Being November once again, it is impossible not to write about the Armistice and the end of the two world wars. This year we decided that we woud keep it simple and without any frills (as is our nature) and give a special mention to our Lancashire lads and also provide a slightly different perspective by printing what Jerry O'Sullivan has written about the end of the first world war in Ireland.
The East Lancashire Regiment was formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of the 30th and 59th Regiments of Foot. In the 1914-1918 war a total of thirteen battalions saw active service. On 1st July, 1958, The East Lancashire Regiment amalgamated with The South Lancashire Regiment to become
The Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers). On 25th March, 1970 a further amalgamation took place with The Loyal Regiment North Lancashire and the end result was the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.
As to the fate of our Accrington Pals during the First World War, Bill Turner wrote this following in his brief account:
‘At 7.30am in the bright sunshine of 1st July, 1916, 700 Accrington Pals, with their comrades the Sheffield Pals, advanced from their trenches before the fortified village of Serre in France. Seven
days of British artillery fire was supposed to have obliterated the German defences. As the Pals came slowly across No Man’s Land the Germans came up from deep dug outs untouched by the shelling
and swept the Pals with machine-gun and shell-fire. In less than twenty minutes 235 were killed and 350 wounded. Not a man had wavered or turned back. It was a glorious defeat’.
Though we all abhor war we remember our Pals. Simple common sense reminds us that their giving, eventually, became our freedom.
Was there an Armistice day in Ireland – 1918 . A view from Ireland
With or without WW1 the history of Ireland and its relationship with Britain in the early 1900’s was and is, as ever, changing and complex. With WW1 raging on continental Europe, in April 1916 Irish Republican’s put together the Failed Easter Rising that followed with the immediate court marshalling and execution of 16 Irishmen by firing squad. These executions stirred up a wave of revulsion against the British authorities and turned the dead republican leaders into martyred heroes.
The Easter Rising signaled the start of the republican revolution in Ireland. With this backdrop we come to Armistice day, 11th November 1918. Ireland was still under British rule, yet it is estimated that 200,000 soldiers from the Island of Ireland volunteered (no conscription was imposed in Ireland) to fight in the Great War. Irish Soldiers went to war for financial, adventure, ideological and perhaps political reasons. Men and woman from Nationalist, Republican and Unionist affiliations fought and died alongside each other. 50,000 Irish solders died In WW1 with 30,000 from the 26 counties we now know as the Republic of Ireland. Was the WW1 Armistice celebrated in Ireland, in short yes, but where, some saw it as the end of a great fight other’s saw it as the start of another, the end game in the removal of colonial rulers. The newspaper reports of the time show the divisions that existed.
Today in Ireland a National Day of Commemoration remembers all Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations. It occurs on the Sunday nearest July 11, the anniversary of the date in 1921 that a truce was signed ending the Irish War of Independence.
In a hugely symbolic gesture reflecting a new era in relations between the countries Queen Elizabeth II attended a wreath-laying ceremony in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance on the first day of her historic State visit. At the ceremony, the First Irish Army band played God Save The Queen, an unimageable act even in my father’s era. Maybe the times they are still a changing.
The pictures of the Accrington Pals are all taken from William Turner’s pictorial history,
‘The Accrington Pals’, printed in 1986 by The Lancashire Library.
As the motto of the East Language correctly states ‘ Spectamur Agendo’ meaning, judge us by our deeds.
Armistice - Least we Forget
12th May 2011 Dublin
War memorial at Clitheroe castle
Least we Forget
Selina Cooper Project
Saturday 18th September 2021 saw the Launch Event for the Selina Cooper Project ( Suffragist and Campaigner) at the Unity Hall in Vernon Street Nelson ,Lancashire ( formerly the ILP Socialist Institute ) . It was a long time coming with the Covid pandemic playing havoc with the installation of displays and delaying the actual opening event from earlier on in the year. Nevertheless the wait proved worthwhile with all the proposed displays installed, including a 28 foot by 8 foot Selina Cooper tribute and a smaller display about her life, a Timeline installation filling one large wall of the ground floor Revive Cafe ( charting the buildings history from 1907 when the foundation stones were laid, to the present day ), and displays featuring work on WW1 Conscientious Objectors and the Women's Peace Crusade. In addition informative mobile banners on the Clarion movement , Clarion Houses, Clarion Cycling, Clarion vans and Clarion volunteers for the Spanish Civil War were also on display around the building.
