Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants
|Motto||Workers of the world, unite!|
|Merged into||National Union of Railwaymen|
|Office location||72 Acton Street, London|
The ASRS was an industrial union founded in 1871 with the support of the Liberal MP Michael Thomas Bass. Its early years were difficult. In 1872 the ASRS reported having 17,247 members but by 1882 this had declined to only 6,321.
In 1880 the ASRS's growth was challenged by the foundation of two railway craft unions: the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen and the United Pointsmen and Signalmen's Society. A fourth union, the General Railway Workers' Union, was founded in 1889.
In 1900 the ASRS proposed amalgamation with ASLEF but ASLEF proposed federation with the drivers and firemen of the ASRS. A Scheme of Federation was drafted and ASLEF's triennial conference adopted it in 1903. There were joint meetings of the Executive Committees of the two unions until 1906 when relations broke down.
In 1907 the Board of Trade set up a Conciliation Board between railway employees and their employers, but its operation dissatisfied many workers and ASLEF's General Secretary nicknamed it the "Confiscation" Board. By this point, the ASRS had grown significantly, with 97,561 members in 1907, making it one of the country's largest trade unions.
In August 1911 the ASRS, ASLEF, GRWU and UPSS jointly called the United Kingdom's first national rail strike. In only two days the joint action succeeded in forcing the Liberal Government to set up a Royal Commission to examine the workings of the Conciliation Board.
The ASRS affiliated to the Labour Representation Committee when it was founded, in 1900, and sponsored candidates for the party and its successor, the Labour Party at each subsequent election. Several candidates were elected, including many in Derby, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Stockport, who won one of the two seats available in each of those constituencies.
|1900 general election||Derby||Richard Bell||7,640||25.7||2|
|Birmingham East||James Holmes||5,343||47.4||2|
|1907 by-election||Hull West||James Holmes||4,512||29.1||3|
|1910 Jan general election||Derby||James Henry Thomas||10,189||27.9||2|
|Stockport||George James Wardle||6,682||28.0||1|
|1910 Dec general election||Derby||James Henry Thomas||9,144||34.1||2|
|Stockport||George James Wardle||6,094||26.9||2|
|1912 by-election||Crewe||James Holmes||2,485||17.7||3|
- 1871: George Chapman
- 1874: Fred W. Evans
- 1883: Edward Harford
- 1897: Richard Bell
- 1909: J. E. Williams
- 1872: J. Baxter Langley
- 1874: John David Jenkins
- 1877: Peter Stewart Macliver
- 1892: Walter Hudson
- 1899: George Thaxton
- 1902: W. G. Loraine
- 1905: James Henry Thomas
- 1907: James Reed Bell
- 1910: Edward Charles
- 1911: Albert Bellamy
- Report on Trade Unions in 1905-1907. London: Board of Trade. 1909. p. 82-101.
- Raynes, 1921, pages 23–24
- Raynes, 1921, page 24
- Raynes, 1921, page 124
- Raynes, 1921, page 110
- Raynes, 1921, page 125
- Raynes, 1921, pages 147–148
- Raynes, 1921, page 148
- Raynes, 1921, page 151
- Raynes, 1921, page 165
- Frank Bealey and Henry Pelling, Labour and Politics, 1900-1906, p.289–292
- David Howell, Respectable Radicals: Studies in the Politics of Railway Trade Unionism, p.195
Sources and further reading
- Bagwell, Philip S (1963). The Railwaymen. London: George Allen & Unwin.
- Bagwell, Philip S (1982). The Railwaymen – Volume 2: the Beeching Era and After. London: George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-331084-2.
- Griffiths, Robert (2005). Driven by Ideals. London: Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen.
- McKillop, Norman (1950). The Lighted Flame; a History of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen. London & Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd.
- Raynes, J.R. (1921). Engines and Men; the History of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen. Leeds: Goodall & Suddick (1916) Ltd.