Trade Union Ancestors: a short history of the tramway workers' union

Badge of the Amalgamated Association of Tram and Vehicle Workers

Amalagamated Association of Tramway and Vehicle Workers
Including the United Vehicle Workers

Founded in Manchester in 1889, the union laboured in its early years under the rather long-winded title of the Northern Counties Amalgamated Association of Tramway and Hackney Carriage Employees and Horsemen in General.

The union was formed in response to a move by Manchester and Salford Tramway Company to reward members of the public who informed on tramway workers who were allegedly guilty of defrauding their employer, and soon had 400 members.

By 1892, with a full-time general secretary, George Jackson, on the far from generous salary of £1 4shillings a week, the union had extended its reach as far as Nottingham, Sheffield and Burnley, and had a new name: the Tramway, Hackney Carrieage Employees and Horsemen's Association.

During the 1890s, the growing union absorbed Bolton Tramway Union, Manchester , Salford and District Lurrymen and Carters Union, Edinburgh and District Tramway and Carmen's Union , Belfast Carters Union and Huddersfield Carters Union.

By the time it changed its name once again to become the Amalgamated Association of Tramway and Vehicle Workers, the union could claim 10,000 members. Impressive though this sounds, however, the industry itself had grown far faster, and the AATVW still represented only a small proportion of people employed in it. A final boost came in 1910, however, when the London Tramway Employees Association transferred its engagements to the union, taking membership to 17,076 and giving it national reach.

In 1919, the AATVW joined forces with the London and Provincial Union of Licensed Vehicle Workers in a new United Vehicle Workers, whose membership now included electric, cable, steam, horse, tram, cab and omnibus drivers as well as conductors, chauffeurs, horsekeepers, cabmen, carters, lurrymen, farriers, washers and cleaners.

The merger proved exceptionally difficult, and within a year, the new union's total membership had fallen from 115,897 to 89,962, in part because of rivalries between bus and tram workers, leading at one point to a short-lived breakaway Trams, Omnibus and Tube Workers union.

On 1 January 1922, the United Vehicle Workers became one of the founding organisations of today's Transport and General Workers Union.

List of officers , December 1905
Office Name Address
President Henry Archer 46 Bailey Street, Old Basford, Nottingham
General Secretary Councillor George Jackson JP 5 Leaf Square Pendleton
Trustee Councillor R Tootill JP Westward House, Tonge Road, Bolton
Trustee Edwin Plinston 194 Wilderspool Causeway, Warrington
Trustee James S Kirkbride 9 Bold Street, Chorlton Road, Manchester
Auditor Henry Murray 87 Fentonville Street, Sheffield
Auditor James Hacking J B Bovill 49 Thomas Street, Cheetham Hill, Manchester

