William B Small – Trade Unionist


1928 Miners welfare

1928 Miners Welfare at Calder St, upon opening.

Small, Mr. William B – b1873 –d1944 was a Scottish Trade Unionist. Small was the son of William Small, a draper in Blantyre who became a prominent trade union leader.

William B. Small, as he was generally known to distinguish him from his (more famous) father, undertook a legal apprenticeship, but then in 1903, when his father died followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming an agent of the Lanarkshire Miners’ County Union (LMCU); his younger brother Robert was also appointed as an agent.

Small also became active in the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), and during the 1900s was secretary of its Lanarkshire District Council. He was then active in its successor, the British Socialist Party, and stood unsuccessfully for Hamilton School Board as a party member. In 1918, the secretary of the LMCU, Duncan Macgregor Graham, was elected as a Member of Parliament, and Small became acting general secretary. The following year, he won election as the union’s assistant general secretary, and then in 1921 he was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Scottish Mineworkers.

In 1922 he was elected as general secretary of the Lanarkshire Miners on a permanent basis. Now seen as being on the right-wing of the movement, dissatisfaction with his leadership during the 1926 UK general strike meant that in 1927 he lost a bid for re-election to William Allan, a communist influenced by John Maclean. Small instead returned to the post of assistant general secretary, and was re-elected to the senior post in 1929, serving until about 1937.

He was an active fundraiser in Blantyre for the creation of the Miners Wefare in Calder Street in 1928. (as photographed with other colliery officials and union leaders). In 1937, Small was fined £15 for drunk driving; he claimed that he had not been intoxicated, but admitted to driving without a licence.

He died on 26th February 1944, aged 73 at his home in Bothwell.

On social media:

Gerry O’Donnelly Hence the name Small crescent ? .

The Blantyre Project absolutely!!

Brian Weaver Elizabeth, is that grandpa on the right?

Elizabeth Weaver Yes, it is. Front right, seated, Robert (Bob) Scott. Lifelong socialist and union worker. And he made great soup. NB Penny and Lucy Andrea Olsen Elizabeth Rodden and Mary Sitters

Elizabeth Rodden Being left wing is in our DNA. Just hope some it passes to the next generation.

Maisie Whittaker I think that’s my grandpa first on the left standing

Sheena Thomson My grandpa fourth from left top row Charlie McGuigan.

Mark McHugh Fascinating stuff.

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