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   Back to London declines as a whaling port

Will Thorne.

Will Thorne.
Leader of the gas workers.
© National Maritime Museum, London
Repro ID: H2636
Description: William Thorne (1957-1946) was originally from Birmingham, but moved to London in 1882. He found work at the Beckton Gasworks and soon joined the Canning Town branch of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF). Thorne was appointed secretary of the branch and by the late 1880s he was one of the SDF's best known public speakers. In 1889 Thorne helped to establish the National Union of Gasworkers & General Labourers. Thorne led the successful negotiations for an eight-hour day in the industry. Thorne's success also inspired other workers to demand better pay and conditions, particularly the London dockers, whom Ben Tillett led to victory in 1889. In 1894 Thorne was elected to the Trades Union Congress Parliamentary Committee (a position he held until 1933). Thorne was also active in local politics and in West Ham served as a Town Councillor (1891-1910), Alderman (1910-46) and Mayor (1917-18). He became MP for West Ham at the 1906 General Election. In the 1918 election Thorne won the Plaistow seat for the Labour Party. He held this new seat until his retirement before the 1945 election.
Creator: Unknown
Date: c.1890
Credit line: Newham Archives and Local Studies Library collection.
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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