TUC Library stand at TUC Young Workers Conference


TUC Library stand

Thanks to Kathryn Mackridge, Policy and Campaigns Support Officer at the TUC for inviting us to have a stall at this year’s TUC Young Workers Conference. Delegates discussed themes such as “Employment, Economy and Equality”  and we tried to reflect this in our choice of display.


Workers’ Educational Association featured in new book about Citizenship


Co-editor John Griffiths writes about the publication, having spent time researching in the TUC Library.

The new book titled The Citizen: Past and Present has been published by Massey University Press, New Zealand. (2017), and contains 11 chapters, the last of which focuses on the history of the WEA as an association for the promotion of citizenship in the 20th/21st century.

Cover of new book

Quite how citizenship has been defined at points across time and whose agenda lies behind the notion of citizenship is discussed in chapter 11 by co-editor John Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in History at Massey University. For his chapter titled From Citizens to Dilettantes and Back Again? The Workers’ Educational Association and its Students Since 1945 John explored the archive of the WEA, held within the TUC archive. He used annual reports (1945-) of the Association’s districts, the Association’s journal The Highway, various pamphlets written by WEA administrators which contemplated the Association’s objectives and purpose and the many volumes written about the WEA since its inception, also held in the TUC archives.

WEA publication

The Plan for Education, published by the Workers’ Educational Association in 1942, outlines their proposals for the restructuring of educational policy after the war and includes a special appendix on agriculture and rural education.

The Association had prided itself in the years before World War II in preparing students for active citizenship in areas such as local government, parish council, school and hospital governance. Several members of the post 1945-Attlee government (1945-51) had connections with the WEA. After 1945, if not before however, it was noted by several observers that the Association was becoming more dilettante, in that those taking WEA classes were more middle-class than working-class and ‘education for social purpose’ was being diluted. This concerned the Association for at least the next three decades.

A change in direction was noted in the 1970s as the WEA also began to offer education for the socially disadvantaged – known as ‘Russell type work’ – taking its name from the report into adult education of 1973, headed by Lionel Russell. This work was seen as more socially relevant and by the later 20th century placed the WEA in a position as a significant organisation for offering citizenship and social inclusion which chimed with New Labour’s objectives (1997-2010), particularly the introduction of citizenship instruction in schools. This chapter sits alongside other contributions which examine what citizenship has meant at points across history, from the very early civilizations to the modern day.


The Clarion Van – Margaret Powell remembers her grandfather


Joe Tarrant, Margaret Powell’s grandfather, stands to the right of the Clarion Van (marked with a cross. Thank you to Margaret Powell for her permission. Copyright Margaret Powell )

We have a guest blog post this week from Margaret Powell who very kindly sent this fantastic photo in to us of her grandfather, Joe Tarrant. I asked her for more information and what the banner says. She wrote -

The banner says Clarion Van London Tour – May, but I can’t make out the year. My granddad, Joe Tarrant, 1885-1980 was a keen cyclist all his life. He looks very young on here, so I imagine it’s about 1900. He lived at Barnardo’s homes from the age of 19 months, but went back home(to London) when he was about 14, presumably because he was of working age, so I don’t think we can date it before then. I have been reading about the Clarion movement online and it makes interesting reading. Granddad moved to Bristol for his work as a tinsmith and later to Liverpool. He was always involved in the tobacco industry as far as I know. (Wills and the British American Tobacco Company).

We have a few more photos and publications about the Clarion in the TUC Library (see below).

Later period Clarion Van, 1914 (Copyright TUC Library Collections.

Robert Blatchford founded ‘The Clarion’ as a weekly Socialist newspaper. Clarion readers organised various activities e.g. cycling clubs, choral societies, rambling clubs, often meeting in Clarion club-houses. The Clarion Vans were mobile propaganda vehicles, carrying Socialist leaflets, newspapers and speakers to rural areas, often accompanied at weekends by “Clarionettes” on bicycles. This photo shows the dedication of a new National Clarion Van designed by Walter Crane, at Shrewsbury on 12 April, 1914. Fred Bramley (TUC General Secretary 1923-1925) is seated, holding hat, at centre of the photograph. Clarion Vans continued touring until 1929.


