Although not formally recognised with a plaque there are many locations that may be of interest to UNITE members. The following is a small number of such locations.
Bradford and Chartism
MEMORIALS TO WORKERS
.SILSDEN is a small town of 8,000 people between Keighley and Skipton in West Yorkshire.
1) Resisting police brutality
In 1911 local people objected to a very unpopular policeman whose arrest of a local man led to his imprisonment and following which there was a riot in which the police station was attacked and all its windows smashed. Taken from Daily Mirror, 10-04-1911.
MOB ATTACK POLICE STATION
bottles hurled at windows, three constables being struck.
‘As a result
of the conviction by the Skipton Magistrates of a man named Hodgson, who was charged with assaulting a
constable, a crowd of several hundred persons made a desperate attack late on Saturday night on the police station at Silsden, three rniles from Keighley.
The fire “buzzer” was set going, and a mob quickly gathered armed with stones, bottles and other missiles, with which they broke every window in the police station. Two or three constables were struck.’
An enterprising photographer who photographed the police station with its windows both smashed and boarded shortly after the incident later had them printed on postcards
that he offered for sale.
An article many years later in West Yorkshireman, the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police Newspaper, reported that
in 1911 a petition had been sent to the then Home Secretary Winston Churchill complaining about the ‘attitude of the police officers.’ Although the village petitioners got no joy from Churchill they had the satisfaction of seeing the convicted man released early and the constable was transferred to another area.
The site of the former police station is now occupied by premises belonging to BT.
2) Refugees and prisoners of war.
During the Second World War a hostel was built off Howden Road to house refugees and prisoners of war. A commemorative plaque is located on the housing estate where the hostel once stood.
Many thanks to Melvyn Bradshaw of Silsden for his considerable help in assembling the information on this page.
HOLCOMBE MOOR, site of the first domestic violence victim to be publicly commemorated.
Unite members and domestic violence campaigners in the north west are urging others to join them when they hold a special event on 29 November 2015 at what is thought to be the oldest site in the world to commemorate a victim of domestic violence. Campaigners should initially meet at Holcombe Emmanuel Church of England, Chapel Lane, Holcombe Village, Ramsbottom, BL8 4NB.
Ellen Strange (Broadley) was murdered by her husband, John Broadley on Holcombe Moor near Ramsbottom in January 1761. After which Ellen’s family and/or local people raised a pile of stones (a cairn) in her memory. This was called ‘Ellen Strange’ on the first Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1844-47.
Yet by this time the true story had become clouded in the belief that a lover had committed the murder. Other facts, including that the murderer had been convicted and executed, had also been replaced by fiction. Then in 1989, local author John Simpson (*) published the results of his exhaustive research into events on the desolate moor over 200 years earlier.
John and Ellen Broadley were a very poor couple who led an itinerant life. Prior to her wedding, Ellen lived at Ash Farm in Hawkshaw with her parents. It appears almost certain that Ellen, hoping to take advantage of the full moon, was making her way to the family home when Broadley murdered her shortly after midnight The couple had been seen together at a nearby local pub in the hours before Ellen died.
Andy Birchall, Linda Birchall and Martin McMulkin
When Ellen’s strangled and badly disfigured body was discovered her husband was arrested and indicted for her murder. At his trial a number of witnesses were called but as it was not the practice to write down such evidence then we will never know what they said.
What we can be sure of is that their evidence was insufficient to convict Broadley. Forensic evidence had not yet been identified and the charged man pleaded ‘not guilty.’ It is almost certain that there were no eye-witnesses to the actual attack. Since 1761 the practice of adding stones to the Ellen Strange cairn has continued. In November 2014 a small number of Unite members and domestic violence campaigners from the PAWS for Kids support project for women and children experiencing domestic violence walked to the cairn and placed their own stones.
“It has been a real privilege to do this as we are also in the middle of a two week awareness campaign around domestic violence,” said Linda Birchall, a Unite member at Marks and Spencer in Wigan.
“It would be good if there could be erected a nearby noticeboard as many more people could then add a stone and remember Ellen,” she added.
“I did not know anything about this until very recently when it was suggested that the site should feature on the REBEL ROAD online education project. I am sure that Bolton Trades Union Council will now want to organise a proper commemoration visit and help make people aware of this important site,” said Martin McMulkin, Unite shop floor convenor at Jost, manufacturers of vehicle connections components in Bolton.
