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Typographical Associations and the TUC

The formation of the Typographical Association is complex, however, the union had a major influence on the development of the British trade union movement. A forerunner, the Northern Typographical Union, was founded in 1830. This was a federation of small, local societies in England and the Isle of Man, and included the well-established Manchester Typographical Society - founded in 1797. During the early 1840s, the Northern Typographical Union began organising compositors in southern towns, but suffered setbacks and reconstituted itself as the National Typographical Association in 1844. The London Union of Compositors had reconstituted itself as the South East Region, and the General Typographical Association of Scotland as the Northern Region. However, the organisation had insufficient income to cover disputes, and following a major strike in Edinburgh during 1848, it was forced to dissolve. The Association's South East Region re-established itself as a separate union, the London Society of Compositors.

In 1848 the National Typographical Association collapsed. In 1849 the Provincial Typographical Association dropped the word “Provincial” and a nation-wide organisation called the Typographical Association emerged. In 1853 the Scottish Typographical Association was formed.

Three prominent members of the Typographical Association played an important role in calling the first meeting of the Trades Union Congress held in Manchester on 4th June 1868. William Dronfield, a compositor, was the Secretary of the Sheffield Typographical Society. In 1866 he called a conference in Sheffield, which organised the United Kingdom Alliance of Organised Trades, and he was elected as its secretary. William Henry Wood was a compositor, who became the Secretary of the Manchester Typographical Society. In 1864, he was elected as the first Secretary of the Manchester and Salford Trades Council. Wood played a prominent role in the Sheffield conference of 1866. Samuel Caldwell Nicholson was also a compositor who became the treasurer of the Manchester Typographical Society. In 1864, he was elected the first President of the Manchester and Salford Trades Council. Each was convinced of the need for a national trade union organisation. Together they called a meeting in Manchester in 1868, held in the Mechanics’ Institute, which is regarded as the first ever Trades Union Congress.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 10:32