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Associated Blacksmiths' Forge and Smithy Workers' Society

The Scottish United Operative Blacksmiths' Protective and Friendly Society was established in 1857 and renamed the Associated Blacksmiths of Scotland in 1872. From its beginnings in Glasgow, it rapidly expanded throughout Scotland. Its first branch outside Scotland was in Belfast, established in 1874, but other than short-lived branches in Dublin and Londonderry it failed to establish any more of a foothold in Ireland. It opened a branch in Barrow-in-Furness in 1875 and another in Whitehaven in 1882, but no more in north-west England until Birkenhead opened in 1908. Branches were opened on Tyneside and Wearside from 1883. A branch was established in Great Yarmouth in 1884, but only survived until 1888.

The union was renamed the Associated Blacksmiths' Society in 1884 and finally expanded to the south of England when branches were opened in London in 1901 and Southampton in 1909. In 1909 it became the Associated Blacksmiths' and Ironworkers' Society and expanded its membership to other forge and smithy workers and, briefly, to sheet iron workers, although they had their own unions and the Associated Blacksmiths seem to have soon stopped recruiting them. In 1912 it finally expanded seriously into England when it absorbed the Blacksmiths' Union, which had branches throughout the country. In 1914 it also absorbed the National United Society of Smiths and Hammermen. It later also expanded into Wales and Ireland.

In 1925 it was renamed the Associated Blacksmiths' Forge and Smithy Workers' Society, a name it retained until it amalgamated with the United Society of Boilermakers, Shipbuilders and Structural Workers in May 1962 to form the United Society of Boilermakers, Blacksmiths, Shipbuilders and Structural Workers.

Genealogical material is contained in the annual reports, from 1858 to 1927, and the quarterly reports, from 1928 to 1938. From 1939, these became The Anvil, a combined quarterly report and journal which continued until 1960, when it was replaced once more with annual reports until 1962 (MSS.192/AB/23-80).

New members

New members are listed in the reports from 1885 to 1920, with name, branch, age and date of joining.

Transferring members

Members transferring from one branch to another are listed from 1907 to 1913, with name, date of admission, original branch joined, branch transferring from, branch transferring to, and date of transfer.

Deceased members

Deaths of members and their wives are listed from 1860 to 1927 and from 1951 to 1960, with name, branch, cause of death (1860-1927 only) and age (1864-1927 only).

In addition, from 1909 onwards, there are fuller obituaries, sometimes with photographs, of many prominent members and officers.

Excluded members

Members 'excluded' for any reason (including by resignation) are listed by branch from 1858 to 1920, with name, reason for exclusion (e.g. for arrears, went abroad, left trade), date of admission to the union (from 1894), and branch originally joined (from 1906).

Superannuated members

Superannuated (pensioned) members are listed from 1910 to 1927, with name, branch, year of admission, age at admission, date of superannuation and age at superannuation.

From 1928 to 1941, newly superannuated members only are listed, with name, branch, age, year of admission and date of superannuation.

Accident, disablement and disease

Grants made by the union to members affected by accidents, disablement or disease are listed from 1861 to 1883, 1902 to 1908 and 1928 to 1936, with name, branch, age (1902-1908 only) and the reason for the grant (until 1908).

Compensation cases against employers successfully settled by the union are also listed from 1928 to 1962, with name and branch only.


The names and addresses of branch and district secretaries (1861-1927, 1940-1942, 1947-1962) and directors/branch treasurers (1884-1927) are listed in the reports.

From 1909 onwards there are photographs and short biographies of many officers and other prominent members scattered throughout the reports.

War service

A roll of honour of members who died on active service is listed every year from 1916 to 1919, but this information is a simple duplicate of that in the lists of deceased members.

Registration books

The other main source is the series of registration books (MSS.192/AB/83-90). These list all members joining the union from 1857 to 1920. They are very roughly chronological, listed in batches by branch. Information given is name, age, date of admission, marital status, date of marriage after admission, date and cause of (and sometimes age at) death of member and/or wife, length of illness leading to death, date of payment of funeral benefit, branch transferred to and date, and date and cause of exclusion.

In 1912 the registers list all current members by branch, including the members and branches acquired from the amalgamation of the Blacksmiths' Union. From that date until 1920, members are listed under the branch they joined.

Springburn Branch Entrance and Registration Book

This book (MSS.192/AB/12) lists members of the Springburn Branch, based in a suburb of Glasgow. It was compiled in 1928 as a list of all existing members. Members were then added as they joined until 1953, when another list of all existing members was compiled. The book is probably incomplete. The information contained is the same as that in the registration books.