Historian maps out the Luddite mill’s past

Jim Summerscales and Dr John Hargreaves looking at one of maps during a talk about the Luddites and Spen history. (d07031216)

Jim Summerscales and Dr John Hargreaves looking at one of maps during a talk about the Luddites and Spen history. (d07031216)

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HISTORICAL maps showing Rawfolds Mill at the time of the Luddites’ attack were on display during a talk at Red House Museum by historian Jim Summerscales.

Jim’s three times great-grandfather, James Lister, was a sherriff’s officer at the time of the attack, as well as being the landlord of the Shears in Hightown, where the Luddites met to plan their attack.

Jim also has a plan of the original mill, showing it to be a lot smaller than the drawing usually associated with the uprisings.

He showed them to members of the Workers’ Education Association at Red House and talked about the attacks.

“I have a plan taken from the map of 1804 which shows it as just one building, but in 1834 there were three buildings. At the time of the attack, it wasn’t very big at all,” he told the Guardian.

“We also know that in 1812, the mill was up for sale. It was owned by Henry Birkby and leased by William Cartwright, but Cartwright couldn’t afford to buy it.

“An advert in the Leeds Mercury on April 4, 1812, said that it was to be sold on April 29.

“Ironically, the auction was to be held at The Shears pub but, of course, the attack took place before then.”

After the attack Cartwright received donations from people all over West Yorkshire for his ‘heroic actions’ and by 1818 records show he had amassed enough wealth to have actually bought the mill.