A HISTORIC workers’ association founded in Bradford more than 150 years ago has called time after its membership dwindled to just five.

The Painters and Decorators Association was founded in Bradford in 1863 and became a national body, but now its Bradford branch has closed down.

It was formed in a period of poverty when working-class people began to demand better pay and working hours.

The Master Painters met in Bradford in an attempt to unify wages and settle unrest among workers.

A meeting in 1865 saw the body expand to cover the whole West Riding, and was followed by other regions forming and it became a national body.

Bradford branch meetings were held monthly from the 1860s right up until the present day, with a number of members also going on to become regional and national presidents of the association.

Annual dinners were held, with the Connaught Rooms in Manningham Lane proving the most popular venue, which were attended by the Lord Mayor of Bradford and national president.

Topics covered at meetings were varied, but the highlight for many at the monthly meetings was the sharing of information about trade matters.

These included trends and fashions in the trade, problems such as faulty wallpaper, the best manufacturer of paint, haggling tips at the local merchants, what prices people had offered and who had won what contracts, customer complaints, and complaints about customers.


Workers also banded together through a job share scheme, where if someone was short of work others would pass some work over to tide another member over.

Manufacturers also organised trips for members for tours of factories, and there were also more social trips including to the Lake District in 1939.

Jim Timiney, one of the branch’s last five members, said: “These activities brought a sense of community, but with the passing years from a large membership this gradually dropped off.

“Members retired, and others left for their own personal reasons and new active members didn’t materialise.

“In January the Bradford Branch had its final meeting at the Shipley Conservative Club where they had held their meetings since 1998 with a reasonable but gradually smaller membership until only five members were left and mostly retired and so it was with some sadness and reservation that the branch was officially closed.

“However they still meet to socialise and put together a history of the Association for Bradford’s archives.”

Nowadays the Association represents hundreds of workers nationally, including several in Bradford.