Unveiling of Blue Plaque in honour of Mary Macarthur


TUC Women’s Committee at the unveiling ceremony

The TUC Library attended the unveiling of an English Heritage Blue Plaque in commemoration of suffragist and trade unionist Mary Macarthur at her former home in Golders Green (42 Woodstock Road) last night. The day was chosen because it preceded International Women’s Day and the start of the annual TUC Women’s Conference.

Mary Macarthur (13 August 1880 – 1 January 1921) was the general secretary of the Women’s Trade Union League and was involved in the formation of the National Federation of Women Workers and National Anti-Sweating League. In 1909 Mary led the women chain makers of Cradley Heath to victory in their fight for a minimum wage and led a strike to force employers to implement the rise. Speeches were made by, Mary Bousted TUC President, Vicky Knight, Chair of the Women’s Committee and James Deane, Mary’s grandson.

The TUC Library has a number of collections relating to Mary Macarthur.

Mary Macarthur speaking at a rally in Trafalgar Square about the box makers strike Aug 1908, Corruganza, Tooting London



Mary Quaile, the TUC and Easton Lodge, 1926

  Margaret Bondfield, Countess of Warwick and Mary Quaile in grounds of Easton Lodge

Margaret Bondfield, Countess of Warwick and Mary Quaile in grounds of Easton Lodge

Guest post from the Mary Quaile Club https://maryquaileclub.wordpress.com/
History, activism and discussion in the Greater Manchester area @MaryQuaileClub

In 1924 Mary Quaile was elected onto the General Council of the TUC, and with Julia Varley attended the National Conference of Labour Women, a conference of International Women Trade Unionists in Vienna and the Third International Trade Union Congress.

At home she now took part in delegations to lobby government ministers on issues including the Labour Government’s unemployment policy. In 1925 Mary was again elected onto the General Council. In 1926 Mary did not stand again for the General Council, but she continued to attend Congress as a delegate from the TGWU until 1931.

Recently we have come across pictures of Mary at the official handover of Easton Lodge to the trade union movement as a working class college. Ironically, a house maybe not that different from where she got her first job as a domestic.

Easton Lodge was owned by Countess Warwick (1861-1938) who, by 1926, had been a member of the socialist movement for over 25 years. It was an era in which a Countess standing as a prospective Labour candidate was not seen as bizarre!

TUC General Council with Mary Quaile on the right  on the right

TUC General Council with Mary Quaile on the right on the right

In 1926 Countess Warwick handed over the historic building and sumptuous park and grounds to the General Council of the TUC who paid a visit. It was dubbed “Labour’s Chequers.”

(Photos from the TUC Library Collections)


Material on wages in the TUC Library Collections


A selection of boxes on the subject of wages, from 1893 to the present.

The New Year has seen a number of news stories about wages in the UK – from the High Pay Centre’s statistics that by 4th January 2017 CEO’s had already amassed the same wages as the average Briton’s salary for the whole year, to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a maximum wage cap.

The TUC Library contains collections on Britain’s wage rates since the late 19th century, as can be seen in the photo above which shows just one of our many shelves on the topic.

We also have contemporary material from the High Pay Centre, the Low Pay Commission, the Incomes Data Service and a broad range of think tanks, charities, government departments, academic studies, and of course from the TUC and unions.

A small selection of recent publications on wages

To find out more about what the library contains on this or any other topic, or to arrange an appointment to visit, get in touch.


TUC Library Christmas opening hours


The December 1930 issue of the General & Municipal Workers’ Union journal.

The TUC Library will be closed from midday on Friday 23rd December 2016 and will re-open at 9am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our users and supporters.


