Tuesday, 4 September 2012

4th September 1812: Gig Mills destroyed at Southowram, near Halifax

After a hiatus in machine-breaking of several months, destruction broke out in the early hours of Friday 4th September 1812 at Southowram, near Halifax.

A local mill belonging to a Mr Waterhouse was on the route of the military, who were stationed nearby. Indeed, the local detachment passed by at 1.30 a.m., with all being well.

But the Luddites knew their movements, and were waiting. When the coast was clear, up to 100 Luddites arrived at the mill, quickly securing the watchman before any alarm could be raised. They obtained the key for the premises from a woman at the mill (possibly Waterhouse's wefe), and once inside, the Luddites destroyed 2 gig mills. In addition, several windows of a building occupied by a Mr Broadbent, the superintendent of the mill, were smashed, and his life was threatened should he be found working the mill again.

When the military patrol returned at 2.00 a.m., the action had taken place and the Luddites had dispersed into the night.

As reported in the Leeds Intelligencer of 7th September 1812 & the Leeds Mercury of 12th September 1812. A letter from General Acland to General Maitland of 5th September 1812 also mentions the raid, and this can be found at HO 40/2/7. The newspaper reports state that furniture inside the mill was destroyed, but General Acland's report to General Maitland clearly states that, other than the gig mills, other machinery and even pieces of cloth lying around at the mill were untouched, and no furniture is mentioned.

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