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17 February 2011

House decorators’ and painters’ wages – 1888

House painters were a relatively low-paid group of skilled workers, and by the later 1880s their wages had fallen back from the levels reached in 1872, when joint committees of workmen and the Master Builders’ Association had agreed on a rate of 8 1/2d an hour.

Their union, the Amalgamated Society of House Decorators and Painters, blamed the decline in pay and conditions on the “disorganised condition of our workmen, brought about chiefly through so many local societies existing in the trade”.

From the late 1880s, the Labour Department of the Board of Trade began to collect information on trade unions which inevitably included details of pay rates and collective agreements covering their members.

The following extract is taken from Statistical Tables and Reports on Trade Unions (second report) (HMSO, 1888), and was in turn extracted by the Board of Trade from the annual report of the Amalgamated Society of House Decorators and Painters.

The surviving records of the Amalgamated Society of House Decorators and Painters are in the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University.

Currency note: wages are shown in shillings (s) and pence (d). There were 12d to 1s – and 20s to one pound (£). NB 1/2d is a ha’penny or half penny. More about currencies.

Branch
Method of payment
Price per hour
Working hours per week
Extra pay for overtime per hour
Birmingham Central
By the hour
7d
56 ½ summer; 47 ½ winter
Time and half from 8 o’clock at night till 6 in the morning. Sunday and Christmas double time.
Birmingham Five Ways
By the hour
7d
56 ½
Time and half after 8.
Bristol
By the hour
7d
54 summer; 48 winter
7d to 7 o’clock, after that 10 1/2d. Saturdays from 1 to 3 o’clock 10 1/2d, after that 1s 2d.
Eastbourne
By the hour
6 1/2d
58 ½
Nothing
Hastings
By the hour
6 1/2d to 7d
56 ½
Nothing
Camberwell
By the hour
8d to 8 1/2d
52 ½
Time and half 8 till 12; 12 till six double time.
Chelsea
By the hour
8 1/2d
52 ½ summer; 48 ½ winter
First hour 1d extra, after that 2d extra till 8 o’clock, after that time and half. Saturdays time and quarter till 5 o’clock, after that time and half.
City
By the hour
8d
52 ½
Time and half after 8.
Croydon
By the hour
7 1/2d
56 ½
Nothing
Hanover Square
By the hour
8 1/2d
52 ½
Various
Kensington
By the hour
8 1/2d
52 ½ summer; 48 ½ winter
Same as Chelsea.
Kingston and Surbiton
By the hour
7 1/2d
56 ½
Nothing
Paddington
By the hour
8 1/2d
52 ½
Same as Chelsea.
Poplar
By the hour
8d
52 ½
Same as Chelsea.
Leicester
By the hour
7d
56 ½
Time and half after 1 on Saturdays.
Newport
By the hour
6d to 6 1/2d
54
Nothing
Northampton
By the hour
6 1/2d and 7d
54 ½
Nothing as a rule.
Plymouth
By the hour
6d
56
Nothing
Portsmouth
By the hour
6d
56
No rule
Southampton
By the hour
6d
56 ½
Optional
Swansea
Weekly and hourly
1 10s per week. 6 3/4d per hour
54
Two hours for quarter day, or 7 1/2d per hour
Tunbridge Wells
By the hour
7d to 7 1/2d
56 ½
Nothing
Weston-super-Mare
By the hour
6 1/2d
56 ½
Nothing
Wolverhampton
By the hour
7d
54 summer; 48 winter
Time and half from 9 o’clock pm to 6 o’clock am, and after 1 on Saturdays.
Statistical Tables and Reports on Trade Unions (second report) (HMSO, 1888)

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