History of Wolverhampton, Bilston and District Trades Union Council 1865-1990


I have tried to indicate all sources in the text. The following therefore is an elaboration on this.

For the formation of the Trades Council the sole source is the Beehive working class newspaper (at the British Library newspaper library, Colindale, London or obtainable from local libraries on microfilm). For their centenary the Trades Council published Origins of Wolverhampton Trades Council by G.J.Barnsby, (copies in the TUC Library, London and Wolverhampton Central Library). This dealt also with social conditions and working class activity in the first half of the nineteenth century and has a full bibliography.

Most Trades Council’s histories are written from their Minute Books and annual Year Books but for Wolverhampton Trades Council only one Minute Book Survives covering the period from July 1951 to Jan 1954 (at Wolver­hampton Library).

Year Books are indispensable because they usually have an annual report outlining the year’s work, the meeting place of all affiliated organisations and names of all delegates. There is also a financial report. Year Books for Wolverhampton are deficient. We do not know when they were first published. The earliest we have are for 1913 to 1915. These are large, substantial booklets. Subsequent Year Books are pocket sized. This series begins in 1923 and from 1925-6 to 1940-41 is almost complete. After 1941 the next Year Books are for 1946 and 1947 followed by 1949. Then 1951 to 1957 and 1961/2. These are all at the TUC Library, but photocopies are available at Wolverhampton. Wolverhampton Library has a series from 1974 to 1978, some survive from the mid 1960s but there is no annual report in them and in the 1980s publication of Year Books ceased altogether.

For the 50th anniversary of 1926 the Trades Council published The General Strike in the Black Country by G.J.Barnsby, (TUC and Wolverhampton libraries) which outlines what we know of this unique event and gives a bibliography.

From the 1980s the Trades Council possesses its own MINUTES of full Council, Executive Committee and sub-Committees. Placed in Wolverhampton Archives and recent documents are on this site.

The only other source is the local press. The only labour movement paper is the invaluable Wolverhampton Worker for the years 1913-15. The local capitalist press means the Wolverhampton Chronicle and the Express & Star. The former has always been Tory, but in earlier years followed an honourable journalistic tradition of reporting at length and almost verbatim when it deigned to recognise the existence of the Trades Council, which wasn’t often. The Express & Star was at first a Liberal paper and reported sympathetically such activities as May Day demonstrations and AGMs in the 1880s and 1890s. But it soon became, what it remains today, a Tory paper hostile to the labour movement. However, again until recent years, it followed good journalistic practice by having local affairs reporters who made a career on the paper, some of whom stayed many years and knew the organisations of the town. Not only was that lost, but reporters stopped covering many evening events and eventually ceased to attend Trades Council meetings. There may be more Trades Council reportage to be quarried than I have found in this mountain of newsprint. Future researchers should note that Trades Council meetings have invariably been held on the third Thursday of the month.

Appendix A



1865 Joseph Humphries

1866-73 Thomas Owen Crumpton

1874 Joseph Humphries

1875-77 W.Ford

1878-87 F.Wetton

1888-90 G.Cockings

1891-05 F.Mee, S.Bowyer, J.Scott

1906-08 Caleb Coley, John Stalker

1909-19 Harry Bagley

1920-26 H.Barrett

1929-41 R.H.Allport

1942-55 J.W.Smith

1955-64 Frank Martin

1965-70 Chris Laws

1971-79 Sam Clarke

1980-83 Stan Meredith

1984 Arthur White, Jackie Coote

1984-87 Jackie Coote

1988 Bruce Young

1989-95 Dick Scroop

1996-present Nick Kelleher


1860s Joseph Humphries

Edward Davis

1875-78 G.Paddy

1880s C.Eley, G.Sale

1900s F.Badger, W.Day

1903-18 James Whittaker

1918-22 A.J.Weaver

1923 A.A.Beach

1925-26 R.H.Allport

1927-29 A.A.Beach

1930-33 E.H.Williams

1934 W.H.Hales

1935 E.A.Chitty

1936 W.H.Hales

1937 A.W.Beck

1938-39 H.E.Lane

1940-44 A.W.Beck

1946 Frank Clapham

1951 Bro.Eaton

1952 D.W.Broatch

1953-64 T.R.Thomson

1965-78 Harry Bagley

1979-85 Ron Badham

1986-88 Bruce Young

1988-95 Alan Millington

1996-2002 Rob Marris

2003-05 Marie Taylor

2006-10 Dave Cole

2011-present Marie Taylor

Appendix B


1878 1,200 trade unionists affiliated

1890 about 2,000 trade unionists affiliated Income £16

1914 45 societies affiliated Income £134

1917 58 societies affiliated Income £171

1922 74 societies affiliated Income £181

1924 75 societies affiliated Income £161

1937 47 societies affiliated Not known

1945 77 societies affiliated Income £478

1989 34 societies affiliated Income £1259

1999 24 societies affiliated Income £497

2003 24 societies affiliated Income £1046

2007 21 societies affiliated Income £1583

2011 18 societies affiliated Income £1252

2016 25 societies affiliated Income £1821

Appendix C – THANKS

The Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council would like to thank the following unions and trade unionists for giving their support for the updating of this book.

Dave Auger

Jane Ceresa

Andy Goodall

Christine Grant

John Grant

Nick Kelleher

Geoff Taylor

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