Respectable Radicals : Studies in the Politics of Railway Trade Unionism book cover
1st Edition

Respectable Radicals
Studies in the Politics of Railway Trade Unionism

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ISBN 9781840146899
Published June 23, 1999 by Routledge
454 Pages

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Book Description

Railway workers were a uniformed and respectable section of the Victorian and Edwardian working class. They built their trade unions in the face of employer hostility and their organisations played a crucial role in the construction of effective labour politics. Local political organisations owed much to the patience and creativity of railway workers, not least in small towns and country districts. Respectable Radicals uses rich archival sources to analyse this history through a series of case studies. It focuses, among other topics, on disasters, strikes, the modernisation policies of companies, inter-union rivalries and the promises and frustrations of labour politics. A dominant theme is the complex relationship between changing experiences of work, shifting trade union strategies and political identities. The result is a new perspective on a significant sector of trade unionism and on the character of labour politics from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Company servants and labour pioneers; Part One: Edwardian Questions: A mystery and a feud; Modernisation and conciliation; Conflict; The Aisgill disaster; The Lib-Lab moment: the rise and fall of Edward Harford; Towards a politics of labour; Conclusions - 1914 - the prospects; Part Two: A New Deal and New Problems: Jimmy and Jack; Solidarities; Conclusions - Traditions and Innovations: Part Three: The Fat Director is now the Fat ControllerÂť: The Lodging Turns Strike of 1949; Conclusion: A view from the tracks; Bibliography; Index.

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David Howell


'...a strongly interpretative work which holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end. Every page crackles with ideas, the level of research is outstanding, and there are no weak spots...a fine work.' English Historical Review '...fascinating reading to anyone studying labour/management relations.' The Railway Magazine '...a detailed, academic, well-researched and readable account of labour relations on the railways from the 1890s to the 1950s.' Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, Vol. 33, No. 176 '...clearly the result of long and painstaking research in railway and trade union important contribution to both transport and industrial as well as trade union history. Family and community historians will also find it invaluable...' Family & Community History '... a well-researched and attractively written book. This is very much a book to enjoy as well as a shrewd contribution to the study of British labor history.' Albion 'This is a valuable, new, in-depth approach to an understanding of labour relations on the railways of the UK since 1880... This is an admirable book which will be cherished by all students of transport and labour history.' Labour History Review