Tramping card of the Tin-Plate Workers’ General Union, Salford, 1868

Object name: Tramping card of the Tin-Plate Workers’ General Union

Creator: C. Sampson, General Printer, Salford

Date: 1868

Locality: Salford, Manchester, Lancashire

People’s History Museum, Manchester, UK

EMu user since 2000


novemberTramping had long been the means by which unemployed skilled workers sought work, travelling on foot from town to town. The paid-up union member would present his tramping card at a public house, it would be stamped by a union official and he would receive his dues: food and drink, a bed for the night and some money to help him on his way.With this kind of provision, trade unions were like friendly societies: fraternal, social and supportive towards their members. The clasped hands on the card cover symbolise the bond of membership, the fraternal handshake. So complete was the financial provision, including in some cases money for emigration to North America and Canada, that these early trade unions were said to represent a small democratic state within a state.