A brief history
19th Century - A directory of 1829 issued by the Society of Journeymen Brushmakers list 40 local brushmakers' societies in towns including Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and York. The oldest of these was Manchester, which claimed to be established in 1747. The London Society of Brushmakers became the head society and later changed its name to the Society of Journeymen Brushmakers.
Mid 19th Century - the United Society of Brushmakers was established and absorbed many of the local societies. It was also a sponsor of the Brushmakers' Benevolent Institute.
1917 - the United Society of Brushmakers merged with the Amalgamated Society of Brushmakers (established 1889) to form the National Society of Brushmakers.
1983 - the National Society of Brushmakers merged with the Furniture, Timber and Allied Trades Union, which later merged with the GMB.
For information on brushmakers' working lives and records for family history, click here
Brushmakers' union archives in our collection
- Records of local brushmakers societies including London, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester - minute books, price lists, cash books and other records.
- Articles and members' lists of the Brushmakers Benevolent Institute.
- Lists of journeymen brushmakers and apprentices.
- Records of the Amalgamated Society of Brushmakers including Executive Council reports and rules.
- Records of the United Society of Brushmakers including reports, rules, circulars and receivers blanks.
- Records of the National Society of Brushmakers including reports, accounts, rules, correspondence, branch records and other papers.
- Histories and biographies of brushmaking and brushmakers' unions by William Kiddier, George Mayes and other historical material.
Resources about brushmakers on this site
- The journeymen brushmakers
- Banners of the brushmakers
- Brushmakers Society emblems
- Women and the United Society of Brushmakers
Resources about brushmakers' unions in the Library collection
William Kiddier, The old trade unions: from unprinted records of the Brushmakers (1930) - Shelfmark: B33
George Mayes, one-time General Secretary of the Brushmakers wrote a history of the union which was not published. It survives in manuscript form in the Working Class Movement Library and was written in approximately 1946 - Shelfmark: AF Brush Box 8
The Society of Brushmakers' Descendants is a group of family historians with personal family roots in brushmaking. They produce regular newsletters that would be useful to anyone wishing to research brushmaking in more detail. Their Web address is homepage.ntlworld.com/kdoughty.