Reference number
  • JSE
  • 1822-1851
  • Collection
  • Minute Books (Greenock Branch), 1835-1848; Cash and Contributions Books, 1831-1851; Apprenticeship Certificates 1822-1850.
  • 2 boxes
Admin history
  • The Journeymen Steam Engine, Machine Makers' and Millwrights' Friendly Society (Old Mechanics) was formed on 26th July 1826 through the merging of the Friendly Union of Mechanics and the Mechanics Friendly Union Institution. Generally the Union became known as the Old Mechanics. By 1839 the Old Mechanics had 3000 members and a part-time secretary. In 1836 the Union made a demand for a 10 hour day which resulted in an 8 month strike. The strike cost the Union £5000 but resulted in victory. The word Millwright was added to the Union's name in 1841 bringing an older class of skilled labour into the membership. 1n 1845 the Old Mechanics attacked the employment of unskilled labour on machines, the piecemaster system and systematic overtime. Actions by branches to enforce the Union's demands led to the Executive Officers and 20 members being indicted for conspiracy and illegal combination. A national movement was instigated by the engineers and the indicted men were freed in June 1847. The success of the national demonstration was a major factor is speeding up the process of Amalgamation between the various engineering Unions. The Old Mechanics were one of the founding members of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers in 1851.

    Reference: J.B. Jeffreys, The Story of the Engineers( London, 1945; repr. 1970).

    Reference: Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan Historical Directory of Trade Unions Volume 2( Gower Publishing Company, 1984).
  • This collection has been weeded for duplicates.
Finding aids
  • Authority files exist for the Journeymen Steam Engine, and Machine Makers' Friendly Society (GB 0152 AAR2082); the Friendly Union of Mechanics (GB 0152 AAR0552); Mechanics Friendly Union Institution (GB 0152 AAR0553) and the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (GB 0152 AAR0550).
Access status
  • Open
Related Material
  • These papers constitute part of a large collection of related papers that have been deposited in the Modern Records Centre over a long period of time. For a full listing of these trade Unions see (MSS.259/UMB).
  • Machinists-- Labor unions-- Great Britain
  • Millwrights--Great Britain
  • Metal-workers-- Labor unions-- Great Britain
  • Mechanics (Persons)--Labor unions--Great Britain