As of 18 March 2015, £1600 had been donated towards the cost of the events on 29 November (starting at 11am) by the Unite north west region, Martin’s branch and Bolton Trades Union Council. This date has been specially chosen because it comes within the Domestic Violence Awareness Fortnight and is also close to 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. There will be a wreath laying ceremony and some speakers followed by a social occasion in a local venue afterwards. A facebook page has been set up on which further details will be posted as they are finalised https://www.facebook.com/groups/626311717498888/
Bolton Trades Union Council has agreed that its bank account can be used for cheques payable to Bolton TUC. BTUC, c/o Bolton Socialist Club, Wood Street, Bolton BL1 1DY.
* Read the full story in the booklet ELLEN STRANGE - a moorland murder mystery explained by John Simpson which was published in 1989 by the Helmshore Local History Society & has been updated.
PETERLEE, County Durham is the only UK town named after a trade unionist – PETER LEE, the celebrated Durham Miners’ leader during the 1926 General Strike.
Built as a new town after the Second World War, Peterlee was seen as antidote to the squalor of some of the local mining villages. New housing was to be accompanied by new industrial estates. The closure of all local mines means the latter are even more important today with the likes of Caterpillar, where Unite is recognised, and Walkers Crisps *, where Unite is not recognised and zero-hours contracts have become standard, providing employment opportunities.
Peter Lee (1864 -1935) was born in nearby Trimdon Grange and began colliery work at aged ten. Ten years later he returned to the classroom and learnt to read properly before heading for the US where he worked underground for two years. On his return he became Wingate miners pit delegate before again setting off on his travels this time to South Africa and from which he returned as a committed Christian. He was elected as a local parish and County Council member and after returning to work at Wheatley Hill Colliery he became an agent for Durham Miners’ Association and President of the Miner’s Federation of Great Britain.
* Mark Metcalf, who edits Rebel Road, lived in Peterlee until his mid 20s. He worked and was a shop steward and safety rep at Walkers Crisps in the 1970s and 1980s when it was better known as Tudor Crisps.
, home of England's last revolution
Longstanding Unite member Ken Bond is proud to live in Pentrich, Derbyshire, which is the site of England’s last revolution. When the badly organised affair in 1817 was defeated it led to execution for some of the rebels and deportation or jail for others.
Following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the high price of food and falling living standards, brought on by a rise in unemployment, led to nationwide countryside unrest. The iron and textile industries around the small Amber Valley village of Pentrich, where a church was built in the 12th century and where evidence exists that it was already settled in 200AD, were badly hit. Those who could find work had their wages cut and found it difficult to make ends meet.
Matters became even worse when in 1816 bad weather resulted in a poor harvest that with food scarce pushed prices up to unaffordable levels. With Parliament unrepresentative of ordinary people there was a major riot on 2 December 1816 at Spa Field, London after Henry Hunt had previously advised his followers to sign a petition demanding universal male suffrage, annual general elections and secret ballots.
Meanwhile, the monarchy was also angering its subjects. Especially George, the Prince Regent, who was self-indulgent when ordinary people were close to starvation. Driving to Westminster on 22 January 1817, the Prince Regent had his carriage either stoned or a bullet fired on it. In reaction to these events, the government passed the ‘Gag Acts’ in February and March 1817. Habeas Corpus was suspended. Gatherings of groups of 50 or more people were outlawed. The French Revolution that lasted from 1789 to 1799 had led to the abolition of the French monarchy and inspired liberal and radical ideas internationally. The ruling class did not want anything similar here.
Thomas Bacon was a framework knitter in Pentrich, which today lies just off the A36 between Alfreton and Ripley. He went to various political meetings around his area and brought back stories to his local meetings about plans to organise a march from the North and Midlands to London, where, with support from Londoners, the government would be overthrown. For this to have any small hope of success then thousands of people would be needed.
