Search

Matchgirl descendant leads heritage walk 130 years after Bryant & May’s strike

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 July 2018 | UPDATED: 01:09 08 July 2018

Teenage girl workers who led strike at Bryant and May in Bow, July 1888. Picture source: Bishopsgate Institute

Teenage girl workers who led strike at Bryant and May in Bow, July 1888. Picture source: Bishopsgate Institute

Bishopsgate Inst

A descendant of one of the original 1888 matchgirl strike leaders at Bryant & May’s in Bow is leading a heritage walk today to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the famous dispute that changed industrial working conditions for ever.

Working conditions at the Bow factory where dangerous white phosphorous was used in the manufacturing process led to legislation to imnprove industrial conditions in Britain. Picture source: Bishopsgate InstituteWorking conditions at the Bow factory where dangerous white phosphorous was used in the manufacturing process led to legislation to imnprove industrial conditions in Britain. Picture source: Bishopsgate Institute

Social enthusiasts and students of history are meeting at Trinity Green in the Mile End Road at noon to follow the route the strikers took on their protest march.

Samantha Johnson’s great-grandmother Sarah Chapman was one of the organisers who led the march from the Mile End Road to the Fleet Street office of social reform campaigner Annie Besant.

“My great-grandmother was one of the deputation of three who went into Annie’s office to ask for support,” Samantha said.

“The first strike meeting was on Mile End Waste on July 8 which was followed by meetings with MPs at the Houses of Parliament.”

The strikers at the Fairfield Road factory had grievances over working conditions and safety. They suffered ‘fossy jaw’, a bone degenerative disease caused by working with dangerous white phosphorous—a practice later outlawed by Parliament.

They also had grievances about the poultry pay for long hours and the system of fines docked from their wages for minor “offences” in the workplace which was later also made illegal.

The strike eventually forced Bryant and May to improve pay and conditions which inspired their menfolk who worked in the docks which led to the Great Docks Strike of 1889 that sparked the modern trade union movement.

Speakers at Bridewell Hall following today’s walk include another Matchgirls descendant, Robin Head, as well as University of East London’s Dr Anna Robinson, broadcaster Lemn Sissay, historian Dr Melanie Reynolds, Citizens UK civic network’s founder Neil Jameson, Salvation Army’s Ian Watkins and writer Anne Cooper.

The gathering at Trinity Green, next to Tower Hamlets Mission, starts 12 noon, with the commemorative march ending at 6pm at Bridewell Hall off Fleet Street.

Latest East London News Stories

Yesterday, 18:38

A pub in Hackney Wick which dates back to 1844 has had its weekend hours slashed following complaints from neighbours about noisy revellers.

Yesterday, 17:39

Figures released today reveal how much time drivers spend stuck in traffic in Tower Hamlets and it’s actually news.

Yesterday, 12:10

The world’s first university settlement is returning to its original home in Whitechapel following three years of renovation work costing £5million.

Yesterday, 07:00

More than 2,000 affordable homes weren’t built when they should have been, a report has shown.

Wed, 15:57

Rail users face misery with c2c trains delayed due to a tree getting caught on overhead wires at Limehouse.

Wed, 15:56

Tower Hamlets Council has scooped an award for is work to tackle hatred, intolerance and prejudice in the borough.

Wed, 14:00

A sports charity which is working with schools to improve the lives of young people from disadvantaged communities has been praised by Tower Hamlets Council.

Wed, 12:00

An estate agent has been forced to pay more than £50,000 after letting an overcrowded flat with no heating and inadequate fire precautions.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Are you a landlord looking for a fixed rental income, paid whether the property is empty or not? Steve Westley, general manager at estate agents Elliot Leigh, explains their Guaranteed Rent Scheme and how it takes the stress out of letting your property.

Newsletter Sign Up

East London Advertiser twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now