one side was a traditional `before and after’ theme of the non-union, ragged, poverty stricken collier, on the other was a `Liberty’ female form.” [83]

Bitter struggles characterised the experience of the miners, as when eleven leaders of the Butterley men were refused work after a dispute ended in 1874. 1,100 employees signed a petition calling for their re-engagement. “As ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them,” argue the men. Such victimisation was commonplace, but only served to harden the resolve of miners. A photograph of those involved in the 1874 Butterley dispute is in the possession of Erewash Museum (see pic below). It is labelled “Victimised by the Butterley Company May 5th 1874, without charge” and the names of the individuals were originally hand-written: T Shooter, G Brown, G Cox, G Taylor, T Vickers, J Statham, ? Seal, T Wheeldon, J Wright, T Purdy; by their demeanour and distribution, Wheeldon is clearly the leader of the group. Many sharp battles of this kind occurred, some enabling actual positive gains, although the miners were often criticised for the `greed’. But, as a DMA leader put it: “in 1871 coal was selling at 8s per ton, and it was now (i.e. 1873) sold at £1. Out of the 12s per ton advance, labour had only 2s, therefore capital had the remainder.” [84]

It was, however, a time of rapidly expanding demand and the employers were not in a position to opposite the growth of trades unionism. Yet, much dissatisfaction developed amongst the Derbyshire miners at the remoteness of the SYMA’s Barnsley headquarters. Indeed, the union was renamed the South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Miners’ Association in 1876, on the proposal of the Horton lodge. This concern grew sharper as the masters began to seek wage cuts after the early Seventies’ prosperity. Membership fell from over 7,000 to nearly 4,800 two years later. By late 1876, the SYMA (or SYNDMA as it should now be called) began to dramatically loose members in Derbyshire, despite its extended name. By December 1879 it had barely 250 members left in the county and from the following year Derbyshire miners began to go their own way. In the meantime, both the DNMA and the South Derbyshire society fared no better and were virtually extinct by 1878. From a high spot in 1873, within five years wages had dropped by about a half, now being well below the 1871 level. [85]

The conditions for the development of one united mineworkers’ association in the north of the county association were more than ripe. The Derbyshire Miners’ Association (DMA) was formed by a group of the former activists from both the SYMA and the DYMA at a meeting at the Sun Inn, West Bars, in Chesterfield. Fifty delegates met on the 6th December 1879, representing upwards of 10,000 miners. [86] The pits represented were:

Blackwell                  Foxley Caks             Sheepbridge
Brampton                 Grassmoor               Staveley
Beythorpe                Kniveton Park         Summerley
Clay Cross               New Stead                Unstone Silkstone
Cottam                      Pangelay’s               Unstone Main
Derbyshire-Silkstone                                Renishaw Park

Pointing to the improved state of trade, they resolved to ask the owners for “a reconsideration of their present rate of wages”. The new association revealed itself to be strongly influenced by the general trend to the establishment of formal conciliation boards, which they asked the masters to agree to, so that a situation might prevail “whereby strikes and lock-outs might become things of the past”. The men were very “anxious to arrange matters amicably”, but as time passed by and the masters had not responded, they decided to ballot the coalfield. But it could not have been a serious proposition; in the face of the employers’ hostility the union was virtually powerless until it could translate the initial enthusiasm for the union into a fighting machine. Despite the wide support at the beginning of the year, by the end of 1880 the DMA had only 10 lodges.

But as trade continued to improve and the employers began to worry over the prospect of a dispute, the DMA was able to extract important wage concessions and recruitment soared. Despite the fact that the stated aim of the DMA was to convince rather than compel, disputes occurred especially at places where the union was weak or non-existent:

colliery                      reason for Dispute

Grassmoor               working hours
Summercotes          use of safety lamp and piecework earnings
Coles Park               use of safety lamp and piecework earnings
Mapperley                wage cuts

Meanwhile, miners in the south of Derbyshire had set up a permanent body – the South Derbyshire Amalgamated Miners’ Association – which was founded in 1883 under the leadership of William Buckley. Initially covering only the Church Gresley area, it spread to the whole coalmining area in that part of the county.

The Coal Mines Act of 1872 had created minimum safety standards and many miners’ leaders continued to argue for improvement by recourse to the political system. Liberal support was strong among the miners. The work of Nottingham Liberal MP, Mundella, in popularising conciliation boards, firstly in his own industry of textiles, paid off in mining as well. The Employers’ Liability Act of 1880 was particularly welcome to miners, for it gave all workers a general legal claim for damages arising out of accidents at work. If a fellow worker was partly to blame, the employer could evade responsibility, a qualification only dropped in 1897.

Despite the benefits of the Act, the tragedy of the miners’ lot was not altered. The dreadful explosion at the No 7 Parkhouse pit on November 7th 1882 was one of the worst disasters of the time. 45 men and boys died and 33 widows and around 100 orphans were thus created in one fell swoop. A whitewash inquest held at the Queen’s Head in Clay Cross absolved the employers from blame, containing not a single miner the jury was composed of `gentlemen’, farmers, grocers and just two skilled craftsmen. The “accident” was attributed to a methane gas explosion and naturally most of the dead were horribly burned. Thus the tragedy and danger of mining was not eliminated by legislation and the political strategy adopted by the miners only partly alleviated the daily problems of the collier, mainly by providing limited compensation in some circumstances. In the wake of the controversy over the Parkhouse explosion and the consequences of legislation, the Midland Colliery Owners Association instigated the setting up of a Miners’ Fatal Accident Relief Society in 1883. Initially, the DMA was distrustful of this move, believing it to be an attempt to allow the owners to escape the implications of the Employers’ Liability Act. Typically, miners sought a sense of pride in the danger of their work and the immediate concern simply had to be the winning of a pay packet to feed their families. [87]

A six-week dispute against wage cuts in Ilkeston began spontaneously in 1885. The DMA took control of the strike, even though most of the men were not members. Emotions were strong. When a crowd of a thousand men and women broke the windows of the house of one Francis Newton, a strikebreaker. A set of mock wooden gallows, with a black stocking hanging from it, was left outside his home. The colliery manager went berserk when the crowd reached his house, shooting and wounding nine of the strikers. In the end, despite the furore, the dispute was settled by a compromise of halving the reduction demanded by the employers. [88]

The DMA secretary, James Haslam stood in the 1885 election for the Chesterfield division as a “Liberal-Radical”, without the formal support of the Liberals. Haslam failed to get elected with 1,907 votes to the Tories’ 2,136 and the Liberals’ 3,408, but despite this the experience by no means daunted the DMA. It continued to support the Labour Electoral Association, a Liberal body devoted to getting working class candidates selected by the party. For some time the miners would remain attached to the Liberal in a way no other group of workers would.

