Commemorating the Luddites

On Sunday, the Red House Museum at Gomersal, held a commemoration of the bicentenary of the Luddite uprising in the district. It was very informative and well presented.

The Mikron theatre company acted out in costume as Luddites and Lord Byron, who was against some of the Luddites being hanged in York in 1813. They also sang in a superb performance.

Then in the lower barn a chap dressed as a local militia volunteer demonstrated firearms of the era.

The lower barn was also about the Brontës. Charlotte’s novel Shirley was about the Luddites, making facts into fiction. It’s also interesting to note that the name Shirley was a boys’ name – after her novel it became a girls’ name. Frank Peel, one of the founders of the Brontë Society, started the Heckmondwike Herald newspaper and from items in the paper he wrote about the Luddites.

He printed a book the Rising of the Luddites which is a very informative book. During the Luddite riots some of the Luddite families where starving and a poor relief collection was set up. The Rev Patrick Brontë donated one guinea which was a lot of money in those days.

History now seems to be repeating itself with today’s recession and food banks being set up .

IMELDA MARSDEN

Life member of the Brontë Society and former heritage and conservation representative.,