Burnley and District Weavers', Winders' and Beamers' Association

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Burnley Weavers' Association
Full name Burnley and District Weavers', Winders' and Beamers' Association
Founded 1870
Date dissolved 1966
Merged into Burnley, Nelson and District Textile Workers' Union
Members 27,000 (1920)
Head union Amalgamated Weavers' Association
Office location Weavers' Institute, Charlotte Street, Burnley
Country England

The Burnley and District Weavers', Winders' and Beamers' Association was a trade union representing workers in the cotton industry in the Burnley area of Lancashire, in England. As cotton manufacturing dominated the town's economy, the trade union played an important role in the town, and several union officials became prominent national figures.


A unions of weavers had existed in Burnley from the 1840s until about 1863, while a second was formed in 1866, but both collapsed, following opposition from employers. This concerned the North East Lancashire Amalgamated Weavers' Association, which saw an opportunity to organise in the town, and it began recruiting local weavers to the Chorley Weavers' Association, one of its affiliates.[1]

By 1870, the Chorley union had enough members in Burnley that they were able to form their own, independent, union, the Burnley and District Weavers' Winders' and Beamers' Association. The end of the decade saw a downturn in the trade and the new union organised industrial action. It struggled to keep going, but did survive, and in 1884 it affiliated to the new Amalgamated Weavers' Association (AWA). By 1892, the union had 10,043 members, and this grew to a peak of 27,000 in 1920.[1] It was the largest union affiliated to the AWA.[2]

In 1892, the union declared itself in support of socialism, and that it politically and financially support efforts to form an independent socialist party.[3] A member of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) was elected as vice-president in 1895, and this led the SDF's leader, H. M. Hyndman, to unsuccessfully contest the Burnley constituency at the 1895 UK general election.[4] The following year, Liberal-Labour members of the union, such as president David Holmes, successfully overturned the socialist policies, leading SDF supporters to form a small breakaway union. This survived for several years, but did not grow, and was eventually dissolved.[3]

The period from 1920 saw a long downturn in the Lancashire cotton trade, and membership of the union fell to little over 2,000.[1] As a result, in 1966 it merged with the Nelson and District Weavers' Association, forming the Burnley, Nelson and District Textile Workers' Union.[5]

General Secretaries

1894: Fred Thomas
1912: James Hindle
1940: Robinson Graham
1947: Harold Dickinson


1871: David Holmes[6]
1906: Robert Pollard
1915: Edward Ellis Birtwistle[7]
Harold Hudson


  1. ^ a b c Marsh, Arthur; Ryan, Victoria; Smethurst, John B. (1994). Historical Directory of Trade Unions. 4. Farnham: Ashgate. pp. 102–103. ISBN 9780859679008.
  2. ^ White, Joseph Lewis (1976). The Lancashire Cotton Workers During the Labor Unrest of 1910-1914. University of California. p. 226.
  3. ^ a b Howell, David (1984). British Workers and the Independent Labour Party, 1888-1906. Manchester University Press. p. 61. ISBN 0719017912.
  4. ^ Tsuzuki, Chūshichi (1961). H. M. Hyndman and British socialism. Oxford University Press. p. 99.
  5. ^ Fowler, Alan; Fowler, Lesley (n.d.). The History of the Nelson Weavers' Association. Manchester: Manchester Free Press. p. 98.
  6. ^ Duncan Bythell, "Holmes, David", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  7. ^ "Burnley Weavers New President". Manchester Guardian. 3 June 1915.
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