‘Murphyism in Oxfordshire’ - the Bliss Tweed Mill Strike, 1913-14: Causes, Conduct and Consequences

Mike Richardson
  • Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, April 2008, Liverpool University Press
  • DOI: 10.3828/hsir.2008.25-26.4

What is it about?

The upsurge in strike activity, immediately preceding the First World War, 1910–14, involved many thousands of workers in key industries. By the summer of 1914, strikes, in the coal, cotton, transport, metal, engineering, shipbuilding and building industries, were viewed by the government as a crisis of severe proportions. This is a micro–level study of one of the lesser known strikes in the small one–industry market town of Chipping Norton. The Workers’ Union recruited around two–thirds of the workers in the local textile company, Bliss Tweed Mill, and in the process of the struggle for union recognition three union activists were sacked. On 18 December 1913, 237 woollen textile workers, 125 women and 112 men, came out on strike in an attempt to secure their reinstatement. The strike was to last six months. This is an examination of their struggle: causes, conduct and consequences. It provides evidence that the strike led to the politicization of some union activists and the formation of a local Labour party branch.

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