Ray Physick talks about Bloody Sunday on 13th August 1911

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 22nd July 2011 by Liam Physick

Ray Physick addresses how the transport strike of 1911 was conducted. He talks of Tom Mann’s oratory and charisma, how the strikers held the trade union leaders accountable, and how on Bloody Sunday, 13th August, police attacked a peaceful crowd which had gathered to hear Mann speak, illegally hitting them over their heads with their batons. This behaviour so scandalised the editor of the Liverpool Magazine (not a natural supporter of the strikers) that he wrote a letter to Home Secretary Winston Churchill complaining about it

Interviewee: Ray Physick

Interviewee Gender: Male

Interview Transcript

Now, how was the strike conducted? Well, this is Tom Mann. Apparently, he was the most marvellous speaker, we don’t have recordings of him unfortunately, but one of the most marvellous speakers, he could address a very large crowd and be heard right at the very, sort of, back. Very charismatic man, by all accounts and if you read his biography, you get that feeling, really, as well. And looking at faces of, of, of the men, you know, they’re, they’re, you know, it goes back to that first slide of the slum, these are hard men, working and living under hard, sort of, conditions, and what’s important to, sort of, stress, and meetings like this – this – is actually down at Edge Hill, I think – meetings like this took place day in, day out, so that the workers knew what the trade unions were doing and, more importantly, the workers kept the trade union leaders into account. They, they wouldn’t let them get away, you know, with anything. Next slide, please? Now, this is Bloody Sunday, August 13th nineteen, you know, eleven, and, what is important to stress, that this was not only a mass meeting, if you . . . all in their Sunday best, wearing boaters, there was men, women and children, you know, in the meeting, who went to hear Mann and, you know, speak, to, to . . . it was really a rally to show the state that we, you know, we were gonna, we’re, we’re gonna win this, sort of, strike, and it was a peaceful meeting, until the police intervened. Can you show the next slide please? This’ll just be a different shot, you can see women in the crowd there, the trade union banner, and then, a mass of heads, probably 100,000 people or more were gathered around St. George’s Hall, the only crowds you get like that these days is when Liverpool . . . is for, when your team’s won the FA Cup or the European Cup. No, seriously, there’s massive crowds, for trade union rights and for better wages and better, sort of, conditions, you know, at work. Unfortunately, the whole thing turned sour, and we show the next, sort of, slide. This is, from a letter, from a guy who was, middle-class guy, owner of the Liverpool Magazine, who wrote to, sort of, Churchill. I won’t read because I haven’t the time, but basically what he’s saying is that the, the whole event was peaceful, was joyous, was a good mood, celebration, of the power of working people coming together for their, sort of, rights, until the police charged with their batons, their baton charges upon the quiet and orderly meeting, and he complains to, sort or, Churchill about – I’ve got more of these letters in my file there – he complains to Churchill that not only did they baton-charge them, but they hit people over the head, which was against the rules, by the way, as laid down, by the Home Office, they hit people, over the heads, men, women and children, and broke a few, sort of, skulls, and that gives you another, sort of, another idea how serious and how desperate the state machine was to break the, sort of, strike. The next slide is just a, you know a letter goes round – go to the next slide – I can pass this round at the end, you, know, to have a look at, it’s not very easy to read. The point, the point I’m trying to make is that, the whole, that this is a owner of a prestigious journal in the city, not one who’s gonna side with the working class, but because the movement was so vast and so broad, that it won over other sections of the whole population, I think that’s important that in a struggle of, like, like this, it’s led by the working class, but it draws in other layers of people of well. The whole of the city was behind the, the, sort of, strike, as was the whole country, by the way.

Tagged under: edge hill station, 1911 strike, police, trade unions, tom mann, bloody sunday, winston churchill

Categorised under: Work & Industry

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