Celebrating the 125th anniversary of TSSA
On Monday 9 May 2022 we celebrated the 125th anniversary of TSSA.
Our union was founded in Sheffield in 1897, and we returned to the city of our birth to mark our anniversary.
The TSSA 125 event on Monday 9 May 2022 took place at the Mercure St. Paul’s Hotel, Sheffield. It featured an exhibition setting out our history, films were shown, and there were 17 stalls, exhibition stands, and various entertainments including speeches and performances.
The proceedings were punctuated by a number of VIP guest speakers from across the trade union and Labour movement, including current and former general secretaries and Labour MPs.
A bus tour of Sheffield was available using a former London Transport Routemaster bus, which took in sites important to TSSA and its members.
Stage Schedule on the day
Speakers and Entertainments
There were speakers throughout the day, punctuated by entertainment provided by Banner Theatre and comedian Mark Thomas.
Melissa Heywood and Gemma Southgate, members of TSSA’s Executive Committee, ran the stage, introducing the speakers and entertainment.
The running order was:
11:10 Mick Carney, President, TSSA
11:15 Gerry Doherty, former General Secretary, TSSA
11:25 Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF
11:35 Katy Clark, Member of the Scottish Parliament
11:55 Banner Theatre performance
12:40 Richard Rosser, former General Secretary, TSSA
12:50 Loraine Martins, Global Lead for Diversity and Inclusion, Nichols (a consultancy of strategic transformation specialists) and former Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Network Rail
13:05 Eoin Coates, Head of Aviation, European Transport Workers Federation (ETF)
13:25 Performance by comedian Mark Thomas
13:55 Ian Prosser, Chief Inspector of Railways and Director Railway Safety, Office for Rail and Road (ORR)
14:05 Rozanne Foyer, General Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)
14:15 Paul Nowak, Deputy General Secretary, Trades Union Congress (TUC
14:25 Alana Dave, Urban Transport Director, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF)
14:35 Thomas O'Connor, Deputy General Secretary, National Bus & Rail Union (Ireland)
15:00 Banner Theatre performance
15:45 Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA
Stage Schedule: Speakers and Entertainments
4 April 1897 An exploratory meeting for a railway clerks union was held at Sheffield Vestry Hall. Only 5 clerks were present, and a management spy reported back that “nothing would come of it”!
9 May 1897 First formal meeting of National Association of General Railway Clerks (renamed RCA in 1899) took place at the Wilberforce Café, Sheffield. Charles Basset-Vincent became our first General Secretary
1900 RCA formally registered as a trade union on the first day of the 20th century.
1906 RCA rejected a merger with other rail unions
1910 RCA welcomed its first woman member, C. Greenlees, and affiliated to the Labour Party
1914 General Secretary Alexander Walkden presented the case for rail nationalisation to Prime Minister Asquith.
1915 RCA annual conference welcomed its first woman delegate, Mamie Thompson
1916 RCA held its First National Women’s Conference
1918: Walkden meets Prime Minister David Lloyd George to call for rail nationalisation highlighting the success of government control during WW1
4 February 1919 The RCA achieved recognition by railway companies narrowly averting a strike – some members struck anyway having not received the message in time!
1926: RCA members went on strike from 4th May until 12 May as part of the General Strike
1927 The RCA established a National Women’s Organising Committee
1929 RCA General Secretary Alexander Walkden calls for a Channel Tunnel, a national pension scheme and the nationalisation of transport in a submission to a Royal Commission
1930 TSSA elected its first women EC member, Elsie Orman
1931: Bill introduced to put London Transport into public ownership
1939 – 1945 World War Two: 22,306 RCA members served in armed forces during war. 4,900 rail staff were recorded killed or missing during war. A further 392 were killed on railway duty, along with 181 London Transport staff.
1947: The Transport Act received Royal Assent, nationalising the rail network, buses, shipping, canals and (briefly) road haulage.
1951 The RCA becomes the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
1952: 8 October Harrow rail crash - 21 TSSA members died, and over 40 were injured.
1956 Equal Pay achieved in British Rail
1958: Walkden House opens at Melton St., London on 10th October
1960 First black delegates elected to Annual Conference
1970 BR and LT introduce “Closed Shop” for most employees
17 April 1972: TSSA work to rule commences in BR over pay
1978 Amarjit Singh became the first Asian TSSA member to be elected as a Labour councillor
1980 First Black TSSA Executive Committee member, Claude James elected
1987 First woman National TSSA Treasurer, Brenda Hanks, elected
1991 Amarjit Singh became TSSA’s first Asian member to be elected a Mayor. He was also Newham Council’s first Asian Mayor.
1993 First woman TSSA President, Brenda Hanks, elected
1993: Railways Act passed, leading to privatisation under John Major’s government
2000: Women in Focus founded
2002: Arriva Trains Northern strike – the first TSSA rail strike since the General Strike in 1926
2004: First Asian TSSA National Treasurer, Amarjit Singh, takes office
7 July 2004: TSSA members killed and injured in 7/7 London bombings
2017 TSSA became the first union to become a Stonewall Diversity Champion.
2018: TSSA moved its head office from Melton Street, adjacent to London's Euston Station, to Devonshire Square, near Liverpool Street Station
2018: Inclusive Rail, our campaign to make the railways more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people, launched with a reception in Parliament
2021 Jhaenelle De Souza became TSSA’s first Black Woman EC member
2022: TSSA celebrates its 125th anniversary in Sheffield.