A strike wave swept the Derbyshire coalfields in 1889, displaying the first signs for a long time of a truly organised militant spirit. A strike at Pilsley, near Clay Cross, at the beginning of 1889 was the climax. There the men struck for a 10% increase for the pit-top, unskilled banksmen. All underground workers had been accorded a 20% increase the year before, but banksmen had been missed out. In a tremendous display of solidarity, the colliery struck. Haslam addressed the men in the open space before the Star Inn and there was never any doubt of some success. In the end, the dispute ceased with the company’s offer of 3s 2d for the banksmen, a small increase but a tremendous moral victory. [89] Another dispute emerged at Alfreton over the butty system at the same time. All this activity resulted in a stupendous growth for the DMA, which now began what was to become a long tradition of an annual demonstration at Chesterfield. The first event in 1889 had 51 lodges represented, with 15 brass bands. The era of the miners’ gala had arrived. Proud, defiant, independent and strong, the miners paraded their virtues and all workers around in the county nearby would have taken note.

Perhaps because of its Liberal adherence, the DMA was reluctant to join the new federation of county union, the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) in 1890, because of suspicions about its supposed excessive militancy. The Federation had emerged out of the national pressure on politicians to introduce an 8-hour day act, an issue that should have been especially relevant to Derbyshire. Between 48 and 54-hour week generally applied in the county, a reflection of the weakness which the DMA faced. This weakness was to diminish in almost inverse proportion to the increasing importance of the county’s coal production. In the period 1880 to 1913 production in the area increased by 125% compared to a national increase of 95%: [90]

national tonnage            Derbyshire tonnage
1880                           147 million                 8 million
1913                           287 million                18 million

The Derbyshire coal trade owed much to its expansion to the coming of railways in a big way. Midland Railway especially favoured Derbyshire coal over Yorkshire coal and maintained a favourable haulage rate. With the expansion came a vast increase in the numbers employed and consequently the DMA membership. By the beginning of the Nineties mining trades unionism was at last firmly established, but the union had yet to experience greater trauma and wider political lessons had yet to be observed.

DMA membership in the 1880s     [91]

1881                   696
1882               1,000
1883               2,837
1884               1,296
1885               2,000
1886               2,500
1887               2,500
1888               3,000
1889               9,680
1890               12,677

(vii) Railways

No sooner had the railways established themselves than workers began to react defensively. Late in 1849, porters’ wages at the Midland railway were cut from 17s a week by 1/-. Draymen, with wages at 18/-, were “offered” a reduction of 1/- as well. At Leeds the men refused to accept this and in consequence 40 men were sacked and the directors advertised for new men at the new rate. In solidarity with this outrageous behaviour, the Derby men immediately followed the Leeds example. This lead to a general cessation of nearly all the Midland Railway staff, which was considerably embarrassing to the company. No doubt a satisfactory solution was found, for only days later the local paper was able to coyly announce of the strike that “happily it is now ended”. [92]

Within four years further problems arose when the company retained a fortnight’s wages. About 120 men met at the Park Street “Labour Hall”, near the station, to resolve that they strike to keep their weekly payment of wages, but allow the company to retain four days in hand. “Namely, that our previous Saturday’s weekly wages be paid to us on the Thursday night following”. [93] Trying to win support from the public for their position, the men “excited general sympathy…and a…considerable amount of money” to their cause. [94] Out on strike only a short while, the men easily won their argument against this background.

But this initial ease with which the railway workers took action was soon to be restricted by the rigid military style discipline that was imposed, in part to inhibit the development of unions under the guise of achieving greater efficiency. For a decade or more, independent and militant action was stifled. A railwaymen’s society was established nationally in 1865, with some considerable difficulty, for the employers’ hostility was an overwhelming stumbling block. Two years later a newly formed Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s United Society seemed ready to really take off, following massive support for a dispute in the North East of England and East Yorkshire. On 28th April 1867, a delegate meeting of over a thousand men was held at Derby, which decided pretty unanimously in favour of recommending a solidarity general stoppage. But later meetings caused the new leadership to think again and in the end the strike in the north failed and with it the new union.

After the intervention of a reforming Liberal local politician, M T Bass MP, the early efforts of these unsung heroes of the railway began to bear fruit. A series of major railway disasters, caused by the fatigue of staff working on over long duties, focused public attention on the industry. Some of the most dangerous lines were in the Derbyshire area, particularly on the Birmingham-Derby line. One of Bass’ protégés, the early Derby-based union leader, Charles Vincent, was to write later: “Of all places on the Midland (railway) the sidings at Toton, on the Erewash Valley Line, were the most notorious… (it) … was the chief slaughterhouse on the Midland”. [96] Typical was the case when a trainload of mixed goods travelling from Birmingham to Derby, crashed into a heavy coal train when the driver and fireman fell asleep from sheer fatigue. Miraculously, they escaped death and were able to provide the details of their shift. The driver, a Derby man, had written his shift patterns in a book. Covering a lengthy period, these revealed an average of nearly a 16-hour shift over 6 weeks. [97]

numbers of days            daily shift in hours
5                                  12
9                                  13
3                                  14
3                                  15
4                                  16
8                                  16
4                                  17
2                                  18
1                                  19
1                                  20
1                                  22
1                                  24
1                                  28

Not that this was at all unusual. Marx discovered an example, reported in Reynold’s News in 1866, of a fireman obliged to work an 88 hour 40 minute week. This worker found that he was only eligible for payment for a maximum shift of 13 hours a day, or 78 hours a week, the discrepancy being taken as voluntary unpaid overtime! Such excess hours were considered an obligation arising from the `privilege’ of being a railway worker. [99]

Of course all this was simply the historic conflict between profits and safety. Yet technical improvements that could bring a higher safety standard were possible and affordable. In the second half of 1871, Midland Railway was an averagely profitable company, netting £192,756 in profits. The five key railway companies could pull in anywhere between one fifth and one quarter of a million pounds profits per annum. (See note on assessing the relative value of historical prices in the final Appendices.) Railways were, at this stage at least, a very significant investment possibility. Yet how can we understand the apparent contradiction of the involvement of M T Bass (1799-1884)? Himself a wealthy and powerful man, brewer millionaire, Midland Railway director and MP for Derby (1848-83), Bass helped to create the first, permanent railwaymen’s union largely because of his concern for this safety factor.

Perhaps there was more than an element of self-interest in his stand? His family beer empire ran the largest railway network which was independent of the purely railway operating companies. The carriage of bulk expensive commodities, on which his business relied, was too serious a matter to leave to chance, accidents cost money as well as lives – and even these too were beginning to cost money in the form of compensation. As the largest shareholder in the Midland Railway, he unsuccessfully attempted to convince the board of directors of the need to ensure a better safety record. Quite apart from any business considerations, as a local Liberal MP in a railway town, Bass had to be interested in public safety. It was good politics in a time of a widening franchise. But as a shareholder, he believed it to be a profitable line to argue for better safety provisions. His strand of democratic capitalist politics was ideologically attached to the concept that a managed capitalism was better for business than an entirely free market.

