Trade Unionism in Rishton

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For the best part of over 200 years, the trade unions have played their part in the lives of the inhabitants of Rishton.

Prior to 1878, the number of trade unions was very small, but during that year a number of cotton operatives met in Rishton to form a branch as what was known as The North-East Lancashire Amalgamation of Cotton Weavers. From this body grew Rishton Weavers Association.

There first meeting was held in the Mechanics Institute at number 1 Haworth Street, later to become the Salvation Army, and Toc H. Work people in other trades then formed there own local branches.

During the latter part of the 18th Century, and into the start of the 19th Century, there arose branches of trade unions for many different trades, such as Rishton Weavers Association, Twisters and Drawers, Power loom Overlookers, Warehousemen, Miners' Association, Amalgamated engineers, Paper mill Workers, and N. U. D. A. W., besides a number of workers who belonged to the General Workers, and the General and Municipal Workers.

In the early part of the 19th Century, a number of these associations got together and formed th Rishton Trades Council, and the textiles unions in 1911 formed the Rishton Textiles Trades Federation.

During strikes and lock outs, and in the years of depression that affected all trades in the 1930's, these bodies have proved to have been a great help to their members. Many, many thousands of pounds in cash from accumulated funds, and other large sums in food vouchers have been distributed. These are in addition to the normal functions of the unions in fighting for better wages and better working conditions.

Back in 1919, the Rishton Trade Unions were largely instrumental in forming one of the first Workpeople's Hospital Funds in the Country, where people who contributed to the fund could have Hospital treatment, when required, without being faced with large bills for the same when treatment was concluded. This was in the times before the National health Service was formed in this Country shortly after the Second World War.

During the past 100 years the trade unions have made their contributions to the welfare of our community, especially with regard to the National Insurance Contributions System that we now have in place, and the health Services. For the best part up to Rishtons Local Services and Council becoming dissolved, they had representatives on all kinds of Public Bodies, and were consulted with regard to most matters concerning the welfare of the people of Rishton.

Tribute should be paid to the old pioneers of Trade Unionism in Rishton, there are far too many to mention individually, who have fought and suffered for their ideas, and who helped to make Rishton into a Trade union Township.

The author would like to point out that he has no political persuasions towards any trade union, and is simply reporting on the facts that stand in there own right throughout Rishton's History


Rishton on Record, The Festival of Britain 1951.