Monday, December 06, 2010

Deptford 1911: School and Dock Strikes

In September 1911, a strike wave swept through schools across Britain. It started off on September 5th at Bigyn School, Llanelli, where pupils walked out in protest at the physical punishment of one of their classmates. Deptford was one of the areas involved, as the following report makes clear:

'The strike movement yesterday spread to a section of London schoolboys. Some six London County Council schools in the Shoreditch and Islington districts are stated to have been affected - namely, Wenlock-road, Bath-street, Central-street, St Luke's, Napier-street, and Hanover-street, all within a short distance of each other. The first indication of the 'strike' was when about 30 boys paraded the streets. At dinnner time that number was increaed to fully 100. The boys marched along the street shouting and singing 'Fall in and follow me!'. Many carried 'ammunition' in the shape of stones and other missiles.

At Deptford a number of boys attending the London County Council school in Alverton-street organized a demonstration outside the school, and amused the neighbourhood by shouting 'We are on strike'. They published their grievances by chalkwriting on the pavement, and their demands were the abolition of home lessons and the cane, and the concession of an extra half-holiday in the week. When the headmaster of heard of the 'strike' he went out and called the boys in. Nearly all of them returned to their lessons' (source: Times 12 September 1911).

A Dock Strike in Deptford

The context for the school strikes was the proliferation of strikes amongst adult workers in that period. A couple of weeks after the Deptford school strike, there was a dock strike in Deptford. The Times reported on 27 September 1911 that 'Five hundred men at Dead Man's Dock, Deptford, are on strike owning, it is stated, to the action of the owners of the dock who, the men declare, have broken the recent agreement. The men's representatives are approaching the officials of the Board of Trade on the subject'.

The strike seemed to have involved casual labourers employed by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company - it included a deputation of 150 workers to the company's HQ at London Bridge (Times 29 Sept 1911) and ended on Friday 6th Ocotber with the Times reporting that 'Various concessions have been made to the men' (7 October 1911).


Anonymous said...

Another person was arrested today in connection with the November 10 protest that saw chaos brought to the streets of London.
December 6th 2010

The 16-year-old boy was arrested at his home in Walworth, south London, on suspicion of violent disorder and was taken into police custody.

He is the 69th person to be arrested by the Metropolitan Police in connection with the protest. So far one man has been charged and 67 are on bail pending further inquiries.

Anonymous said...

believe the Deptford tin workers were also out

Mrs Drapper "Angel of Deptford" heavily involved in feeding the strikers

when will Councillor Beatrice Drapper and Kath Duncan get more recognition (and rediscover Margaret McMillan)##

Come on Lewisham wake up

Anonymous said...

Sunday July 14th July 1907

Kentish Mercury
Pete Curran MP and Will Thorne MP
Meeting of local Deptford branch of the Gas Workers & General Labourers Union held a demonstration in Deptford Broadway

Thomas Garbek presided and Arthur Hayday of West Ham addressed the meeting

Pete Curran MP for Jarrow spoke after his recent election, he had worked at the Woolwich Arsenal he and others conducted vigorous campaigns in Deptford and Bereford Square

they then declared that until Labour rose to the position of being able to send to parliament men from their own ranks and until they paid for their own political representation nothing of a useful character could be done

31 Labour MP's, their union, which now represented in parliament by four of its members

they were hoping that the victory of Jarrow would be repeated at every opportunity. if that were done the day of strikes would come to an end, they would change the venue to the floor of the house of commons which they might be able to convert from a lounge for the leisured into a workshop on behalf of the impoverished citizens of the united kingdom

Mr Harry Pickard said that so far as trades unionism was concerned Deptford was the blackest spot in London-the men were too apathetic. trade unionism was only begining to find out its proper function

Will Thorne stated
as to the organisation of unskilled labour in that district he expressed the opion that Deptford and Greenwich were the worst districts in London. as proof he declared that in the event of a dispute those in search of "free labour" went first to those places.