Working Class Movement Library

A blog from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford

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Then and now – two decades of growth at the Working Class Movement Library

Posted by wcmlibrary on July 15, 2014

Sorting through some old photographs recently we came across a picture of the library taken in 1990 and what was striking was the lack of greenery around the library. Visitors to the library nowadays cannot help but be struck by the garden surrounding us, with all its large shrubs and colourful flowers, but as the picture on the left shows this has only happened in the last 24 years.

Photograph of the exterior of the Working Class Movement Library in 1990

July 1990

Photograph of the exterior of the Working Class Movement Library in 2014

July 2014












And much of the change was down to Ruth Frow, one of our founders, who was a keen gardener as well as an avid bibliophile.  We were also helped by Mike Weaver, who came to the library as a garden volunteer and ended up as our library assistant, and by our (now retired) librarian Alain Kahan, who still puts in a few hours in the garden each week.  We also have had invaluable help from a volunteer, Sally Richardson, who as well as helping out in the garden, has been working on her PhD here at the library.

Other changes include the blocking off of Aldred Street where it joins The Crescent and the creation of the grassed area, with the sign that stops us recreating the 1990 photograph exactly.  Keen eyed viewers will also notice we no longer have someone standing just inside the gate and that’s because we now have a flower bed there as well.

We think the garden is a vast improvement to the library and thank everyone involved in keeping it looking so good.


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What links Edward Carpenter, Keir Hardie and Vic Feather?

Posted by wcmlibrary on June 25, 2014

We have been lucky enough to be given some of the books from the collection of Vic Feather, a former general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, by his son, Sandy.  Among the collection is Towards Democracy – a collection of prose poetry by Edward Carpenter which includes a handwritten dedication to Joseph Whittaker and which was sent to Whittaker by Carpenter himself.  Accompanying the book is a letter from Carpenter thanking Whittaker for a copy of his book of poems In Divers Tones and commiserating with him regarding his poor health.

ImageBy a happy coincidence the library also has a copy of In Divers Tones.

The donation also included a postcard also sent to Joseph Whittaker, this time by Keir Hardie, thanking him for a copy of another of his books of poems – Far Off Fields, but unfortunately the library does not (yet) have a copy.

ImageThe donation also included a number of other books dedicated to Vic Feather by such labour movement figures as Will Lawther, Walter Citrine and Jack Jones.  Others include inscriptions from the authors thanking Vic for his help in the production of the book.

Many thanks to Sandy Feather for giving us these fascinating items.


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Invisible Histories update

Posted by wcmlibrary on September 7, 2012

The Invisible Histories Project is gaining momentum. We have now filled the places for the oral history training and are hoping to confirm dates this week.  There is a reserve list for those still interested though so do still get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

We will be publicizing the project over the next month or so to spread the word and hopefully recruit some more volunteer interviewees. If you worked at Richard Haworth’s, Ward and Goldstone Ltd or the Agecroft Colliery and want to share your memories and add to the Library’s audio archive then drop us a line.

I have been across the road to Salford’s Local History Library and found some good photographs of the three workplaces> The Library kindly allowed us to take scans of the images and some of these now feature on our project poster:

I am off to the Museum of Science and Industry’s archives to have a look at their collection relating to Agecroft Colliery which was housed there following the closure of the Lancashire Museum of Mining at Buile Hill.  I’m looking forward to having a rummage and seeing what I can find.

I am also writing a few paragraphs about our object of the month which will go up on the website and will be highlighting the 160th anniversary of the first free public library! Something Manchester should be very proud of.

I am very grateful for the re-tweets and re-blogs that we have been getting and for the general positive response to the project.


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In honour of International Archives Day – Proof that cataloguing archives really works

Posted by wcmlibrary on June 8, 2012

Tomorrow (9 June) is International Archives Day and in honour of the day I thought I’d share an archives/cataloguing success story.

