The development of trade unions in the wallpaper industry reflects the closeness between the processes of wallpaper production and other trades. Additionally, the industry has contained both craft and manual components.
Early trade unions included the London Paper Stainers Trade Union of 1861, the Paper Stainers Union of General Workers and the Amalgamated Society of Machine Paper Stainers and Colour Mixers. In 1919 these three formed the Wallpaper Workers Union with the head office then being located in Regent Road, Salford. A loose association - the Wallpaper Stainers Trade Union Federation - was established in 1921 and this incorporated the Amalgamated Union of Engravers to Calico Printers and Paper Stainers and the Amalgamated Society of Block, Roller and Stamp Cutters. This federation continued until 1951.
The Wallpaper Workers Union continued until 1975 when it changed the name to the National Union of Wallcoverings, Decorative and Allied Trades (NUWDAT). In 1971 there had been a split in the wallpaper union and the Wallcoverings Staff Association was established, but both components came together again with the formation of NUWDAT in 1975.
An important change in trade unions serving the wallpaper industry was the process of consolidation taking place in other sectors. Specifically, the setting up of the National Graphical Association (NGA) in 1964 brought together a whole range of workers in typographical and other craft print unions. After a long period of negotiation NUWDAT merged with the NGA in 1979. By that stage the NGA and the Society of Lithographic Artists, Designers and Engravers (SLADE) had also merged.
SLADE had in 1973 also incorporated another trade union which had been present in the wallpaper industry - the United Society of Engravers of Great Britain and Ireland, which had itself been formed out of a merger of engravers from Manchester and Scotland in 1909.
In 1990 the NGA amalgamated with the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) to form the Graphical, Paper and Media Union. Further amalgamations have seen the descendants of wallpaper workers in the country's largest trade union Unite, which was formed in 2007.
Resources about Wallpaper Workers unions in the library collection
The Library holds papers from the Wallpaper Workers Union from 1921 to 1958, including annual reports, rule books and proceedings from the Industrial Council of Wallpaper Makers.
Search the Library catalogue for more resources
The Lancashire Record Office holds material on the Wallpaper Workers Union, especially in respect of the Darwen Branch. Further information is available on the National Archives web site.
The Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick holds the papers for most of the wallpaper and associated unions mentioned above.