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The Land Worker: rural life between the wars

The Modern Records Centre holds a set of 'The Labourer' and 'The Land Worker', the journal of the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers. The magazine is a gold mine of information about trade union activism in the less industrialised areas of 20th century Britain and also includes a wealth of material on broader subjects relating to rural life. We've extracted some examples of images and articles published between 1915 (when the journal was launched) and 1934 which show a more radical view of rural life between the two World Wars than the more bucolic vision that is sometimes presented.

Subjects covered below include some of the hardships of rural life, including low pay, poor housing and child labour; the roles of women in the countryside; the merits (or otherwise) of Empire emigration; strikes and protest, including the long-running Burston School Strike; tributes to prominent individuals in the labour movement (from Joseph Arch to Mary Macarthur); arts and culture in the countryside, including poetry, theatre and the newly available radio; technological changes, such as the introduction of electricity and replacement of the plough with the tractor; and Armistice Day tributes to the fallen of the First World War.