SDF records show that the forerunner of the Federation was a group of master craftsmen who came together on 21st January 1857.

They called themselves the ‘Masters House-Painters in Edinburgh’ and “they associated together for mutual protection and on the day agreed to re-engage all the Journeymen House Painters in their employment for a period of one year, or less.”

The wages and conditions were then set out in writing and witnessed by all present. At that time a journeyman earned four and a half pennies an hour.

This situation continued for a few years, with the group agreeing wages and conditions. The group then joined with others to create the Master Painters Association.

Records from April 1877 show the Association, now called the Master Painters in Edinburgh, resisting the demands of “workmen” who were pressing for an increase of one penny an hour while the Association was offering an increase of on halfpenny an hour.

The Association was formalised in 1878 after a series of meetings where a set of regulations and rules for membership were adopted.

Over the years it expanded to cover Scotland to become one body, changing its name numerous times, until eventually becoming the Scottish Decorators’ Federation after which it appointed its first full time employee to drive the Federation forward.

A group of English contractors applied to join the SDF and in 2011 their own English branch was established in Leicester as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SDF, called the British Decorators’ Federation (BDF).

Historical Artefacts