In an article on August 2 “A Forgotten National Revolution” we showed how only a few months after the end of the WWI industrial unrest led to widespread strikes throughout the country.

Among the industries affected was furniture manufacturing and the workers in High Wycombe were not immune to these strikes.

The strike began in July 1919, being called by Furniture Trades Union, so the members of the Union in Wycombe were obliged to become involved. Although reluctant to withdraw their labour, many no doubt remembering the hardship their families suffered in the Lock-Out of 1913/14, the Wycombe men proved to be the most militant in the country.

In Wycombe the “Lock-Out” began on July 24 and involved workers in 42 of the 46 factories who were members of the Furniture Manufacturers Federation.

Although there were early hopes that the dispute could be settled quickly these proved to be ill-founded. The national Joint Industrial Council took charge of the negotiations and meetings were held at the Ministry of Labour.

As the strike dragged on matters became more fractious and “riotous behaviour” took place in the town during the week ending September 19.

The cause of the trouble was that a number of employers had resolved to re-open their factories on Monday September 15 to allow those employees who wished to return to work to do so. Among those factories were Henry Goodearl & Sons and W.E.Ellis, both in West End Rd, Mr Large in Jubilee Rd, and Mr Evans in Abercromby Ayenue.

When this intention became common knowledge a mass meeting of the strikers was held on Saturday September 13 at the fountain in Frogmoor Gardens .

The meeting resolved that members of the Union “would be out at 5 o’clock to endeavour to persuade those who were not members of the Union to join, in which case the Union would accept full financial responsibility and probably the end of the lock-out would be hastened”.

We will now defer to the Bucks Free Press edition of September 19 to take up what then happened “When Monday morning arrived the massed pickets were out betimes [ie early]. One or two workmen turned up at Messrs Goodearl’s, but seeing the opposition they refrained from attempting to enter the works and went away. No men presented themselves at Mr Ellis’s or Mr Evans’s”.

The report continued “Later that morning the Furnishing Trades’ Band led a considerable crowd into Jubilee Road and in close proximity to Mr Large’s factory the musicians played for some considerable time.

“When 12 o’clock arrived, one or two employees (including one of Mr Large’s relatives who has served overseas) attempted to leave for their mid-day meal.

“No sooner did they put in an appearance than a scuffle began. Two men were violently assaulted. There was retaliation and one of the obstructors received punishment. Only two policemen were on duty at the time and they were powerless against a mob five or six hundred strong.

“When the employees got away they were followed by the crowd and outside one residence the housewife appeared and remonstrated with those who had interfered.

“The visit to the residence finished up by a stone being thrown through a front room window.”