The Plumbing Trades Union (PTU) was founded in 1865, on the initiative of the Manchester and Liverpool Plumbers' Societies, as the United Operative Plumbers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland (UOPA), initially having members from the Midlands, the North and Scotland. In 1869 a lodge was formed in Bristol and was followed by other lodges in Southern England. In 1872 the Glasgow lodge left to form the United Operative Plumbers' Association of Scotland (UOPAS), and was joined by the other Scottish lodges in 1891. Nevertheless, by the turn of the century UOPA had over 10,000 members in 184 lodges, and had absorbed many local societies. The first London lodge was formed in 1880, eventually absorbing the small London local societies. In 1911 the Union changed its name to the United Operative Plumbers' and Domestic Engineers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland (UOPDEA), although it does not appear that domestic engineers were actually admitted at this time and the old name continued to be used by most officials and members. In January 1921 the United Operative Plumbers' Association of Scotland, by then with 1,000 members, merged with the larger union once more. In 1922 it was finally decided to admit men in associated trades as well, and in 1931 the name was changed to the Plumbers, Glaziers and Domestic Engineers' Union. In 1946 the organisation became the Plumbing Trades Union. In 1968 the union merged with the Electrical Trades Union to form the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union.
In 1925, Merseyside members, angered by the union's refusal to pay strike pay during a lock-out, seceded to form the National Operative Plumbers and Kindred Trades' Union, known as the 'Liverpool Locals'. These men did not rejoin the main union until December 1953.
Reference: John French, 'Plumbers in Unity, 1865-1965' (PTU, 1965).
This collection has been weeded for duplicates.
There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.
The Centre also holds papers of the East London Society of Operative Plumbers (MSS.134/ELSP) and the Plumbers' Trade Society (MSS.134/PTS), two London local societies that were absorbed into UOPA in the 1880s, as well as the secessionist United Operative Plumbers' Association of Scotland (MSS.134/SC). It also holds the papers of the PTU's successors, the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union (MSS.387, which includes additional PTU material) and the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (MSS.259).
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