THIS month marks 200 years since Huddersfield Luddites were executed in York ... and a Huddersfield Luddite expert will be talking in the city this weekend.
Alan Brooke is one of three speakers on Saturday, at one of a series of events organised by York Alternative History to commemorate the Show Trial at York Castle of 66 alleged West Riding Luddites in January 1813 and the subsequent execution by hanging of 17 of their number.
Huddersfield Luddite George Mellor and three accomplices attacked Marsden mill owner William Horsfall as he rode home through Crosland Moor on April 28, 1812. He was shot dead close to the Warren House pub.
It took a while to gather evidence against the four attackers – but one, Benjamin Walker, turned King’s evidence – and they were arrested in October 1812, tried at York early in January 1813 and Mellor was accused of being the murderer with two others, William Thorpe and Thomas Smith, charged with aiding and abetting him to commit the crime. All were found guilty by the jury.
They were hanged in York on Friday, January 8, and eight days later five more Huddersfield men were executed for the attack on Rawfolds Mill in Cleckheaton.
Between 1pm and 3pm on Saturday there will be talks at The Guildhall, St Helen’s Square in York by Alan Brooke from Huddersfield Local History Society who will be talking about The Legacy Of Luddism.
Katrina Navickas from the University of Hertfordshire will speak about Luddites in the Landscape defending custom, community, and common law, while Malcolm Chase from the University of Leeds will speak on Political prisoners at York Castle – A Broader Perspective.
Alan said: “This is a major opportunity to hear three speakers give a different view than the idea that Luddism was some sort of backward-looking movement, violently opposed to technological progress.
“The Luddite movement will be set in its wider historical context as part of the quest of working people for freedom and justice.”
There will be a chance for questions and there will also be bookstall by the Huddersfield Local History Society.
Entry is free but there will be a collection to cover the costs of the room and speakers.
From 3.45pm to 4.30pm there will be an assembly and procession to the site of the executions at York Castle.
People will gather outside in St Helen’s Square before processing to York Castle carrying candles and placards with the names of those executed and wearing white armbands in their memory. There will be a short commemorative event at York Castle and a memorial will be left at the site. From 7.30pm to 11pm a Luddite Wake will be held at The Black Swan, Peaseholme Green, York.
This will be an evening of radical songs, words and music in the upstairs room of a pub to celebrate the Luddites.
Numbers are limited and booking a seat is essential.
For further information see http://yorkalternativehistory.wordpress.com or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org