On Friday 1st June I uploaded details of the contents of our collection of scrapbooks in the Frow Archive to our online library catalogue and on Wednesday 6th June we received a request from a reader to view items from the scrapbooks.

Proof not only that we are not cataloguing in vain, but also that the material we hold here at the library is in demand.


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Kinder Trespass 80th celebration

Posted by wcmlibrary on April 27, 2012

  1. Share
    We’re reliving the Kinder Trespass via tweets. Respond with yr thoughts using #kinder80 and we’ll bring everything together on Storify
  2. We started to tweet about the mass trespass on 17 April, as on that day 80 years ago the organisers started to spread the word about the planned trespass the following Sunday…
  3. Share
    80yrs ago the British Workers’ Sports Federation call for a mass trespass of Kinder Scout and begin to plan #kinder80
  4. Share
    Today in 1832, members of the British Workers Sports Federation distribute leaflets encouraging trespass on following Sunday #kinder80
  5. … @northernvoices pointed out we’d got the date wrong by 100 years, prompting a quick check through all the scheduled tweets on tweetdeck!
  6. Share
    The BWSF decided to plan a mass trespass when gamekeepers stopped them & visitors from London rambling on Bleaklow at Easter #kinder80
  7. Share
    Benny Rothman was interviewed about the planned Trespass by Manchester Evening Chronicle who called it ‘Mob Law on the Moors’ #kinder80
  8. This prompted some reminiscences about the late, great Benny Rothman, one of the main organisers…
  9. Share
    @wcmlibrary @SHOWNONAME I met the great Benny Rothman a few times. Working class hero
  10. Share
    @MancinSofia @wcmlibrary He was , we are indebted to him and his generation
  11. Share
    @SHOWNONAME @wcmlibrary good story about him when he worked at Ingersoll Rand in Wythenshawe, at a big meeting he got everyone singing…
  12. We wonder if he got everyone singing Ewan MacColl’s song ‘The Manchester Rambler’? The following lines perfectly sum up the feeling of working class ramblers at the time…
  13. Share
    ‘I may be a wage slave on Monday/ But I am a free man on Sunday’ ‘The Manchester Rambler’ by Ewan MacColl #kinder80
  14. Share
    MT @wcmlibrary ‘I may be a wage slave on Monday/ But I am a free man on Sunday’ #kinder80 > aw, my Grandma used to sing this to me!
  15. Share
    @kate_is_busy @wcmlibrary Oh yes, the late, great Ewan MacColl recorded a rousing version of #ManchesterRambler
  16. The main day arrived! We tweeted the following details about the day’s events approximately when they happened. We had some exact times from Benny’s own book The 1932 Kinder Trespass: A Personal View of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass. Pop in and see our copy if you fancy reading it.
  17. Share
    Benny Rothman and Woolfie Winnick arrive in Hayfield to discuss mass trespass and possible routes to Kinder Scout #kinder80
  18. Share
    Today in 1932 the crowds are gathering in Hayfield preparing for mass trespass of Kinder Scout, so are Derbyshire police… #kinder80
  19. Share
    Today in 1932, mass trespassers assemble at Bowden Bridge quarry & are addressed by Benny Rothman #kinder80
  20. Share
    Trespass route: White Brow, then Nab Brow and William Clough footpath followed by a slow scramble up to top of Kinder Scout… #kinder80
  21. Share
    Gamekeepers try to stop ramblers, who push through their lines disregarding heavy sticks & disarming keepers #kinder80
  22. Share
    80 years ago today – Manchester trespassers stop for a tea break and are met by Sheffield contingent and Mancunian latecomers #kinder80
  23. Share
    Kinder Trespass a success, as the ramblers reach Ashop Head! #kinder80
  24. Share
  25. Share
    24 April 1932 Kinder Scout trespassers return to Hayfield in triumph but are met on Kinder Rd by police, who arrest 5 people #kinder80
  26. We tweeted about the aftermath on the following day, though these events occurred over the months after the trespass.
  27. Share
