Love your Libraries and know your Branch history!

The Manchester Libraries on-line catalogue is a fantastic resource, pick a book, reserve it and collect it from the library of your choice.

They even send you an email to say that it’s arrived.

Kind of like Amazon, except everything is free!

Here at the Manchester UNISON Branch our current top title is “A History of the Manchester Municipal Officers’ Guild (branch of the National and Local Government Officers’ Association): 1906-1956” by TC Barton.

Despite not having the snappiest of titles it is a fascinating history of the earliest days of the Branch; when moustaches and spats were mandatory for branch officers and whist drives and garden parties were the order of the day…

 MMOG Officers 1927

The Guild was formed in 1906, voting to affiliate to NALGO at the first meeting, held at the old Chorlton Town Hall.

Some of the issues the branch faced in it’s first 50 years seem somewhat alien to us today, such as the argument on whether NALGO should become a trade union and Guild members proposing motions on equal pay in opposition to the NEC!

Others are all to familiar. Pay not rising with the cost of living was an ongoing issue, pensions were rarely off the agenda and, particularly after the war, recruitment and retention was a major problem.

In 1911 reps were even then discussing the sick pay scheme of up to six months pay and six months half pay.

If you are popping in to your Branch Office a few relics of the old Guild are still to be found in the form of the swimming and billiards trophies.

Sadly both have been uncontested since the 30’s, possibly due to regular winners the Gas Department leaving the council when gas was nationalised by the Attlee Government!

Obviously The Guild and NALGO is only one part of the branch story.

NUPE was formed in 1908 and proved to be one of Britain’s fastest growing unions.

If you have a real interest in our history and want to find out more, the Branch archives of decades including detailed newsletters and publications are held at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.

An upcoming Branch Executive Committee meeting will be held at the Library and we hope to post a more thorough article on the branch archives soon.

The Chorlton Town Hall building is still there and now part of MMU. Sadly we are still awaiting a blue plaque marking the formation of the guild!

If any members fancy arranging a whist drive or garden party to pay for one please let us know…

So, as soon as we’ve returned it, support your library service and go on the council library catalogue at and reserve a copy of this piece of Branch history.

Patrick Taylor
Assistant Branch Secretary

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