Urgent Appeal from the Working Class Movement Library

The Working Class Movement Library in Salford, home to some of the ILP’s archives, has launched an urgent appeal to raise funds.

Recognised at home and abroad as one of Britain’s most important collections of working class history, the library houses a vast and unique collection of books and artefacts, capturing the stories and struggles behind ordinary people’s efforts to improve their world.

WCML banner

Thanks to a successful Heritage Lottery Fund project in 2011, the library has become more open and accessible in recent years when visitor numbers have increased more than five-fold and volunteer figures risen to an all-time high.

But the library now needs to raise an extra £80,000 a year to maintain this impetus and is calling for support from everyone who wants to see our working class heritage preserved and promoted.

“Our founders, Ruth and Eddie Frow, started the Library in their own home, driven by the belief that working people should remember and value their own history,” said a statement from the library. “Together they rescued countless items which would have otherwise been lost to the future.

“In these turbulent times that history has never been more relevant, and the survival of the library will depend on the generosity of our supporters.”

The library was described by Tony Benn as “one of the greatest educational institutions in Britain”, while its importance to visitors and users is summed up by a couple of quotes:

From a volunteer – “It’s an opportunity to help to preserve, extend and share with as many people as possible a resource bank which is bursting with inspiring exemplars, narratives and brilliantly reasoned arguments in support of peace, social justice and equality.”

From a reader – “Without the help that I got from the staff at the WCML in the early days, I don’t think I would have written the thesis I have… The thesis has now taken me to many libraries all over the country, and even the world – but none quite so friendly as the WCML.”

You can help the library carry on its work in the following ways:

  • Make regular monthly donations of £5 or £10. A small donation can make a huge difference.
  • Make an annual subscription of £10 to become a Friend, getting regular update and invitations to events. You can ask friends and your union branch to join too.
  • Forward the library’s appeal leaflet to as many people as you can. There’s an e-version here, while a printable version is available from the library’s website.

A gift of £22 buys acid-free packaging to preserve 50 of our unique historical pamphlets, a gift of £120 makes the library’s online catalogue visible to the world via its website for six months, and a gift of £500 can heat the building for a month.


See also: ‘A Triumph for Activism’.