Join us for a march, with your branch banner, to a rally at Bridgwater Baptist Church, to commemorate the founding of the town’s organised trade union movement by local rail-workers in 1913
12.30pm: Assemble: Cranleigh Gardens, Bridgwater, TA6 5JS
1pm: Banner parade and march
1.45-2.45: Rally, Baptist Church, St Mary Street, TA6 3EQ
- Rosemary Eaton, Minister, Bridgwater Baptist Church
- Nigel Costley, Secretary, South West TUC
- Rosie McGregor, White Horse(Wiltshire) Trades Union Council
- Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT
3.15 – 4.15pm: Ships, Bricks & Cellophane: a radical view and discussion of Bridgwater’s political and industrial history, with Dave Chapple, postman and secretary of Bridgwater Trades Union Council
Further information: Dave Chapple: 0777 6304 276 E-mail:
“A red ship in a sea of blue!”
Bridgwater Trades Union Council was founded on June 22nd 1913 after a march of over 2,000 workers from Bridgwater and Highbridge proudly wound its way through Eastover, Fore St and High Street to a rally at the Town Hall.
This new West Country trades council was founded by the Bridgwater and Highbridge Branches of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR). The NUR itself had only just been established: a historic joining of several railway unions, including the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS)
In the militant years before World War One, the new NUR was hailed as a significant step towards achieving a single, strong, industrial union for the whole rail industry-then, as now, privately owned and run. Today’s RMT continues that militant NUR tradition!
In 1913, Bridgwater had NUR, ASLEF, RCA and AEU members working at both Bridgwater North Station (Somerset & Dorset) and the Great Western Railway (GWR): (a goods station at Bailey Street, the carriage works at Colley Lane, and the Bridgwater docks and wharves.)
Highbridge had double the number of Bridgwater’s rail workers: 900 at the huge Walrow carriage, repair and engine works: the engineering headquarters of the Somerset and Dorset Railway.
The Brick and Tile industry was still dominant in Bridgwater, and workers from Ben Tillett’s Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourer’s Union-a forerunner of Unite- were there on the day, with the bakers, printers, tailors, the various building trade unions, the Engineers (AEU), agricultural workers, Co-op workers, and, perhaps, the National Union of Seamen.
Our 2013 centenary celebration also commemorates 100 years of working-class political and industrial organisation: Bridgwater as “a red ship on a sea of blue”: defiance of hostile employers and a counterweight to Conservatism! Bridgwater Trades Council is still fighting the cause of the Bridgwater working-class, so come and join us on October 19th!