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William Bywater — a life-long ASE member

Derek Bywater sent me the following information and the images of his great-great grandfather and the certificate. My thanks to him.


Mr Derek Bywater says:—

Bywater familyWilliam Bywater, his second wife, Charlotte, and their son, Henry.

William Bywater was a secretary in the ASE in 1850 and there is a very interesting blog on him Hayes peoples history. We have in our possession the presentation certificate [see below] and the wallet given to him when he retired in 1913. His father, Thomas Bywater, was a clothmaker in Woodhouse Leeds. He was born about 1810. William started his adult life as a blacksmith; he married and had two sons. When his wife died he moved to Bridgwater leaving his sons living with his father back in Leeds. William remarried and moved onto Nine Elms London where my grandfather {Henry, pictured above] was born. I do have all the history but some parts are missing I just wished my father had told me more. My father was a trade unionist as was I: I was in the NGA since I was a compositor by trade (now obsolete) more's the pity.


The following information is from the William Bywater blog

Amalgamated Society of Engineers (Southall) 1913

At a meeting of Southall branch of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) (later Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) held at Northcote Arms, Southall smoking concert occasion presentation of an award of merit

Mr Cantwell Presided
Mr Donkinson Executive member
Mr Dumbleton Branch secretary

ASE certificate

For a larger image, click here

Mr William Bywater related a life long experience in connection with trade unionism. His stewardship commenced in 1850 in the employ of the Railway Foundry at Leeds, where he was apprenticed as smith, twelve months before the forming of the Society of Engineers. It was from that foundry the first fast express engine, the Jenny Lind went out. At the time of such locomotive taking the iron road he listened to the discussions of the advocates of trade unionism. and subsequently became one of its earliest members. He considered himself one of the ideal trade unionists. His shop was one of the finest trade unionist shops of that day, some 62 years ago when he joined as trade unionist at the age of nearly 21 years. He stood before them as a man over 80.

He had fulfilled two secretaryships, first at Leeds and secondly at Bridgwater in 1874. He had been through all the battles of trade unionism. He played an important part in the boilermakers strike at Leeds in 1866, and at Bridgwater in later years. On each occasion his Executive Council enabled him to get the workers back to their employment. In those days he was a man who stuck up for his employer. He did so because the firms were in the right and his fellow-workers in the wrong. He considered the object of an ideal trade unionist was to support the party which was in the right, and this he did in his day by upholding the employers of labour, and on each occasion he received the support of his Society at head-quarters.

He thanked the Amalgamated Society of Engineers for having founded such an excellent excellent institution which provided him with ampler means of comfortable subsistence in old age and kept him out of the poor house. When old age was creeping on with weakened intellect and diminished strength he was in a position to thank god for the provision which his Society had secured .He appreciated the gifts presented to him

At the conclusion of his remarks Mr Bywater was greeted with the singing of “He’s a jolly good fellow”

A peculiar coincidence in connection with Mr Bywater is the fact that he was formerly a blacksmith and had three uncles who were blacksmiths and he himself was known as “Uncle” to the members of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE)

In full appreciation of these facts the Chairman followed by singing the “Village blacksmith” the ringing and clanging being rhythmically taken up by the brothers in the Lodge.

The illuminated ASE address presented to Mr Bywater [see above] bore the following inscription:—

“Amalgamated Society of Engineers (Sectional Societies amalgamated 1857) present to Brother William Bywater of Southall branch by special resolution of the Executive Council for faithful services in the capacity of Branch secretary and other branch officers extending over 57 years.
Dated December 1913 Signed Robert Young, Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) General Secretary.

Still achieving, still pursuing Learn to labour and to wait”


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