At the first Lancaster League of Nations Union AGM in 1921, the Secretary reported that membership numbers were disappointingly low and hope was expressed for 1000 the following year. The next year membership had increased, but only to 194. Thereafter it continued to increase year on year to a peak of 750 in 1932, but in 1931, at 700, with a much larger proportion of subscriptions being unpaid. The continuing problem had been the lack of ‘collectors’ to obtain subscriptions from members who joined individually in the churches, especially the nonconformist ones. This figure will not have included junior branches and probably not members in the outlying sub-branches.
For a town with a population of 43000 a membership of 700 in 1931 is 1.6% of the total. In 1930, the Secretary, Muriel Dowbiggin, compared the Lancaster total unfavourably with that of Burnley, whose LNU had a membership of over 1000. In fact, Burnley’s population was about 100,000, making a 1% membership. As the county town, with a comparatively large number of professional occupations, it is perhaps not surprising that Lancaster had a higher percentage, but the small figure also reflects the inability of Lancaster LNU leaders to interest the mass of the population in an international peace organisation. The total national membership of the LNU in 1921 was just over 150,000 and in 1931, 400,000, so Lancaster’s increase over the same period was broadly similar. (1)
(1) H. McCarthy, 2011. The British People and the League of Nations. Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.4.
Lancaster Guardian, 19 Mar 1921, 22 Apr 1922, 2 Apr 1931, 18 Mar 1932 & 21 Mar 1930.