Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Deptford - Gas Workers Union

Gas Workers & General Labourers Union
Deptford - South London

Deptford & Greenwich area worst organised in London and ripe for non union labour

Kentish Mercury
Sunday July 14th July 1907

Pete Curran MP and Will Thorne MP
Meeting of local Deptford branch of the Gas Workers & General Labourers Union held a demonstration in Deptford Broadway Thomas Garbek presided and Arthur Hayday of West Ham addressed the meeting

Pete Curran MP for Jarrow spoke after his recent election, he had worked at the Woolwich Arsenal he and others conduc
ted vigorous campaigns in Deptford and Beresford Square they then declared that until Labour rose to the position of being able to send to parliament men from their own ranks and until they paid for their own political representation nothing of a useful character could be done 31 Labour MP's, their union, which now represented in parliament by four of its members they were hoping that the victory of Jarrow would be repeated at every opportunity.

If that were done the day of strikes would come to an end, they would change the venue to the floor of the House of Commons which they might be able to convert from a lounge for the leisured into a workshop on behalf of the impoverished citizens of the United kingdom.

Mr Harry Pickard said that so far as trades unionism was concerned Deptford was the blackest spot in London-the men were too apathetic. trade unionism was only beginning to find out its proper function.


Will Thorne MP for West Ham stated
as to the organisation of unskilled labour in that district he expressed the opinion that Deptford and Greenwich were the worst districts in London. as proof he declared that in the event of a dispute those in search of "free labour" went first to those places.

Tolpuddle 1977 - Uxbridge Nat Fed OAP

Dickie Bond leading Uxbridge and Pensioners leader at Tolpuddle 1977

Cunninghame Graham - Bloody Sunday 1887

Robert Bontine Cunninghame-Graham

Bloody Sunday

Born in London on the 24th May 1852 to a prosperous family, he spent much of his childhood in Scotland. Later he made his fortune cattle ranching in Argentina, returning to Britain on the death of his father.

Although a socialist, at the 1886 General Election he stood as a Liberal Party candidate for North-West Lanarkshire.

He stood on a progressive platform which included:

  • the abolition of the House of Lords
  • universal suffrage
  • the nationalisation of land, mines and other industries
  • free school meals
  • disestablishment of the Church of England
  • Scottish Home Rule
  • the establishment of an eight-hour-day

Winning the seat he continued his socialist agitation on September 12, 1887 he was suspended from parliament for making a "disrespectful reference" to the House of Lords.

He was the first MP ever to be suspended from the House of Commons for swearing, using the word damn.

He attended the protest demonstration in Trafalgar Square on November 13, 1887 that was savagely broken up by the police. During what became known as Bloody Sunday 300 were arrested and many more injured, Cunninghame- Graham was just one of the many who was badly beaten by the Metropolitan Police and arrested.

The huge march was organised by the Social Democratic Federation and the Irish National League to demand the release from prison of William O'Brien MP, who was imprisoned for inciting a Land League rent strike on Lady Kingston's estate near Mitchelstown, Cork. When William O'Brien MP, was brought to trial on 9th September 1887 for his involvement, a 8,000 strong crowd outside the courthouse was attacked by the the Royal Irish Constabulary, shooting three men dead (John Casey, John Shinnick and Michael Lonergan) and wounding many more, this event was later known as the "Mitchelstown Massacre". An initial coroners report stated that the men had been killed unlawfully but this was soon quashed by the establishment. William Gladstone coined the phrase "Remember Mitchelstown".

On "Bloody Sunday" Alfred Linnell, a radical clerk, was run down by a police horse, trampled and killed. another man W. B. Curner was also killed. At Linnell's funeral on 18th December 1887 became a major political event organised by the socialists. William Morris wrote A Death Song' for the funeral, which was sung by the thousands who attended his funeral at Tower hamlets cemetery.