Workers’ representation and industrial democracy


A selection from the book shelves on industrial democracy

Following on from our previous post that mentioned the recent debate about workers on company boards, we thought we would turn the spotlight on the material in the TUC Library on the subject of industrial democracy.

From the period of the establishment of the TUC in the late 19th century, the issue of workers’ representation and control over their work process has been a central demand of the labour movement. The developments of “new unionism“, anarcho-syndicalism, workers’ cooperatives, and guild socialism, were all hotly debated in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Following the Second World War the TUC attempted to influence the economic reconstruction and industrial relations environment by lobbying for more workplace democracy, planning and co-determination (as can be seen in this document here), a structure that became the model in Continental economies such as Germany.

By the 1960s and 1970s this model was coming under strain in the UK, exemplified by the document In Place of Strife issued by the Wilson Government and the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers’ Associations (known as the Donovan Commission) in 1968. Continued industrial strife in the 1970s led to the 1977 Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Industrial Democracy, chaired by Lord Bullock, a report that recommended radical reforms to company board structures to embed employee representation. The recommendations were never enacted, however. The TUC Library contains not only the Report itself but a wide variety of publications and commentary from the period. The TUC continued to lobby for increased workplace democracy into the 1980s and 1990s.

The TUC Library copy of the Bullock Report.

A selection of TUC publicaions on industrial democracy from the 1970s and 80s

The TUC continues to produce material on the subject and published a number of reports in recent years, prior to the government of Theresa May putting the issue back on the public agenda. You can view online versions of the publications shown below here, here, here and here.

TUC publications on the subject of workplace democracy (2013 – 2016).

For more information about this topic, or any of the items featured, get in touch.



Spotlight on the Tavistock Institute archive project


A pamphlet box from the TUC Library, containing material published by the Tavistock Institute.

Following our recent participation in the Senate House Libraries & Research History Day, we discovered a fascinating project by the library of the Wellcome Trust to catalogue the archives of the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations.

The Tavistock Institute was founded in 1946 and studies organisational behaviour, workplace relations and management psychology. Their archive collections therefore share a great deal in common with those of the TUC Library.

You can follow the progress of the project at http://tihr-archive.tavinstitute.org/

The TUC Library holds a number of publications from the Tavistock Institute, including some of their annual reports and a run of their journal Human Relations.

There are also one-off publications such as this statement of the Institute’s aims and organization.

There are also publications with a more topical relevance, such as this report from 1970 into the issue of workers’ participation on management boards (from a case study of British Rail employees):

“Worker participation in management” report by the Tavistock Institute, 1970.

For more information about what the TUC Library holds from the Tavistock Institute, or any of the wider subjects such as workplace relations and psychology, get in touch.


We’ve moved! – TUC Library moves to new home in Aldgate


The TUC Library has completed its move to a new building and Reading Room at London Metropolitan University’s Old Castle Street building at Aldgate in the City of London. The building, known as The Wash Houses, retains the exterior of the old Whitechapel public baths which were in use since the 1850s.

The TUC Library now shares the building with the University’s other Special Collections, including the University archive, the Frederick Parker furniture making collection, and the Archive of the Irish in Britain.

Access to the new Reading Room is from the university entrance at 16 Goulston Street (see map).

Our new contact details are:

TUC Library Collections
London Metropolitan University
Special Collections
CC2-01 The Wash Houses
Old Castle Street
London E1 7NT
Tel: 020 7320 3516
Email: tuclib@londonmet.ac.uk

Nearest tube stations are Aldgate (Circle and Metropolitan Lines) and Aldgate East (Hammersmith & City and District Lines).

Our opening hours remain unchanged – Monday to Friday, 09.00 – 17.00 – as do all our other services. Stay tuned to the blog for future updates about the activities of the Special Collections.

For more information, or to arrange an appointment to visit the library, get in touch.