1921 Snapshot: Trade Unions and Societies at the GFTU

Today is the second and final day of the 2021 BGCM of the General Federation of Trade Unions. Current circumstances mean that it is of course online, but there is still plenty of important business up for discussion. I was particularly happy to see unanimous support for the Social Workers’ Union and the Association of Educational Psychologists’ motion to give children in England the same legal right of protection against physical punishment at home as children in Scotland and Wales. That is a fantastic step forward. Also, it is wonderful to see the indomitable Sarah Woolley being voted in as vice-President of the GFTU. When I first began this PhD, Sarah was particularly warm and inviting, and I’ve watched her make such a real difference for young trade unionists and for her own members over the past four years. I’m very excited to see what her plans are!

In honour of the 2021 BGCM, I have compiled a list of the affiliated unions of 1921. These affiliated unions relied on the GFTU as a centralised body that could represent their interests, give advice on union management and conciliation, and provide strike benefit should industrial action be taken. I think lists like these – with membership numbers and locality of their offices – really highlight how the world of work has changed over the last one hundred years. The types of trades that were represented also shows how the GFTU was at this point leaning towards specialist unions for highly-skilled craftspeople.

Name of OrganisationMembershipGeneral Secretary
Amalgamated Society of Anchorsmiths200C. H. Sitch, MP – Cradley Heath
London Jewish Bakers Union110Cllr I. Sharp – Stepney
Barge Builders Trade Union470T. Challis – Greenwich
Basket, Skip and Hamper Makers FederationNewly seceded 
Midland Counties Hosiery Finishers Federation4435G. A. Kenney – Leicester
Amalgamated Block Roller and Stamp Cutters358F. Rennie – Manchester
Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders103945J. Hill – Newcastle-On-Tyne
Rossendale Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives90224A. Taylor – Waterfoot
National Glass Bottle MakersNewly merged with the National Glass Workers Trade Protection Association 
National Glass Workers Trade Protection Association4000J. Thompson – Castleford
London United Brass and Metal Founders456J. S. Lucy – Barking
London and Provincial Union of Hand Sewn Boot and Shoe Operatives438J. W. Dickson – London
National Federation of Builders Labourers1330W. T. Mabbot – Nottingham
Mansfield Builders Labourers180W. A. Hopkins – Nottingham
Liverpool Carvers and Gliders30J. C. Mulligan – Liscard
Amalgamated Society of Carriers EmployeesLapsed 
Dundee Calendar Linoleum and Dye Workers3300J. Cunningham – Dundee
Amalgamated Card and Blowing Room Operatives79448W. Thomasson, J.P. – Manchester
Cleckheaton Card Dressers Society85L. Archer – Cleckheaton
Card Setting Machine Tenters Society261J. Midgley – Huddersfield
Associated Chain Makers and Strikers1520T. Sitch – Cradley Heath
National Union of Cigar Makers and Tobacco Workers4177A. Senton – London
Industrial Union of General Cigarette Workers160A. Dembovitz – London
National Union of Commercial and Industrial Employees157P. Rockliff – London
National Union of Vehicle Builders27267J. Nicholson – Manchester
London Society of Compositors15400T. E. Naylor – London
Amalgamated Society of Coopers4300R. W. Mann – Burton-On-Trent
Curriers and Strap Makers Union250A. E. Dowell – Cleckheaton
National Association of Coopers1560G. Harrison – London
Amalgamated Operative Cotton Spinners54886H. Boothman – Manchester