What Bacon and his fellow conspirators did not know was that present at their meetings was that Oliver, a newcomer to the area, was a government spy. Oliver even encouraged people to take part in the march. Planning meetings were broken up after he relayed information back to the government. Ringleaders were arrested and with a warrant out for his arrest, Bacon went into hiding and when the ill-fated march was held he did not participate. This possibly saved his life. Leadership of the group passed to Jeremiah Brandreth, an unemployed frame knitter who came to Pentrich on 5 June 1817. At Asherfields Barn and the White Horse Public House meetings he told those present that the march was planned for four days later and would set off from Nottingham at 10pm. Others would join en route and there would be arms collected as pikes, scythes and a few guns had been assembled.
Plaque marking the site of the White Horse Pub
When local men assembled at Hunts Barn in South Wingfield and began marching their attempts to persuade others to join them were met with indifference and in, some cases, hostility, when they knocked on local doors.
When widow Hepworth refused to hand over any weapons a scuffle broke out during which her servant Robert Walters was shot and killed. This was the only fatality that night but it emphasised now how serious a situation the marchers were in. Attempts by Brandreth to get arms and cannons from Butterly Ironworks, whose later contracts included the structure of London’s St Pancras Station, though were also unsuccessful. The less optimistic now began to drift away and so when the King’s Hussars met the marchers at the Nottinghamshire border they were easily overwhelmed. Arrests were made whilst others disappeared into the nearby fields and buildings until it was clear.
Although many rebels remained in hiding they were subsequently caught and arrested over the following weeks. Following a brief trial, Brandreth and two other ringleaders, both from South Wingfield, Isaac Ludlam, a stone-getter, and stonemason William Turner were hanged and also beheaded. 14 other men, including Bacon, were transported to Australia on the Tottenham and the Isabella. All later received an absolute pardon but none are believed to have ever returned to Pentrich.
A further six others were jailed before a debate in the press halted the planned repression against another twelve men with the poet Shelley writing a famous lament after the hangings. This included the line “We pity the plumage but forget the dying bird” and was a reference to the much greater sympathetic coverage of the death during childbirth of the Prince Regent’s daughter than the hanged men. The punishment list for the Pentrich revolutionaries.
Pentrich suffered after its failed revolution as plans were laid to ensure few traces or evidence remained of the revolution. The Duke of Devonshire’s agents thus demolished the White Horse pub and the houses were the guilty men had lived. Wives and children were evicted and forced to leave. Some in the village who had not participated were hostile towards those that had and those that had given evidence at the trial against the participants were rewarded when the guilty men’s land was redistributed to them. A new chapel was built at a cost of £1,600 at Ripley and following which the small village began its growth to become the busy town it is today, while Pentrich gradually became less important. As a result, the latter has retained a largely rural character. St Matthews Church. Pentrich
The harsh repression of those involved at Pentrich did its business. Demands for reform were stilled until the development of the Chartist movement in the 1830s. Thankfully, the Pentrich Historical Society has acted to keep alive the memory of the brave men who suffered badly for fighting for their rights. Over a decade ago, with help from the Awards from All Lottery Fund and Amber Valley Borough Council, they had 11 plaques placed to mark the revolution trail, Important places and buildings are highlighted. All can be visited in little more than an hour. Plans are already underway for a special event on the bicentenary in June 2017.
Ken Bond will be one of those participating. Born in Dagenham, Ken trained as an electrical engineer and became a member of the EETPU. He moved with his wife, Sue, to Derbyshire 35 years ago and settled in Pentrich 15 years back. He intends staying permanently as he even has his burial plot picked out at the church!
Ken currently works part-time as a mobile caretaker for Derbyshire County Council and after becoming a TGWU member many years ago he is now a Unite member. He admits he did not know about Pentrich’s history before he moved there “But the big signs in both directions coming into the village are a bit of a give away! You can’t also help but pick things up and I am quite proud of where I live and its history.
“Brandreth was the last man in England to be beheaded and I visited the Derby jail where the gruesome event took place. You have to admire the courage of those who took part in 1817 and what they aimed to achieve was worth fighting for. “Fairness and justice is important to me. They are attitudes that were instilled in me by my parents. I don’t trust wealthy employers and you need an organisation that supports workers and that’s why I’ve always been a trade union member.”
Rebel Road would like to extend its thanks to Ken Bond for his help on this article and also to David Condliffe, Unite Community Organiser for the East Midlands.
