Reading town’s friendly societies

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Rummaging around in the history of Reading town one theme keeps cropping-up, Friendly societies, Societies of Friends (Quakers), and their contribution to the quality of life of local citizens. Here’ s an example from the History of Unison website:

By the 1630’s weavers, many of them refugees from Catholic France, were leaving London in search of work and coming to Reading. This was part of the early system of organised labour based on the principle of the search for work being sustained by fellow craftsmen who gradually organised themselves into ‘Friendly Societies.’ In 1841 the Friendly Society of Iron Moulders, with twenty-two members in Reading, gave assistance to 275 ‘tramps,’ (see note 1.) By 1847 these twenty-two men had, themselves, been forced to go in search of work but their branch, kept in being by the landlord of their public house, enabled 1038 members of the union to be given relief as they ‘trampled through the town.’….

Cemetery Junction Coop…From early meetings of supporters of Robert Owen, the Co-operative Movement was established in Reading, the first shop at 14 Caversham Road being opened soon after the formation of the society in 1860. Not only shops but a diary, bakery, jam factory, printing works, nursery, and even a footwear repairing factory, made the Reading Co-operative Society one of the best organised and strongest in Britain…

…in the area of music and drama the Labour movement also made a contribution. In the mid-nineteen thirties the Workers Drama Association was established with a performance of ‘The Six Men Of Dorset’ a play about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Today the W.D.A. has become the Progress Theatre


one wonderful muse on “Reading town’s friendly societies”

  1. Scarlet writes:

    I think we need more friendly societies. Or maybe we all need some classes on how to be friendly..?
    Sx

       0 likes

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