In addition there were also a workshop on stain glass windows , featuring our own re-installed, commissioned ILP stain glass window ( an exact copy of the original from 1907 ) , an Art Workshop featuring work on window designs from Nelson and Colne College Art Students and workshops involved conversations about Selina Cooper run by our project team. A popular talking point was a banner kindly loaned from Towneley Museum ( many thanks to Mike Townend ), which had been in the possession of Selina's daughter, Mary Cooper and was taken to the London Great Suffrage Demonstration in 1913 from Nelson by Selina and a delegation from the Clitheroe branch of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies.
Downstairs in the Reading Room / Archive , Cyril Pearce author of ' Comrades in Conscience' (and other work on conscientious objectors), held a very informative talk and discussion on the subject which will be continued at our Public Launch on Saturday 9th of October at Unity Hall . Nelson and Colne College Students produced and showed a film showcasing the ongoing struggle for Equality called ' How much longer do we have to wait ? '. Guests also browsed the buildings reference section and ILP collection in the newly established Reading Room / Archive situated on the exact same site of the original Library of 1907.
Refreshments were provided for around 100 or so invited guests who were all presented with a copy of our new booklet ' The History Of The Unity Hall and the Independent Labour Party in Nelson Lancashire'. Plans are well advanced for our Public Launch in a few weeks time on the 9th October 10am - 4pm.......everybody welcome. By concensus Saturday was a great day with the displays and workshops all warmly received and the 'Clarion Weekend ' at Newchurch in Pendle the following day made it a wonderful double header. Cyclists from far afield, walkers and the many followers converged on the Clarion .....200 or so was the estimate with tea and refreshments provided for all on a gloriously sunny Lancashire day with Pendle Hill standing majestic in the background. The event was further enhanced by a performance from the Clarion Choir.
The Six People who feature on the Socialist Institutes Foundation Stones
Many thanks to all involved in the Selina Cooper Project
Charlotte Bill our Facilitator ,deserves special mention and is in the process of taking the project out to local Schools, Colleges and Community Groups.
Kevin Webb our Project Leader and project workers
Sue Nike, Craig Stubbs and Sheila Wickes.
Special mention also to Max Bretherton, Jack Burrows, John Boardman, Cyril Pearce, Alison Ronan ,Kelly Bostock, Cerise Ward & Sarah McNeil .
Nelson and Colne College, Burnley College, UCLAN , Pendle Labour Party, Towneley Hall Museum, Unity Hall Management Committee & Nelson Town Council.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Gary Webb ( Project Group ) 22/9/2021.
Bolton's Great Strike 1887
This month’s ‘Lancashire Latest’ takes a glance back to 1887 and the town of Bolton and to one of the most memorable trade union and workers’ industrial confrontation’s that took place in Lancashire prior to the establishment of the Independent Labour Party.
The events and the result were to set a significant pattern of how Lancashire, though often a melting
pot of discord, would resolve its political difficulties and rarely appeal to radical socialism.
Our thanks to LHL volunteers Jerry O’Sullivan and Paul Salveson for the pictures and article.
It was the most significant industrial conflict in Bolton’s history, was immortalised in a novel and led to major changes in the town’s politics. The ‘Great Engineers’ Strike’ of 1887 was no ordinary trade dispute but was marked by a bitterness and violence seldom seen in British industrial relations. The strike involved the ‘aristocracy’ of the Bolton labour movement – the skilled engineers whose expertise was in demand across the world. By the standards of the day they were well-paid and they enjoyed an orderly system of wage bargaining, between their own unions – mostly the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) - and the Iron Trades Employers Association. In addition to the ASE, other engineering artisans were organised in The Steam Engine Makers Society, Pattern Makers and the Metal Planers’ Society amounting to a unionised engineering workforce of some 2000 men. Yet this orderly system of industrial relations collapsed in 1887, leading to troops being deployed in the town and the importing of non-union labour – known by the abusive Lancashire dialect term of ‘knobsticks’.
Bolton’s engineering industry had grown in tandem with the cotton industry. The great firms of Dobson and Barlow, Ryders, Hick Hargreaves, Musgroves and Woods were world leaders in textile engineering. Bolton was the third biggest centre of engineering in the North, after Manchester and Oldham. Wage rates in each town were negotiated locally and a major bone of contention was the better wages and conditions enjoyed by engineers in the neighbouring towns.
