Saturday, 24 March 2012

24th March 1812: Shearing Mill attacked at Rawdon, near Leeds

In the early hours of Tuesday the 24th March, Luddites approached the Shearing Mill of William Thompson & Bros at Rawdon, north-west of Leeds.

Between 40 and 150 armed Luddites arrived near to the Mill between midnight and 4 a.m. The solitary watchmen was shocked when a pistol was fired close to him - 6 to 7 Luddites grabbed him & once entry had been gained, pushed him inside the mill, holding him on the floor. They now stood guard over him.

The gunshot & noises had woken people in adjoining dwellings, and more Luddites were posted as guards outside, warning the occupants against opposition or attempts to raise the alarm.

The commander of the group then gave his order to the remaining Luddites, "go to work." 30 to 40 pairs of shears were destroyed, and other machinery damaged, all within 20 minutes.

The destruction complete, the Luddites moved into formation on a nearby hill. A roll was called, with numbers instead of names, and the men thereafter dispersed into the night.

This account has been compiled from a report in the Leeds Mercury of 28th March 1812 and a letter from Colonel Campbell at Leeds to Lieutenant-General Grey at York dated 24th March 1812, which can be found at HO 42/121. The newspaper report says that 40 men attacked the mill, with the letter from Campbell stating 150. The newspaper report says that the attack took place at midnight, whilst Campbell's letter says between 2 and 4 a.m.

Campbell's view of the people in the area probably explains why no-one was ever blamed or apprehended for this attack: in his letter he described people in Rawdon as "troublesome & insubordinate and the people of the populace neighbouring towns viz Horsforth, Yeadon, Guiseley &c not all better disposed."

No comments:

Post a Comment