An Atlas of Industrial Protest in Britain 1750–1990 by Andrew Charlesworth, David Gilbert, Adrian Randall, Humphrey

By Andrew Charlesworth, David Gilbert, Adrian Randall, Humphrey Southall, Chris Wrigley (auth.)

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Extra info for An Atlas of Industrial Protest in Britain 1750–1990

Example text

In spite of large offers of rewards, not a soul would impeach the mill's attackers. Arms were assembled and secret oaths and drilling increased. And, on April 27, Horsfall, owner of Otiwells mill and one of the most active opponents of the Luddites, was murdered on his way to his mill. A parallel attempt earlier on the life of Cartwright failed. The murder of Horsfall marked the beginning of the end. While his assassins could not be identified for some time, the murder of a local employer, even one so widely hated, was not condoned by the working community and the heart went out of Luddite resistance.

Two features characterised this phase. First, as before the pattern was one of an oscillation of frame breaking and then a respite to give recalcitrant hosiers an opportunity to come into line. Second, attacks were widened to include frames other than the wide frames used for 'cutup' manufacture. Further concessions, however, were not forthcoming and another period of intense frame breaking followed in late January and early February 1812. The recalcitrant hosiers held out, which, given the level of troops now stationed in the region and the other protective measures adopted, was hardly surprising.

The impact of the disputes was widespread. Even the financial heart of the nation felt the shock waves. ' For a full Cabinet Council to sit on a Sunday in peace-time suggests that the officers of the State at the very highestlevel were extremely alarmed by the developments in the North. The disputes appear to have been initiated by the handloom weavers of East Lancashire and came at time when the textile industry throughout the region was facing the worst slump since the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

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