Matthew Thomas, a third year history undergraduate, has received a bursary from the Society for the Study of Labour History, enabling him to visit Norfolk Record Office and collect important documents regarding the Burston School Strike, the longest strike in British history (1914-1939). The findings from this research will be revealed in Matthew's dissertation, a study of the role of school strikes in labour history. The main focus is on the Burston and Washington/Usworth strikes, which were vastly different in their execution, but had similar aims. Matthew's research in Norfolk unearthed some invaluable documents, including a copy of the school log book for the Burston and Shimpling School which describes the conduct of the school and gives details of the attendance rates and disciplinary action under Mrs. Higdon, the headmistress and wife of a Labour activist. This material helped Matthew to provide the necessary context for the dispute between the local authorities and the Labour-supporting headmistress, as well as the children who backed her and voted in favour of founding the alternative Burston Strike School. In addition, Norfolk Education Committee minutes, newspaper articles, pamphlets and booklets all provided fascinating accounts of the strike: its motivations, politics, and the ways in which these affected local government and industrial relations in general.
|Handbill for the opening of the Burston Strike School, dated May 1917. |
Original held at Norfolk Record Office. MC 31/38, 478x1.