"We asked them for a life of toilsome earning,
They bade us bide their leisure for our bread;
We craved to speak to tell our woeful learning:
We come back speechless, bearing back our dead.
Not one, not one, nor thousands must they slay,
But one and all if they would dusk the day

Both Cunninghame-Graham and John Burns were found guilty for their involvement in the demonstration and sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment in Pentonville prison.

Undaunted he continued to support workers fighting to improve conditions, He was suspended from the House of Commons in December, 1888 for protesting about the working conditions of chain makers, he gave valuable support to Annie Besant organising the Match girls as well as the Dock strike of 1889.

He was a friend of Kier Hardie and Eleanor Marx, the daughter of Karl Marx, Eleanor Marx being the first women political speaker on West Drayton common September 1890 in support of the local Gas Workers Union (brickmakers & horticultural) branch.

Cunningham Graham spoke on West Drayton Green, Hillingdon in June 1891

Cunninghame Graham died in 1936 and is buried at Inchmahome Priory on the island of Inchmahome in the Lake of Menteith, Scotland.

Co-operative Stores - West London

Yiewsley & West Drayton Co-operative was formed in September 1893 and covered Hayes, West drayton, Yiewsley, Uxbridge and Harefield and finally merged into the London Co-operative Society in 1930.
Fulham ?

Co-operative Tea - Plantations

Co-operative Tea Plantations in the East

English and Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Socities 1923

Mahavilla Group 976 acres
Westhall group 1,931
Bowhill Estate 744
Nagastenne estate 487
Baharundrah estate 567
Kolapatna Estate 642
Gingranoya Estate 352


Comprising Mango range, Provident, Attikunna and Glenfruin, Strathearn and Maryland, Trevelyan, Richmond, Harewood and Kintail
Talapoya, teddington, and Glen Bolten, Cherakara, Jessie, Clifton, tatamala, and Thavenjal
Comprising Auda Tode and Muracarp, Ripon, Anacarp and palatoor, Kuppa Mudi, Emily, and Nellimunda
Comprising Murugalli, Sheikal, Mudi, Paralai and Kalianapandal
ASSAM 1,449 Acres
Deckiajulie Estate
TOTAL 28, 617


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wandsworth Labour Party

The Wandsworth Labour Party was established in 1907 on Wimbledon Common.

The banner here is of Wandsworth Independent Labour Party

LRC and The Chinese Labour Question

The Chinese Labour Question

This issue of the use of Chinese Labour in South Africa was a major issue for progressives in the early 1900's.

Sir Alfred Milner, Governor of the Cape Colony, South Africa, who along with Cecil Rhodes was one of the main architects in provoking the land grab in Southern Africa which led to the Boer war.

Milner's plan for encouraging British migration to South Africa (to counter the Boer influence) necessitated huge amounts of subsidise to companies and potential migrants. To fund this Milner needed to exploit the numerous gold mines of South Africa.

Given a shortage of cheap native African workers to work in the gold mines, Milner persuaded the British government to sign a treaty with China for the importation of 60,000 indentured Chinese labourers on three year, so called "licences", between 1903 and 1907 .

These indentured Chinese labourers were kept in almost slave conditions and treated brutally, with corporal punishment being handed out at will.

Ironically, Milner started out on the left, in 1885 even standing as the Liberal parliamentary candidate for Harrow. He ended up as Chairman of Rio Tinto Zinic Mining Company and calling himself a "British Race Patriot".

It was around the issue of the Chinese labour question that the early Labour Representation Committee in Ealing mobilised.
On 7th May 1904 the Ealing & District Labour Representation Committee Sunday afternoon demonstration against indentured Chinese labour on Ealing Common . William Piggott - Secretary.


