Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Burston School Strike 1916: a meeting in Bermondsey

The Burston School Strike in Norfolk was arguably the longest running dispute in British history, and a cause celebre across the country. Tom and Annie Higdon, teachers at the village school in Burston, Norfolk, were sacked in 1914 in a dispute with the school's managing body. Children at the school walked out in support of them, many of them never returning to it. The Higdons and their supporters set up an alternative Burston Strike School which the children moved to, and further generations of children from the village likewise went to the strike school which continued until the death of Tom Higdon in 1939.

As this advert shows, a meeting in support of the strike  was held at Bermondsey Town Hall in Spa Road in February 1916: 'Burston School Strike! A Village in Revolt! A Fight for Freedom and Justice... Ladies are specially invited'. It was chaired by Alfred Salter, and featured the Higdons and some of the children.


Michael Walker has sent through some additional information about this. It seems that support from Bermondsey to Burston went well beyond this meeting. In November 1915 for instance, the fife and drum band of the Bermondsey NUR (National Union of Railwaymen) took part in a demonstration in Burston.

The same Bermondsey Branch NUR also presented the plaque pictured below to Burston Strike School in May 1917.

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