For more information go to: - http://www.ambervalley.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/tourism-and-travel/pentrich-revolution.aspx
, West Yorkshire- The Luddites
A statue in honour of the Luddites was unveiled by the Spen Valley Civic Society (SVSC) in Liversedge, West Yorkshire in 2012. According to the SVSC secretary Erica Amenda, “We wanted the statue to demonstrate that there was a human touch to the Luddites. That their struggle was not just gratuitous violence but was about him protecting his job, income and his family and community. They were not terrorists or crazed out-of-touch workers.”
Who were the Luddites
They were early 19th-century English textile workers known as croppers. They employed guerrilla tactics in a desperate attempt to prevent the installation in local mills of mechanical shearing frames that threw them out of work. The Luddites took their name from a mythical leader, General Ludd.
Their resistance arose after laws dating back to Tudor times that made it illegal to use a machine to replace people were repealed in 1806. A
new breed of capitalist entrepreneurs seized their chance to break the stranglehold of the skilled craftsmen over the pace, control and location of production. Petitions to Parliament to prevent the cropping machines’ introduction were ignored. In an era when unemployment meant starvation and the Combination Acts http://writemark.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=combination+acts
made trade unionism illegal, workers held secret meetings and took oaths to support one another in destroying the new frames.
Liversedge is an ancient township. A Roman Road passes the Shears Pub, which today is run by former AEU steward Paul Black. In 1812, croppers - many from the nearby John Jackson’s cropping shop - held meetings upstairs where they heard of successful Nottingham risings where knitting machinery was smashed. Similar meetings were held across other parts of West Yorkshire. In response the authorities sent hundreds of soldiers to suppress any rebellious acts.
“There were more troops in the West Riding of Yorkshire than on the Spanish peninsular as the ruling class was terrified by the example of the French revolution at the end of the 18th century,” says Erica.
On 11 April 1812, led by George Mellor, 300-400 men with blackened faces attacked with huge hammers and axes the nearby Cartwright’s Mill. Two assailants, Samuel Hartley and John Booth, sustained horrific gunshot wounds and later died although not before the latter had the last laugh on the hated Reverend Hammond Robertson. Legend has it that in order to obtain information on the names of the other attackers the Reverend tortured the men with nitric acid. Booth asked him “Can thi. keep a secret?” Leaning forward, an excited Robertson said he could and in reply Booth said: “So can I” before dying.
Two weeks later a mill owner William Horsfall was shot dead by Mellor. After the military tracked down some of those who participated on 11 April, eight were hanged and others transported to Australia. The Cartwright’s Mill attack was dramatised in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley. It has been commemorated with a SVSC plaque, unveiled in April 2015, on the Shears Pub. There are similar plaques at the Star Inn and the former Jackson’s cropping shop. The latter is now inhabited by Owen’s Corning company who have very generously funded all three plaques, which will be part of a new Luddite trail that will officially open this summer and will be marked by yellow signs each featuring a large Enoch hammer.
The new trail, which has led to requests from local schools for SVCS speakers on the Luddites, will consist of two circular walks and is one of many successful SVCS projects including a Spen Fame Trail featuring numbered plaques marking the home of a famous person or event location. If you would like to invite a speaker to a meeting and/or join the Spen Valley Civic Society please email Erica at email@example.com or visit the website www.svcs.org.uk
Read:- LIBERTY OR DEATH: Radicals, Republicans and Luddites 1793-1823 by Alan Brooke and Lesley Kipling. Published by Huddersfield Local History Society.
.BRADFORD and CHARTISM
If you would like to find out the Chartist working-class movement in Bradford there is now the chance to download a recording that can be listened to you as you stroll round the city centre and visit some of the important locations of the time.
Chartism was a working-class movement that began in the mid-1830s to campaign for basic electoral reforms that were outlined in what became known as the People’s Charter of 1838 – a vote for every man over 21, secret ballots, equal sized constituencies, no property qualifications to become an MP, payments for MPs and annual parliamentary elections.
This was not popular with those who did run it, which increasingly meant industrialists rather than just the aristocracy. Previous attempts at reforming parliamentary representation had proven unsuccessful and had been drowned at St Peter's Field, Manchester on 16 August 1819 when a crowd of in excess of 60,000 was charged by the cavalry and, at least, 15 demonstrators lost their lives in the Peterloo Massacre.
