A History of the Liverpool Waterfront 1850-1890: The Struggle for Organisation is a detailed and comprehensive picture of the port of Liverpool in the nineteenth century. This fascinating book discloses the history of dock and maritime labour and the persistent efforts of Merseyside workers to achieve union organisation on the waterfront and aboard the fleets of vessels which packed the port dockland and approaches with forests of masts in the years before steam ousted the wind jammer and became supreme. It looks at the much neglected area of 'general strikes' applied not to a national turn out as commonly understood, but to joint regional united action across trades and armies of allegedly unskilled labour. In so doing, it challenges notions of insular 'trade' sectionalism. Based on the experience of Liverpool workers of all descriptions, particularly those of the marine and waterfront, A History of the Liverpool Waterfront 1850-1890: The Struggle for Organisation challenges long established labour history theories of 'New Unionism' and the alleged inability of unskilled labouring classes to organise themselves.
The book breaks new ground in understanding the way in which workers organised and built self reliance; in essence, 'the union' being the act of combination itself. Workers united in a common cause whether temporary or as we see in the case of some examples, surviving from the earliest times to their absorption into modern unions in existence today. A History of the Liverpool Waterfront 1850-1890: The Struggle for Organisation heaves with the concentrated effort of human toil both at work and within the community to stand together in a common cause and self defence.
David John Douglass was born pre-war in Jarrow upon Tyne. A lifelong coalminer in Durham and South Yorkshire, and a leading member of the National Union of Mineworkers, Douglas studied at Ruskin College, Oxford. A graduate of Strathclyde University, Glasgow and Keele University Staffs, he has written extensively on the coal industry, mining communities and National Union of Mineworkers as a worker-historian. In this work, Douglas turns his attention to early dock and maritime labour in the Mersey ports, revealing for the first time the extent of their organisational dynamic and class consciousness.