Electrical Trades Union / EETPU

Scope and Content

Deposit 1: Minutes of Executive Council, 1954-1992; Court cases involving the ETU, 1958-1961.

Deposit 2: Papers relating to Sir Leslie Cannon, former General President of the ETU, 1948-1970 comprising extracts of Trades Union Congress minutes, 1948-1969, radio transcripts, 1963-1970, television transcripts, 1965-1970.

Deposit 3: Papers of the Plumbing Trades Union, 1920-1972; ETU branch records, 1912-1981; ETU circulars, 1937-1982; Executive Council minutes, 1949-1985; sub-Executive Council minutes, 1947-1968; Electrical Trades Journal, 1942-1948.

Additional records were deposited by UNITE in 2011 (Acc.807).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) was formed in 1889 by the merger of the Amalgamated Society of Telegraph and Telephone Construction Men and the Union of Electrical Operatives. In 1968 it amalgamated with the Plumbing Trades' Union to form the Electrical, Electronic and Telecommunication Union - Plumbing Trades Union (later the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union, EETPU).

In 1891, the union conducted its first strike, losing membership as a result. By 1898 the Union had recovered, and had 702 members organised in 18 branches, with reserve funds of £752. In 1905 the Union first published its journal The Eltradion, the name changing to the Electrical Trades Journal in 1909. By 1910 membership remained relatively low, at under 2,000. In 1935, the Union called for the nationalisation of the electrical industry, which came into effect in 1947.

The first General Secretary of the union, on a part-time basis, was R. Steadman, but the post became full-time when A. J. Walker was appointed in 1891. In 1906 the Union joined the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades. Leslie Cannon (1920-1970) was a prominent union official and served as General President from 1963 to 1970. He was a Communist activist, and trade union leader; member of Electrical Trades Union Executive Council, North Lancashire and Merseyside, 1948-1954. He left the Communist Party in 1956. In 1961 he uncovered an ETU ballot rigging scandal, and successfully sued the union.

Reference: Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical Directory of Trade Unions Volume 2 ( Gower, 1984). John Lloyd, Light and Liberty: The History of the EETPU( London, 1990).


The collection is partially catalogued. The catalogue below is for the first and second deposits. The series relating to the 1961 Trial (MSS.387/6/7) is not yet catalogued.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/using/

Acquisition Information

The initial deposit was made by the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU) in 1998. A second deposit relating to Sir Leslie Canon was made in 1999. The third deposit was made in 2000.

Additional ETU and EETPU records deposited by UNITE in 2011 and 2014. Accession 1193 was transferred from the Working Class Movement Library in 2017.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates.


Further deposits are expected.

Related Material

The Modern Records Centre holds: further records of the Plumbing Trades Union (MSS.134); records of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (MSS.259/AEEU); papers of Frank Chapple (MSS.397/6/CH) and Sir Leslie Cannon (MSS.137)