A study of the rise and decline of selected Labour halls in the Greater London area 1918-1979

Topman, Heidi Nicola (2006) A study of the rise and decline of selected Labour halls in the Greater London area 1918-1979. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis contributes to the existing knowledge and understanding of Greater London local labour movement history, by considering it from the perspective of the meeting spaces, the labour halls, which provided a focal point for a range of activities between 1918 and 1979. Evidence, drawn from fifteen selected labour halls, illuminates a diverse range of themes, including the role of political and industrial organisations; the provision of leisure and working class education; the representation of women and the nature of gender-specific organisation; the increasing non-political usage of the premises and the diverse range of associations which using the halls. Furthermore, financial necessity precipitated a certain degree of pragmatism in the management of the halls, as evidenced by the hiring of rooms to organisations such as the Communist Party of Great Britain and the frequent sale of alcohol on the premises. Comparative studies centred upon Cambridge, Sheffield and Newport, South Wales, established that there was no indication of a specific and unique "Greater London Labour Hall" identity. The reasons for the decline of the 15 halls were more complex and extensive than the existing literature on the post-war Labour Party implies. The lack of reform at Constituency Labour Party level, the cost of maintaining the premises, and the rise of alternative meeting venues contributed to the decline of the selected premises as political spaces.

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