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United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders

The United Society of Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders was formed in 1852 by the amalgamation of the Scottish Society of Boilermakers, the United Friendly Boilermakers' Society and the Amicable and Provident Society of Journeymen Boilermakers (no archive material is held for these predecessor unions). It was renamed the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders in 1898 and the United Society of Boilermakers, Shipbuilders and Structural Workers in 1953. In 1962 it amalgamated with the Associated Blacksmiths' Forge and Smithy Workers' Society to form the United Society of Boilermakers, Blacksmiths, Shipbuilders and Structural Workers.

The union always admitted boilermakers, platers, riveters, holders-up, caulkers and anglesmiths. By 1912 it admitted draughtsmen working on shipbuilding and iron and steel construction. By the 1950s (and maybe before) it was also admitting other skilled shipyard workers and workers in similar industries, including drillers and steel erectors. It had branches across Great Britain and Ireland. From 1901 it also had a number of branches in South Africa. These all closed in 1917 apart from the Durban branch, which remained in existence until 1923. It also had branches in Malta from 1902 to 1923 and Gibraltar from 1912 to 1923.

The union absorbed the Sheet Iron Workers' Society in 1920.

The main genealogical source is the series of monthly and annual reports, 1872-1962 (MSS.192/BM/4/1/1-85).

New members

New members are listed by branch in the monthly reports from 1872 to 1962, with name and (from 1901) trade only.

Members run out and expelled

Members who had gone into or were about to go into arrears or who had been expelled for any reason are listed by branch in the monthly reports from 1872 to 1962, with name only.

Deceased members

Deceased members and members' wives are listed in the annual reports from 1874 to 1973, with name, branch, age, date of death and cause of death.

From 1898 to 1962 fuller obituaries of many prominent members and officers, later often with photographs, appear in the monthly reports.

Superannuated members

Superannuated (pensioned) members are listed in the annual reports from 1879 to 1962, with name, date of superannuation, branch, and (from 1931) date of joining the union.

Members receiving benefits

Members receiving accident payments are listed in the annual reports from 1874 to 1962, with name, branch and nature of accident.

Widows, orphans and distressed members receiving benevolent fund grants are listed in the annual reports from 1875 to 1954, with name and branch only.

Members lent the train fare to travel from one area to another to obtain work are listed in the monthly reports from 1872 to 1875, with name, date, home branch and branch travelled to.

All members receiving benefits for any reason (e.g. sick benefit, travelling relief, home donations, fares, dispute pay, superannuation) are listed by branch in the annual report from 1874 to 1962, with name only.

Travelling cards

Members issued travelling cards (allowing them to claim membership privileges and benefits from other branches as they travelled around the country looking for work) are listed in the monthly reports from 1888 to 1894, with name, home branch and date.

Branch secretaries

Names and addresses of branch secretaries are listed in the annual reports from 1874 to 1962. Changes in secretaries and their addresses are listed in the monthly reports from 1872 to 1962.

War service

Members killed on war service in the two World Wars are listed in the monthly reports, but exactly the same information appears in the lists of deceased members. Those for the First World War may be viewed here. Sometimes there is a full obituary and photograph of a killed member.

The monthly reports contain biographical sketches and photographs of members decorated for gallantry.

Miscellaneous

From 1898 there are often biographical sketches and photographs of prominent members and officers in the monthly reports.

Members serving on public bodies (e.g. local councils, school boards, etc) are listed in the annual reports from 1901 to 1962, with name, branch, trade and body serving on.

The monthly reports also often include miscellaneous references to individual members. These include notices asking members to get in contact, notices that members have been blacklisted for misconduct, requests to pay back money, etc.

Employers

The names and addresses of local boiler shops and shipyards are listed by branchthe annual reports from 1874 to 1962.

Membership registers

There are also two registration books (MSS.192/BM/2/1/1-2), which were probably compiled in 1873 to 1881 and list all new members joining in those years, as well as some who were already members. A series of membership registers (MSS.192/BM/2/2/1-28, MSS.192/BM/2/1/3) were probably compiled from c.1911 and list all those who were already members at that time, as well as anyone who joined from then until 1946. A series of registers of unapproved apprentices (MSS.192/BM/2/3/1-10) runs from 1922 to 1948. It lists apprentices who joined the union but not the approved (i.e. benefits) society. Apprentices are also listed in the general registers. All these registers list name, age, date of admission, branch and sometimes date of death.

These registers are very hard to search, as there is no index and numbers were reused as men died or left and others joined. However, those which list men who joined up to 1930 (although not the registers of unapproved apprentices) have been digitised and are available on the Find My past website.