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licences and unions

I'm trying to put some flesh on the bones of my ancestors life stories, and have identified a couple of avenues of research to follow, but don't know where the information would be kept (if it still exists), any suggestions would be appreciated.
several of my ancestors were licenced victuallers, suppling goods to navy ships, I'm assuming that as they were licenced there would be a record of the licences somewhere, is this sort of information available? and if so where would I go to find it.
The other research avenue is unions, many of my 20th and 19th century ancestors were in trades where they may well have been union members (boilermakers for instance), and I was hoping there may be some union records relating to them somewhere, but again I don't know where to look for this information.
any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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