There was even a case for saying that more profits could be made by improved attention to safety. Citing the level of compensation to the public paid by the Western Railways, at £120,000 per annum, Bass argued that if only three quarters of that sum were spent on better safety measures, like four lines instead of two, then £40,000 extra profit would be available each year. [100] The message was: safety is profitable when you are dealing with the public. Bass resolved to do something about it, when his fellow directors failed to back him, and found the rising tide of disquiet at their gross exploitation amongst the railwaymen as a fertile basis for the nurturing of his plans. A key figure in his scheme was Charles Basset Vincent, an ex-dentist, who had drifted into railway working and tinkered with some of the early attempts at trades unionism. After writing to the Birmingham Daily Post about railway accidents, Vincent was informed that the famous Mr M T Bass, MP for Derby, wished to see him. A £5 note, maybe five or six weeks wages, was provided for him to go to Rangemoor Hall in Burton-on-Trent.

Vincent was thrust into a new world; “24 hours before, I was at the very lowest rung of the ladder of disappointment and despair”, he later wrote. [102] His role would be to provide Bass with working class contacts to support his intended parliamentary bill to shorten hours of railway `servants’, as they were then called. With the finance, organisation and patronage of Bass, via Vincent, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS) was formed in 1871. (After a series of mergers and name changes this organisation’s history can be traced into the modern National Union of Railwayworkers, Maritime and Transport Workers – RMT) At first only a name, it was decided to begin the organisation of an effective national railway trade union by the convening of a London conference. Preparatory to this, “pre-concerted” meetings were held in a private room at the Green Dragon Inn in St Peter’s Street, Derby. It would be wrong, however, to believe that the union was simply the creature of Bass and Vincent. Rather, they sought to bring to themselves a generally held view that this was so. Many others were involved. Bass and Vincent did play an important role in the first years in Derby, but this could only have been so given the grounding already prepared by other, working class trade union pioneers.

Throughout the Midland, secret messages were passed to and from Vincent. There was a little cabin or box on the north end middle platform of Derby station, immediately under the footbridge leading to the `Loco’ works’ offices. Here, a signal points man, John Graham, was employed to give notice of incoming trains. But, being the chief centre of the company’s network, Derby was a difficult place to organise. Company officials watched the men like prison warders. Public union meetings were impossible. Vincent did give a public lecture at the Temperance Hall on Saturday 22nd July 1871, which was chaired by Bass. Correspondence that had passed between Vincent and Allport of the company was printed on large posters, which were displayed throughout the town. “Overworked Railway Servants” was the title of the lecture, but few attended, for as Vincent put it “the men … absented themselves due to fear of being spotted”. Following the theme of the lecture, Vincent gave many examples of long hours of work. Many “had not had their clothes off their backs for a whole week, because they had been engaged at work all the time”. Some had not had a Sunday off for 15 years and Toton sidings were especially quoted as following particularly dangerous practices like “double shunting”. A hostile heckler constantly pressed the question of short hours and higher wages as being dependent upon the capital available to the company. Bass neatly sidestepped the issue, arguing that they were concerned with safety not wages. Yet, clearly demonstrating his motives, he revealed that as the Midland railway paid £80,000 a year in compensation for accidents, surely “in a pecuniary point of view it was to the interests of the railway companies to diminish the hours of labour…and to give ample and generous wages”. [102]

Despite this manufactured hostility, there proved to be a groundswell of support for unionism. A major trial of strength locally the workforce won hands down. The issue was the question of hours, but tragically the victory was in reality only a tactical withdrawal by the railway company and then only in the workshops. A “committee for the nine-hours movement” in the railway workshops met at the Temperance Hall on 1st October 1871, seeking to emulate the success of the ASE in Sunderland on just the same issue. This would certainly have been an alliance of craft unions and the ASRS. A subsequent mass meeting of around 2,000 workers endorsed the petition to the Midland’s directors, which it was planned would be followed by an even larger demonstration through Derby on a Saturday in November, once the demand had been met. With every single one of the workers united and determined there was no doubt that success would be theirs. Two bands and two enormous models of clocks led a huge procession. These indicated 6.00am on one side – the new starting time – and 5.00pm on the other side – the new finishing time, taking into account the unpaid breaks.

Rapidly, the movement spread to other firms, across industry, which all irresistibly adopted the nine hours after the railway workshops had set the pace. Those to succumb were Handyside’s, Brittania Foundry, Fletcher’s, Litchurch Foundry, Bemrose’s printing works, Boden’s lace factory, Abell’s foundry in Brook Street and Pusantoy’s, the building contractors.

While the railway workshops’ agreement provided for the introduction from the 1st January of the nine-hour day, the settlement was by no means the end of the issue. Only weeks later the men were out again, when the directors tried to dictate how the fifty-four hour week would be applied. The entire workforce struck to keep shorter meal breaks, so that they would leave for home earlier in the day. But their resolve, so strong before, was to weaken dramatically, when the leaders of the dispute were dismissed and the directors stood firm on their `diktat’. [103]

Faced with this onslaught and the ever-present difficulty of obtaining recognition on the operating side of the Midland, the ASRS, in blind panic, outlawed strikes in its 1872 constitution. It made no difference to the company’s attitude. Practical experience soon ensured that the rule was dropped and within a very short time the union was declaring that “by renouncing our right to resist injustice by the resort to strikes we have disarmed in the face of the enemy”. [104] Midland points workers, guards and shunters engaged in activity in 1873, which produced an offer of 2/-, a week increase. Following on their lead, the engine men and firemen, after some agitation, extracted a 10-hour day and a 3/- increase.

