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Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants

The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS) was a trade union of railway workers in the United Kingdom from 1872 until 1913.

Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants
MottoWorkers of the world, unite!
Date dissolved1913
Merged intoNational Union of Railwaymen
Members97,561 (1907)[1]
JournalRailway Review
AffiliationTUC, Labour
Office location72 Acton Street, London
CountryUnited Kingdom



The ASRS was an industrial union founded in 1871 with the support of the Liberal MP Michael Thomas Bass.[2] Its early years were difficult. In 1872 the ASRS reported having 17,247 members but by 1882 this had declined to only 6,321.[3]

In 1880 the ASRS's growth was challenged by the foundation of two railway craft unions: the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen and the United Pointsmen and Signalmen's Society.[3] A fourth union, the General Railway Workers' Union, was founded in 1889.[3]

In 1900 the ASRS proposed amalgamation with ASLEF[4] but ASLEF proposed federation with the drivers and firemen of the ASRS.[5] A Scheme of Federation was drafted and ASLEF's triennial conference adopted it in 1903.[4] There were joint meetings of the Executive Committees of the two unions until 1906 when relations broke down.[6]

In 1907 the Board of Trade set up a Conciliation Board between railway employees and their employers, but its operation dissatisfied many workers and ASLEF's General Secretary nicknamed it the "Confiscation" Board.[7] By this point, the ASRS had grown significantly, with 97,561 members in 1907, making it one of the country's largest trade unions.[1]

In August 1911 the ASRS, ASLEF, GRWU and UPSS jointly called the United Kingdom's first national rail strike.[8] In only two days the joint action succeeded in forcing the Liberal Government to set up a Royal Commission to examine the workings of the Conciliation Board.[9]

In 1913 the ASRS, GRWU and UPSS merged, forming the National Union of Railwaymen.[10]


General SecretariesEdit

1871: George Chapman
1874: Fred W. Evans
1883: Edward Harford
1897: Richard Bell
1909: J. E. Williams

Assistant SecretariesEdit

1883: Thomas Watson
1889: Edward Garrity
1902: J. E. Williams
1910: J. H. Thomas


1872: J. Baxter Langley
1874: John David Jenkins
1877: Peter Stewart Macliver
1892: Walter Hudson
1899: George Thaxton
1902: W. G. Loraine
1905: James Henry Thomas
1907: James Reed Bell
1910: E. Charles
1911: Albert Bellamy


  1. ^ a b Report on Trade Unions in 1905-1907. London: Board of Trade. 1909. p. 82-101.
  2. ^ Raynes, 1921, pages 23–24
  3. ^ a b c Raynes, 1921, page 24
  4. ^ a b Raynes, 1921, page 124
  5. ^ Raynes, 1921, page 110
  6. ^ Raynes, 1921, page 125
  7. ^ Raynes, 1921, pages 147–148
  8. ^ Raynes, 1921, page 148
  9. ^ Raynes, 1921, page 151
  10. ^ Raynes, 1921, page 165

Sources and further readingEdit

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