Central Labour College

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The Central Labour College was a British higher education institution supported by trade unions. It functioned from 1909 to 1929.[1][2]

The college was formed as a result of the Ruskin College strike of 1909. The Plebs' League, which had been formed around a core of Marxist students and former students of Ruskin, held a meeting at Oxford on 2 August 1909. A resolution was passed calling for the establishment of a Central Labour College to provide independent working class education, outside of the control of the University of Oxford. The provisional committee controlling the new college was to consist of representatives of Labour, Co-Operative and Socialist societies, following the model of the Labour Representation League.[2]

The college was supported financially by the National Union of Railwaymen and the South Wales Miners' Federation.[1] The college was headed by James Dennis Hird, who had been dismissed as principal of Ruskin for supporting the striking students. In 1911 the college moved to Earl's Court, London.[3]

In 1915 the college was officially recognised by the Trades Union Congress, and it became the centre of the National Council of Labour Colleges, a national network of colleges, in 1921.[3] In 1926 it was proposed to merge the CLC and Ruskin College into a new Labour College based at Easton Lodge near Great Dunmow, Essex. However, the move was opposed by a number of large unions, and on 7 September the proposal by the General Council of the TUC to proceed was defeated on a card vote.[4]

By 1929 the mining industry was in severe decline due to the Great Depression. In April a conference of the South Wales Miners' Federation voted to discontinue funding of the college unless additional levies could be raised from members.[5] No such funding was forthcoming, and attempts to transfer the ownership of the college to the wider trade union movement were unsuccessful. By July it was clear that the college could not continue to operate, and it closed at the end of the month.[6]

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  1. ^ a b "A Summary Description of the Papers of the Central Labour College: North Eastern Branch". University of Warwick. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  2. ^ a b "New Labour College At Oxford". The Times. 3 August 1909. p. 4. 
  3. ^ a b "The Central Labour College". TUC History Online. London Metropolitan University. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  4. ^ "Labour College Surprise. Adverse Vote By T.U. Congress. "One Big Union" Idea Rejected". The Times. 8 September 1926. p. 12. 
  5. ^ "Miners' Union Finance In South Wales". The Times. 16 April 1929. p. 18. 
  6. ^ "The Labour College. Marxian Teaching Centre To Be Closed". The Times. 27 July 1929. p. 9. 

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