Sunday, 25 September 2016

Radical and Mutual Clapham - Part 2

The period of the 1830s to the 1860s sees the creation of more friendly societies: the Clapham Friendly (1843), the True Brothers of Clapham Friendly Society (1845), the Clapham & Wandsworth Burial Society and the Clapham and Stockwell Coal Club (1848), the Local Pride of Surry, the Independent Order of Old Friends and the Clapham Mutual Benefit (1855), and the Hand of Friendship Mutual benefit (1856).

There were also ‘branches’ of the largest national mutual benefit societies of the Oddfellows and Foresters, which their democratic structures between local  and national levels.   The Foresters had for example the Britannia (1846), the William Wale (1863) and The Reliance (1866) and the Manchester Oddfellows included The Europa (1848) and the Pride of Clapham (1860).

There were also the mutual loan societies: Clapham Workingmen's (1859), Provident LS, Bromells Buildings (1860), Workingmen’s LS Bedford Arms, Independent Labour LS, Union Arms, Friend in Need LS, Tim Bobbin, Orchard St, and Clapham Union LS,  Park Crescent (1861), Clapham FLLS, Bromells Rd and FLLS Olive Branch FLLLS, High St (1863), and Windmill Tavern FLLS, Park Rd and Duke of Cornwall WLS, Lyham Rd (1864).

The 1850s and 1860s also sees evidence of the establishment of retail co-operatives. The London and South Western Railway Co-operative Society was registered 1855 its members working for the railway company. Active members included James Trussler, a bolt maker, of 2 Clifton St (now Courland St), William Boyd, a carpenter and the Secretary in the 1860s, 28 Trigon Rd, off Clapham Rd. It appears to have survived until 1867.

In 1860 there was the Clapham Co-operative based at the Freemasons Arms in Courland Grove, with several of its Trustees living off Larkhall Lane, William Allen, a  hairdresser and Charles Hyde, a coachman.  The following  year it merged into the National Industrial and Provident Society.

Small local trade union organisations of builders met at places like The Sun, and that Clapham building workers took part in the 1859-60 strike for a one hour reduction in pay from ten to nine hours. This led to the formation of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Woodworkers led by Robert Applegarth. The local building unions Clapham link has continued to the present day, as UCATT’s HQ is at 1777 Abbeyville Rd, it having been created by the merger of previous unions in 1971 many of whom had their HQs in Clapham, like the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers at 11 Macauley Rd. Its Chairman between 1912 and 1916 W.W. Barnes lived in Clapham.

To protect their funds trade union leaders like Applegarth kept politics out, but were very active in a  range of political organisations, including the International Workingmen’s Association, along with Karl Marx. It set up the Reform League and one of its Clapham supporters T. Franklin was a member of the organising committee for the League’s Fete and Banquet at Crystal palace in September 1867.

J. L. Turner, the chairman of both The Hand-in-Hand and the Surprise FLLSs along and off  Wandsworth Rd set up at the end of the 1860s, gave an indication that members were in sympathy with the wider movements for social and political reform. At its first anniversary supper there was a toast to  The Beehive which had been set up by George Potter, a leader of the building workers in 1859/60, and Labour and Unity which reported on the activities of mutual societies. In September 1869  he  expressed the hope "ere long he should have the pleasure of seeing their interests properly represented in the British House of Commons by such men as Odger, Guile, Allen, Applegarth, &c." It is possible that Clapham activists were members of the Reform League branches based around Battersea Park.

The editor of the IWMA’s newspaper in the early 1870s,  The International Herald was the republican socialist William Harrison Riley who lived at 7 Bedford Rd. He also edited The Republican Herald, and advocated setting up a co-operative village.

It is likely that many of the railway workers at Clapham Junction and Nine Elms lived in Clapham, along and off Wandsworth Rd, and took a part in the formation of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants in 1871. In spring 1874 bricklayers and labourers at Clapham Baths went on strike for an extra 1d per hour. They were locked out and non-unionised labour  was employed to finish the project.

There was a branch of the National Secular Society from 1879. In neighbouring Battersea it was John Burns’s lecture on Poverty to the Battersea NSS which led to the formation of the Marxist Battersea Social Democratic Federation branch. The Federation had been formed in 1880 with Social being added in 1884. It grew out of the activists in the radical clubs across London. Two local radicals mentioned in The Radical newspaper in 1882 were H. F. Woods of 36 Richmond Terrace and Mrs Sainsbury of Rectory Grove. There was also Richard Smith, a member of the Provisional Council for the Land Nationalisation League which had split off from the Land Nationalisation Society in 1882.


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