Archives of Accrington Conservative Association & Accrington Conservative Club

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive is made up of two separate but related collections: records of the (central) Accrington Conservative Club and records of the Accrington Division Conservative Association.

Records of the Conservative Association include: (incomplete) general (executive) committee records 1891-1966, plus minutes of several subcommittees including the finance and municipal committees. Records of the Club (ACC/B) include minutes of the Club committee (1882-1890), the municipal Committee (1880-1894), which at these dates appears to have been a responsibility of the Club rather than the Association, and the Entertainments Committee (1922-1927). There is also a visitors book for the Club (ACC/C/1). Other records relate to electoral registration and electioneering, and there is a collection of cuttings books (ACC/D) dating from 1892-1955, which were used for political intelligence purposes, as well as recording notable events in the Association and Club's histories.

The collection also includes various handbooks, souvenirs, photographs, folders relating to the 1886 and 1910 elections, miscellaneous correspondence and leaflets relating to Conservative politics in the local area (ACC/E). The collection is of considerable value for students of political organization and electioneering in Accrington and Lancashire in general.

Administrative / Biographical History

Following the passage of the 1867 Reform Act, British political parties became more organized in the constituencies to deal with the greatly enlarged electorate. Before 1885, Accrington formed part of the North East Lancashire county constituency, but following the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, Accrington became a borough constituency in its own right. The constituency was made up of the borough of Accrington together with the surrounding settlements of Church, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, and Clayton-le-Moors. Some form of Conservative organization is likely to have existed in Accrington during this period, although its exact form is unclear.

Accrington Conservative Club predated the formation of Accrington constituency, and it is assumed it undertook an active political role in the town until the creation of the constituency necessitated political reorganization. Accrington Division Conservative Association was then established as the official organization of the Conservative party in the constituency. The Association was responsible for selecting Conservative parliamentary candidates, and undertaking electoral registration, campaigning and propaganda work. It was run by an Executive Council or Committee, which included representatives from constituent ward branches, and associated Conservative groups in the area. The Finance and Emergency Committee was responsible for the general and financial administration of the Association.

The Association and the Club worked very closely together, the Association having its offices in the Club. The Club played an important role in political work, but also provided a range of social and convivial activities for its members. A new Conservative Club building was opened on 24 October 1891 by A J Balfour, then leader of the Conservatives in the House of Commons. The building, in Cannon St., Accrington, was built through to the financial generosity of John Bullough, and included offices, a billiards room, a lecture hall and a large assembly hall, the Bullough Room; the Club was considered to have some of the best facilities of its kind in Lancashire. Smaller Conservative clubs also existed in Accrington's satellite settlements.

Accrington constituency survived for almost one hundred years, before being superseded by the Hyndburn constituency, first contested in the 1983 general election. In general, Accrington, like other Lancashire weaving towns, leaned toward the Liberal and Labour parties in general elections, but Conservative MPs sat for the seat between 1886-1892, 1918-1922, and 1931-1945.

Arrangement

The archive is made up of two separate but related collections: records of the (central) Accrington Conservative Club and records of the Accrington Division Conservative Association. These bodies worked closely together to promote the Conservative cause in Accrington, with the Association having its offices within the Club. Due to this close relationship, definitive identification of provenance can be problematic, so some record series include records which may be from both bodies.

The archive is arranged into the following series:

  • ACC/A - Conservative Association records
  • ACC/B - Conservative Club records
  • ACC/C - Other Club/Association records
  • ACC/D - Cuttings books
  • ACC/E - Miscellaneous material

Conditions Governing Access

Open to any accredited reader.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

All items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

Records of several Conservative constituency associations in Lancashire have been deposited at Lancashire Record Office.

Bibliography

For further information on the records of Conservative constituency associations, see Stuart Ball, 'National politics and local history: the regional and local archives of the Conservative Party 1867-1945' (1996) 22 Archives, pp.27-59.

Geographical Names