In 1861 George Potter, secretary of the Building Trades Conference, established a trade union weekly newspaper called the Bee-Hive. Edited by George Troup, a professional journalist, the Bee-Hive impressed the London Trades Council and it was adopted as the organisation's newspaper. Even so, by 1862 the circulation was only 2,700 and Potter had accumulated debts of £827.

In the mid 1860s some leaders of the London Trades Council such as Robert Applegarth began to complain about the way that the Bee-Hive always supported industrial disputes. Applegarth accused Potter of being a "manufacturer of strikes". Potter replied that any group of men who decided to strike knew the rights and wrongs of their own case, and therefore deserved the full support of the Bee-Hive.

The Bee-Hive (20th May, 1871)
The Bee-Hive (20th May, 1871)

In 1865 Applegarth accused Potter of personal dishonesty through the maladministration of the Bee-Hive and telling lies about an industrial dispute in North Staffordshire. The charges were investigated by a London Trades Council committee and as a result Potter lost his seat on the executive and the Bee-Hive ceased to be the organisation's journal.

After leaving the London Trades Council Potter established his own organisation, the London Working Men's Association (LWMA). Potter became president and the Bee-Hive was adopted as its journal. The newspaper, now edited by Potter, continued to lose money and in June 1868, two wealthy sympathizers, Daniel Platt and Samuel Morley, a Liberal MP, saved him from bankruptcy by buying up shares in the newspaper. As well as advocating trade union rights, the Bee-Hive also gave its support to radicals in the Liberal Party. Potter continued to edit the Bee-Hive for the next ten years but sales remained poor and in 1878, with debts of over £2,000, he was declared bankrupt and the newspaper ceased publication.

Primary Sources

(1) Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners Accounts, published in The Bee-Hive (25th March, 1871)

For the year 1869, £5,008 16s 4d was expended in sick pay; £8,802 18s 10d was allotted to members out of work, and for travelling expenses; £829 10s 0d was expended in funerals. The whole expenditure amounted to £21,355 15s 2d. The Income was £21,802 13s 7d; Reserve Fund £17,626 14s 6d. Sums up to £100 are granted to members rendered incapable of following their employment for life, either from accidents or other causes, and in 1869 the sum of £500 was so devoted.

Various amounts are granted for the relief of members who are in distress, also to their widows and children, and in 1869 the sum of £436 3s 9d was so distributed, and £101 7s 9d was expended in sending members to situations, and £423 7s 10d was expended in buying tools for members, and £60 4s 4d was granted for superannuation in weekly sums of 8s, 7s and 5s.