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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4428
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1872-1986
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.30 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Amalgamated Engineering Union
Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Smiths, Millwrights and Patternmakers


Administrative/Biographical history:

Trade unionism in engineering first emerged in the 1780s when a Friendly Society of Mechanics was established in Bolton, Blackburn and Chorley. By 1799 employers in London asked Parliament to make it illegal for millwrights and engineers to combine. This resulted in the passing of the Combination Acts in 1799 and 1800. In the 1820s local engineering unions began to develop in industrial areas. This included the Steam Engine Makers' Society (1824), Friendly Society of Mechanics (1826) and the Friendly Society of Engineers (1833). In 1851 a successful attempt was made to form a national union. The result was the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Smiths, Millwrights and Patternmakers, also known as the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE), formed in 1852. William Allan was elected General Secretary and by 1861 it had 186 branches and over 33,000 union members.

In the 1880s the ASE became more militant. Important figures such as Tom Mann, John Burns, and George Barnes, took part in demonstrations including those held at Trafalgar Square on 13 February 1887, which turned into the riot known as Bloody Sunday. By 1890, the ASE was Britain's third largest union and in circa 1900 there were nearly 90,000 members. In 1920, the ASE merged with the Steam Engine Makers' Society, a union of engineers founded in Liverpool in 1824, which had taken part in the discussions which led to the creation of the ASE in 1851; the Amalgamated Society of General Toolmakers, Engineers and Machinists; and seven other unions to form the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU). During the late 20th century, the union's name changed to the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers, and then the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union. By 2000, it was still one of Britain's largest unions. The union had branches throughout Britain and Commonwealth, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. The collection has large gaps in the records. However, most of the material contains valuable details on engineers who were members of the union, and on those receiving benefits, for reasons including illness, accidents and deaths.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is arranged into two branches: Chelsea Branch LMA/4428/01, and Hackney Branch LMA/4428/02.

Conditions governing access:

These records are open to public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to closure periods.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

The Chelsea Branch collection was donated to the National Labour History Museum at Limehouse in 1978.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in August 2002.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
June to August 2010.

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