Parallel with the practical battle for minor economic concessions, the ASRS did actually find its organisational abilities improving. The Derby No1 branch of today’s RMT can trace its foundation to 22nd March 1872, possibly the oldest labour movement body in the city with a continuous existence. From these beginnings, the ASRS would eventually expand elsewhere in town and county. A ballot for the General Secretary was held in 1872 and a Derby man was a major contestant. Whilst failing to win he did make a major reputation for himself. George Chapman was the winner with 1,439 votes, while Vincent’s contact in the little hut, John Graham, narrowly lost with 1,137 votes. Four other candidates shared a thousand votes between them; one, embarrassingly, polling only four votes and another only three votes! With such a good showing, Graham was destined to establish himself as the natural candidate for the ASRS’s first organiser and with his efforts the union began to spread. Derby branches were not amongst the most important at this stage. The union was divided into districts and Derby was part of the fifth district, which stretched down from Barnsley to Derby and across from Stafford to Gainsborough. But, by 1875, ASRS membership in the county was still marginal: [105]

branch                                   membership

Derby No 1               64
Derby No 2               47
Clay Cross               28
Ambergate               20

Most of this was concentrated in the Midland Railway, although at the other local railway – the Great Northern – there were signs of discontent. After considerable agitation, the company made a concession of a 3/- a week increase and a ten-hour day for guards and as low as an eight hour day for shunters. While a large part of the demands were satisfied, the men were generally unhappy with the failure to reduce the 12 hour day for all. [106] At the Midland a strike broke out in the summer of 1876 in an attempt to prevent earlier gains being rolled back. Some workers, including one leader, William Burroughs, were dismissed and the whole strike collapsed. [107]

This kind of intensity did not abate, but the ASRS under the influence of Liberal notions of trades unionism, did pursue more benevolent and charitable aims. A railway servants’ orphanage, founded by Vincent, was opened in 1874/5. Consisting of two semi-detached houses off London Road, Derby, at the bottom of Bradshaw Street, it opened with five orphans. The London Road property became the Granville Private Hotel and the orphanage was transferred to the Ashbourne Road, to become the St Christopher’s Orphanage in 1902. In 1879, Bass’ protégé, Vincent, had elbowed the ASRS out of the orphanage management, causing a bitter internal conflict, which resulted in his dismissal from the orphanage and expulsion from the union for withholding Society property. The committee of management of the orphanage had become infuse with Midland Railway officials and one serious bone of contention was it refusal to take in more than one child of any one orphan family. Over two-thirds of the funds were spent on `administration’, so the ASRS set up its own orphans’ fund. For his part, Vincent immediately began organising the Railway Clerks Association, rather unsuccessfully after generating the myth that he was the actual founder of the ASRS. (The RCA would become the modern Transport and Salaried Staffs Association – TSSA.)

In the meantime, conflict did not go away. In 1879, a strike over wage cuts by 60 Midland Railway goods guards and others, based in London and Derby, ended after 12 days. Again, a strategy of mass dismissals and replacement of strikers by new labour won the day for the company, but concessions still had to be made. The dispute arose because, to save money, the company had for some time been manipulating the guaranteed earnings level with lodging allowances. Prolonged absences from home became common for guards, drivers and engine men, as legislation began to force the railway companies to act on safety matters. Vast sums of money had to be spent on new rolling stock and improved safety systems, thus cutting into the profit margins of railway companies. A strike broke out at Leicester over the employers’ abuse of the lodging system and this rapidly spread across the Midland Railway. Around 80 or 90 men from Derby assembled at their clubroom on the Saturday night at 9 o’clock. There, the guards bitterly complained about the practice of stopping the lodging allowances to make up a week’s pay. After paying the costs of lodging out of their own pocket and failing to be properly reimbursed it, said one man, “seemed something like highway robbery”, this was “the last straw which had broken the camel’s back” after four years of “oppressive treatment”.

The men unanimously resolved to strike over what they called the “trip-system”, In summer, when the men could earn good money, the company simply stopped them from earning trip money. While in the winter they were only allowed three trips in a week, where they could in fact work six. To make up the week’s guaranteed pay the lodging allowance, which was intended to refund the men for legitimate expenses paid for by themselves, was included and classified as part of the minimum wage. The effects of this outrageously dishonest system were dramatically illustrated at one meeting when a guard produced his `journal’, showing that he had worked 19 hours and 50 minutes for nothing. On the Sunday evening, the goods guards met at the Green Dragon in an enthusiastic joint meeting with the engine men and firemen, who had yet to strike. It was unanimously agreed that they would all resist what was in effect a reduction of the eight-hour guarantee. Sensing a major battle, the company sought to avoid the hours issue. Using a `carrot and stick’ approach, the employers fudged a settlement amidst the, by now, traditional victimisation. [108]

Even so, railway workers continued to gather interest in unionism. A Derbyshire United Engine Drovers Association was established in 1873, as a discrete body for craftsmen and was to survive for three decades more. But a much more decisive development occurred in 1880, with the creation of ASLEF – the Amalgamated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen. There were not only the internal disciplinary measures that strongly characterised the railwayman’s lot to tame the wayward. The vagaries of the unstable boom-slump economy of the time ensured that as recession developed, the sharp fear of unemployment grew. This enabled Midland Railway to adopt a policy of “weeding out” labour from time to time. Not that workers took it without protest. For example, in September 1886, as the winter trade depression loomed, 57 spring makers went on strike at the Carriage and Wagon workshops after suffering cuts in piece work prices. [109]

ASLEF faced an early test in 1887, when the 8-hour guarantee yet again surfaced as an issue of contention. It was announced by the company that the guarantee of six day’s work a week to enginemen and firemen was to be withdrawn from 5th August 1887. The effect of this was that if a man worked 14 hours a day for the earlier part of the week he might not be required in the latter part. Such a move would considerably reduce earnings. Meetings were held throughout the company, including at Derby where resolve to resist the withdrawal of the guarantee was expressed. The directors’ public statement declared that they would find it “difficult … to justify to the shareholders” the superior conditions of employment “enjoyed” by their men, compared to employees of other railway companies. They claimed that the six-day working concept gave engine men and firemen “an interest in shirking work”. A central committee representing the loco men met on a Sunday at the Bridge Inn in Derby. The chairman of the meeting was a driver who strongly disputed that the 20-year-old system of six days work led to “shirking”. He considered it an “undeserved and unwarrantable insult to respectable body of men”. Elsewhere in the county, a meeting of drivers and firemen was held at the Co-op Hall in Long Eaton and another at Staveley.

The company announced the withdrawal of the 10 hours guarantee for train men, the shunting men’s 12 hours (inclusive of one and a half hours for meals), in a circular dated 15th July. This made it clearly an issue affecting all men and all railway unions. Twenty delegates from a central committee met with the company’s chairman and his deputy, to no avail. It was said that the move was “not a financial question but one … necessary for the discipline and efficiency of the service”. A delay was offered, conditional upon acceptance of the company’s conditions, but the central committee rejected this. The men’s representatives decided to send a personal telegram appeal to each of the directors. The ASRS issued a circular appealing to all the men to “resist the encroachments of the employer” and plans were laid to call the strike at the expense of the ordinary working week.

