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Wednesday, January 19, 2022


 Yesterday I devoted to reading up on the computer about the Chartists and how mainly the riots and troubles took place up in this corner of the world.  As the machines came in so the people became worried for themselves.  But against this there were wealthy owners fighting for better working conditions.  It breaks your heart to hear that a 6 year old would be useful down a mine for getting into a narrow place, or that young children could duck under the spinning looms. Sadly you will find such conditions for young children still happening in other parts of the world - slavery is still with us.

I jotted down some dates, the period of radicalisation was between 1838 -1848.

Chartism: 6 political demands.

1) Universal suffrage

2) Equal electoral districts

3) Vote by secret ballot

4) Annually elected parliaments

5) Payment for MPs

6) Abolition of property qualifications for MPs

I would just add here, that though most of the above has been achieved, our present government is trying to move the boundary lines for voting to achieve more votes - think we are following American mode there.

Well anyway, as I have often noted in this strange land I find myself in asking what happened to all those people that live in the back to back houses stretching up the side of the valley.  How long did it take them to walk to work, where did they meet in their rebellious mood, what were the consequences of their small revolution.

Started the 'Gallows Pole' by Benjamin Myers last night.  And yes Pat, it definitely is not a laugh a minute.  He has taken the road of dialect in half the book and there is a tense thread through the writing of terrible things waiting to happen.  But you can see why it has been picked up for a television programme it has atmosphere galore.  A bit like that Cornish series, Jamaica Inn, set high on the moors with handsome male galloping along.  Well I bet 'King David Hartley' will follow in the same pattern.

Also Haworth's grave yard came up at one stage with the tale of leakage from the contents of the graves into the waters used by the town people, still can't get over that thought.

A summary of the true story of David Hartley


  1. Was the Cornish series Poldark?

    1. No, I have altered it, it was Jamaica Inn my daughter said. Reason I remembered the similarity is that viewers had difficulty with hearing what people said. But there is the same lonely feel to the landscape.

  2. I reserved Gallows Pole after your mention of it, and will collect next month but if it's too gloomy and full of dialect, it might not get read!

    1. It is a good read, the language bit you can skip, though it is fairly easy to read. There is a another writer who slips back into the vernacular - Paul Kingsnorth of 'Dark Mountain' fame.

  3. Rev. Patrick Bronte DID in fact get that sorted out. Can you imagine having your drinking water filtered by rotting corpses? Y.U.K.!!

    I did try, years ago, to read Charlotte's Shirley, which was about the Chartists, but it was heavy going and got abandoned.

    Of course, here in Wales the Chartist uprising in Newport in 1839 was a huge rebellion, some 4,000 people involved.

    At present I'm reading a book set in the 1850s in Wales (around Newcastle Emlyn) and that is looking back on the Rebecca Riots and how much control "Beca" still had a decade later. Drive around Carmarthenshire and there are lots of villages which were affected.

    1. I am glad that the reverend put it too right, the thought of a cup of tea there was beginning to worry me;)

      It was a tumultuous century, but also invigorating I think. People trying to smash their way out of poverty, and then the socialists appeared and the Co-op was born, at Rochdale I think.

  4. Weirdly, bang in front of my computer monitor there is a copy of "The Gallows Pole" - lent to me by my friend Tony. When I reached the bottom of your blogpost - there were two identical book covers - one on screen and the other within physical touching distance.

    All English schoolchildren should learn about The Chartists and their noble struggles for social justice but unsurprisingly that period of working class history is generally hidden behind a veil.

  5. It is a very dramatically told story Nial, it does not have the edge of of a history book though. When I see the size of the small terraced houses round here, back to back one can understand the poverty, dirt and misery people lived in. Sutcliffe's photos of Whitby 'yards' captures the dirt poverty in which that community lived. Perhaps its time to read E.P.Thompson - The English Working Class - again.

  6. I wouldn't worry too much about Alexa malfunctioning last Friday, have you tested her since? Ours were both out for most of the day, but it turns out the fault was at their end not ours as there were some major rejigs going on.

  7. No I wasn't really worried, be more worrying when we can't reach our bank accounts online I think!

  8. It is always amazing to me to read was is attributed to the work of "radicals". It makes me proud to claim the name!

    Seepage from the graves....arrrrrrrggghhhhh!!!!

    1. "Seepage from the graves....arrrrrrrggghhhhh!!!!" Comes of building houses on slopes, just be sure you are not under the church on the slope ;)


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