The Tradesmans Friendly Union, English School

Artist unkown

About 1828

Oil on board

70.4 x 93.4 cm

‘Friendly societies’ such as Plymouth’s Tradesman’s Friendly Union began to develop in Britain from the 1770s, in response to the rapid progress of industrialisation and the labour demands that this created. However, militant trade unionism was still frowned on by local and central government – as seen by the penal transportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Dorset union activists, in 1834. It was not until after the formation of the Trades Union Congress in 1868 that unionism became effective for its members.