Councils were set up all over Britain at the end of the
19th century to bring together delegates from
Trade Unions in their own particular district.
The first Bridgwater Trades
Council was formed in 1896 at the time of the
Brickyard Strike in the town which saw 3000 brickyard workers
on strike through the early summer against poor pay and
conditions. Eventually the Tory Government of Lord Salisbury
sent troops to the town who-although facing barricades in
the Penel Orlieu area and being surrounded in the Town hall
by an angry crowd, were used by the Borough council at the
the Brickyard owners, to clear the streets at bayonet point.
the early 20th century the Trades Council was
a key mover in the formation of the Bridgwater Labour Party which has consistently dominated
the electoral politics of the town. And today holds 13 out
of the 16 town seats.
The President of Bridgwater Trades Council spoke
at the opening of the Bridgwater Arts centre in 1946 the
first Art Centre in Britain.
Throughout , the strongest union in the town has
been the T&GWU-which formed from the original Dock ,Wharf
& General Labourers Union that had been involved in
the brickyard strikes,and to this day the T&G maintains
The towns biggest employer British Cellophane has
been the biggest home for T&G members in the area but
in the early 1990s the T&G offices in Bridgwater were
relocated to Taunton.
the 1980s the Trades Council supported workers in struggle
against the Thatcherites nationally and locally and was
involved in such campaigns
as the Anti-Poll tax struggle 1989-90, The NUM strike 84-85,
and the Printworkers dispute 1985, alongside local industrial
actions such as The sacked Ambulanceworkers dispute.
In the mid 1990s the Trades Council fronted the campaign
to save the Priory as a community facility in the face
of Tory attempts to sell it off. In doing so we set up a
broad coalition of arts and community groups and drew up
extensive proposals but finally the proposals were lost
at council due to Sedgemoor Liberals supporting non-Bridgwater
December 2002 Bridgwater TUC temporarily reformed itself as
a 'Fire Brigades Union Support Group'.
The Bridgwater Trades Council producers the newspaper
Workers Voice and currently co-operates with Taunton and
Yeovil Trades Councils.
Presently affiliated Unions include the T&GWU,
CWU, Sedgemoor UNISON, RMT, FBU, UCATT, PTC, USDAW and
Current officers are
Chapple (CWU) President
Tomlin (PTC) Vice President
Brian Smedley (T&GWU) Secretary
Glen Burrows (RMT) Treasurer