Nelson ILP

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Page last updated 06.06.2015





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The ILP in Nelson

The Nelson branch of the ILP was formed in 1893, one of the first and eventually the second largest branch in the country.

For many years the focal point for the branch was the former Independent Labour Party Institute and Socialist Sunday School, which were situated in Vernon Street, Nelson.

The land on which the institute was built was purchased in 1906. Many fund raising events were held. A single three day “Grand Socialist Bazaar” raised the princely sum of £580.

In 1907 memorial stones were laid by Socialist Pioneers. Selina Cooper laid a stone in memory of Caroline Martyn & Enid Stacey. Mrs Bruce Glasier laid another in memory of William Morris & Edward F. Fay (The Bounder).

The magnificent stone building costing £3,000 was opened on the 28th of March 1908.
A procession of over 600 people led by the Mayor and a brass band marched through the town to the new institute.

The opening ceremony was performed by Philip Snowden M.P. and was followed by a Tea and Social for 600 people.

Two stained glass windows were situated above the main entrance, together with a stone lintel proclaiming: “Socialism Our Hope.”

Both of the windows have been preserved, one of the windows is on loan to the People's History Museum Bridge Street, Manchester. The other window of the pair is placed in an honoured position in the Nelson ILP Land Society Clarion House (images of the windows are on our CD-ROM).

The institute had an extensive basement and boiler room.

The ground floor containing a grand entrance and stairs, cloakroom, bathroom and toilets, reading room, library, committee rooms, school rooms, billiard room and kitchen.

First floor accommodation comprised, lecture/concert room for 600 people, a stage with anterooms and back stairs.

The decline of the ILP in Nelson mirrored the national decline of the ILP and as a consequence the institute is now used to serve a wider community.

The Nelson ILP branch, the members of which were mainly cotton workers, rented a cottage (Thorneyholme Square) in 1899 to allow its members to escape the polluted air of mills and towns.

The out of town venue was used to promote good health and stimulate socialist fellowship.

In 1903 when it had become apparent that the cottage was too small they rented Nabs Farm, Dimpenly and it was renamed the Clarion House.

The Independent Land Society was formed in 1910 raising money from ILP members through the purchase of £1 shares.

A plot of land was purchased at Jinney Lane, the Nelson Weavers Association loaned the Land Society the money needed to build the present Clarion House.

Both the land and the building are still held in trust by the Land Society.