West Ham and Poplar were the first Councils to fall to Labour in London at the turn of the century and in 1907-1908 at Camberwell and Bethnal Green

The Fulham and Hammersmith Labour Part developed from the South West London Labour Representation Committee, The Secretary and candidate was George Belt a member of the Social Democratic Federation. (circa 1903)

Hammersmith Social Democratic Federation was affiliated to Hammersmith Labour Party (Circa 1903)

By 1914 The British Socialist Party had 55 branches in London with 2,500 members and was the largest socialist organisation in London

Friday, May 08, 2009

Leonard Spencer and the Uxbridge Independant Labour Party

Uxbridge Independent Labour Party (ILP) was established in November 1911, its headquarters were at Rockingham Hall Rec, Uxbridge.

At it's inaugural meeting on 23rd November 1911, the chair was taken by Chair Robert W Hudson. The speaker at this meeting was Dr Charles A Parker who spoke on the private ownership of land.

Robert W Hudson 1 Swimbridge Terrace, of Rockingham Road, was chairman of Uxbridge Independent Labour Party and L.W."Leonard" Spencer its Secretary.

Councillor Henry Palmer of Hayes was also active in supporting Uxbridge ILP

Not everyone was pleased to witness the arrival of the ILP, the local pro "Tory" Uxbridge Gazette was not enthusiastic about this development stating witheringly and mockingly in its
editorial that "The ILP housed and directed as an everyday institution of Uxbridge, will soon cease to be a bogey to anyone".

At the December 1911 meeting of Uxbridge ILP, Mr J.T. Wescott Secretary of Hammersmith Independent Labour Party (ILP) spoke on the strike wave and industrial unrest sweeping Britain and noted
"How the general unrest which has its local manifestations had led to the Establishment of that branch of the ILP".

The ILP and Labour Party stood a number of candidates for election to the local Uxbridge council during this period including.
James Cochrane (electrician - Oakleigh, Watford Rd)
Thomas Rowley (Insurance Agent -Tachbrook Rd)
Frederick Rolfe ( Working Tanner-Coss Street)
Ernest Cave
W.A Herbert

The ILP acted as the overtly political wing of the Party while the broader Labour Party was spearheaded by the Uxbridge Labour & Trades Council which had been established in 1910.


L "
Leonard" W. Spencer was born in Guildford 29th July 1889, educated at Collegete School at Reading, He was the son of Mr. T. B. Spencer, of 66, Kidmore Road, Caversham, Reading.

Aged just 17, he left home to open a business in Uxbridge, living later at Belmont Road, Uxbridge. Leonard Spencer went on to helped establish and became the first secretary of the Uxbridge Chamber of Commerce, while also participating in the establishment of a local parliament (debating society).

As an early motor cyclist enthusiast he was reported to be the first person to have ever successfully motorcycle up Snowdon, he also toured Norway and Iceland as a young man.

Spencer had been a keen supporter of Mr Edmund Dene
Morel (later Labour MP for Dundee and married to Mary Richardson) agitation over the brutal rule of King Leopold in the Belgium Congo (Now the Democratic republic of Congo).

Spencer became a Christian Socialist believing "that there was no incompatibility but rather the fullest harmony between Christianity and socialism".

He went on to become the founding Secretary of the Uxbridge Independent Labour Party (ILP) and in 1910 he had been elected to Uxbridge Council as a Labour candidate along with Edwin Westcott. While on the council he was involved in the plan to build some of the first Uxbridge Council houses and it was stated that these "were definitely a monument to the energies and the eloquence of Mr Spencer".

When World War 1 broke he
considered it his Christain duty to serve and he was one of the first to enlist as a Cyclist Orderly in the (London Cycling Regiment) later 13th Kensington Battalion in order to defend the sovereignty of "little countries overseas".

He wrote home stating "he would not come home for the world until victory was won" and encouraging others to follow him and enlist.

At Ypres, during the Battle of Neuve Chapel
during March and April 1915, A battle which represented the first large scale organised attack undertaken by the British army during the war. Spencer's Battalion took major losses, he underwent a terrible ordeal, suffering from hunger, thirst and sleepless nights. He only took off his clothes to wash and slept every night with his motorcycle by his side (probably providing a vital courier service). He served without respite for seven months.

he Regimental History of the Kensington's Regiment describes their experiences during Neuve Chapelle. C Company was involved on the first day, and advanced at 9 a.m. to the village cemetery, where they had to take cover amidst churned-up graves. On the 12th of March, their C.O. (Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis) noted that by 12.25 p.m. the German bombardment of their positions (in the old front line) was "Perfect Hell".

