Victorian Countryside: Rural trade unionism in the later 19th century

Ref: C2345475

This lecture will give an overview of rural protest in the earlier 19th century in the form of the Swing Riots in the early 1840s, and the transportation soon afterwards of the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs' - which was widely believed to have put an end to trade unionism in the countryside. It will then focus on the formation in 1872 of the National Agricultural Labourers Union, under the leadership of the Warwickshire agricultural worker Joseph Arch, considering how far Arch's mission to free the 'white slaves of England' was driven by his own experience of growing up and working in the countryside. It will also consider the wider context in which, in Arch's own words, the 'trodden worms, which had so long writhed under the iron heel of the oppressor, were turning at last'. How did it secure such significant early concessions from employers; and how did they respond in turn to this unexpected and (to them) alarming revival of rural trade unionism?

Course aim

To give an overview of rural protest in the 19th century, with a particular focus on rural trade unionism from the 1870s.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify some of the obstacles to organising agricultural labourers into trade unions in the 19th century.
  • Asses the influence of Joseph Arch's own experiences of growing up and working in the countryside on the formation of the NALU.
  • Explain the wider context in which the formation of the NALU became possible in 1872.
  • Develop your skills of historical analysis.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

There is nothing that you need to bring.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Victorian Countryside: Rural trade unionism in the later 19th century

Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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