The previous couple of years had seen a depression across the engineering industry and wages had been reduced by 7.5% - 2 shillings - with the reluctant consent of the unions, with the proviso that when trade improved wage levels would be restored to their previous levels. Yet in Bolton, the employers, led by the firm of Dobson and Barlow, seemed determined to take a hard line. The spark that started the conflagration was the employers’ determination
to introduce compulsory overtime working. On April 28th a notice was issued that “workmen will be required when necessary to work overtime and any workmen refusing will be discharged at once.”
The strike began on May 16th , though some firms which had not implemented the overtime threat were not affected, initially. The main aim of the strike was restoration of the wage cuts from the previous year. Dobson and Barlow, then based at Kay Street near to the town centre, was by far the biggest engineering employer in Bolton and its managing director, Benjamin Dobson, was generally regarded as a good employer. Yet in 1887 he seems to have got the bit between his teeth and provoked the unions not only into strike action but roused them to fury by quickly resorting to the use of blackleg labour – the hated ‘knobsticks’. Within a week, knobsticks were arriving at Trinity Street station, to be met by jeering crowds. It quickly turned very nasty.
The employers’ efforts to find accommodation for the strike-breakers was a failure: no local accommodation providers were willing to take them on. They were forced to accommodatethe knobsticks within the factories themselves, in makeshift camp beds. On May 24 th , carts conveying bedding for the factory ‘hostels’ were attacked by angry crowds. A few weeks later, one of the managers at J.R. Woods Foundry was assaulted. Some local clergymen who performed religious services for the strike-breakers were verbally abused, though most refused the employers request to come onto the premises. By early July, the knobsticks had become prisoners within their factories; it was far too dangerous to venture out to a local pub, and local breweries refused to supply the affected factories with beer. The first really major incident happened on June 30 th when a crowd estimated at over 8,000 attacked Dobson and Barlow’s Kay Street factory. A hail of stones and iron bolts were thrown at the factory, smashing every single pane of glass in the place.
At this point the local authorities panicked. The mayor, Alderman T. Fletcher, realised the situation was getting out of control and he sent a telegram to the barracks of the 13th Hussars, at Hulme in Manchester, requesting urgent assistance. Before the troops arrived
there was a further pitched battle between police, strikers and their supporters as some knobsticks tried to leave Dobson and Barlow’s factory on Kay Street at 5.00pm.
Within four hours several hundred of the 13 th Hussars had arrived. A large force of police from outside Bolton, mostly from the Lancashire Constabulary, was already stationed in the town. The soldiers camped in part of Queens Park, which was partly closed off to the public.
A total of 86 pubs in the vicinity of the affected factories were closed by magistrate’s order, in the hope that this would reduce the risk of violence. It had the more obvious effect of infuriating local publicans and their customers. A further confrontation took place on Friday July
1 st when both police and soldiers, many on horseback, charged a crowd of several thousand. One girl of 13 years of age was nearly
killed by a baton blow and many more were badly injured.
The strikers’ efforts were co-ordinated by the Joint Strike Committee, which involved all the main engineering unions. Its headquarters was the Rope and Anchor pub, whose landlord was an ASE member and former employee of Dobson and Barlow. The committee organised
fund-raising efforts and sent delegates to other major towns and cities to raise support, including a speaking tour around Ireland which generated huge support. Bolton Trades Council co-ordinated support among other local unions including the powerful cotton
spinners. Contributions came in from union members, many of whom were Bolton ‘ex-pats’, from as far afield as Russia, America and Australia. A total of 25 union branches in the USA contributed to the strike fund. A feature of the fund-raising campaign was a number of
football matches held at the Wanderers’ ground at Pikes Lane. A good crowd watched Bolton Wanderers play Halliwell Rovers, though the result was not recorded. A brass band concert was held at the football ground and some 3,500 tickets were sold.
The committee took a highly pro-active stance towards ‘the knobsticks’, some of whom had been tricked into coming to Bolton by suggestions that the strike was settled. Many of these men were given their train fare home and a meal in the strike HQ.
Support for the strike went far beyond the trades unions in Bolton. Local businesses and many public figures took the strikers’ side, infuriated by the confrontational tactics used by the employers. The loss of part of Queens Park to the troops’ encampment was another source of annoyance. Many local publicans supported the strikers through organising events, such as a tea party for strikers’ children, at The Elephant and Castle on Kay Street.
