Going to the dogs: celebrating fifty years with Professor Keith Laybourn

Keith Laybourn drew on a lifetime of learning and experience for his valedictory lecture this month to an audience filled with colleagues and friends, as Janette Martin reports. Diamond Jubilee Professor Emeritus Keith Laybourn delivered his valedictory lecture, marking fifty years’ service at the University of Huddersfield, to an audience filled with friends, colleagues and former students. Keith’s theme was ‘The politics of working-class gambling … Continue reading Going to the dogs: celebrating fifty years with Professor Keith Laybourn

The People’s March for Jobs: taking the protest to Westminster

The first People’s March for Jobs had been a great success. Five hundred marchers set off from Liverpool, Yorkshire and South Wales, heading towards Westminster in a conscious echo of the Jarrow Crusade of 1936 and with a similar objective – to highlight the plight of those at the sharp end of government economic policies that were devastating whole industries. Initiated by the North West … Continue reading The People’s March for Jobs: taking the protest to Westminster

Enter stage left: when Unity Theatre put the politics into panto

Established in 1936, Unity Theatre was without doubt the most important focus for political theatre of the mid twentieth century, providing a venue for new work that would never have seen the light of day on the traditional stage and offering a way into the acting world for many working-class performers who would go on to become significant figures in post-war stage, screen and television. … Continue reading Enter stage left: when Unity Theatre put the politics into panto

Classics of labour history: a research programme for the 1960s and beyond

The Society for the Study of Labour History was launched on 6 May 1960 in a meeting room at Birkbeck College, University of London. Those present included many of the big names of what was then a rapidly rising specialist area of historical study, including Raymond Postgate and Henry Pelling. Others, among them Eric Hobsbawm and Ralph Miliband, were yet to publish much of the … Continue reading Classics of labour history: a research programme for the 1960s and beyond

‘Be united and industrious’: the emblem of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers

The Amalgamated Society of Engineers was by no means the first trade union to produce an emblem for its members. But just as the constitution and structure adopted by the ASE in 1851 proved influential among the New Model unions that followed, so the design of its emblem inspired numerous imitators. James Sharples, a blacksmith and founder member of the ASE (more properly, the Amalgamated … Continue reading ‘Be united and industrious’: the emblem of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers

Classics of labour history: Malcolm Chase and the story of Chartism

Chartism has been a central part of labour history since the discipline emerged. A brief flurry of activity in the early 1920s led nowhere in particular, but Professor Asa Briggs’ Chartist Studies (1959) opened the door to what Dr Stephen Roberts has dubbed a ‘golden period’ of research and publication (see below). Dorothy Thompson, meanwhile, led the intellectual effort to centre Chartism not just as … Continue reading Classics of labour history: Malcolm Chase and the story of Chartism

Petition aims to save mill museum at Belper world heritage site

A museum that tells the story of a significant part of Derbyshire’s industrial history looks set to close its doors in September 2022 after Amber Valley Borough Council halted a long-standing funding arrangement. Campaigners are now seeking support for a petition to restore funding and keep it open. Belper North Mill Museum, part of the Derwent Valley Mills Unesco World Heritage site, shows how cotton … Continue reading Petition aims to save mill museum at Belper world heritage site

The Edwardes Plan and Your Job: when the 1970s ended and the managerialist 1980s began

By November 1979, the ‘Winter of Discontent’ was long past, Margaret Thatcher was nearing her first Christmas as prime minister, and everything had changed. But if you were looking to identify the exact moment at which the confident trade unionism of the 1970s gave way to the rising managerialism of the 1980s, you could do worse than choose the day that this pamphlet landed on … Continue reading The Edwardes Plan and Your Job: when the 1970s ended and the managerialist 1980s began

Classics of labour history: John L. Halstead on the life of Royden Harrison

Any organisation that has been in existence for more than half a century is bound to endure the loss of much-loved and admired members whose long years of service have mirrored their professional progress from rising stars to elder statesmen and women. In this obituary, published in Labour History Review in 2003, Dr John L. Halstead, who himself died in 2021 (obituary), recorded the career … Continue reading Classics of labour history: John L. Halstead on the life of Royden Harrison