Manchester wiredrawers’ strike, 1934

This photo dates from 1934, during the nine-month strike by 650 workers at the firm of Richard Johnson & Nephew Ltd, Wiredrawers, of Forge Lane, Bradford, Manchester. Strike leaders Alf Bywater and Bill Dunn are shown addressing the workers. The cause of the strike was the introduction of a system designed to maximise productivity: the Bedaux System. This represented a method of time and motion … Continue reading Manchester wiredrawers’ strike, 1934

Conscientous objectors: A Gaol Bird’s Lay

This is a pamphlet from the Peace Collection held at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. From August 1914 until January 1916, the British government relied on volunteers to produce an army to fight on the Western Front and other areas of the war. Towards the end of 1915, a reduction in the numbers volunteering and the sheer scale of casualties meant that conscription … Continue reading Conscientous objectors: A Gaol Bird’s Lay

Socialist International delegate’s card, 1896

In 1896 the Socialist International met in London. Edward Aveling was in charge of its organisation. His partner, Eleanor Marx, (daughter of Karl) was secretary of the ‘Hotels Committee’, which meant the delegates’ accommodation. In charge of printing and publicity was H.A. Barker, who had formed an early Socialist organisation, the Labour Union. Barker wrote to Walter Crane, the Socialist artist to design the delegates’ … Continue reading Socialist International delegate’s card, 1896

The Miners’ Lockout

This image comes from a recent addition to Bishopsgate Institute archives: a photo album bearing the inscription ‘Memories of the Miners Lock-out 1926 Fife’ (Ref: Labour History Manuscripts/67). The Miners’ Lockout was part of the General Strike of 1926, called by the General Council of the TUC (Trades Union Congress) in an attempt to prevent the Government of the day from lowering the wages and … Continue reading The Miners’ Lockout

John Fielden and William Fitton letter

This letter, currently held privately, was exchanged between Radical reformers John Fielden and William Fitton in 1836. John Fielden was a cotton industrialist and Radical MP for Oldham (1832-47) and was involved in Reform Bill agitation in Manchester in the 1830s and a supporter of Chartism. William Fitton, surgeon, was a Radical advocate of parliamentary reform who was indicted for seditious activity in 1819 (though … Continue reading John Fielden and William Fitton letter

Notice of the founding of New Harmony, Indiana, 1825

Robert Owen was a social reformer who is considered by many to be the father of co-operation and a pioneer of modern British socialism. Owen believed that a person’s character is formed by the environment in which they live. He developed many ideas on infant and adult education, and campaigned to reduce working hours and improved the living and working conditions of factory workers. In … Continue reading Notice of the founding of New Harmony, Indiana, 1825

North Yorkshire ‘radical reformers’

This image reproduces a letter from a group of North Yorkshire ‘Radical Reformers’ to a Mrs Lawrence of Studley Hall, c. 1817. A keen eye will discern a very definite threat, mainly that the Hall and Fountains Abbey would be blown up unless Mrs Lawrence gave the out-of-work men £100 in alms! The letter reads: ‘[They] are all hungering to death for want of work … Continue reading North Yorkshire ‘radical reformers’

William Pare’s scrapbook

Our image shows one page from a scrapbook of manuscript and printed material collected in the mid 19th century and now held at Senate House Library at the University of London. The creator of the scrapbook was William Pare (1804-1873) a Birmingham tobacconist, who was one of the founders of the first Birmingham Cooperative Society. He left Birmingham in 1842 to become acting governor of … Continue reading William Pare’s scrapbook

Skelmanthorpe Banner 1819

This cotton flag or banner is a rare survivor of thousands of banners carried at meetings calling for electoral reform and suffrage. It has a remarkable story. It was designed and made in 1819, to honour the victims of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester. It was mounted on poles and taken to meetings throughout the 19th Century, starting with a reform meeting at Almondbury Bank … Continue reading Skelmanthorpe Banner 1819