“Sweetmeats were distributed and the children were sent home happy”,according to a press report. The Tramways Inn on Blackburn Road organised a concert for the strikers, which included a “substantial dinner”. The meal was followed by a violin recital and singing. A large concert took place in the Co-operative Hall which included entertainment by the St James’ Minstrels and a display of ‘bird warbling’ by a Mr Davidson. Comic songs and a banjo solo were performed, to the amusement of the audience.
On August 2 nd a mass ‘indignation meeting’ was held at The Temperance Hall, which attracted a crowd of over 3,000. It was chaired by the Reverend R. Lambert of the Congregational Church on Blackburn Road. The veteran radical and Chartist James Kirkman was one of the speakers. Outrage was expressed at the
behaviour of the police, particularly those drafted in from other towns. Women and children had been hit during the baton strikes, some it would seem were just bystanders caught up in the excitement. The meeting agreed to hold a major demonstration the following week, on Saturday August 13th . Some 7,000 people took part with a vast array of union banners; the march culminated
in a brass band concert on Pike’s Lane playing fields, attended by over 10,000. Seven brass bands took part, including St Marie’s, Farnworth Old Band, Brownlow Fold, Bradshaw, and Westhoughton Bands. Special trains brought in supporters from Manchester, Preston, Bury and Wigan though the railway company refused to provide a special train from Blackburn owing to the local inspector’s anti-union attitude. A major feature of the strike was its political impact. Bolton Trades Council built an alliance with the local Ratepayers’ Association which was to prove highly effective later in the year. A by-election took place in August in Derby Ward, while the strike was still on. Michael Battle, supported by the Trades Council and Ratepayers, was elected as Bolton’s first
‘Labour’ representative, many years before the Labour Party itself was formed. Political pressure, including questions asked in the House of Commons, led to the soldiers departing on August 9th.
Both sides were increasingly concerned at the effects of the strike and in September the employers proposed the issue should go to independent arbitration, a move accepted by the unions. Mr. S. Pope QC, The Recorder of Bolton, was appointed to the job and
effectively backed the employers’ case. The unions honoured their commitment to arbitration and returned to work on October 29 th . However, in what looks like an informal deal, wages were raised back to their previous level, by 2 shillings, early in the following year.
Local elections took place on November 1 st 1887; according to James Clegg’s ‘Annals ofBolton’ they were “greatly influenced by the feeling consequent upon the recent strike andthe employment of the military and mounted police.” The Trades Council, supported by the
Ratepayers’ Association, fielded ten candidates, eight of whom were elected. The left-wing Social Democratic Federation also put up several candidates, none of whom were elected. Yet there is no doubt that the strike helped them establish a strong base in the town that was to blossom a few years later in 1896 at the time of the Winter Hill rights of way battle, which they led.
National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 -Clarion Sunday 19th September 2021
A ‘Call’ to all Clarion cyclists past and present to gather at the Nelson Independent Labour Party Clarion House, Newchurch-in-Pendle on Sunday 19th September 2021.
This event, now in its fourth year, is an attempt to resurrect the historic concept of an annual ‘Clarion Sunday’ when in the late 1890’s hundreds of Clarion cyclists would converge on Hardcastle Crags, close to Hebden Bridge to listen to the singing of the combined Clarion Vocal Unions and to speeches by leading Socialists such as Caroline Martyn, Selina Cooper, Sarah Reddish and Keir Hardy.
So why now meet at Clarion House instead of Hardcastle Crags? Simply because there are now an increasing number of Clarion Cycle Clubs within riding distance of Nelson and their attendance maintains the Clarion’s link to cycling and Socialism whilst at the same time bringing much needed funds to a historic institution that has served tea and coffee to cyclists and walkers every single Sunday since 1913, bar the occasional snow drift (and now COVID).
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the 2020 event had to be cancelled. In, 2019 we were joined by over 100 Clarion cyclists, local Clarion Vocal Unions (choirs) and the Strawberry Fields Socialist Choir from London. Naturally, all other non-Clarion cyclists and walkers will be most welcome on the day.
Built in 1912, the last surviving Clarion Clubhouse is situated within its own grounds, deep in the heart of ‘Pendle Witch Country’ between the hamlets of Roughlee and Newchurch in Pendle. It boasts magnificent views and is surrounded by a myriad of quiet lanes for cycling and public footpaths which link to the ‘Pendle Way’, the ‘Two Roses Way’ and ‘Clarion House Way’ long distance walking routes. Close by mighty Pendle Hill towers over the picturesque villages of Barley and Downham.