It seems that this "perfect hell" had finally undermined Leonard Spencer's fundamental Christian beliefs, it was stated later that he had rediscovered his beliefs before his untimely death, shot through the head by a German snipper on the 1st September 1915.

Private (and Comrade) L.W. Spencer is buried at Longuenesse St Omer, France.


James Gardner MP for Hammersmith North (elected 1923) was eight years Chairman of West London Independent Labour Party (ILP)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hillingdon Asian Councillors

Councillor Prakash Auchombit

The well respected, Prakash Auchombit was the first elected Labour Asian (black) councillor in the London Borough of Hillingdon in 1990 in the old Botwell ward, Hayes.

The first Asian
Conservative Councillor had been elected in 1982 Dr Ali Khan (not for a Hayes a ward), However, Dr Khan failed to serve his four year term as according to Private Eye (9.9.1983) because "Dr Ali Khan had been struck off the medical register in January 1983 for imprproper prescription of drugs to addicts".

Northwood Co-operative Bank

Northwood Co-Operative Bank Ltd

started trading 29th June 1908

Mr J.R.Mace Secretary

(Picture left Enfield Highway Co-opeative)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Women's Co-operative Guild 1883


In 1883 Alice Acland persuaded the editor of the Co-operative News to let her have a 'Woman's Corner'. In the issue of 14th April 1883 it was announced that 'The Woman's League for the Spread of Co-operation' had formed and all interested should contact Alice Acland. Her co founder was Mary Lawrenson.

At the Edinburgh Congress of the Co-operative Union in June 1883 the Women's League For the Spread of Co-operation was formally established with fifty members and a subscription of 6d a year.

Its aims
were to spread a knowledge of co-operation, to keep alive its ideals, and to improve the conditions of women all over the country.

1. To spread a knowledge of the advantages of co-operation

2. To stimulate amongst those who know its advantages a greater interest in the principles of co-operation
3. To keep alive in ourselves, our neighbours, and especially in the rising generation, a more earnest apprec
iation of the value of Co-operation to ourselves, to our children, and to the nation
4. To improve the conditions of women all over the country.

The first branch of the Women's Co-operative Guild was formed at Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire in September 1883, followed by others in Rochdale and Woolwich before the close of 1883.

The Women's League changed its name in August 1894 to the Women's Co-operative Guild.

Margaret Llewelyn Davies
became general secretary in 1889 (MLD right) replacing Mary Lawrenson.

Margaret Llewelyn Davies held the post from 1889 until 1921.

Six years later 1892, the Scottish Women's Co-operation Guild was established and the Irish Women's co-operative Guild in 1906.

By 1910 the Women's Co-operative Guild had 32,000 members.

The National Co-operative Men's Guild was established in 1911.

In 1921 the International Women's Co-operative Guild was established.

By 1933 the Women's Co-operative Guild it had 72,000 members in 1513 branches.

In 1948 the Women's Co-operative Guild still had 62,524 members in 1,774 branches.


The Women's Co-operative Guild was strong in West London and the Uxbridge, Southall (circa 1905) and Hayes Women's co-operative Guild were still going strong into the 1980's.

In October 1912 a meeting was held in the School Room, Lawn Road, Uxbridge with Councillor F. Taylor presiding. Mrs Latham advocated the formation of a localWomen's Co-operative Guild, 19 names were handed in at it was agreed to form a branch, The first Women's Co-operative Guild meeting being held on 16th October 1912. I am not sure if this is an Uxbridge branch or a branch named after the local Co-operative Yiewsley & West Drayton which was also reported in the local newspaper