The Formation of a Pressure Group, 1860–80

  • Henry Pelling


UNTIL the 1860’s it could not be said that there was any national leadership of the trade unions. The National Association of United Trades for the Protection of Labour, which as we have seen had had a shadowy existence since its foundation in 1845, operated only on special occasions such as when the Molestation of Workmen Bill was being drawn up. We do not know how much support the National Association could claim in the country at large: it can hardly have had very much. But the formation of the London Trades Council in 1860 seemed to put matters on a different footing. Although London was only part of the whole country, it contained a large proportion of existing unionism, and was also the headquarters of a number of the national unions. The full-time secretaries of the latter formed a group which dominated the London Trades Council in its early days, and could claim in some sense at least to be representative of national union opinion.


Trade Union Pressure Group Agricultural Labourer Royal Commission Trade Society 
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© Henry Pelling 1976

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  • Henry Pelling

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