Temporary ACC 2019/224 - Records of Norwich Labour Party

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ACC 2019/224


Records of Norwich Labour Party


  • 1919-2003 (Creation)

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7 folders

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The inaugural meeting of the Norwich Branch of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) was held at Victoria Hall, Norwich during the 1894 Trades Union Congress conference in the city. Amongst those attending the meeting were Keir Hardie, Tom Mann and Ben Tillett. The Norwich ILP tasted its first electoral success in 1899, when G.H. Roberts won a seat on the School Board. Four years later, H.E. Witard became the Party's first city councillor, whilst G.H. Roberts was returned as the first ILP MP for Norwich in 1906. The numbers of Labour city councillors steadily increased over the next two decades and in 1933, Labour took control of the City Council. It has remained the majority party ever since, apart from a brief period between 1968 and 1970.
The Norwich Labour Party was founded in 1919, following the Labour Party's adoption of a new constitution in 1918. This converted the existing federal organisation into Labour Party branches.
The Norwich Labour Party and the local Trades Council maintained close links with one another. Until 1975, the two organisations comprised a joint body, the Norwich Labour Party and Industrial Council, which consisted of two parts, a Political Section and an Industrial Section. The two sections were managed by a Joint Executive Committee and a Joint Section or General Meeting, the latter being composed of delegates from ward associations, trade unions and other affiliated organisations. Each Section was responsible for its own finances, had its own executive committee and held general meetings of its members.
Local election campaigns were managed by ward associations or branches in each electoral ward, under the direction of the Political Executive Committee. Unusually, the Labour Party in Norwich has continued to cover the whole city, although Norwich has been divided into two constituencies since 1948.
Until 1932, the ILP Club was a social and political meeting place for both the ILP and the Norwich Labour Party, as well as for many trade unions. After the split with the ILP, the Norwich Labour Party purchased Brunswick Lodge on Newmarket Road for meetings. In 1935, 59 Bethel Street was purchased and a few years later, the party bought 57 Bethel Street, next door. By 1939, the premises offered political offices and a small meeting room, as well as club facilities, including a bar, a games room, a bowling green and accommodation for the club steward. A building development fund was established in 1958 and in 1968, the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, opened the new Labour Club. The new wing comprised the Frazer Hall, a members' lounge and bar and an office suite, whilst the old building was renovated to provide meeting rooms and new offices for the Party and the Industrial Council.

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Nelson Ward papers 1996-2002; NLP General Committee papers 1997-2001; election material; New Labour communications; miscellaneous flyers; photographs and leaflets

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ACC 2019/84/ ACC 2019/109

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