Thomas Bangbala Collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of material relating to the life of Thomas Bangbala, and in particular his political activism. Included are personal papers, letters, education certificates, records of his involvement with the Manchester Central Branch of the Electrical Trade Union. It also contains items on his employment as an electrical engineer, and some relevant newspaper articles about Bangbala.

Thomas was the first black member of the Manchester Trade Union, and was particular his activism in promoting the rights of Black people especially within the Trade Union, and this is reflected in the content of the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Bangbala was born in Nigeria on the 21 April 1907, and in 1924, at the age of 17, came to Liverpool on the Elder Dempster Ship 'Apapa' as a Seaman. He continued to work as a seaman until 1927 and began to study as a Electrical Engineer, through a correspondence course at Bennett College, Sheffield in 1927. Bangbala moved to Manchester in 1928. He was conscripted to Prestatyn, with the outbreak of the Second World War, however he appealed against it claiming that he could not be conscripted because as a member of the colonies he was not a British Citizen. As a result he was discharged and directed to first Metropolitan and Vickers and then Cook and Co. Manchester Ltd. for work, where he worked until 1969. In 1942 he continued his studies in Electrical Engineering, restarting his correspondence course at Bennett College. In 1940 Bangbala joined the Electrical Trade Union, becoming the first black man to join the Manchester branch, and also became a member of the Manchester City Labour Party. Bangbala used his influence in both the Electrical Trade Union and the Manchester City Labour Party to advocate for the rights of Black people, particularly within the Trade Unions. He suggested resolutions to both the Trade Union and the Labour Party concerning the Black Community, attending the Pan-African Congress in 1945 as a Trade Union Delegate. In 1972 Bangbala received a Life Membership Card to the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union, after 30 years of membership.

Access Information

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