Wednesday, April 04, 2012

History Corner: Distress in Deptford 1867

'Distress in Greenwich and Deptford

On Tuesday evening a deputation of artisans from the Greenwich and Deptford districts waited upon the General Committee of the London Working Men's Association in reference to the great distress prevailing amongst the many hundreds of unemployed workmen connected with the shipbuilding trades in the above districts. The deputation represented ironworkers, shipwrights, boilermakers, engineers, platers etc. After hearing the statements of the deputation the following resolution was agreed to:

"That the committee at once open communication with gentlemen in the City of London with a view of getting up a meeting at the London Tavern for the purpose or raising funds to alleviate the great distress now existing amongst the shipbuilding artisans and labourers unemployed in the east and south-eastern districts. That the committee make applications to various clergymen and Dissenting ministers to preach sermons in their churches and chapels in aid of the above object"' (South London Press, 25 May 1867).

The London Working Men's Association (LWMA) had been founded not long before by George Potter, the editor of the trade union paper The Bee-Hive (not to be confused with a previous LWMA from the 1830s and 1840s). Potter went on the be one of the first presidents of the Trades Union Congress in 1871.

Earlier in January 1867, the same period of poverty and unemployment prompted bread riots in Deptford.

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