United Textile Factory Workers' Association
The federation was founded in 1889, to represent the various textile workers' unions in political matters. A successor to the Northern Counties Factory Acts Reform Association, it had a broader outlook, not just campaigning on the implementation and extension of the Factory Acts.
The UTFWA initially represented around 125,000 workers, three-quarters within twenty miles of Bolton in Lancashire. By the early twentieth century, its members were organised in the Amalgamated Association of Card and Blowing Room Operatives, Amalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners, Amalgamated Association of Beamers, Twisters and Drawers, Amalgamated Weavers' Association, General Union of Loom Overlookers and Operative Dyers, Bleachers and Finishers Association.
The new federation had a General Council with about two hundred members of local unions, and a Legislative Council of full-time leaders. However, its member unions did not always engage with its structures, and the General Council did not meet between 1896 and 1899.
In its early years, the association attempted to introduce a bill reducing working hours, but dropped the proposal after it was only narrowly passed in a ballot of members. It also hoped to sponsor parliamentary candidates for both the Conservative Party and Liberal Party, but decided not to pursue this following a lack of interest from the Conservatives and opposition from James Mawdsley. However, it did achieve some success in campaigning against Indian tariffs on cotton imports, as the rates were reduced to below those on other materials.
In 1902, breaking with its previous policy, the UTFWA supported David Shackleton's candidature for the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) in Clitheroe. He was elected and, the following year, the Association affiliated to the LRC. The Cardroom Workers quit the association a few years later after none of its members were adopted as parliamentary candidates, but rejoined in 1916.
In 1920, some of its member unions moved for the association to extend its remit to industrial matters, but this was not adopted.
- 1889: Thomas Birtwistle
- 1892?: James Mawdsley
- 1920s: James Bell
- 1943: Ernest Thornton
- 1953: Harold Bradley
- 1958: James Milhench
- 1968: Joseph Richardson?
- 1890s: William Mullin
- 1920s: William Thomasson
- 1935: Archibald C. C. Robertson
- 1953: William Roberts
- 1960s: James Browning
- D. A. Farnie, Region and Strategy in Britain and Japan, p.117
- Andrew Bullen, The Lancashire Weavers Union, p.22
- Teun Hoefnagel, Tussen traditie en emancipatie, p.328 (Dutch)
- P. F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, p.84
- P. F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, p.93
- David Howell, British Workers and the Independent Labour Party, 1888-1906, pp.58-59
- P. F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, pp.84-88
- P. F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, pp.91-92
- Joseph L. White, The Limits of Trade Union Militancy: The Lancashire Textile Workers, 1910-1914, pp.151-152
- H. A. Clegg et al, A History of British Trade Unions Since 1889: 1911-1933, p.305
- Report of Annual Trades Union Congress, vol.108, p.379
- "Amalgamated Textile Workers' Union", Archives Hub