Respectable militants : the Lancashire textile machinery makers c.1800-1939

Holden, GG 1987, Respectable militants : the Lancashire textile machinery makers c.1800-1939 , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

Lancashire's textile machinery industry developed with the mechanisation of its cotton industry, and by 1914 was the leading branch of mechanical engineering in Britain. Throughout this industry's history its artisans retained characteristics of respectability and militancy allied with a strong sense of local independence. (Chapter 1) As the industry expanded in the 1830's and 1840's the artisans fought to retain control over the labour process and maintain economic status in the face of technological change. Meanwhile they maintained a significant and under acknowledged role in the wider labour movement. (Chapter 2) Artisans of the leading firm of Hibbert and Platt were at the centre of the greatest industrial dispute of the mid nineteenth century, the 1852 engineering lock-out. (Chapter 3) The next forty years are seen as the classic period of the 'labour aristocracy' in Britain; the textile machinery artisans provide an excellent case study of this most controversial concept. (Chapter 4) The 1890's brought the unionisation of the industry's less skilled workers by localised 'new unions' and general labour unions, notably the Gas Workers and General Labourers Union. Meanwhile, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers was defeated by the Engineering Employers' Federation in 1898 which began a centrifugal drift of power from the weakened Executive to the branches. (Chapter 5) The inflationary conditions of 1910-14 brought a wave of strikes as artisan control of the labour process was re-asserted. (Chapter 6) The Great War created such demands for armaments that most firms became 'controlled' establishments and commercial work gave way to munitions. The associated problems of dilution led to the serious artisan-inspired strikes of 1917. (Chapter 7) The industry's inter-war decline reflects the decline of its artisans, who in 1920 and 1922 suffered further defeats by the employers and were subsequently obliged to yield in their century long struggle to retain control of the labour process. (Chapter 8).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Depositing User: A Johnson
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2017 09:27
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2017 09:27
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/43022

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