The history of workers' organisation in wool and and worsted is poorly documented compared with that in many other major industries. It can be argued nevertheless that woollen manufacture was the cradle of trade unionism in Britain. 'The pioneers of the trade union movement were not the trade clubs of the towns', wrote Sidney and Beatrice Webb, 'but the extensive combinations of the West of England woollen-workers and the Midland framework knitters'.1 For the first time journeymen who were already accustomed to organising themselves for the provision of benefits and for 'higgling' with their masters for better terms found themselves faced by capitalist clothiers who believed, not in the regulation customary in their trades, but in unfettered competition and in paying the lowest possible price for the labour which they hired.2