Directory of branch secretaries, December 1905
Branch Name Address
Accrington Samuel Pilkington 184, Stanley Street
Ashton J H Kaye 48 Queen Street, Hurst
Barnsley Newby Thornley 61 Farrar Street
Belfast R J Moore 14 Walbeck Street
Birmingham A G Jones 9 Upper Dean Street
Blackburn No 1 James Hacking 35a Northgate
Blackburn No 2 James Hacking 35a Northgate
Bolton Geo Hollis 616 Chorley Old Road, Halliwell
Bradford J H Palin 51 Lower Rushton Road, Thornbury
Burnley No 1 John Hartley 25 Parker Lane
Burnley No 2 James Ashton 9 Haydock Street
Blackley T Hopkinson 18 Silver Street
Burton-on-Trent J J Clark 88 Ash Street
Bournemouth H Allen 83 Victoria Road East
Brighton E Knight 35 Gloucester Street
Cardiff R J Palser Tavistock Hotel, Bedford Street
Colne B Tatam 12 Spring Yard
Darlington C Bainbridge 54 Greenbank Road North
Dundee A M Strachan 11 Robertson Street
Edinburgh R Johnson 142 High Street
Edmonton C Watson Tramway Workers Rest, Edmonton, London
Glossop H Winterbottom 3 Charles Street
Halifax No 1 W Graham 1 Dowker Street, Fenton Road
Halifax No 2 J H Palin 51 Lower Rushton Road, Thornbury, Bradford
Huddersfield No 1 O Stancliffe 2 Rook Street
Huddersfield No 2 J Ainley 2 Logwood Street, Lockwood
Huddersfield No 3 S Hirst 122 Springdale Street, Longroyd Bridge
Hull Farriers George Purdon 8 Wilberforce Terrace, Argyle Street
Ilkeston G M Tyler Springfield Gardens, Awsworth Road
Keighley A Briggs 10 Victoria Road
Leeds J Kelly 48 Cavendish Street
Lees Wm Green 56 Hartshead Street
Leicester Geo Sawbridge 57 Berners Street
London No 1 G F Reader 6 Harcourt Road, West Ham
London No 2 H J Greenhill 18 Claude Road, Heaton Road, Peckham
London No 3 G Pearson 41 Joubert Street, Battersea
London No 4 J E Matthews 11 Tandridge Place, Landor Road, Clapham
London No 5 B Owen 74 Clifton Crescent, Asylum Road, Peckham
London No 6 G Pearce 154 Trundley's Road, Deptford
London No 7 A G Hooker 80 Tyer Street, Vauxhall S.E.
London No 8 G R Wilber 102 Balvernie Grove, Southfields, Wandsworth
Manchester No 1 W Hodgkinson 11 Marshall Place, Waterloo Road, Hightown
Manchester No 2 J H Shaw 12 Norseman Street, Rose Grove, Stockport Road
Manchester No 3 Thos Brewer 24 Apsley Grove, Ardwick
Manchester No 4 H Day 31 Greenfield Terrace, Flixton
Manchester No 5 W Jarman 80 Butler Street, Greenheys
Manchester No 6 C H Davies 12 Aked Street, Stockport Road
Milnsbridge John Chas Brook Cassons Buildings
Mossley G W Bolton 127 Stockport Road
Newcastle-on-Tyne No 1 J W Bradley 52 Helmsley Road, Jesmond
Newcastle-on-Tyne No 2 H Goodhead 31 Bulmer Street
Northampton A Gamble 1 Marlborough Road
Nottingham J E Pendleton 25 Highbury Avenue, Bulwell
Nelson D Moulds 86 Bradshaw Street
Oldham No 1 A E Turner 56 Regent Street, Rochdale
Oldham No 2 A E Turner 56 Regent Street, Rochdale
Portsmouth H Barker 6 Nelson Square, Landport
Parkstone W Reid 3 Portland Terrace, Weymouth Road
Preston J H Alstead 60 Lauderdale Street, Fishergate Hill
Pontypridd A H Maye 56a Queen Street, Treforest
Rawtenstall J McElwee 2 Lord Street
Rochdale A E Turner 58 Regent Street
Rotherham W Millner 80 Rawmarsh Road
Salford No 1 J Griffin 27 Bolton Road, Pendleton
Salford No 2 W White 149 Church Street, Pendleton
Sheffield No 1 John Temperton 5 Woodhead Road
Sheffield No 2 John Temperton 5 Woodhead Road
Southport J Christopher 200 Sussex Road
South Shields M Robinson 69 Eldor Street
Stalybridge Jas W Kaye 48 Queen Street, Hurst
Stockport A Lloyd 20 Thomson Street
Stone-on-Trent J Heath 5 Adams Street, May Bank
Todmorden John Morris 14 Butterworth Street
Warrington Edward Plinston 194 Wilderspool Causeway
Wigan T Cobbe 15 Duke Street
Walthamstow J Perkins 101 Diana Road, Forest Road
Wolverhampton Chas Everett 15 St Mark Street

Sources and notes
Historical Directory of Trade Unions, vol 3 , Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan (Gower, 1987).
Annual Report of the Amalgamated Association of Tramway and Vehicle Workers , December 1905.

Further information
Papers of the Amalgamated Association of Tramway and Vehicle Workers, Modern Records Centre, Warwick University (external link).

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