Chartism began with a series of huge meetings showing popular support. In 1839, 1842 and 1848 millions of people signed petitions that were rejected by the House of Commons. When these were rejected by the House of Commons it led to a minority of Chartists abandoning constitutional methods in favour of more insurrectionary activities with Wales and Yorkshire prominent.
On 4 November 1839 in Newport, South Wales several Chartists were arrested. John Frost led an armed rebellion to secure their release. When the 3,000 crowd were fired upon by the military at least 20 were killed.
Scene from the play Rising of the Moon
Frost and other march leaders were later found guilty of high treason and transported for life. http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/education/rebelroad/plaques/#Chartist%20sculpture%20and%20plaque
Early in 1840, a number of Bradford Chartists took several police officers prisoner, only to be later overpowered by a larger opposing force. Eight were sent to York for trial. On Wednesday 18 March 1840 Robert Peddie, William Brooke, Thomas Drake and Paul Holdsworth were found guilty of riot and conspiracy.
It transpired that the authorities had placed a spy in the Chartists ranks and that he had concocted many of their activities.
Despite these setbacks there remained some local Chartists willing to try and use physical force as a means of winning their demands, of which, five are, of course, in place today.
Scene from the play Rising of the Moon
In April 1848 there was a huge gathering in Bradford. According to R.C. Gammage, a prominent Chartist whose book on the movement is regarded by many as the most authoritative, "Thousands attended ...pikes were brandished and not the slightest interference took place by the authorities. Bradford was that day in the possession of the Chartists." Over the following weeks, training and drilling was organised in Bradford and other local towns, including Bingley, and a resolve was manifested to forcefully resist any attempt to arrest the leaders. This though proved unsuccessful when Bradford magistrates issued a proclamation against such proceedings.
When the military were called out the Chartists fought with their bludgeons only to be eventually overwhelmed. Many were arrested and charged with drilling and threatening to shoot the constables. The numbers grew when others who continued to train with arms were also taken into custody.
When the prisoners appeared at the York assizes J.J Johnson and W. Sagar were found guilty of riot and assembly and were sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour. Other prisoners received smaller terms of imprisonment. They included blacksmith Isaac Jefferson - who was well-known as Bradford's 'Wat Tyler', Tyler being the man who led the Peasants' revolt against the Poll Tax in 1381 - who was fortunate to receive only four months in jail. A broken Jefferson later helped bosses ferment animosity against arriving Catholics from Ireland that led to Anti-Catholic riots in Bradford in the 1850s and in 1862. Scene from the play Rising of the Moon
Some of these men, including Jefferson, and women such as Celia Butterfield who also participated, were brought back to life at the long-running annual Bradford Festival on 12-14 June 2015. The Rising of the Moon is a 50-minute street play written and directed by Unite member Javaad Alipoor, artistic director of Northern Lines Bradford.
The highly entertaining play, featuring some impressive performances from non-professional and professional actors, toured Bradford city centre, stopping off at some of the important places of the time such as the Shoulder of Mutton pub, The Old Bank (now a pub), the magnificent Old Wool Exchange (now a Waterstones book store and in 1848 ‘the cavernous heart of a cruel Empire’) and the City Hall. Curious passers-by asked what was going one and audience members were able to listen to an MP3 recording featuring a fictionalised account by one of the police spies within the Chartist movement.
Javaad Alipoor - Unite member
The recording, which even if you can’t do the walk is still worth listening to, can be dowloaded so anyone can undertake their own walk. What also helps is that many of the buildings from the time are still in use in Bradford.
“Bradford was central to the Chartist movement, especially in the Yorkshire West Riding. By 1848 Chartism was heading towards defeat. Yet local people, disappointed that constitutional methods had been ignored remained at the forefront of the physical struggle,” said Alipoor.
To find out more go to: -
Praise for the play by those who attended on Saturday 13 June 2015
Receptionist Amanda Norman “I really enjoyed it. I have just done history at University and this added to my knowledge. I learnt a lot as I don’t know much about Bradford but it really brought things to life.
Katherine Watson “I have always had an interest in Chartist history in general and this has expanded my understanding about what happened in Bradford specifically. My favourite moment was listening to one of the leaders giving a rousing speech outside the Old Wool Exchange when I was all ready to storm the barricades. We know the Chartists went down to defeat but five of the six Charter demands later became incorporated into our political system.”