Clarion House is open every Sunday 10.30am to 4pm serving pint pots of real tea (just 60p) soft drinks and light snacks. Everyone is welcome to bring their own sandwiches and cakes.
For further information on either Clarion Sunday or Clarion House contact:
Charles Jepson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dan Irving Socialist
Written by Dr Roger Smalley. Published by Scotforth Books, 2021.
Dr Smalley has done it again! He has created yet another well-written flowing piece of local socialist history. The book is concise, it is to the point and it contains some nice period prints and a supporting appendix and bibliography. I had it wolfed down within the hour.
The 132 sides track the life and times of Burnley’s most prolific socialist politician, Dan ‘the man’ Irving (I think by any fair political yard stick we can discount all Labour Party MP’s of Burnley’s past as being non-socialist). Smalley’s prose is easy on the eye and direct and the author has summarised the life of this hard-working agitator in eight short chapters. Appropriately, Smalley tells of Irving’s leg amputation, his eviction from the Starthwaite socialist colony, his so called bouts of irascible hectoring and limb waving and his final triumph to be elected as Burnley’s first socialist MP in1918. (Notably Irving insisted on running as a ‘socialist’ on paper and not as a Labour Party candidate). Smalley clearly wishes to readdress Irving’s stature within the labour movement (just like he did with Ethel Carnie Holdsworth) and quite correctly he points out Irving’s numerous efforts and achievements for workers, which historians appear to have overlooked and which undoubtedly raised his standing within both the early socialist and labour groupings.
However, Smalley’s account is a socialist coloured spectacles depiction and this leaves one or two historical areas of the book with open question marks. For example; Smalley makes but a passing remark to the influence of leisure and expanding consumerism, which I would assert was the greatest enemy of early twentieth century British socialists. When the Soviet Ambassador to Britain, Ivan Maisky, made a tour of Lancashire shortly after the 1917 revolution, he concluded in exasperation, that working men in particular had time in their lives for just three things, ‘ football, beer and the Working Men’s Club’. Smalley also concludes the book noting that Irving was undoubtedly a Marxist. Hmm? I am not totally convinced. Other Burnley members of the socialist Social Democratic Federation (SDF) like John Sparling and John Widdup were self-taught didactics but both were also Methodists and like Irving, rarely if ever, made reference to Marx. Irving was undoubtedly a socialist but particular Irving references to Marxism, dialectic materialism and the ‘proletariat’ are rare enough to raise serious doubts.
Nevertheless, the Irving story is another refreshing input from local history and Smalley provides academics and amateur historians with a tale that is told well and which adds to our existing knowledge of labour history. Little facets of knowledge include; The Social Democratic Federation (SDF) conference materials, p. 56-62, which unearths the catastrophic regulation 39, which prevented trade union officials standing for election as SDF candidates, and, Irving’s 4,852 votes at Rochdale in 1906 when Irving lost the election. It was the largest ever received by any SDF candidate!
I put the book down and was most pleased I had read it. Smalley concludes by noting that Irving was full of commitment, perseverance and fortitude and places Irving’s death in context by accounting for the thousands of ordinary Burnley folk who followed his funeral cortege. It is a most valid point and makes one wonder how many people would turn out for the funeral of the existing Burnley MP today?
Well done Roger! What will the next one be I wonder?
Peter John Fyles
Bolton Wanderers started out as Christ Church FC back in 1874, set up by vicar Joseph Farrall and teacher Thomas Ogden. They played on a ground where Bolton University stands now. They moved on a number of times, hence the name 'Wanderers', which they adopted in 1877. They were founder members of the Football League which was set up in 1888.
They started playing at Burnden Park in 1895. The inaugural match was against Preston NE. The ground had a capacity of 70 000, but it is reckoned many more than that squeezed when the disaster of March 9th 1946 took place and 33 were killed and 400 injured, the worst disaster in English football at the time.
The painting by LS Lowry entitled 'Going to the Match' was painted in 1953. It's generally regarded as being Burnden Park as Lowry was a fan, but some dispute this.
In 1997 Bolton Wanderers moved from Burnden Park to a new home at Middlebrook. The Asda superstore was opened at Burnden in 2005.
Thank you Allen D. Born for this great piece