Working Class Movement Library

A blog from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford

Archive for February, 2013

Sassy sashes – glad to have been of help to our friends @PHMMcr

Posted by wcmlibrary on February 25, 2013


We were delighted to be able to lend one of our sashes to the People’s History Museum for their Stunning Sashes half-term workshop last week.  It’s an early one from the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers, and is made of heavy fabric with even heavier metal motifs and badges on it, such as a pressed metal badge depicting a handshake plus the motto “United we stand, divided we fall”.


13 adults and children attended the workshop, and the feedback was very positive.  The workshop leader said that it really helped to illustrate what a sash actually is, especially the weight of it, and that there were lots of talking points for both adults and children.  A  particular point of interest was the beehive motif, which was said to look like a jellyfish!Sash1


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A heartening story for National Libraries Day – trade unionist honoured with a memorial library

Posted by wcmlibrary on February 8, 2013

Here’s a touching library story, ahead of tomorrow’s National Libraries Day. It was sent in to us by Surrey County Unison, who are Friends of the Library:

Ian McDonald, who passed away in 2009, has received a special national award for his outstanding social work, from UNISON, the UK’s largest union.

Ian’s branch, Surrey County UNISON, voted unanimously for him to be nominated for the award after his 12 years of service.  Ian, who died suddenly from cancer two years ago, was described by his colleagues as a powerful force in social work. On the application for this award, his colleagues said he was ‘loved and respected by his peers, his managers, his clients and his UNISON colleagues’.

In addition, a memorial trade union and socialist education library has now been opened in Ian’s memory, housed in one of the county’s main libraries in Guildford. It is funded by donations from UNISON branches, and the collection by family and friends at his funeral. This collection is now home to a wide variety of books from Karl Marx’s Capital to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, and includes hundreds of books useful to today’s trade unionists.

Paul Couchman, Surrey County UNISON Branch Secretary, said: ‘It took well over eighteen months of negotiating and planning to establish this unique, permanent, workers’ library in one of the most Tory councils in England but we did it. Ian would be proud’.



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Best wishes to all @Freedom_Paper

Posted by wcmlibrary on February 4, 2013

We’re horrified to hear about what police are treating as an arson attack on the Freedom Press bookshop in east London early on Friday morning.  Photos of the damage and details of how people can respond are on their Web site here.  Heartening to hear that the bookshop has re-opened today, after an extensive collective clear-up operation over the weekend.

Freedom Press, which comprises
» Freedom newspaper
» Freedom Bookshop
» Freedom publishing
is a longstanding anarchist publisher based in Whitechapel.

To quote from the history page on their Web site:

The first Freedom emerged from the British socialist movement in the early 1880s. At that time there were several overlapping organisations with associated periodicals – the Social Democratic Federation with Justice and Today, the Fabian Society with the Practical Socialist and Our Corner, the Socialist League with the Commonweal, and so on.  Anarchists were active in all these, but there were no separate anarchist initiatives in the country until the formation of a “circle of English anarchists” in May 1885.  This group included both Continental émigrés (Such a Nikola Chaikovski and Severio Merlino) and native British anarchists; among the latter the leading member was Charlotte Wilson, who was both well educated and well off, and who was an active writer and speaker advocating anarchism in socialist organisations and publications from 1884.

When Peter Kropotkin, the best-known figure in the international anarchist movement, was released from prison in France in January 1886, Charlotte Wilson was responsible for the group inviting him to come to Britain to join them.  He settled in England in March 1886, and the group decided to produce a new anarchist paper after their separation from the English Anarchist Circle and The Anarchist edited by Henry Seymour. In addition to Freedom, the group eventually set up Freedom Press, the main publisher of anarchist literature in England. This was the origin of Freedom and the Freedom Press’.

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