In July 1888 1,400 mainly young women went on strike for a shorer working day. The Bryant and May Match Girls' strike in the East End of London was followed by the Great Dock Strike. The struggle for the 'docker's tanner', the largest strike in over 40 years, closed down the Thames for over a month.
Out of these strikes grew a mass movement, involving thousands of unskilled workers across many industries and across the country, giving birth to New Unionism.
It was a storm that seemed to come from nowhere.
In this book John Charlton takes us through these turbulent years. He looks at the reasons for the movement, the socialists who were at its centre and the lessons we can learn for future struggles.
Above all else the author captures the inspiration generated when workers moved into action. At the time one of the Match Girls was asked how it had began: 'Well, it just went like tinder. One girl began, and the rest said yes, so out we all went.'