Working Class Movement Library

A blog from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford

Archive for March, 2010

Communist Party of Great Britain pamphlets

Posted by wcmlibrary on March 31, 2010

Well, that didn’t take quite as long as I though it would!

I have just about finished adding detailed information to the catalogue for the Communist Party of Great Britain pamphlets.  The bulk of the collection is done – all 23 boxes of it and I am now just mopping up the pamphlets scattered around the many rooms we have here at the library.

One of the gems of the collection is the report of the very first conference of the party in 1920 – when it wasn’t even the Communist Party of Great Britain yet.

I was also struck by how forward looking the party seemed to be with regard to women, advocating equality long before it was fashionable.  Mind you, you never know if they practised what they preached!!

If you want to check out the collection just go to our library catalogue.

Project Librarian

Posted in Collections | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Irish collection

Posted by wcmlibrary on March 17, 2010

The library holds an extensive collection of just over 1000 pamphlets about Ireland, both North and South and a basic records of Easter Rising in song and balladthem are now available in the library catalogue.  Each record contains details of the author, title, publisher and number of pages.  We will be adding further details, such as subject and person keywords at a later date, so keep an eye on this blog for more updates.

The collection is made up of pamphlets collected by Ruth and Eddie Frow and also the pamphlet collection of the late C Desmond Greaves whose library was donated to us by his executor, Anthony Coughlan.  It also contains pamphlets about Ireland that have been donated to the library over the years.  They cover a wide variety of subjects, including the Easter Rising and the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The pamphlets compliments the selection of books we have in our Irish collection, which is made up of the books of Tommy Jackson as well as those of C Desmond Greaves and Ruth and Eddie.  To help library users identify items in the book collection using the online catalogue they have now all been given the  geographic keyword Ireland.

To find any of the books or pamphlets search our online catalogue at

Happy hunting!

Project Librarian

Posted in Collections | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Really intolerable” working conditions

Posted by wcmlibrary on March 11, 2010

An interesting 100-year old Minute Book has recently been donated to the Library containing a “transcription of shorthand notes” of minutes of meetings held in 1910 of a deputation to the Royal Small Arms Factory (Enfield Lock) from an Employees’ Union and the Amalgamated Society of Engineers.   The minutes, 150 pages, are in verbatim form and cover a wide range of subjects, big issues of rates of pay, piece-work, “time and speed” problems and so on, with fascinating glimpses of other issues affecting the workers at this factory.

Complaints were made about the “really intolerable” icy cold conditions in parts of the factory – having  to handle and work with the cold gun barrels, swords, bayonets and tools.   A designated worker could check the thermometer but had no power to order “lighting of the gas” (for warmth) and the foreman, who had the power, could refuse.

At one point of the meeting, a sword/bayonet was handed round with much discussion as to the seven stages of work required: filing, rounding-off, etc.   The piece-work on each had been reduced from 3d to 2d – a worker’s average output being 180 swords per week, earning thirty shillings.

Another matter was raised regarding a superintendent of the factory who, observing some black smoke issuing from the factory shaft, had reduced the stoker’s wages by four shillings per week and had reduced his status to “second-class stoker”.   A plea at the meeting to redress the situation was refused.

Irene, WCML volunteer

Posted in Collections, News | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Michael Foot

Posted by wcmlibrary on March 4, 2010

Paul Mason from BBC2’s Newsnight has mourned in his blog the passing of Michael Foot.   You can read there what he says about Guilty men by “Cato” – Foot’s pseudonym.  Written in July 1940, it  is ‘a piece by piece demolition job on the British establishment in the run-up to World War Two’.

If what Mason says whets your appetite, you can come and read Guilty men here in the library.  Other books by Michael Foot which you can peruse here include Another heart and other pulses – the alternative to the Thatcher society, Dr Strangelove I presume and The politics of paradise – a vindication of Byron.  What great titles.  As Paul Mason says, ‘an agenda dominated by policy wonk reports, tax domicile issues and expenses scandals – and the total absence of scholarship, poetry and rhetoric – does feel somehow feeble by comparison’.


Posted in Collections, News | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Object of the month

Posted by wcmlibrary on March 3, 2010

Image of a Miners' Strike 1984-1985 support cardEvery month on display in the hall at the Library and on the website is a different object, book or document from the Library collection chosen by our volunteers.

March’s object is Miners’ Strike 1984-1985 support cards. Bethan who chose them said: “I chose this collection of 5 cards, created by the group Artvists from Barnsley, Yorkshire, as I feel they are a great way to show support and to make the public aware of the situation in the mining communities. With their eye-catching images of the events through out the strike and bold colours, they draw people in to look at the contents inside. Once inside there are a number of different forms of literature from short facts to poetry on the subject of the strike and issues concerning the striking families.”

Take a look on our website…

Posted in Collections | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »