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The Printers' Labourers' Union was formed in 1889. It was renamed the Operative Printers' Assistants' Society in 1899 and the National Society of Operative Printers' Assistants in 1904. In 1912, to reflect the fact that it was now also recruiting skilled printers, it was renamed the National Society of Operative Printers and Assistants. The union was almost always known by the acronym "Natsopa".

In 1966 it entered into a merger with the National Union of Printing, Bookbinding and Paper Workers to form Division 1 of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT). The aim was to achieve a complete merger over time, but differences led to in-fighting and in 1972 the two divisions split. Division 1 became the National Society of Operative Printers, Graphical and Media Personnel (continuing to call itself "Natsopa").

In 1982 Natsopa and SOGAT '75 (as the NUPBPW now called itself after amalgamation with the Scottish Graphical Association in 1975) finally agreed terms and joined together again to become SOGAT '82.

The Modern Records Centre holds the union's annual reports from 1901 to 1907 and 1912 to 1915 (MSS.39/NAT/4/1/1-10). From 1917 to 1982 the annual reports are bound in with the union's monthly Journal in annual volumes (MSS.39/NAT/4/5/6-66).

On 16 March 1914 Natsopa absorbed the Stereotypers' Assistants' Society, which became the Electro and Stereo Branch. Members were eventually absorbed into the general London Branch and the specialist branch disappeared.


The union does not seem to have had formal branches until 1905, at which time it was only operating in a handful of towns and cities. From 1905 branches existed in the following towns (with dates of existence). More than half the membership was in London.

