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Labour history sites

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Correspondence over the last month has given me the resources for a brief guide note on Labour struggles in London and Britain 1381 to 2000, places to see, and web sites. Many thanks to all Fodors contributors.

London places to visit
Many newsagents and bookshops, such as those at the airports and at the south side of Trafalgar Square, sell for three pounds ninety five pence a small, wire-bound, A-Z Visitors' London Atlas and Guide, ISBN 1843482053, with all these museums and their locations and opening hours. It is a good buy. Time Out summarises special exhibitions: one of the museums is bound to have something that touches on labour interests. It also normally lists demos etc, and tours.

The site has links to many of the relevant museums, and I can add a few more. My list is roughly historical, from the fourteenth century to the twentieth. I have not seen all of these, so in part I rely on museum web sites.

The Science Museum near South Kensington tube, has large galleries on the history of medicine in

The Museum of London, Barbican tube, has a collection on social history, with the Peasant's Revolt of 1381 and Kett's Rebellion of 1549. Lord Shaftesbury, Elizabeth Fry, and the suffragettes. It is mainly about the people of London, and not so much about radicalism. and

Foundling Museum, Kings Cross tube. London’s first orphanage (1739). The foundlings, how they lived, and poignant objects relating to their lives at the Hospital.
Clerkenwell Green, near Farringdon tube. No online guide, but see for some info. The visitors' centre (53 Clerkenwell Close, EC1) has information about the Corn Law demonstrations and the rest of the area's history of fomenting dissidence. The Green was the temporary home of Isvestiya.
The Museum of Methodism, Old Street tube, is on Clerkenwell Green. Wesleyan ceramics and some fine Methodist paintings.
The organised Clerkenwell walks cover the times of Dickens and the like. See Google for ‘Clerkenwell walks’
There's a Marx memorial library and museum on Clerkenwell Green: includes political pottery from the late 18th and 19th centuries. The library also contains the room that Lenin worked in when he was in exile in Britain, and a 1930s mural of the oppressed worker rising from his chains.

The Women's Library in Clerkenwell,,
has a small museum, with banners, t-shirts, badges and zines.
The site covers Lenin’s time in London, 1902 to 1907, and notes buildings he used
Karl Marx is buried in Highgate cemetery.
The London School of Economics, Holborn tube, was home to the Webbs (their domestic portrait is there) Graham Wallas, R.H. Tawney, Lord Beveridge, Harold Laski and Hugh Dalton. The Shaw Library, or Founders' Room, on the sixth floor of the Old Building is a library and common room for all members of LSE. It houses the famous Nicholson painting of Sidney and Beatrice Webb,
In Covent Garden the large blocks of Victorian flats are the work of George Peabody, an American who gave London's poor decent housing.
Andrew Carnegie was another American benefactor to Britain, and founded many public libraries for the education of all.
Overall, one finds much evidence of philanthropy and social activism without, perhaps, recognising it for what it is.

Eros in Picadilly Circus is correctly named the Shaftesbury Memorial, after Lord Shaftesbury who led the movement to abolish child labour.
The Florence Nightingale Museum is in St Thomas Hospital, Westminster tube, has displays on unreformed medical care.
One can mark the Peasant's Revolt of 1381 ( and ) and Kett's Rebellion of 1549 ( Both groups gathered at Blackheath before they marched on London,
In the east end the Charles Dickens walks and Jack the Ripper walks include insight into poverty about 1840 and 1890.,,, and
A mural commemorating the Battle Of Cable Street against the fascists, is in Limehouse, the site of the original Chinatown,

Limehouse was bombed flat in the war and has since been redeveloped as a dockland development. One can google "limehouse chinatown" for a few pictures. Sometimes historical societies will reproduce photos at very low cost, less than $20 in the U.S. A site with pictures etc is at

Ragged School Museum, Victorian school for the poor. Mile End tube
Jewish Museum Finchley, Finchley and Camden Town tubes. There are two Jewish Museums (part of the same organisation) Jewish people featured highly in many social movements in the 1800s.

The William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow: Victorian socialist and aesthete.

Black Cultural Museum, Brixton. Planned for 2006.
The Clink may be the worst museum in London. Information for visitors is at

Other London places
The lecture site ( may show public debates and lectures on Labour subjects. For meetings of London Socialist Historians please try under seminars and conferences on -
The TUC Trade Union Congress is the national body that represents most of the trade unions in the country). They have a history website
a general site
and an archive
One would phone ahead to visit these.

Lancashire places
The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry ( ) lays out the history of the industry of the north, and of the working men of Lancashire, Yorkshire, County Durham, Northumberland and Scotland. This history led to the wealth of the UK in the 19th century, and to the social movements and introduction of ideas such as pensions and unemployment benefit that are now taken for granted in the western world. The pits, the shipyards, the foundries continued well into the 20th century through WWII and beyond, until Mrs T decided that they were all expendable. The "dark satanic mills" are mostly gone - or have been turned into museums or mega-priced hotels. And it is better that some survive, but it is just a shame that so few people recognise their significance.
People's History Museum in Manchester. http:// - 2k
The slave trade was mainly to Liverpool and Bristol, and Mersey Maritime museum marks it
Fairfield Moravian Settlement, Droylsden, Manchester A protestant (Hussite) communal settlement that opened in 1785 and runs till now. There are many other such settlements in the USA.
Peterloo, the atrocity that was an essential stimulus to change, and to the politics of men like Richard Cobden and John Bright, happened in St Peters Square in Manchester in 1819.
The Co-operative movement, which in 1844 laid the ground for trade unionism, was born in Rochdale, Lancs, and the first co-op is now the Rochdale Pioneers museum
Chartism. In the 1840s Chartism was strong in centres of old decaying industries such as textiles and stocking-making in Stockport, and among cotton factory workers in Manchester. See
Friedrich Engels’ description of Manchester in 1844 is the main source of Unhappily, the street names in the map cannot be rendered legible, so an intending visitor needs a street atlas.

Other provincial places

The Ironbridge Gorge museums, Shropshire. The Iron Bridge was built in 1779.

Beamish Open Air Museum, near Newcastle on Tyne, has much about the area during the Industrial Revolution, and the link between Union and Chapel in mining villages.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum is in Tolpuddle Dorset. Their deportation in 1834 led to the beginning of unionism.

Chartism, in the 1840s, was strong among Luddites in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and among domestic woollen workers in Yorkshire. See

Model towns. Birmingham was the home of the Cadburys (as in the chocolate) and they were serious philanthropists. Bourneville (again as in the chocolate) was an early Model Towns, 1895, and is worth a look. One can go to Cadbury's chocolate world if it all gets a bit much. Bournville is still hardcore Quaker territory thanks to them - tough for a student at Bournville College of Art when there isn't a pub in town! Other model towns are
New Lanark, Scotland (1785)
Saltaire, Bradford, Yorkshire (1871) 2D1DDA0C-48A6-4471-B046-
Lever’s Port Sunlight, Yallourn, Liverpool (1888)
Joseph Rowntree’s garden village of New Earswick in York (1904)
Reckitt’s Garden Village in Hull. (1908)

English Heritage has a list blue plaques marked on buildings of significant interest. They are listed at

Ben Haines
[email protected]