a Society of Boilermakers
The Formation of the Union
The first recorded trade union meeting of the boilermakers took place on 20 August 1834. The meeting place was Manchester. A decsion was taken to form a Society of Friendly Boiler Makers and fourteen members were enrolled.

Become the fifteenth!

The Initiation Ceremony
Boilermakers' Emnlem
The Boilermakers' Emblem — HUMANI NIHIL ALIENUM (To humanity nothing hostile)
You are now about to enter the Amalgamated Society of Boilermakers, Shipwrights, Blacksmiths and Structural Workers to participate in its privileges and share its responsibilities; you will be expected to conform to all our laws and usages, to cultivate a kind of brotherly feeling amongst our members. Their cause must be your cause, their good your good, their troubles your troubles, and all past indifference transformed into a profound sympathy, and all prejudice into a sacred devotion for the elevation of the Order you are about to enter; and if these precepts are carried out in your everyday life you will at all times receive the approbation of your fellow members and the shield of the Society will be raised to protect you in time of need...

...In conclusion, I would enjoin you to be a loving husband, a tender father, a good neighbour and a strict observer of every mortal and social duty, honouring your parents as you in your turn expect to be honoured. May you rejoice at all times in the lessening of human suffering, in the alleviation of human sorrow, and in the elevation of your fellow-men. Always let charity and wisdom guide you in your efforts, remembering that in aiding others in distress you are elevating yourself and that it is better to give than receive.

The Boilermaker's Craft
The craft of boilermaking developed with the evolution of the steam engine. An essential part of a steam engine is a boiler. This is a vessel in which water is heated to boiling point to produce steam. A boiler had to include a furnace for the combustion of coal or other fuel, and it had to provide as large a heating surface as possible so that the heat released by the combustion of the fuel could be transmitted to the water.

The water had to be contained in a separate compartment or, or, at a later stage, in tubes. The boiler had to be sufficiently strong to withstand the high steam pressures generated when the furnace was at full blast. Boilers were made of plates of metal which were cut and bent to shape. The plates had to be joined together and made steam tight.

The methods of marking out plates, of making templets (essentially a templet is a pattern), of cutting and shaping plates and then of joining them together have changed with the development of new techniques, but all the operations involved, both then and now, form part of the boilermaker's craft. Theu include plating, templet making, rolling, planing, punching, shearing, bending, welding, flanging, drilling, riveting, caulking and tubing.

It is part of the boilermaker's trade to fabricate metal structures or machines of the most diverse kinds from plates, angles, tee-pieces, channels and joist sections. Originally, some boilermakers were also expectec to be able to shape metal by the process of forging (that is, to change the shape of a piece of metal by heating it and then striking it with a hammer). This, however, is a separate craft – that of the blacksmith – and demands a high level of skill. The blacksmiths developed their own trade union, and it was not until many years later that their union amalgamated with the Boilermakers' Society.

The craft of boilermaking as it originally developed was an extremely wide one, calling for considerable skill in many different operations. It was not surprising, therefore, that a measure of specialisation began to develop even at an early stage. The employer recognised that specialisation would help productivity. Some who today criticise the tradition of specialisation among boilermakers overlook or are, perhaps, unaware of the circumstances in which it originated and developed. It was introduced to promote higher productivity.

History of the Boilermakers' Society
Volume One: 1834 – 1906
J E Mortimer

© George Allen & Unwin Ltd 1973
ISBN 0 04 906001 3

Creative Commons License Rhodes Family History by Ian Rhodes (1999-2018 v.3.0) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting me.