Aberdare (1966-19**), Aberdeen (1920s-1982), Abertillery (1950-19**), Accrington (1918-1982), Acton (1937-1954; formerly West Metropolitan No.2), Addlestone (1920s-), Aintree (1956-19**), Aldershot (1931-1940, 1948-1982), Altrincham (1963-19**), Andover (1932-1982), Ashford (1919-1982), Ashton-under-Lyne (1938-1982), Aycliffe (1959-19**), Aylesbury (1958-1982), Bacup (1918-1920s, 1970s-1982), Bala (1963-19**), Banbury (1920-1920s), Barking (1920s-1931; became East Metropolitan No.2), Barnet (1920s-1931, 1937-1959; named North Metropolitan No.1, 1931-1937; became part of London in 1959), Barnsley (1920-1920s, 1964-19**), Barnstaple (1970s-1982), Barrow-in-Furness (1918-1982), Basildon & Southend (1966-1982), Basingstoke (1963-19**), Bath (1917-1920s, 1937-1982), Belfast (1966-1982), Berkhamsted (1961-19**), Bideford (1950-1957, 1963-19**), Birkenhead (1920s-1944), Birmingham (c.1909-1982), Blackburn (1918-1982), Blackpool (1938-1982), Bodmin & Truro (1970s-1982), Bolton (1905-1982), Boreham Wood (1952-1959; became part of London), Boston (1961-19**), Bournemouth (1957-1982), Bradford (1906-1982), Bridgwater (1931-1945), Bridlington (1961-1982), Brighton (1918-1920s, 1940-1982), Bristol (1913-1982), Burnham (1919-1920s), Burnley (1917-19**), Burton-on-Trent (1931-1937, 1970s-1982), Bury (1963-1982), Caernarfon (1920s-1946, 1952-1982), Cambridge (1919-1982), Cardiff (1918-1982), Carlisle (1920s-1934, 1937-1982), Cheadle (1963-1982), Chelmsford (1946-1963, 1970s-1982), Cheltenham (1950-1951, 1959-1982), Chesham (1931-1937, 1964-19**), Chester (1918-1982), Chesterfield (1920-1982), Chichester (1963-19**), Chorley (1918-19**), Clayton-le-Moors (1920-1920s, 1935-1982), Clevedon (1970s-1982), Colchester (1920-1934, 1966-1982), Conwy (1920-1954), Coventry (1920s-1957), Coventry & Nuneaton (1957-1982), Crawley (1954-1982), Cricklewood (see North West Metropolitan No.2), Croydon (1934-1959), Cwmbran (1970s-1982), Cymmer (1966-19**), Darlington (1931-1982), Dartford (1917-1920s), Darwen (1919-1920s), Deal (1957-19**), Derby (1919-1982), Doncaster (1919-1982), Dorking (1931-1937, 1953-1982), Dublin (1905-c.1909), Dundee (c.1907-1940), Dunstable (1919-1931, 1936-1982), Durham (1920s-19**), Eastbourne (1957-1982), Eastleigh (1937-1982), East Metropolitan (1934-1954), East Metropolitan No.1 (1931-1934; became East Metropolitan), East Metropolitan No.2 (1931-1934; became East Metropolitan), Edinburgh (c.1909-1982), Erith (1920s-1931), Exeter (1917-1982), Foxton (1963-19**), Gateshead (see Pelaw), Glasgow (1905-1982), Gloucester (1950-1982), Granton (1946-1982), Gravesend (1905-19**), Greenock (1934-1982), Grimsby (1920s-1982), Guildford (1948-1982), Halifax (1918-1982), Halstead (1920-1920s), Hanley (1917-1954; became Stoke-on-Trent), Harlow (1956-1982), Harrogate (1920s-1936, 1963-19**), Harrow (1920s-1931, 1937-1959; named North Metropolitan No.3, 1931-1937; became part of London in 1959), Hartlepool (1970s-1982; previously named West Hartlepool), Hastings (1920-1920s), Hayes (1920-1931, 1937-1959; named West Metropolitan No.1, 1931-1937; became part of London in 1959), Hazel Grove (1947-1982), Hemel Hempstead (1938-19**), Hendon (1920s-1931, 1937-1954; named North West Metropolitan No.2, 1931-1937), Hereford (1934-1982), Hertford (1934-1982), Heywood (1939-1982), High Wycombe (1934-1982), Hitchin (1920-1920s), Hoddesdon (1936-1937), Huddersfield (1920-1982), Hull (1906-1982), Hyde (1957-19**), Ilford (see East Metropolitan No.1), Ipswich (1946-1982), Kendal (1937-1982), Ketley (1970s-1982), Kettering (1936-1937, 1950-1982), Kingston (1918-1959), Kingswood (1934-19**), Lancaster (1956-19**), Leamington Spa (1961-1982), Leeds (1905-1982), Leicester (1905-c.1909, 1919-1982), Leigh (1920-1940, 1963-19**), Letchworth (c.1909-1982), Leyton (1931-1935), Lincoln (1933-1982), Liverpool (1905-1982), Llandudno (1963-19**), London (1905-1982), Luton (1945-1953, 1963-1982), Macclesfield (1918-19**), Maidenhead (1936-1982), Maidstone (1920s-1982), Manchester (1905-1982), Margate (1920-1920s, 1934-1982), Medway (1966-1970s), Medway & Wrotham (1970s-1982), Merthyr (1966-1982), Mexborough (1963-19**), Middlesbrough (1931-1982), Middleton (1963-19**), Morecambe (1963-19**), Neath (1950-1982), Nelson (1918-1920s), Newcastle (1913-1982), New Eltham (1918-1931; see also South East Metropolitan), New Malden (1920s-1959; became part of London), Newport (1915-1916, 1919-1982), Newton Aycliffe (see Aycliffe), Northampton (1917-1982), Northfield (1970s-1982), North Metropolitan No.1 (1931-1937), North Metropolitan No.2 (1931-1937), North Metropolitan No.3 (1931-1937; became Harrow), North West Metropolitan No.1 (1931-1937), North West Metropolitan No.2 (1931-1937; became Willesden), Norwich (1942-1982), Nottingham (1913-1982), Nuneaton (1931-1957; see also Coventry), Oldham (1917-1931; became part of Manchester), Orpington (1955-1959; became part of London), Oswestry (1920s-1931, 1954-1982; see also Wrexham), Oswestry & Wrexham (1931-1940), Oxford (1931-1982), Pelaw (1920s-1935), Paulton (1962-1982), Perth (1966-1982), Peterborough (1942-1982), Plaistow (see East Metropolitan No.2), Plymouth (1917-1982), Pontypridd (1964-19**), Portishead (1937-1950, 1961-1982), Portsmouth (1920s-1982), Port Sunlight (1963-1966), Preston (1917-1982), Radcliffe (1956-1982), Reading (1905-c.1907, 1935-1982), Redhill (1914-1934, 1970s-1982; see also Kingswood), Risca (1937-1982), Rochdale (1918-1982), Rochester (1931-1966; renamed Medway), Rotherham (1919-1982), St Albans (1905-19**), St Helens (1937-1940, 1945-1982), St Helier (1957-1963), Salisbury (1970s-1982), Scarborough (1952-1982), Sheffield (1905-1982), Shrewsbury (1918-19**), Silver End (1931-19**), Slough (1937-1982), Southampton (1919-1920s), South East Metropolitan (1931-1954), Southend (1931-1937, 1961-1966; see also Basildon), South Metropolitan (1931-1954), Southport (1918-1920s, 1957-1982), South Shields (1936-1982), Staff (1934-1982), Stockport (1917-1982), Stoke-on-Trent (1954-1982; previously named Hanley), Stourbridge (1970s-1982), Stratford (see East Metropolitan No.1), Sunderland (1920s-1982), Swansea (1913-1982), Swindon (1920s-1982), Sydenham (1948-1954), Taunton (1919-1982), Thame (1961-19**), Thatcham (1950-1961), Thurrock (see West Thurrock), Tiverton (1950-1957), Tonbridge (1906-1982), Torquay (1934-1982), Tottenham (1920s-1931, 1937-1957; named North Metropolitan No.2, 1931-1937), Trowbridge (1959-19**), Truro (1936-1937, 1960-1970s; see also Bodmin), Tunbridge Wells (1919-1920s), Uxbridge (1937-19**), Wakefield (1920-1937, 1956-1982), Walthamstow (see East Metropolitan No.1), Warminster (1970s-1982), Warrington (1918-1982), Watford (1913-1915, 1920s-1982), Wealdstone (1918-1920s), Wellingborough (1952-1982), West Hartlepool (1950-1970s; became Hartlepool), West Metropolitan No.1 (1931-1937; became Hayes), West Metropolitan No.2 (1931-1937), Weston-super-Mare (1919-1920s, 1944-19**), West Thurrock (1952-1962), Weymouth (1961-1982), Whitehaven (1970s-1982), Wigan (1918-1982), Willesden (1919-1931, 1937-1959; named North West Metropolitan No.1, 1931-1937), Wisbech (1931-1934, 1948-1982), Wolverhampton (1913-1982), Worcester (1949-1982), Wrexham (1918-1931, 1940-1982; named Oswestry & Wrexham, 1931-1940), Wrotham (1961-1970s; see also Medway), Yeovil (1944-1982), Ynyshir (1970s-1982), York (1920s-1982)

