National Maritime Board

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This small collection contains bound volumes of typed minutes for the National Maritime Board [U DX387/2-17]. The volumes generally contain alphabetical subject indexes for the separate panels, the minutes of full Board meetings as well as the minutes for meetings of individual panels and joint meetings consisting of two or more panels. The minutes predominantly relate to the working conditions and wages of British seamen, however, there is also some reference to pay and related agreements made in other countries.

Subjects covered in the minutes include issues concerning hours of work; allowances, benefits and bonuses for working in particular conditions such as war zones; overtime payments; wages for qualified seamen and apprentices; qualification certificates; compensation agreements; training courses; leave entitlement; official enquiries and related government legislation.

There is also a report on the economic curve as regards UK shipping (Apr 1925) [U DX387/1].

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Maritime Board was initially established in November 1917, to enable wage negotiations during the First World War and to ease the perceived threat of industrial action, but was later re-established in 1919 as a permanent body. The Board involved representatives from the National Union of Seamen, the National Union of Ship's Stewards and the Shipping Federation, and was created to decide national wage rates for all grades of seafarers. The first General Secretary of the Board was Aylmer Vallance. During the 1920s, the Board enforced a number of wage reductions which led to the Ship's Stewards Union being locked out, owing to the opposition to the reduction in 1921. The Board also became involved in a controversy surrounding the policy of Joint Control which attempted to enforce that only those seafarers in possession of an endorsed form by the National Union of Seamen and their employers' organisation could gain employment. It was consequently seen as an attempt to force into unemployment members of rival unions, communists, and other 'agitators'.

The National Maritime Board consisted of six panels, which together formed the full Board. Each panel had an equal number of representatives of shipping owners and employees. The six panels were: shipmasters, engineers, navigating officers, sailors, firemen and radio officers.

Conditions Governing Access

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Deposited by The National Union of Seamen, Mar 1973

Related Material

Ellerman's Wilson Line [U DEW]

National Union of Seamen ballot rigging enquiry and other papers [U DX334]

Other repositories

National Maritime Board papers, Modern Records Centre, Warwick University (Ref. MSS.367/NMB)

Shipping Federation: National Maritime Board papers, National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives and Library (Ref. D/NMB and D/GC)