Object of the Month: May 2024

Published: 29 April 2024

Operative Bricklayers’ Society membership certificate

Paper, ink, 1890

Chosen by: Davey Ivens, Community Co-Producer

Membership certificate for the Operative Bricklayers’ Society

This trade union membership certificate in the name of William Gardener is dated 1890, when the Leicester Offices of the Operative Bricklayers’ Society (OBS) were based in Highfields.

The OBS was one of the ‘New Model’ trade unions that developed in the 1830s and 1840s, often representing skilled workers. These unions were considered more ‘respectable’ and less militant than their more general counterparts.

By 1900 the union had 38,830 members, half of whom were based in London, and by 1921 had merged with two other organisations to form the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers (AUBTW).

The original OBS emblem was painted by Arthur Waudby RA in 1867 and is in the collection of the People’s History Museum, Manchester.

The Object of the Month can be seen in person throughout May at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.