A mass meeting of the men was held amidst anger and frustration. The chairman of the central committee was John Needham, a Midland railway employee for 27 years. He explained the case in detail. In 1886 they had begun the campaign for the ten-hour day, with overtime being paid after eight hours. Within a year they had been successful, but by 1869 the Midland had appealed on the grounds of severe financial difficulties to the locomen to give up this premium payment. The men conceded this request only on the understanding that it would be returned in the good times. But when the locomen asked for the arrangement to be reinstated, they had to fight from 1871 to 1873 before it was won back. In 1878 and 1885, attempts were made to erode their right to the eight-hour standard day. With such a history to it, there was no way that the locomen would easily concede the loss of the eight hours. On the day of the strike call, at an agreed time decided on by the mass meeting, men dropped the fires and left blocking Chaddesden Sidings and at least three men were subsequently prosecuted for leaving their trains stranded, deliberately to obstruct the activities of any potential strike breaker.

Reports from Sheffield, Leicester, Leeds, Birmingham, Chesterfield, Normanton, Bristol, Peterborough, Bradford, Mansfield, Burton and Swadlincote came to the central committee at Derby, revealing strong support everywhere. Derby station was thronged with strikers, cheering each man as he came out on strike. Small knots of men remained excitedly around the area until three o’clock. Goods drivers and firemen were solid, but the passenger train service drivers were less so. Even these, however, were mostly out on strike. By the evening of Friday the town was in a state of high excitement and there were crowds all around Midland Road. The ASLEF locomen’s strike committee based itself at St Andrew’s school, where they issued a statement to the effect that over 300 out of the 350 men located at Derby were definitely out on strike and only one or two had actually tried to go to work. Rather than be seen reporting for work at the normal entrance, one driver was observed climbing a wall, along with a company detective! There were also thousands of ASRS men also involved. A large and enthusiastic meeting gathered one Saturday morning at the Temperance Hall, where the Reverend Hey proposed compulsory arbitration as a solution to the dispute. The men had no special fears in this direction, for the logic of their case was clear. Lester, the central committee secretary, claimed that “not one man amongst them would not accept arbitration”.

Yet, at another meeting at midnight on a Saturday at the Co-operative Hall, the idea was further discussed. In particular their proposed representative on the arbitration panel, Sir William Harcourt. But the whole idea was rejected, as there were “no points for arbitration to be determined”. A proposal to meet with MPs at the House to appoint a deputation to meet the company directors was approved and delegates went to London on the following Monday. By then the Midland was regarding the whole matter as over and done with. The company busied itself with replacing the strikers with fresh labour. Tension grew in the meantime and a deputation visited the Mayor of Derby to complain about the conduct of the police, who had been acting as messengers to the directors, “riding about from place to place in cabs”! [110] Questions were asked in Parliament as to the truth that workers previously dismissed for drunkenness and incompetence were filling the shoes of safe and reliable locomen. The reply was that the Government could not intervene in matters “between railway companies and their servants”.

Even so, according to the Derby Mercury, well over a thousand men of differing grades were still out on strike across the company. The unions claimed over 2,500 out. Harford, of the strike committee, produced an appeal to trades unionists for funds in which he outlined their case: “they would be reduced to the position of day labourers…so that if the company could only find a man half a day’s work they would only pay him half a day’s pay…To have accepted such conditions would have thrown to the winds the terms under which the men have worked harmoniously for the last twenty years, and were mutually agreed upon when they came into operation.” Despite the understandable outrage at Midland’s attitude, there was little sign of a violent reaction from the strikers at the loss of their jobs. A newly hired strikebreaking driver complained that he had been shot at near Beighton Junction, but the subsequent police investigation revealed the shot to have been fired at a rabbit!

In some areas, like Clay Cross, the strike was poorly supported, with all but two of the men returning to work fairly quickly. But in general, the employer’s public claim that most men were returning to work was in reality only studied bluff. A packed meeting at long Eaton decided to “disregard the (press) report which stated that men were returning to work at other places”. They were more convinced of their own unions’ information that more and more men were coming out. The meeting assessed that two things were in their favour – public sympathy based on concern over safety and, above all, time. [111]

A mass meeting was held of some 3,000 men on the Thursday, which testified to the view that more men were backing the strike. Held on the open ground between the Corn Exchange and the Market Hall, it was addressed by John Needham, who informed the meeting that a published circular between the railway companies was a thin end of the wedge being a pact to lower earnings. The rally called for a public boycott of the railway service ran by strikebreakers, until “the conditions of service of 1867 had been restored. But the boycott was ineffectual and signs of defeat were imminent. The company claimed the following statistics:

Strikers              Non strikers    New employees

Drivers                          980             458                 299
Firemen                     1,190              619                 298
Cleaners                      552               ?                     ?

Many cleaners – a dirty and difficult job given the coal fired nature of steam trains – were promoted to firemen and even drivers on the basis of having at least observed from close quarters for many years what the nature of those tasks were. The unskilled character of cleaning meant that it was relatively easy to recruit fresh labour. On the company’s own figures, at least around 1,500 – 2,000 were still on strike. Faced with the fact that time and public support did not seem to be the factors for victory they had thought they were; many weakened, perhaps hoping to gamble on re-engagement if they were not personally seen to be overly militant. . Only several hundred turned out to demonstrate at the half yearly shareholders’ meeting and by the Saturday immediately following the mass meeting most had returned, on seeing that the directors had not been over-ruled by the shareholders.

Many were gradually and selectively taken back, but the leaders remained unemployed for a long time. By the next spring, some half dozen were able to obtain paid passage to Chile, where the Government was in the process of establishing a rail network, To acquire the skills of the victimised men, the Chileans were prepared to offer 18/- a day in pay, plus free passage for themselves and their families. There was little chance of the leaders obtaining employment in Britain after the strike and the offer must have seemed tempting to some. Others, like E Merchant, a footplate man who played a prominent part in the dispute, never worked on the railways again. Merchant was fortunate in being able to work for Derby Co-op, becoming its General Manager for many decades during its early growth years.

The strike cost the ASRS dearly, for it reported an expenditure on this one strike of £6,851 out of an income of £22,276 that year. Two decades of constant battle and frequent defeat combined with the persistent calls for moderation from the Liberals to produce an unusual tenor of general unionism on the railways in the Nineties. ASLEF perhaps conveying a different flavour with its craft and exclusive appeal. Elsewhere, the shift to radicalism to come was more evident, railwaymen were slower to follow. In February 1890 one railway workers’ leader, Watson, was quoted by the Derby press as saying that he “didn’t believe in strikes” and “wanted unity” amongst the railway workers unions. As with other trends to general unionism, large numbers did join up and the embryo of mass all-grades railway unionism was extant. The defeats only served to harden the railway worker to the attacks of the employers and to underline the need for effective trades unionism. The slow evolution of the railway `servant’ into unionised wage labour had well and truly begun. [112]

(viii) Engineering

Some of the early engineering unions, like the Journeymen Steam-Engine, Machine-Makers’ and Millwrights’ Friendly Society (founded in 1826) and the Associated Fraternity of Iron Forgers (1830), worked hard for amalgamation and were amongst the first to create a thoroughly modern style of trades unionism. So much so that many followed their constitutional patterns as models. In some specialist trades, like the moulders (FIMS changed its designation from Moulders’ to Founders’ in 1854) maintained a distinctive identity. There were over twenty foundries in Derbyshire in 1849. Amongst these were: Staveley, Clay Cross, Alfreton, Codnor, Butterley, Wingerworth and Stanton-by-Dale. The society continued to flourish in the county after Chartism. An unbroken link between the earlier and latter parts of the century was maintained by moulders’ and founders’ organisation in Derby. Two union men being jailed for conspiracy in the town in 1857 after a strike, for example. [113]

Manufacturing industries dominated by skilled workers often easily succumbed to trades unionism. The sickle makers and grinder smiths organised in Chesterfield in the 1850s, but it was not always easy in other occupations. In 1849, one local Board of Health inspector, called Cresy, saw lead works in Derby that were so unhealthy that sick clubs would not admit workers employed there as members.

