Friday, 22 June 2012

22nd June 1812: Drunken boasts of involvement at Rawfolds lead to trouble at the Black Bull, Mirfield

Anti-Tesco protesters outside the Black Bull in August 2011
At 8 p.m. on the evening of Monday 22nd June, 3 men were returning from Wakefield to Elland, when they stopped at a coaching Inn, the Black Bull at Mirfield, for some refreshment. The men were a Mr Cartledge (of Brow Bridge, Elland), a Mr Ashworth and a Mr Woodhead.

The three men were taking a drink in one room, when they overheard a conversation from an adjoining room. One individual was speaking in a loud voice, and the content of his words made they stop their conversation and listen carefully. The man said "I was at Rawfolds on the night of the attack: I was engaged there, I was close by the two men that fell". The man went on to say "I was never engaged in any association or society in my life but that of General Ludd, I have ever been true to it, and I have been in it for three years". Another man retorted "hold thy peace, if there be a good trade and meal come down, Ned Ludd will die" which amused the group and they all laughed.

Cartledge, Ashworth & Woodhead were horrified. Ashworth said he would fetch a Constable, and left. Cartledge felt bold enough to get up and proceed to the adjoining room and challenge the men: up to 10 men were gathered there, and Cartledge asked who had spoken of Rawfolds and General Ludd. One of the men pointed to another man called James Oldroyd. In the meantime, Ashworth had returned without a Constable and the three travellers took Oldroyd into another room and questioned him. Oldroyd denied having spoken about Ludd and Rawfolds, and said he knew William Cartwright and could get a letter of recommendation from him if they thought he was a Luddite. Ashworth was not convinced, and thought his voice was the same as the one he had heard earlier that evening.

Despite being unable to find a Constable before they left, the three travellers from Elland were determined not to let their experience go unreported.

As reported in the Leeds Mercury of 25th July 1812.

The Mr Woodhead mentioned is Joseph Woodhead, who had come across Luddites in Elland 7 days before, and Cartledge is the person whose house was raided for arms the same night. Joseph Woodhead, John Cartledge and a Mr Ashworth - Merchants from  Elland - all signed a deposition by Woodhead about his experiences that night, which was sworn by Francis Lindley Wood, the Vice Lieutenant of the West Riding on 22nd June 1812.

The Black Bull at Mirfield still stands, although it is no longer a pub. In 2011, the fate of the Black Bull became a cause célèbre locally when Tesco made an application to turn it into a convenience store. Despite a thriving local campaign, Tesco got their way.

The Mirfield Second Look website has a page on the Black Bull here. The Lost Pubs Project also has a page on the pub here.

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