Amalgamated Society of Cricket Ball Makers270H. Belcher – Tonbridge
Ornamental Decorators Society56A. Young – London
Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers’ Union133132B. Tillett, MP – London
Radcliffe Dyers, Bleachers and Sizers569J. Hardman – Radcliffe
National Society of Dyers and Finishers15329A. Shaw – Bradford
Electrical Trades Union59000J. Rowan – Manchester
Engineman Cumberland Iron Ore, Firemen and Electrical Workers’ Association130H. Simpson – Cumberland
Iron Safe Engineers168A. Hill – Birmingham
Enginemen, Motormen and Firemen’s Association536J. T. Griffiths – Chesterfield
Progressive Society of French Polishers188R. H. Wood – Harrow
Amalgamated Furnishing Trades Association30901A. Gossip – London
Glass Bevellers’ Society 362H. J. Collins – Birmingham
Amalgamated Trade Union of Tailors and Garment Workers89730A. Conley – Leeds
Glasgow Gilders’ Society16R. Lockhart – Glasgow
London Society of Glass Blowers811J. Stokes – London
National Flint Glass Makers780J. Husselbee – Brierly Hill
Pressed Glass Makers Society258T. Melville – Gateshead
National Union of Glovers1070W. H. Tavener -Yeovil
Loughborough Hosiery Union1580W. H. Smith – Loughborough
Hinckley Hoisery Menders’ Association1012D. Young – Hinkley
Hemmers, Veiners and General Women Workers1500R. Levin – Lurgan
Amalgamated Leicester Hoisery Union8800Ald. J. Chaplin, JP – Leicester
Ilkeston Hosiery Union7600H. Bassford, Heanor
Denton Silk Hat Trimmers and Stitchers75F. Robson – Manchester
Amalgamated Society of Journeymen Felt Hatters4149Cllr T. Mallalieu, JP – Manchester
Journeyman Hatters Fair Trade Union459J. J. Hall – Ruislip
Amalgamated Felt Hat Trimmers and Wool Formers3665Cllr T. Mallalieu, JP – Manchester
Hosiery Warehouse Association315D. Young – Hinckley
Hollowware, Galvanised Sheet Metal Workers and Braziers’ Association1690Cllr S. Webb, JP – Stourbridge
North of Scotland Horse and Motorman’s Association1700P. Gillespie, JP – Dundee
Hinckley Hosiery Union3060J. Bailey – Hinkley
Hosiery Framework Knitters7361W. Hartshorn – Nottingham
Scientific Instrument MakersAmalgamated to the A. E. U. 
Hand Mill and Horizontal Warpers Association119W. Stewart – Glasgow
Iron, Steel and Metal Dressers’ Trade Society3550C. W. Davidson – Manchester
General Iron Fitters Association1812J. Fraser – Falkirk
National Union of Foundry Workers55761A. Todd – Manchester
Amalgamated Society of Ironmoulders645T. Charles – Llanelly
Furness Iron Miners’ and Quarrymen’s Union1293W. Lewney, JP – Dalton-in-Furness
Association of Ironmoulders of ScotlandFused with the National Union of Foundry Workers 
Iron mould is central Association6910H. Murdoch – Falkirk
Insulator China Furniture and Electric Appliances and Turners’ Association124L. Ravenscroft – Fenton
Dundee and District Union of Jute and Flax Workers15700J. F. Sime – Dundee
National Amalgamated Union of Labour161217J. N. Bell, JP – Newcastle-on-Tyne
Lace Pattern Readers’ Society47E. A. Barnett – Nottingham
Male Lace Workers Auxiliary Society328G. Simpson – Nottingham
Midland Leather Trades’ Federation500G. Power, MBE – Walsall
General Union of Associated Loom Overlookers9446E. Duxbury – Bury
Rochdale Machine Engine and Iron Grinders’ Society728J. Asquith, JP – Rochdale
Mill Sawyer’s and Wood Working Machinists Trade Society170J. G. Haycock- Tottenham
Midland Counties’ Trades’ Federation1428J. Taylor, JP – Dudley
Arboath Mill and Factory Workers1700C. M. Phimister – Arboath
Brechin Mill and Factory Operatives’ Union1150J. C. Hendry, JP – Brechin
Amalgamated Moulders’ Union3500J. Ryan – Manchester
Mule and Ring Spindle Makers Operatives327W. Walsh – Oldham
Tile, Faience and Mosaic Fixers’ Society180D. W. L. Sharp – London
