Somerset Miners' Association

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Somerset coalfield

The Somerset Miners' Association or Somersetshire Miners' Association was a coal mining trade union based in the Somerset coalfield, Somerset, England.

The union was founded in 1872 as a section of the Amalgamated Association of Miners. However, the AAM collapsed in 1875, and the union survived only on a much reduced basis, led by B. Fish and with a presence only in Radstock.[1] In 1888, Samuel Henry Whitehouse, secretary of the Midland Miners' Federation, accepted an invitation to become the full-time secretary and agent for the union. A local coal mine owner almost immediately took Whitehouse to court for supporting a strike, nearly bankrupting him personally, but he remained in post until 1917, greatly expanding the reach and membership of the association.[2]

Always one of the smaller coal mining unions in England, membership being around 2,000 in the 1890s, and reaching a peak membership of 4,310 around 1910.[3]

The union was a founder of the Miners Federation of Great Britain in 1888,[4] and from 1894 until 1904, it participated in the loose South Western Counties Miners’ Federation with the Bristol Miners' Association and the Forest of Dean Miners' Association.[1] In 1937, the Bristol Miners' Association was merged into the Somerset Miners' Association, meaning that for the first time, one union covered all miners in Somerset.[5] In 1945, the MFGB became the National Union of Mineworkers, and the Somerset Miners' Association became its West Country Area, with less autonomy than before.[3] In 1956, due to a decline in mining in the county, the area was merged into the South Wales Area.[1]

Secretaries[edit]

1875: B. Fish
1888: S. H. Whitehouse
1917: Fred Swift
1945: David Llewellyn

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c University of the West of England, "Bristol Historical Resource: Trade unions"
  2. ^ Margaret 'Espinasse, Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol.IV, pp.196-197
  3. ^ a b Arthur Ivor Ryan and Victoria Marsh, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, vol.I, p.247
  4. ^ Union Ancestors, "Somersetshire Miners Association Archived 2013-09-20 at the Wayback Machine"
  5. ^ Archives Hub, "Somerset Miners' Association Archive"