Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants
The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS) was a trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 of railway workers in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 from 1872 until 1913.

The ASRS was an industrial union
Industrial unionism
Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations...

 founded in 1871 with the support of the Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 MP Michael Bass
Michael Bass, 1st Baron Burton
Michael Arthur Bass, 1st Baron Burton KCVO , known as Sir Michael Bass, 1st Baronet, from 1882 to 1886, was a British brewer, Liberal politician and philanthropist...

. Its early years were difficult. In 1872 the ASRS reported having 17,247 members but by 1882 this had declined to only 6,321.

In 1880 the ASRS's growth was challenged by the foundation of two railway craft unions
Craft unionism
Craft unionism refers to organizing a union in a manner that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in by class or skill level...

: the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen
Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen
The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen is the trade union representing railway workers in Great Britain who are train drivers or in the line of promotion to train driver....

 and the United Pointsmen and Signalmen's Society. A fourth union, the General Railway Workers' Union, was founded in 1889.

In 1900 the ASRS proposed amalgamation with ASLEF but ASLEF proposed federation with the drivers and firemen of the ASRS. A Scheme of Federation was drafted and ASLEF's triennial conference adopted it in 1903. There were joint meetings of the Executive Committees of the two unions until 1906 when relations broke down.

In 1907 the Board of Trade
Board of Trade
The Board of Trade is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, originating as a committee of inquiry in the 17th century and evolving gradually into a government department with a diverse range of functions...

 set up a Conciliation Board between railway employees and their employers, but its operation dissatisfied many workers and ASLEF's General Secretary nicknamed it the "Confiscation" Board. In August 1911 the ASRS, ASLEF, GRWU and UPSS jointly called the United Kingdom's first national rail strike. In only two days the joint action succeeded in forcing the Liberal Government to set up a Royal Commission to examine the workings of the Conciliation Board.

In 1913 the ASRS, GRWU and UPSS merged, forming the National Union of Railwaymen
National Union of Railwaymen
The National Union of Railwaymen was a trade union of railway workers in the United Kingdom. It an industrial union founded in 1913 by the merger of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants , the United Pointsmen and Signalmen's Society and the General Railway Workers' Union .The NUR...


General Secretaries

  • 1871–1874 – George Chapman
  • 1874–1883 – Fred W. Evans
  • 1883–1897 – Edward Harford
  • 1897–1909 – Richard Bell
    Richard Bell (politician)
    Richard Bell was one of the first two British Labour Members of Parliament, and the first English one, elected after the formation of the Labour Representation Committee in 1900....

  • 1909–1913 – J.E. Williams
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