Public Works and Constructional Operatives’ Union6434J. Ward, JP, MP – London
Amalgamated Scottish Aberdeen Painters456G. Sim – Aberdeen
National Society of Operative Painters and Assistants15755Cllr G. A. Isaacs, JP – London
Wallpaper Workers’ Union2500C. Kean, JP – Manchester
Amalgamated Scottish Dundee Painters390J. Kenneth – Dundee
Scottish Federation of Powerloom Tenters800J. Burt – Dunfermline
Tobacco Pipe Makers Society36
National Association of Operative Plasterers’ Labourers120P. Kenney – Leeds
National Society of Pottery Workers44974S. Clowes – Hanley
Scotch Power Loom Carpet Trades4268T. Wilson – Renfrew
National Association of Silk Workers3354J. Hadfield – Macclesfield
Portmanteau, Bag and Fancy Leather Workers Amalgamation1303C. Hyde – London
Amalgamated Union of Block Printers687R. Black – Ayrshire
Cumberland Limestone Quarrymen’s Association620W. Cowen, Whitehaven
North Wales Quarrymen’s Union6990R. T. Jones – Carnarvon
Amalgamated Quarry Workers and Sett Makers8967J. Slevin – Leicester
Liverpool Riggers’ and Mariners’ Trade Society127R. Reid – Liverpool
Screw, Nut, Bolt and Rivet Trade Society654F. Garner – Birmingham
Shipconstructive and Shipwrights’ Association46996Ald. A. Wilkie, CH, JP, MP – Newcastle-on-Tyne
Amalgamated Society of Shuttle Makers591T. Hurley – Blackburn
Surgical and Elastic Bandage Makers130F. Godfrey – Derby
Milford Haven Steam Trawler Engineers’ Union175J. C. Wilkinson – Milford Haven
Operative Spindle and Flyer Makers Society1404C. H. Whitehead – Leeds
Stevedores’ Labour Protection League5564J. B. Ruark – London
National Union of Stove Grate Workers4353Cllr A. Hutchison, JP – Rotherham
Amalgamated Society of Stuff and Woollen Warehousemen3469M. Titterington – Bradford
Leven Textile WorkersW. Robertson – Leven
Scottish National Textile Workers’ Federation3500J. Nairn – Kirkcaldy
United Tank Makers’ Society209A. Meager – London
London Ladies’ Tailors’ Machinists and Pressers970J. L. Fine – London
Dunfermline Textile Workers’ Union2250Miss Frew – Dunfermline
Portadown, Banbridge and District Textile Workers Trade Union2145L. Dell – Portadown
Newmilns and District Textile Workers’ Union3732W. Archibald – Newmilns
National Association of Theatrical Employees11496T. Cannon – London
Tin and Sheet Millmen’s Association2800Ald. I. H. Gwynne, JP – Swansea
Edge Tool Trade Society1027L. E. Thomas – Birmingham
Toolmakers Amalgamated SocietyAmalgamated to A. E. U. 
Tobacco Strippers Mutual AssociationMerged with National Union of Cigar Makers and Tobacco Workers 
Amalgamated Union of Upholsterers7124L. Leckie – London
Athletic Wood Turners and Machinists455J. T. Norris – London
Amalgamated Union of Watermen, Lightermen and Bargemen6991H. Gosling, JP – London
Northern Counties Amalgamated Weavers Association224219J. Cross, JP – Accrington
General Union of Textile Workers84910A. Gee, JP – Huddersfield
Ulster Weavers and Winders’ Trade Union500W. O’Neill – Lurgan
Guernsey Workers’ Union381H. J. Field – Guernsey
Wool, Yarn and Warehouse Workers Union3356F. Egan – Bradford
Weavers’ Handloom Association200S. Wheeldon – Macclesfield
United Friendly Society of Wire Weavers43S. Ogden – Manchester
Wool Shear Workers’ Trade Union87R. Reed – Sheffield
Wheelwrights and Coachmakers’ Operatives’ Union4370G. E. Ball – London

Published by Edda Nicolson

I am a PhD Researcher in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton. My thesis is on the early history of the General Federation of Trade Unions 1899-1926, and I’m focusing on the emotions used to construct their organisational culture.

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