Papers of George Woodcock (1904-1979), General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

Scope and Content

Correspondence and subject files, 1916-1976; papers relating to Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations, 1964-1969 and Commission on Industrial Relations, 1969-1974; minutes, 1942-1968; publications by George Woodcock, 1945-1968; other publications, 1929-1970; newspaper cuttings, 1969-1970 and reports, 1940-1978.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Woodcock (1904-1979) was born at Bamber Bridge, Lancashire and was the son of a cotton weaver. When he was twelve he started spending half his time working in a cotton mill and the other half going to school and by the age of 13 he was working at the mill full-time. His original ambition was to be a professional footballer for Preston North End but serious illness ruled this out. He won a TUC scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford in 1929, moving to New College, Oxford in 1931 where he earned a first in philosophy, politics and economics. He joined the TUC in 1936 as head of the research and economic department, being recruited by the General Secretary Walter Citrine. He was Assistant General Secretary, 1947-1960, and General Secretary, 1960-1969, taking over from Vincent Tewson. In 1967 he was made a member of the Privy Council and declined a peerage in 1970. He was a member of various commisions including the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations (the Donovan Commission) and the Commission on Legal Procedures to deal with Terrorist Activities in Northern Ireland (Diplock Commission). Woodcock was also chairman of the Commission on Industrial Relations, 1969-1971, resigning after the introduction of the Industrial Relations Act by the Heath government. Woodcock lived for many years in Epsom where his wife was a magistrate, councillor, alderman, and mayor.

Reference: Geoffrey Goodman, ‘Woodcock, George (1904-1979)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in the Centre by the Trades Union Congress in 1998. A further 48 boxes were deposited by ?the TUC in ?2004.

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