In 1851 the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Smiths, Millwrights and Patternmakers – the ASE – was founded from various small craft societies. It was a move overwhelmingly welcomed by skilled engineering workers, as can be seen by the vote of the Derby branch of the old Mechanics’ Society for the eight points of amalgamation. Not a single vote was recorded against and 416 voted in favour. [114] The main industrial aim of the ASE was to control the trade. The Steam Engine Makers, established in Derby in 1850, had already made clear their opposition to overtime, piecework and the use of unskilled labour on production machines. It was, in part, to advance this opposition that the amalgamation began. No sooner had the ASE been formed than the employers combined into the Central Association of Employers of Operative Engineers and the scene was set for major conflict.

In 1852 the employers embarked on a national lock out of ASE members, a development that rapidly escalated from the union’s approach to them for the abolition of piecework and systematic overtime. The ASE was forced to retaliate by embargoing all overtime from 1st January 1852, when the employers refused to negotiate. Ten days later the employers responded by a general, but gradual, lock out of the trade. In Derby, a public meeting had been initially called by a handbill addressed to all “engineers, machinists, millwrights, smiths, patternmakers and operatives in general”. G Hearn chaired the meeting in “the large room … (which was) … crowded by workmen”, at the Royal Oak Inn, in Derby’s Market Place. Hearn and W Hackett read out an appeal, from the ASE, which drew attention to the fact that the objects of the ASE on overtime and piecework had been fought for by the Mechanics’ Society for fifteen years. An enthusiastic vote to support the ASE and those locked out – so far limited to London and Lancashire – was recorded. Works’ collections for the lockouts were agreed upon and ASE members pledged to give a day’s wages each week in support of the growing dispute. [115]

Derby engineers seem not to have been involved in lockouts themselves, but continued the solidarity collections that attracted support from the wider labour movement, as the dispute took on a general character. Increasingly the ASE was seen as spearheading resistance to a wider employers’ hostility to trades unionism. Derby’s coach makers suggested to the UKSC executive that the Society urge its members to contribute to a voluntary subscription, to which the executive commented that “our members in Derby are most sanguine in the expectations as to the result of this appeal and we hope they may not be disappointed – we thank them for urging this case on”. [116] By this time the lock out had lasted for well over three months and men were gradually being forced back to work by starvation. The old tactic of forcing returning strikers to sign a document renouncing the union was employed. ASE members were obliged to declare that they were not now and would not again become members of any union that “professes to control, or interfere with the arrangement or regulation of work”. But most workers signed without any intention of conceding such a thing, it was just a device to get back to earning money. The effect of the lock out on long term ASE growth was pretty minimal. The Derby branch had 94 members in 1854, having won 19 new members that year, and it had a turnover of several hundred pounds a year. [117]

As with other trades, as mentioned in the context of the railway industry, the ASE struggled to establish a nine-hour day from 1871 in a campaign of strike action lasting 14 weeks. A failure to establish a clear agreement on the time of working caused problems and agreed overtime payments were a particular source of controversy. A dispute lasting a fortnight occurred at Fletcher’s ironworks at Litchurch, Derby, ending in mid-July 1871 when the ASE, to which most of the men belonged, “did not countenance the action taken”. Work was resumed on the old terms offered, that is all extra work payable at one and a quarter times the basic rate, rather than the time and a half sought by the men. [118]

Establishing itself in the main engineering establishments in the county town, the ASE relied for its recruitment on highly skilled labour. Something like a half of the membership were fitters, a quarter turners and a little less than a tenth were smiths. This craft exclusiveness was not only a factor in preventing semi-skilled and unskilled workers from organising, but it also tended to isolate separate skills from each other. There were other societies of course and the trades kept fairly distinct in this period. The “Old Derby Smiths”, or more formally the United Order of Iron Smiths, Engineers and Mechanics was part of a national federation of whitesmiths. This had been set up in the town in 1822 but survived only fitfully until the 1860s. It was never technically dissolved and the following decade formed the basis of some local stove and grate industry smiths’ and fitters’ societies. The Amalgamated Stove, Grate and Kitchen Range Fitters Protection Society, which had branches in the Midlands and South Yorkshire, arose from this and it had a branch in Derby that outlasted most of the other, at least until 1880.

The Derby and District Friendly Society of Braziers   and Tin Plate Workers was formed in February 1972, by 24 tinsmiths at the railway workshops. The Boilermakers’ and Iron Ship Builders’ Society, founded in 1834, had some 70 members in its Derby branch by 1870 and the union was solely concentrated on particular firms in town geared to boilerwork. In the metal smelting industry the first permanent union, which catered essentially for skilled contract workers, was the National Amalgamated Association of ironworkers, formed in 1868 with local support. Only in the late Eighties were unions established for `underhands’ in the iron and steel trades. A Brassfounders’ and Finishers’ Society was formed in Derby in 1875, by the end of the century it had expanded to form a branch in Burton-on-Trent and had a total membership of 93. [119] It would later participate in the mergers that led to the setting up of the larger ASE amalgamation of the early 1920s. Indeed, it was the ASE that dominated the engineering industry in a period of Britain’s greatest imperial expansion. It was a time when new techniques of mass produced components were developed to meet the needs of the new markets thus opened up. The wide variety of new factory jobs and the incessant process of de-skilling that these new techniques produced would have an effect on the ASE’s role.

