Record

CodeNA9381
Dates1921-1964
Person NameNational Council of Labour Colleges; 1921-1964
ActivityIn 1899 Ruskin College, Oxford, was established for the education of socially conscious working men. In 1908 the Plebs League was formed by students at Ruskin College as a platform to plead the cause of independent working class education and with the aim of transforming Ruskin College into a labour college for workers run by workers. In 1909 a number of students left Ruskin College in protest and formed the Central Labour College. In 1909 'Plebs' magazine was launched. In 1911 the Central Labour College was moved from Oxford to London. The Plebs League and Central Labour College spread the idea of independent labour colleges for working class education throughout Britain and members of the League established local branches of the Labour College and conducted classes. The National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC) was formed in 1921 at the first national convention of such labour colleges held in Birmingham. Delegates of the provincial labour colleges, Scottish Labour College and the Central Labour College were present. 'Plebs' magazine became the official publication of the NCLC although it remained under the control of the Plebs League. The aims of the NCLC were to educated workers from a working class point of view through colleges, classes and public lectures, to coordinate and extend the independent working class educational work, to issue leaflets, syllabuses and other teaching materials for tutors and students. The NCLC was administered through an annual meeting and a committee of six representatives. The NCLC was funded by trade unions and also received grants from the Labour Party, Cooperative Union, General Federation of Trade Unions, overseas unions and from cooperative societies. From 1923-1964 J.P.M. Millar (b 1893) was General Secretary. His wife Christine established the postal courses department. In 1923 divisions were formed in the NCLC. In 1924 a Northern Irish Division was added. In 1926 the NCLC took over the publication of 'Plebs' magazine by the NCLC publishing society. In 1927 the headquarters of the NCLC were moved with J.P.M. Millar, from Edinburgh, where he lived, to London, where the printing of 'Plebs' was undertaken and Millar was to become editor. In 1929 wives of trade union members became eligible for postal courses and free attendance at classes upon the production of their husbands' union membership cards. During the Second World War the head office of the NCLC was moved to Tillicoultry, Scotland, and the NCLC warmly welcomed socialist refugees from Nazi Germany, many of whom were invited to attend and to give lectures. In 1964 the NCLC was absorbed by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
Corporate NameNational Council of Labour Colleges
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