Photos supplied by Imran Manzoor.
- nurse, Soho square
There is a blue plaque commemorating Jamaican nurse - and heroine of the Crimean War - Mary Seacole at 14 Soho Square, London W1, where she lived in 1857.
Voted the greatest black Briton in 2004, Seacole, who was born in 1805, was of Scottish and Creole descent. Mary's mother was a free black woman who by practising as a 'doctress' was able to pass on her nursing skills and understanding of local herbal remedies to her daughter.
In her teens Mary travelled to England with relatives and over the following years journeyed regularly between the two countries and in 1836 she married Englishman Edwin Horatio Hamilton Seacole. Sadly, Edwin died just eight years later and then in 1850, Mary nursed victims of the Kingston cholera epidemic. Three years later, Mary cared for victims of a yellow fever epidemic in Jamaica. Following which she was invited by the medical authorities to supervise nursing services at the headquarters of the British Army in Kingston.
In 1854, E
ngland and France joined forces with Turkey to invade Russia. On 21 October, Florence Nightingale departed to Scutari, accompanied by 38 nurses. Mary began repeatedly offering her services to care for troops in the Crimea, but without success. She was left heartbroken and con-sidered that she might be facing rejection because of the colour of her skin. She put such thoughts aside and decided to fund her own passage to the Crimea and on her arrival she visited Florence Nightingale. By around July 1855 she and a friend of her late husband, Mr Day, had organised the construction at Balaclava of the British Hotel and store for the sale of food and drink to soldiers. This facility was to provide soldiers of all ranks with accommodation, good nourishing food, other provisions and nursing care of a high standard. Testimonies from soldiers, along with independent accounts from journalists, doctors and other visitors, testify to Mary Seacole's great qualities as a nurse and doctress.
In March 1856 when the war ended suddenly Mary was placed in severe financial difficulties as the stores she had recently purchased were now redundant. On her return to England she was saved from bankruptcy through the donations of well wishers. Thereafter she became increasingly cele-brated. Her portrait was painted by Albert Charles Challen in 1869 and when she died in 1881 her estate was valued at over £2,615, which demonstrates that by the time of her death she had re-covered from her earlier financial troubles.
In 1915 when the Crimean War Memorial was erected in London near the junction of Lower Regent Street and Pall Mall it included a Florence Nightingale statue but not one of Mary Seacole. On the centenary of the Crimea War, Jamaica formally recognised Seacole when the Jamaican Nurses' Association named their Kingston headquarters after her. In 1973 her decaying grave at Kensal Green was restored by an association of Jamaican women in London.
In 1985 the Greater London Council placed a blue plaque on her former home at 157 George Street, London W1 and when this building was demolished the plaque was moved to its present location in Soho Square.
003 former London MP Clive Soley, now Lord Soley, launched an appeal for funds to erect a statue in central London. In late November 2015 the final funds to make this possible were obtained when the Government made a surprise donation of £240,000 to the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal (MSMSA), which had raised more than half a million pounds before being hampered in their efforts when they were presented with an unexpected huge bill for installation costs.
The 15-foot plus bronze statue that has been designed by sculptor Martin Jennings will be the first statue of a named black woman in Britain. It will be installed - along with a memorial garden to commemorate health workers killed in conflict zones or combating disease - in the grounds of St Thomas' hospital, opposite Parliament. It is sure to become a significant London landmark.
The Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA), which is a section of UNITE, has long campaigned for a Mary Seacole statue. Prominent in this campaign has been Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, CBE, who is vice-chairperson of the MSMSA and vice-president of UNITE/CPHVA, who said, "For all the thousands of people who have donated pennies and pounds to this appeal, for which we raised over £500,000, it is wonderful news that we now finally have all the monies we need. At last we know that by spring next year the statue to this remarkable woman will be on display.”
For more on Mary Seacole there is a book by Professor Anionwu: A short history of Mary Seacole - a resource for nurses and students.
, 29 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BQ www.initiativefactory.org
The CASA Bar has its very own Rebel Road with a huge series of plaques (e.g. Mickey Fenn at http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/education/rebelroad/plaques/#Micky%20Fenn
adorning one of the walls in the function room.
