Papers of the Electrical Trades Union

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Deposit 1: Minutes of Executive Council, 1954-1992; Court cases involving the ETU, 1958-1961 including Cannon v. ETU, 1958-1961, H.H. Gittins v. ETU, 1960-1961, Tuck v. ETU, 1960-1964, Reno (also known as Odlin) v. ETU, 1947-1967, Chapple v. ETU re: 1961 RRC, 1961, Chapple vs. ETU re: AGS Election, 1960, Dawson v. ETU, 1962, ETU v. Tarlo, 1960-1965, ETU v. Frank Haxell and Mrs. Q.C. Haxell, 1963-1964, Braithwaite v. ETU, 1969.

Deposit 2: Papers relating to Sir Leslie Cannon, a 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.

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).

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 was a prominent union official and served as General President from 1963.

Reference: Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical Directory of Trade Unions Volume 2 (Gower, 1984).


The collection is uncatalogued.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to some of these papers is restricted under the Data Protection Act 1998. Please contact the Centre's staff for further information

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.

Other Finding Aids

A partial catalogue (of the first two deposits) is available in electronic format from the Centre's website at A brief box list is available for the third deposit in paper format in the Centre's searchroom.

Authority records exist for the Electrical Trades Union (GB 152 AAR571); Sir Leslie Cannon (GB 152 AAR800) and the Plumbing Trades Union (GB 0152 AAR426).

Conditions Governing Use

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

Appraisal Information

This collection as been weeded for duplicates.


Further deposits are expected.

Related Material

The Modern Records Centre holds further papers of the Plumbing Trades Union at MSS.134.