(ix) Agricultural workers

Early in 1872 a few hundred farm labourers in Warwickshire formed themselves into a union – the National Agricultural Labourers’ Union – and at least one branch was soon set up in Derbyshire. The union had 1,500 branches by 1874, so there would have been a reasonable presence in the county by then. But a major national lock out followed. The union’s leader, Joseph Arch, certainly visited Derbyshire seeking support from local trades unionists. At Clay Cross, some 800 miners agreed, after hearing Arch at a mass meeting, to levy themselves at 6d a head until the end of the lock out. In the first week the colliers sent £25 7s 6d to Leamington, the centre of the dispute. [120]

Arch was in Derby in January 1873 to speak for the Land Tenure Reform Association. Sharing the platform with him was one John Charles Cox, a Liberal landowner and magistrate in Belper, who supported the right of workers to combine. Arch went beyond land reform in his speech, measuring his words to meet the situation in the town. He called on “all artisans to stand at the back of the agricultural labourers when demanding the franchise and help them gain their rights, and then as the wealth producing classes of the community they could shake hands harmoniously for the good of their country and the community at large” [121] Agricultural workers did not yet have the vote, for the property qualification debarred those who lived in tied-houses. A cynic might have drawn the conclusion that a landowner like Cox had more than an eye on his party’s electoral fortunes when defying his own apparent economic interests! In a sense, this small illustration summed up the entire period of transition between the Chartist phase and the next stage of development, which saw the building of an independent working class movement and consequential forms of representation.