The existence of the Casa can be traced back to the long history in Liverpool of dockworkers, who had to collectively organise against casual labour whereby they were hired by the half day from hiring pens. With only a minority chosen for work and with no pay for dockers not selected then the competition was fierce and bloody. This was despite the fact that the docks were economically vital to the British economy.
The dockers' union nationally was to be born out of the struggles in 1889 in London. (See July 2015 book of the month on The Great Dock Strike of 1889 at http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/education/bookofthemonth/july-2015/
In 1995, 500 dockers employed by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company were sacked after they refused to cross a picket line established in support of fellow dockers working for Torside. Over the next two and a half years a momentous struggle was waged by the dockers to obtain reinstatement. The media largely ignored the dispute and according to Len McCluskey the leadership of the dockers union, the Transport and General Workers Union, "betrayed" those in dispute.
In 1999, local screenwriter and socialist, Jimmy McGovern was approached to by Channel 4 to make a film about the struggle. He agreed on the basis it would be written in conjunction with the sacked dockers and their partners and that any monies raised would be put into a fund for the education and retraining. This resulted in the BAFTA-nominated drama Dockers. The £127,000 raised was used to buy the three-storey former Casablanca Club.
Dave Cotterill is seen here in front of the many plaques at the Casa that celebrate trade union and labour movement heroes
In 2016, the Casa is a hive of activity and many campaigns are organised out of it. Downstairs there is a not for profit bar and a meeting/function room used for a wide variety of activities including theatre, dancing and trade union and political gatherings. The first Gay Marriage in Liverpool was conducted in the Casa. Upstairs there is a welfare and advice centre that has been estimated to provide up to one million pounds of free advice annually. With the Tories intent on dismantling the welfare state then never has such help been required.
The Casa is also home to the local Unite Community branch, which was the first and is currently the largest branch in the country. It is packed with experienced campaigners.
To keep all this work going the Casa needs support. In April 2015, Brian Reade of the Daily Mirror helped organise the Casa Solidarity Show featuring comedians John Bishop, Neil Fitzmaurice, Ricky Tomlinson and Mark Steel and musician The Farm and John Power. It was a great show and it features on an excellent film by Dave Cotterill about the Casa and available on DVD at £10 from firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebel Road asked Dave about how he got into film making and which of the many plaques in the Casa does he like the most.
“I've been producing documentary films since 2003 - they include Cunard Yanks (ITV), Passport to Liverpool (BBC) Walk On - the story of You'll Never Walk Alone (BT Sports) and recent documentaries: Conversation in Cuba featuring Jimmy McGovern and Cuban writer Leonardo Padura and Viva La Casa.
I was involved with the solidarity campaign around the Liverpool Dockers Dispute (1995-98) and was part of the group which wrote, Dockers, with Jimmy McGovern; the docu-drama featuring Ricky Tomlinson, Ken Stott and Crissy Rock. So to produce Viva La Casa was a natural extension and maintains a twenty-year old link.
Our hope is that this DVD can be screened as widely as possible and help to continue the work of the Casa.
In relation to the plaques - I like the Cuba Solidarity Campaign one because of the work over decades to resist the efforts of America to overthrow the government and because of our enjoyable experience of filming in Cuba; a truly magnificent people. Check out Leonardo Padura's books. They are well worth a read.
The plaque of the Southers family reminds me of the international dimensions of the dispute in 1995-98 and the strong bond between seafarers and dockers; the motley crew of the maritime world; solid in a determination to fight for what is right and carried down through the generations in their family.”
.MEMORIALS TO WORKERS
Initiated by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the excellent website http://www.sheilapantry.com/memorial/
has a lengthy list of permanent, temporary and other me-morials such as paintings that commemorate Workers Memorial Day annually on 28 April. The very large majority of these memorials have been initiated by trade unionists and safety campaigners.
The permanent list is at http://www.sheilapantry.com/memorial/permanent.html
The temporary list is at http://www.sheilapantry.com/memorial/temporary.html
Other memorials are at http://www.sheilapantry.com/memorial/other.html
If you know of any Memorials that are not listed but should be then please contact the compiler: Sheila Pantry OBE: email@example.com
Many thanks to Susan Murray for alerting Rebel Road to this great website.