National Union of Seamen

Scope and Content

This collection includes: rules; minutes and papers of executive council and other bodies; financial records; subject files; periodical and other publications; research records; press cuttings; legal records; branch records.

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Union of Seamen was founded in 1893 as the National Sailors and Firemen's Union, the successor to the National Amalgamated Sailors and Firemen's Union of Great Britain and Ireland, founded in 1887 on the initiative of J.H. Wilson. In 1922 a cooks and stewards' section was formed and the Hull Seamen's Union, the oldest and strongest of the local societies, was absorbed. The title of National Union of Seamen was adopted in 1926. In 1990 the union amalgamated with the National Union of Railwaymen to form the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.

Reference: Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan, 'The Seamen - a history of the National Union of Seamen' (Oxford, 1989).

Access Information

Subject to certain conditions, 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 National Union of Seamen in January 1978. A further major deposit was made in 1993 after the new National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers decided to base itself at Unity House, Euston Road, London, the National Union of Railwaymen's old headquarters building. A large (65 shelf metres) additional deposit was made to the National Union of Seamen's archive when the old headquarters at Maritime House were vacated. Additional material was transferred from the University library in 2003/4.

MSS.175A/1-237 are boxes deposited in 1993-1994; MSS.175A/238 onwards are items transferred form the library later on.

Seven digital photographs were deposited in 2015.

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

When the National Union of Seamen vacated its old headquarters at Maritime House, two large basements of records had been left behind and a selection had to be made of which records to save. Large numbers of files of negotiations with specific companies were not saved, with the exception of a few companies, saved as samples. A voluminous amount of case files was also rejected.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

Photocopies of photographs of Edmund Cathery, general secretary 1894-1926, and family