The Liverpool Transport Strike began on 14 June 1911
“You need not attach great importance to the rioting
in Liverpool last night. It took place in an area where
disorder is a chronic feature”.
When Churchill made this statement to Parliament, Liverpool was under martial law: a gunboat was moored on the Mersey, dockers, seafarers, and transport workers were on general strike.
Over a hundred years ago, from mid June to late August 1911, Liverpool was a city virtually under siege. Up to 66,000 men, supported by their families, were on strike. The alarmed civil authorities secured 500 extra police from Leeds and Birmingham and over 2,300 troops from six regiments in an effort to maintain law and order and to escort goods vehicles in the city. A warship, HMS Antrim, was briefly anchored in the Mersey. For several weeks the city came to a virtual standstill. In terms of the numbers involved it was the biggest dispute in Liverpool’s labour history. The 1911 Liverpool General Transport Strike involved dockers, railway workers and sailors, as well people from other trades. It paralysed Liverpool commerce for most of the summer of 1911. It also transformed trade unionism on Merseyside. For the first time, general trade unions were able to establish themselves on a permanent footing and become genuine mass organisations of the working class.