Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants 1871-1913

On the 26th November 1871 a group of railwaymen meeting in the People's Hall, Holbeck, Leeds, made the decision which resulted in the establishment of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants.

Within the next two weeks, further meetings
in London enthusiastically endorsed the launching of the new Society, such as that at the Winchester Arms, 63 Southwark Street, London, chaired by Mr Pritchard a vetran of the campaigns of 1865-6.
"A meeting will be held at the Winchester Arms, Southwark Street on Sunday December 3rd (1871) to further the objects of securing ten hours for a day's labour, payment for Sunday duty and weekly payment of wages. Chair to be taken at 6 o'clock. Please inform your mates and solicit them to attend."
Printed on tiny slips of paper four inches by two inches, in order not to attract the attention of the employers, this was the message passed between railwaymen that led to the forming of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants.
Despite the justified caution of the founders (there was an early proposal for a secret sign and password for the union) the union found a substantial support from railway workers and even "progressive" Member of Parliament such as Michael Thomas Bass (Derby) and his agent Charles Bassett Vincent who helped and encouraged railwaymen to organise and fund the influential "Railway Service Gazette" begun on 6th January 1872, forerunner of "Railway Gazette".

On March 2nd 1872 its Rules were registered with the Register of friendly societies.

ASRS General Secretary and President
Bermondsey ASRS Sash
Railway workers London, Brighton & South Coast Line 1871

The union held its first delegate conference on 24 June 1872 at the Sussex Hotel, Bouverie Street near Fleet Street, London.

Within twelve months the union had 17,000 members.
ASRS Headquarters at City Road, London - 306 City Road, London

ASRS Banner Hopkinstown, South Wales Aug 1911

On the 29th March 1913, the Amalgmated Society of Railway Servants amalgamated with the united Pointsmen's & Signalmen's Society (4,101) and the General Railway Workers Union (23,158) to become the National Union of Railwaymen and is nown as the RMT Union.

Michael Walker

First ASRS rail union delegate conference Sussex Hotel, 21 Bouverie Street, London 24th June 1872

Bedford - J. Abbott

Broad Street - J. Bull
Camden - G. Boon
Hull - G. Billoney

Boston - P. Bannister

Wellingborough - J. Bowley
Manchester - T. Baker, T. Burns, R. Salmon
Birmingham - J.W. Biggs. A. Bladon, C. Crossley
Doncaster - A. T Caesar
Stratford - J. Carter, W. Maston
Stourbridge - S. Carr
Bermondsey - E. W. Campion
Ardwick - J. Cordwell
Worcester - F. Dance
Salford - H. Dickenson
Grimsby - D. Dalton, E. Harford
Hereford - H. Davis
Bow - T. Evans
Toton - G. Foreman
Brighton J. T. Gladwin
Plumstead - W. J. Gwynne
Accrington - R. Gibson
South Eastern - W.S. Grabham, W. King
Sheffield J.Graham
Nine Elms W.Jeffs
Battersea R. Whitmore
West End No 1 - H. Kemp, J. Paffo
Wakefield - E. Lunn
Merthyr - J Morish
Manchester J Marsden
New Mills - J.R. Peters
Gorton - J.R. Palmer
Wolverhampton - T. Penzer
Birkenhead - J. Price
Crystal Palace - W. Reeves
Burslem - A. Strenton
Brick Lane - E. W Sainsbury
Dudley - J. Skinner
Greatbridge - T. Swinburne
Cardiff - G.A. Skilling
Kings Cross - C. Shrives
Pontypool - J. Tucker
March - C. Turner
Aberdare - S. Wyatt
Leeds - W. Whitehead
Newport - J. Williams

Officers G. Chapman General Secretary, Dr J Baxter Langley Chairman and J Climpson Treasurer

Note an initial inspection of the names of delegates at this conference would seem to highlight a number of persons on Welsh descent.

ASRS General Secretaries
1871 - 1874 G. Chapman
1874 - 1883 F. W. Evans
1883 - 1897 E. Harford
1897 - 1910 Ricahrd Bell MP (Derby)
1910 - 1916 J.E. Williams

ASRS Presidents
1872 - 1873 Dr J. B. Langley
1874 - 1876 Cannon J. D. Jenkins
1877 - 1891 P.S. Macliver MP (Plymouth)
1892 - 1898 W. Hudson
1899 - 1901 G. Thaxton
1902 - 1904 W. G. Loraine
1905 - 1906 J. H. Thomas (later MP Derby)
1907 - 1909 J. R. Bell
1910 - E. Charles
1911 - 1916 A. Bellamy

Click on ASRS any pictures to enlarge

ASRS & ASLEF 1911 Strike badge
ASRS rail union sash Bermondsey, London
ASRS Marshal sash (star with loco design)
ASRS rally Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

ASRS Birmingham 
NUR Bermondsy ASRS Sash (© Mary Evans Picture Library)


Sheffield ASRS Rail union branch established January 1872 Mr Havard Secretary

ASRS rail union - Worcester Pioneer branch 4th annual dinner April 1873 - Mr Francis Dance presided - Union Inn, Carden Street - 80 present