National League of the Blind and Disabled

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National League of the Blind and Disabled logo.jpg
Full name National League of the Blind and Disabled
Founded 1899
Date dissolved 2000
Merged into Iron and Steel Trades Confederation
Members 3,500 (1982)[1]
Journal The Advocate[1]
Affiliation TUC, Labour
Key people Ben Purse (President)
Office location 7 Bruce Grove, London N17
Country United Kingdom

The National League of the Blind and Disabled (NLBD) was a trade union in the United Kingdom.

The union was founded, as the National League of the Blind, in 1899,[2] and it affiliated to the Trades Union Congress in 1902. It was initially led by Ben Purse, a piano tuner,[3] while, during the 1900s, its secretary was Thomas Summerbell.[4]

The League organised its first strike in 1912. In 1920, it organised marches to Trafalgar Square from Leeds, Manchester and Newport in support of what became the Blind Persons Act 1920. This action inspired the later Jarrow March.[3] Purse left the union in 1921, forming the National Union of Industrial and Professional Blind, which later became the National Association of Blindworkers, and focused on providing benefits to its members.[3][5] The National League organised a further march in 1936, which met with less success, although it did achieve further Blind Persons Act in 1938.[3]

The union renamed itself as the "National League of the Blind and Disabled" in 1968, and by 1979 had a membership of just under 5,000.[2] By 2000, it had 4,000 members, and it merged into the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation.[6]


1899: Ben Purse[7]
1899: Peter Miller[7]
1900: William Benham[7]
1903: Joseph F. Gregory[7]
1926: Alec Henderson[7]
1949: Thomas H. Smith[7]
1969: Thomas J. Parker[7]
1979: Mike Barrett[7]
1995: Joe Mann[7]


  1. ^ a b Marsh, Arthur (1984). Trade Union Handbook (3 ed.). Aldershot: Gower. pp. 146–147. ISBN 0566024268. 
  2. ^ a b Arthur Ivor Marsh, Trade Union Handbook, p.132
  3. ^ a b c d "The National League of the Blind", Public and Commercial Services Union
  4. ^ Margaret 'Espinasse, Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol.IV, pp.165-166
  5. ^ Arthur Ivor Marsh, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, Vol. 5, p.480
  6. ^ "STEEL union ISTC has merged with the National League of the Blind and Disabled", Tribune,10 March 2000
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Appendix A: Past Officers of the National League" (PDF). Retrieved 18 April 2018. 

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