Branches whose end date is listed as 19** existed in 1967, the date of the last branch directory held by the MRC, but their existence has not been confirmed after this date. It is possible that some of them existed until 1982.

Deceased members

Deceased members and their husbands and wives are listed in the annual reports (1901-1907, 1917-1925), the Half-Yearly Reports (1912-1915; only London members are listed, 1912-1914), and the monthly Journal (May 1926-April 1982; two months in arrears, so members who died in January appear in the March issue). Deceased children of members are also listed from 1920. Information includes name (of member – names of spouses and children are not shown), branch, age (members only until 1920), date of joining, chapel/current or last employer (1901-1907 and members only, 1926-1943; London only, 1912-1915), date of death (1912-1943; London members do not have dates of death listed until 1917), and cause of death (1901-1943; members only until 1920).


The volume of half-yearly reports for 1912 (MSS.39/NAT/4/1/7) includes the half-yearly report of the Manchester Branch, July-December 1912, which includes a list of accidents suffered by members, with name, date of accident, nature of injury, and date returned to work.

The monthly Journal includes lists of accidents from April 1926 to February 1959, with name, employer and nature of injury.

Convalescent home admissions

The Natsopa Memorial Home opened in 1921. The annual report for 1922 (MSS.39/NAT/4/5/11) includes a list of all members and wives who had been admitted to date. Lists of members who were admitted every month are then published in the Journal until May 1943, with name, branch, chapel (i.e. employer), and date admitted.


From 1930 the annual reports include lists of aged members' grants, with name, age, date of joining and branch, but the members are listed in no discernible order.

In 1934 this was formalised into superannuation benefit. Superannuated (pensioned) members are listed every year in order of date of retirement, with name, age, date of superannuation (retirement) and branch. The lists end in 1942.

War service

The half-yearly reports for 1914 (MSS.39/NAT/4/1/9) include a list of all members who had joined HM Forces up to March 1915. The half-yearly reports for 1915 (MSS.39/NAT/4/1/10) include a list of all members who joined HM Forces between March 1915 and February 1916. These lists are by branch and only include name and card number.

Every year during the Second World War the annual reports list the name and branch of members who have died so far. The 1946 annual report (MSS.39/NAT/4/5/35) has a complete list of the dead by branch and also contains a list of members who were decorated during the war, with name, branch, service, and details of the award.