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Pat Wall

Liverpool 1911

Introduction to
‘Bloody Sunday’ Eye Witness Account

(September 1975)

From Militant, No. 271, 19 September 1975.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.<<br /> Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Bloody Sunday and the events of the Transport Strike of August 1911 are a famous part of Liverpool working class history and folklore.

The depression of 1908–9 had seriously reduced living standards, unemployment had risen and Trade Union membership declined. From 1910 the upswing in economic activity reversed this process and the workers, particularly those in the rapidly growing Trade Unions embarked on a series of struggles aimed at restoring the cuts of the depression years.

Early in 1911 the Liverpool dockers won a notable victory not only against the port employers, but also against religious sectarianism. United demonstrations of Catholic and Protestant workers were held, led by a joint band, complete with green and orange favours. In August a total transport strike, including the railways, broke out, a prelude to the national strike called by the four railway unions. A Government Commission alone managed to persuade the strikers back to work. The most obstinate employers were the Liverpool Corporation.

From its attitude it seems certain the Corporation and the local judiciary prepared the provocation of the peaceful demonstration which became Bloody Sunday. The response of the workers was more than they bargained for, the strikers became more determined. Liverpool was in a state of virtual siege for several days, some accounts claim that the strikers broke into gun shops.

The following eye-witness account by a participant is a valuable page of working class history. Written in the fifties the author had illusions in the ability of Labour and Capital to peacefully reconcile differences. The events at Cammell Lairds Shipyard of the last few weeks show that nothing has really changed. The author’s account of the events of Bloody Sunday has the ring of truth and as we prepare for the stormy period which lies ahead, it should prove of interest to all Trade Unions.

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