General Strike 1926

General Strike 1926. Despatch riders wait for instructions outside TUC headquarters in Eccleston Square, London. All postal services were disrupted and very few local union or trades council officers had telephones in 1926 so a communications network using despatch riders was established. These messengers carried instructions and news reports from the TUC and union offices out into the country, at the same time collecting accurate news of the strike's effectiveness. The couriers travelled by bicycle or motorcycle, occasionally by car.

The Match Workers Strike Fund Register

The main part of the Register provides details of the workers on strike at the Bryant & May match factory at Bow, East London in March 1888. There are three lists showing 263 workers from the Centre and Top Centre workshops, 186 workers at the Victoria factory and 263 workers at the Wax and Box Stores and Patents. The lists show the name and address of each workers, together with marital status, occupation, last week's wages and whether living at home or independently. Additional notes show rent owed or dependents. Boy workers are indicated.

The People’s Charter, 1838

Many British working people were disappointed when the 1832 Reform Act failed to give them the vote. This disappointment turned to anger when the reformed House of Commons passed the Poor Law of 1834. In June 1836 William Lovett, Henry Hetherington, John Cleave and James Watson formed the London Working Men's Association. At a meeting in 1838 the leaders of the Association drew up a Charter of political demands which gave the group the name ‘Chartists’.

Postcard of Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Emmeline Pethick was born in 1867, and became a socialist during the 1890s. She married Frederick Lawrence in 1901, becoming Mrs Pethick-Lawrence. Emmeline joined the Women's Social and Political Union in 1906, but was expelled in 1912 after a disagreement. In 1907, Emmeline and Frederick began publishing Votes for Women and their London home served as both the Union's office and a suffragettes' recovery centre.
Emmeline served six prison sentences for her socialist beliefs and died in 1954.

Miner’s Strike Commemorative Painting

This painting by Geoff Gibbons of Coventry was produced to commemorate the 1984-1985 Miners' Strike. It was possibly entitled Solidarity. It is a tribute, in particular, to the support given by railwaymen from the Mantle Lane freight depot at Coalville, Leicestershire, to striking miners in the Coventry mine at Keresley, Warwickshire. It documents the demonstration of local solidarity between members of three trade unions: the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Railwaymen and the Associated Society Of Locomotive Engineers And Firemen.

MI5 Surveillance ‘Bug’

This surveillance 'bug', discovered by builders in February 1975, was probably used by MI5 to spy on Communist activity. Former MI5 officer Peter Wright may have planted it, as in his book, Spycatcher, he describes concealing a 'bug' at Communist Party headquarters. The government did not admit responsibility for the device.

The Party issued this statement after its discovery;

\The Communist Party protests most strongly at the fact that this device was illegally installed in its premises. We are a legal political party not engaged in any conspiratorial activity and

Labour Woman

The Women’s Labour League (1906-1918) first produced a monthly newsletter for its supporters in 1906. The League was formed as an institution organized exclusively for and by women, and affiliated to the British Labour Party. It was committed to the cause of Labour representation in parliament. In 1918, after the vote was given to propertied women over the age of 30, the League was dissolved and its members formed the Women’s Section of the Labour Party.

John Wilkes Commemorative Teapot

John Wilkes strongly opposed John Stuart, chosen by the King to be Prime Minister in 1762. His radical publication The North Briton mocked Stuart's Scottish ancestry. Issue number 45, dated 23 April 1763, criticised the King's Speech; Wilkes was sent to the Tower of London for 'seditious libel'. However he was released, to cheers of 'Wilkes and Liberty', because he was a Member of Parliament.

Great Dock Strike Banner, 1889

This banner was made for the Great Dock Strike of 1889 when workers sought an extra 6d (2½p) on their wages, the 'dockers tanner'. It was also carried in the Transport Strike of 1912 and the Poplar Rates dispute of 1921.

The technique used to make the banner follows the style of naval flag making. The letter fabric shapes are sewn into corresponding holes cut into the main fabric ground, rather than being sewn onto the surface. Both ground and lettering fabrics are plain woven wool 'bunting'.