ELHAS Meeting Report - April 2016

Meeting Report April 2016

In April an audience of over sixty members and guests enjoyed an illustrated talk by Dr George Ingle entitled " Trouble at T' Mill". George, who spent his working life in higher education and was latterly the Projects Director at Bradford Business School has not had a direct involvement with the textile industry. Nonetheless researching the history of the textile industry in Yorkshire has been a great hobby of his, and has resulted in the authorship of several articles and books. George's talk centred on the subject of his latest book - the attacks on Yorkshire mills by unemployed hand loom weavers.

He began his talk by explaining the political and social conditions in the late 1820's, the time of the attacks. Using original newspaper extracts, Home Office reports, and coroner's and court reports George described the events in the spring of 1826 when mills in Yorkshire became the subject of attacks by the desperate hand loom weavers whose jobs had been replaced by power looms. These men were hopeless and starving, and little or no relief was available to them despite the best efforts of sympathetic clergy and land owners, and even mill owners. The attacks on mills and rioting started in Lancashire but quickly spread to the Yorkshire region of Addingham, Gargrave and Bradford. When it became known that men were marching on the Yorkshire mills the owners quickly took action to protect their property. The Horsfall brothers, prominent mill owners in the region, were particularly proficient in resisting the attackers , one having installed a cannon to defend his mill. They were joined in this by the military in the form of the Dragoons and the Yorkshire Hussars, many of whom came from Leeds. As a result of the attacks many rioters were arrested and sent to York, some were sentenced to death., although it appears that these sentences may have been commuted at a later date. The attacks and riots were not as violent and prolonged as those in Lancashire where over 1,000 looms were broken, as opposed to only 25 in Yorkshire. The uprising in the area quickly petered out and did not spread to other parts of the region. However the plight of the weavers did invite some sympathy and a committee was set up in London to help provide relief and as a result funds were allocated to Yorkshire.

We enjoyed George's fact filled talk and it was interesting to hear about events so close to home. There was a lively discussion session after the talk, and the evening ended with our annual pea and pie supper which was enjoyed by all.

The next meeting on Monday 27th June 2016 will be an illustrated talk by Stephanie Davies, Curator at Lotherton Hall, titled "Our Cousin Florence" describing the relationship between Florence Nightingale and the Gascoigne family.