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War and the transformation of British society c1903–28

Key Topic 1: The Liberals, votes for women and social reform

The activities of the women’s societies and the reaction of the authorities.
Children’s welfare measures, old age pensions.
Labour Exchanges 1909, the National Insurance Act 1911.

Key Topic 2: The part played by the British on the Western Front

The BEF and 1914.
Britain’s contribution to the Western Front 1915–17.
The end of the war.

Key Topic 3: The home front and social change

DORA, censorship and propaganda.
Recruitment and rationing.
The part played by women.

Key Topic 4: Economic and social change 1918–28

The changing role of women 1918–28.
Industrial unrest 1918–27.
The General Strike of 1926.

The General Strike

On May 4th 1926 a meeting of the Trade Unions Congress calls for a General Strike in support of miners who are faciing a huge pay cut of 13%. A huge number of union members, from many industries, join in the strike. The strike quickly becomes quite violent and the army is sent in to deal with riots. The strike lasted until May 11th when the TUC calls off the strike. Workers then began to return to work.


The TUC online archive holds a great number of contemporary sources relating to the General Strike.

Source: Kinglsey Martin writing in 1966

The General Strike of 1926 was an unmitigated disaster. Not merely for Labour but for England. Churchill and other militants in the cabinet were eager for a strike, knowing that they had built a national organisation in the six months' grace won by the subsidy to the mining industry. Churchill himself told me this on the first occasion I met him in person. I asked Winston what he thought of the Samuel Coal Commission. When Winston said that the subsidy had been granted to enable the Government to smash the unions, unless the miners had given way in the meantime, my picture of Winston was confirmed.

Source: David Kirkwood

I was heartily in favour of the General Strike. I believed we should see such an uprising of the people that the Government would be forced to grant our demands. Ramsay MacDonald was in favour of it. Philip Snowden was in favour of it. J. H. Thomas was in favour of it. When it came, it was so tremendous that there was no one big enough to control it.


BBC Bitesize a useful chronology of the General Strike and a narrative that places it in context.

Spartacus encyclopedia. Detailed narrative.

The General Strike on Clydesdale.

The General Strike. Sources at the Modern Records Centre.





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