1970 Clothing Strike: New Resource

We were delighted to welcome University of Leeds student, Jessica Heath, to the Central Library in March of this year. Jessica led a workshop exploring the causes and effects of the 1970 Clothing Strike across Leeds, which was largely led by women workers. The legacy of that workshop, as Librarian Antony Ramm explains, was the creation of a permanent collection of material on the Strike for future researchers…

The folder of material on the 1970 strike largely comprises copies of newspaper articles from the Yorkshire Evening Post, from the strike’s commencement on February 12, through to the 27th. Also included are copies of relevant secondary material, such as Katrina Honeyman’s chapter in her excellent book about the Leeds clothing industry.

Another useful contemporary resource highlighted while planning the workshop was an article by Gordon Burn, published in the Radio Times issue for 26 October – 1 November, 1974. That article, also reproduced in the strike folder, was sparked by the production of Colin Welland’s Play for Today on BBC1 that same week: Leeds United! Burn spoke to some participants in the strike for his article, which makes it a valuable source of memories from the time. Accompanying that article are copies of online posts by David Rolinson, who explores the development and legacy of Welland’s play in a three-part series.

Possibly the most interesting stock item in the folder, however, is a copy of a leaflet from 1982, entitled “An Appeal to all Leeds Workers”. Created by the Leeds Trades Council, this publication was designed to garner support for trade unionism at a difficult time, laying out examples of support for workers in a section entitled “A Century of Struggle in Leeds”. Included within this was the 1970 strike – despite the historical record suggesting less-than complete support for the strike among the relevant unions.

Yorkshire Evening Post, 13 February, 1970, p11

Finally, the folder is completed with two articles by Daniel Chapman – one a brief history of the strike itself, and the second taking a wider look at the historical and contemporary development of the clothing sector in Leeds. Jessica also produced a hand-out to support her talk on the day, and a copy of that is also present in the folder.

The folder can be accessed in our Local and Family History department, on the 2nd Floor of the Central LibraryPlease contact us for more information on 0113 37 86982 or via localandfamilyhistory@leeds.gov.uk. 

25th February 1970 Meeting on Woodhouse Moor of striking workers. Five thousand clothing factory workers rejected on the offer of immediate negotiations on their claim if they returned to work. Charlie Taylor was chairman of the unofficial strike committee. St Marks School can be seen in the background. (Leeds Library and Information Service, www.leodis.net, (c) West Yorkshire Archive Service)

Since this article was written, a valuable new essay has been published on this subject (by Liz Leicester)

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  1. Pingback: Journal of People

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