Notes and References

1     Figures complied from various references in W A Richardson “Citizens’ Derby” University of London Press (1949)
2     Details from original documents concerning each apprenticeship in Derby Local Studies Library
3     R W Postgate “The Builders History” The National Federation of Building Trades Operatives London (1923) p206
4     UKSC Journal quarterly reports – February 26th 1875
5     E J Hobsbawm “Labouring Men – Studies in the History of Labour” Weidenfield and Nicholson (1964) p26-7
6   TUC “The History of the TUC 1868-1968” TUC General Council, London (1968) p12; Edmund Frow and Michael Katanka “1868 – year of the unions – a documentary” Michael Katanka Books, Surry (1968) pp43-4
7 “Documents of the First International Vol 2 – The General Council minutes 1866-68” Lawrence and Wishart (c1964) meeting of January 29th 1867 p93
8 “Documents of the First International Vol 4 – The General Council minutes 1870-77” Lawrence and Wishart (c1964) meetings of December 13th and 20th 1870 pp92-3
9     G D H Cole “A Short History of the British Working Class Movement 1789-1947” George Allen and Unwin (1948) pp266-7, p273; J B Jeffries “The Story of the Engineers 1880-1945” Lawrence and Wishart (1946) p67
10   J H Pentney of Newbury – recollections June 1983
11   “UK First Annual Trade Union Directory” (1861) Derby entries
12   Derby ABL minutes book September 1891 and February 3rd 1897
13 UKSC quarterly reports August 29th 1873 and UKSC `blank’, or tramp card
14 Alderman W R Raynes unpublished memoirs (c1950?) p45. Typewritten manuscript in the possession of Mr W Bullock, his nephew
15 J B Jeffries “The Story of the Engineers 1880-1945” Lawrence and Wishart (1946) p60; UKSC quarterly reports – first quarter 1911 p54
16 A Sherwill – article in GFTU quarterly report March 1903
17 “Derby and District Trade Directory” Kelly (1912) and (1913)
18 W A Richardson “Citizens Derby” University of London Press (1949) pp193-4; G J Holyoake and A Scotton ” A Jubilee History of the Derby Co-operative and Provident Society Ltd 1850-1900″ Co-operative Printing Society, Manchester (1900) pp24 and 27; D Boydell “The Centenary Story – 100 years of Co-operation in Derby” Co-operative Press Manchester (1950) p59; W Leslie Unsworth “Seventy Years of Co-operation in Derby 1850-1925” CWS Manchester (1927) p21
19 J B Jeffries (ed.) “Labour’s Formative Years: Nineteenth Century Vol II (1849-1879)” Lawrence and Wishart (1948) p31
20 J Saville and J M Bellamy “Dictionary of Labour Biography” Vol VI MacMillan (1982) p135; Derbyshire Advertiser July 7th 1944; G J Holyoake and A Scotton ” A Jubilee History of the Derby Co-operative and Provident Society Ltd 1850-1900″ Co-operative Printing Society, Manchester (1900) pp36-37; W Leslie Unsworth “Seventy Five Years of Co-operation in Derby 1850-1925” CWS Manchester (1927) pp32 and 46; David Boydell “The Centenary Story – 100 years of Co-operation in Derby” Co-operative Press Manchester (1950) pp16 and 23
21    C Williams “NUM – Derbyshire Area: 100 years of progress” Derbyshire NUM (1980) Plate 95
22    William R A Pilcher and Harry N Bridge “The Jubilee History of the Ripley Provident Industrial and Co-operative Society Ltd.” CWS Manchester (1910) p15n; Derby Monthly Record February 1910, August 1909; David Boydell “The Centenary Story – 100 years of Co-operation in Derby” Co-operative Press Manchester (1950) p52
23    K Reedman “The Book of Long Eaton” Barracuda Books, Buckingham (1979) p101; Geoffrey Kingscott “A Centenary History 1868-1968” Long Eaton Co-operative Society (1968) pp26-27
24    William R A Pincher and Harry N Bridge “The Jubilee History of the Ripley Provident Industrial and Co-operative Society Ltd.” CWS Manchester (1910) pp50-1; G J Holyoake and A Scotton “A Jubilee History of the Derby Co-operative and Provident Society 1850-1900” Co-operative Printing Society, Manchester (1900) p112; David Boydell “The Centenary Story – 100 years of Co-operation in Derby” Co-operative Press Manchester (1950) pp59-60
25    Pigot & Co “Commercial Directory for Derbyshire” (1835) Derbyshire County Libraries, Matlock (1976 facsimile)
26 Derby Mercury February 19th and 26th 1851; January 27th and February 3rd 1858
27    M E Robson “Nailmaking in Belper” Derbyshire Miscellany Vol III No 2 June 1964
28    Derby Mercury November 18th 1846; various UKSC quarterly reports 1851
29    UKSC quarterly reports February 4th and August 9th 1832
30    UKSC quarterly reports March 1859
31    UKSC quarterly reports various – as dates stated
32    UKSC quarterly reports December 1862
33    UKSC quarterly reports June 14th 1866
34    UKSC quarterly reports September 1st 1869
35 UKSC quarterly reports September 1st and December 3rd 1869, March 10th 1870
36    Derby Mercury January 10th 1872
37    UKSC quarterly reports March 1st 1872
38    UKSC quarterly reports September 3rd 1872
39    UKSC quarterly reports May 27th 1873
40    UKSC quarterly reports August 29th 1873
41    Original UKSC tramp card
42    NUVB “A Short History of the NUVB (1834-1959)” NUVB (1959) p11
43 F A Wells “The British Hosiery and Knitwear Industry – its history and organisation” David and Charles, Newton Abbot (1972) p117
44    Derby Mercury January 21st 1846
45    Derby Mercury February 25th 1846
46    Derby Mercury March 25th 1846
47    Derby Mercury June 3rd 1846
48    Derby Mercury October 28th 1846
49    Derby Mercury October 13th 1847
50    Derby Mercury May 2nd 1849
51    Derby Mercury June 20th 1849
52    Derby Mercury July 4th 1849
53 Derby Mercury February 26th 1851; David Boydell “The Centenary Story – 100 years of Co-operation in Derby” Co-operative Press Manchester (1950) p11
54    Derby Mercury September 28th and October 5th 1853
55    Figures extracted from W Felkin “The History of the Machine Wrought Hosiery and Lace Manufactures” (1867) David and Charles, Newton Abbot (1967 reprint) p151
56    Figures and map extracted from W Felkin “The History of the Machine Wrought Hosiery and Lace Manufactures” (1867) David and Charles, Newton Abbot (1967 reprint) p466
57 W Felkin “The History of the Machine Wrought Hosiery and Lace Manufactures” (1867) David and Charles, Newton Abbot (1967 reprint) p488
58 J Smedley – letters to the editor of the Manchester Guardian – reprinted as a pamphlet “Strikes” April 1872
59    Midland Counties Express May 11th 1872
60    Richard Gurnham “200 Years – History of the Trade Union Movement in the Hosiery and Knitwear Industry 1776-1976” National Union of Hosiery and Knitwear, Leicester (1976) pp36 and 39
61    Richard Gurnham “200 Years – History of the Trade Union Movement in the Hosiery and Knitwear Industry 1776-1976” National Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Union, Leicester – (1976) pp 47-48
62    Richard Gurnham “200 Years – History of the Trade Union Movement in the Hosiery and Knitwear Industry 1776-1976” National Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Union Leicester – (1976) pp53-5
63    N H Cuthbert “The Lacemakers Society” The Society (1960) p270
64    N H Cuthbert “The Lacemakers Society” The Society (1960) p54
65    J E Heath “A brief history of Long Eaton and Sawley 1750-1914” Long Eaton UDC (1967) p21
66    N H Cuthbert “The Lacemakers Society” The Society (1960) p54; J E Heath “A brief history of Long Eaton and Sawley 1750-1914” Long Eaton UDC (1967) p22
67    Derby Mercury October 28th 1846
68   Derby Mercury July 7th 1847; R W Postgate “The Builders History” The National Federation of Building Trades Operatives (1923) Appendix I p455
69    J O French “Plumbers in Unity 1865-1965 – History of the Plumbing Trades Union” PTU p15
70 R W Postgate “The Builders History” The National Federation of Building Trades Operatives (1923) p209
71 J B Jeffries (ed.) “Labour’s Formative Years: Nineteenth Century Vol II (1849-1879)” Lawrence and Wishart (1948) p39
72    S Higenbottom “The ASW – our society’s history” ASW (1939) p108
73    Will Thorne “My Life’s Battles” George Newnes (1925) p35
74    Derby Mercury May 30th 1855; C Williams “NUM – Derbyshire Area: 100 years of progress” Derbyshire NUM (1980) Plate 96
75    Derby Mercury April 30th 1851
76    Mark Hovell “The Chartist Movement – a study in industrial and social history” Manchester University Press (1925) p23
77    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) pp100-101
78    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p104-105
79    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p107
80   W Kiddier “The Old Trade Unions – from unprinted records of the Brushmakers” George Allen and Unwin (1930) p47
81 J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) pp 115; Nottingham Review June 14th 1867
82    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p126
83    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners- a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p128
84    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p134; A R Griffin “Methodism and Trades Unionism in the Notts-Derby Coalfield 1844-90” Wesley Historical Society Vol xxxvii part 1 (February 1969) p6
85    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p215
86    Derby Mercury January 21st 1880
87    C Williams “NUM – Derbyshire Area: 100 years of progress” Derbyshire NUM (1980) Plate 56
88    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p282
89    Derby Mercury November 13th 1889
90    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p175
91    J E Williams “The Derbyshire Miners – a study in industrial and social history” George Allen and Unwin (1962) p267
92    Derby Mercury December 26th 1849
93    Derby Mercury January 2nd 1850
94    Derby Mercury May 30th 1855, April 5th 1854
95    The Times March 20th, April 1st, April 4th 1854; P S Bagwell “The Railwaymen” Vol 1 NUR (1963) p35
96    P S Bagwell “The Railwaymen” Vol 1 NUR (1963) pp40-42
97   C B Vincent “An Authentic History of Railway Trades Unionism” privately published (1902 – facsimile reprint 1963) p36
98    C B Vincent “An Authentic History of Railway Trades Unionism” privately published (1902 – facsimile reprint 1963) p42
99    K Marx “Capital” Dent Everyman Library (1957) p238
100 C B Vincent “An Authentic History of Railway Trades Unionism” privately published (1902 – facsimile reprint 1963) p50
101 C B Vincent “An Authentic History of Railway Trades Unionism” (1902 -facsimile reprint 1963) p33
102 Derby Mercury July 26th 1871
103 Derby Mercury December 20th 1871, January 1872, P S Bagwell “The Railwaymen” Vol 1 NUR (1963) p51
104 J R Raynes “Engines and Men – the History of ASLEF” Goodall and Suddick, Leeds (1921) p26
105 G W Alcock “50 Years of Railway Trade Unionism” NUR (1922) p118
106 Derby Mercury January 5th 1876
107 Derby Mercury July 12th 1876
108 Derby Mercury January 8th 1879
109 Derby Mercury September 15th, September 29th 1886
110 Derby Mercury August 10th 1887
111 Derby Mercury August 17th 1887
112 Derby Mercury April 4th 1888; February 20th 1890
113 H Fryth and H Collins “The Foundry Workers – a trade union history” AUFW (1959) p72
114 ASE Jubilee Souvenir -1901
115 Derby Mercury January 28th 1852
116 UKSC EC statements Quarterly Reports May 8th 1852
117 J B Jeffries “The Story of the Engineers” Lawrence and Wishart (1946) p40; The 4th Annual Report of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Millwrights, Smiths and Pattern Makers (1854)
118 Derby Mercury July 26th 1871
119 J B Jeffries “The Story of the Engineers” Lawrence and Wishart (1946) p59; T Brake “Men of Good Character – a history of the Sheet Metal Workers, Coppersmiths, Heating and Domestic Engineers” Lawrence and Wishart (1985) pp189-190, 204, 322, 329
120 Pamela Horn “Joseph Arch (1826-1919) The Farm Workers Leader” Roundwood Press, Kineton (1971) p104
121 Ripley Advertiser August 31st 1872; Pamela Horn “Joseph Arch (1826-1919) The Farm Workers Leader” Roundwood Press, Kineton (1971) p 79

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply