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

‘Farewell to convicts’: the long life of a classic trade union image

The medallion shown here was awarded by the TUC for ‘organising services’, as the text on the clasp makes clear. The ‘farewell to the convicts’ design had been commissioned by the TUC for a commemorative badge issued to all delegates to the 1934 Congress, marking the centenary of the Toldpuddle Martyrs’ arrest and transportation to Australia. It depicts a sailing ship under a night sky … Continue reading ‘Farewell to convicts’: the long life of a classic trade union image

Steam power: boilermakers mark 100 years of trade unionism, 1834-1934

A small green booklet published as a souvenir of the United Society of Boilermakers’ centenary celebrations shows members’ pride in their union’s achievements By 1934, the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders was able to trace its history back a full hundred years, to the birth at a meeting in Manchester of the Friendly Society of Boilermakers. Although the new organisation had … Continue reading Steam power: boilermakers mark 100 years of trade unionism, 1834-1934

Mick Ekers (Essex) on Burston strike school master Tom Higdon and labour activism between the wars

Mick Ekers visits Norfolk Record Office to research the life in politics of Tom Higdon, one of the two teachers at the heart of the famous Burston School Strike which lasted from 1914 to 1939. The story of the Burston School Strike is quite well known. In 1914 Annie and Tom Higdon, two teachers in a village school in Norfolk, were sacked as a result … Continue reading Mick Ekers (Essex) on Burston strike school master Tom Higdon and labour activism between the wars

Labour Party League of Youth members’ badge

The Labour Party began to recruit individual members in 1918, and youth sections appeared in a handful of divisional party organisations soon afterwards. But it was not until 1924 that the National Executive Committee formalised their existence and established a Labour Party League of Youth to act as a national co-ordinating body – albeit one with strictly limited representation and voice within the party’s structures. … Continue reading Labour Party League of Youth members’ badge