Highlights from our Printworkers' Collection

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The Marx Memorial Library’s Printworkers’ Collection was created in 2009 when the GPMU Sector donated a large amount of material comprising books, photographs, pictures, banners, reports, pamphlets and artefacts.  It is a vivid representation of the history of workers’ struggles in the printing and paper industry.   Since 2009 the Collection has been expanded with more donations including a large archive and photographs of the Wapping Dispute (1986), the Briant Colour Work-In archive (1972) and original artwork of cartoons by Tony Hall. 

Explore some highlights from the collection in the below image gallery with captions listed here.

1/1984: My Lord They Are Printers:
    : CAPTION: Published in 1984 for the 200th anniversary commemorations of print, paper and publishing trade union SOGAT, the collection of articles by SOGAT organiser Bob Finch covers the first 100 hundred years beginning with bookbinders, pressmen, compositors and papermakers who were imprisoned or transported to Australia and many others victimized and made destitute for their efforts forming trade unions to improve their wages, hours and conditions. 

2/1899: TUC bell
The bell was used by the TUC president to open, close and maintain order at the TUC Conference in Plymouth in 1899. This historic TUC Congress voted decisively in favour of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants motion and seconded by the National Union of Dock Labourers to establish a Labour Representation Committee. The president that year was Typographical Association official W.J.Vernon. 

3/1907: Chorley & Pickersgill dispute
A “fierce and courageous struggle” according to the NATSOPA history took place at Leeds company Chorley & Pickersgill in 1907 in a dispute over wage reduction after “two brave girls” objected, supported by others. (Credit Leeds Council Archives, courtesy of Chris Remington). 

4/1960s: Vietnam war
Print union members and representatives in Fleet Street set up a printers’ movement for peace which included medical aid for Vietnam during the war of liberation against the United States. This leaflet describes the successful campaign to raise money for an ambulance. 

5/1986: Print union and Wapping badges
Framed collections in the MML include badges and dies from the News International dispute. 

6/1980: Media ownership and democracy
This postcard from 1980 is one of a series from the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom formed by the print and media unions for tighter laws on media and cross media ownership, an effective system of press and media regulation and a statutory right of reply.