    On this day in 1932 Benny Rothman and 5 others charged with unlawful assembly, breach of peace, and GBH. On bail till 11 May #kinder80
  28. Share
    Benny Rothman defends himself at his trial on basis of right to roam, for 75 mins. We have the transcript in our archive! #kinder80
  29. Share
    Kinder Trespass jury on 21-22 June 1932 stuffed with landowners, 5 out of 6 defendants found guilty & sentenced to up to 6 months #kinder80
  30. Share
    Protests and trespasses continued during the Kinder Trespass trial & afterwards to keep up momentum of the movement #kinder80
  31. Share
    Kinder Trespass of 1932 resulted in widened access to countryside & eventually the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 #kinder80
  32. People on twitter recognised the significance of the event, and it clearly meant a lot to them personally.
  33. Share
    80 yrs today since the Kinder Trespass. Thanks to that act you can walk the #NidderdaleWay, and many others like it! #PateleyTIC #Kinder80
  34. Share
    @wcmlibrary i proposed to @pollymce on Kinder – YAY for mass trespass! #kinder80
  35. Share
    Wow- 80 years since the Kinder Scout trespass. We must never forget what we owe them #kinder80 #nationalparks #righttoroam
  36. Share
    #Kinder80 memories: “I used my first wage packet from the steelworks when I was 14 to buy a bike to get out here…”
  37. Share
    #Kinder80 memories: “The aristocracy wanted to keep us out, but they were only using the land for murdering animals.”
  38. Share
    RT @RamblersCymru: without #kinder80 we wouldn’t be celebrating the Big Welsh Coastal Walk
  39. Share
    Today is the 80th anniversary of the Kinder mass trespass. We owe those brave people a drink for what they gave us #kinder80
  40. Share
    Great to see some old friends at #Kinder80. The story of 1932 still seems relevant. But how to engage the next generation?
  41. As Ed Douglas noted, the story of ’32 was relevant, and there were signs that it still inspired people today…
  42. Share
    RT @FionaODonnellMP: Emotional gathering of MPs & Ramblers on College Green to remember #Kinder80. English coastal path is our Kinder. Let’s join up UK coastline
  43. Share
    In the spirit of #Kinder80 we’re currently writing and researching a blog post about walking on Ministry of Defence land.
  44. Share
    Is it just me that thinks that 80th anniversary of the Kinder Trespass is way more important than the queen’s jubilee? #kinder80
  45. Share
    67 MPs have signed the #Kinder80 parliamentary motion – has yours?
  46. Share
    The #kinder80 coverage for the #Ramblers was just awesome. Well done everyone for supporting this landmark event and tweeting about it
  47. Share
    @wcmlibrary really enjoyed the #kinder80 tweets from 1932
  48. Thank you @RamblersGB! And to everyone else who participated in our recreation of the mass trespass on Twitter.

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Object of the month, July 2010

Posted by wcmlibrary on June 25, 2010

Every month a volunteer will chose an interesting object, book or document from the Library collection, which will be displayed in the hall of the Library.

This month’s object is ballot form for the Police Strike 1919. It is a new accession to the Library. In May 1919, the National Union of Police and Prison Officers (NUPPO) issued a strike ballot calling for recognition of the union, re-instatement of PC Spackman and others and an increase in pay and pensions. The majority voted in favour of strike action, but the strike was postponed indefinitely.

In July 1919 a bill was issued for the Police Act 1919, this established the Police Federation, to represent officers concerns and welfare, but it forbade police from joining unions and made strike action by police illegal. It also outlawed the NUPPO.

The Metropolitan Police called for a strike, but only a small number took part. This may have been because the Government had given the police a generous pay increase in May 1919 as a result of the Desborough report. Half the police in Liverpool went on strike and this resulted in massive riots, looting and several deaths.

To find out more, take a look on our website…

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