Thursday 9 June 2016

9th June 1816: Luddites destroy 19 Lace-frames at New Radford, Nottinghamshire

On Sunday 9th June 1816, Luddites undertook an action in Nottinghamshire for the first time since September 1814, almost two years.

The Leicester Chronicle of 15th June 1816 carried an article about the attack (most likely from the Nottingham Review):
Daring Outrage.—On Saturday night last, about one o'clock, a party of men, disguised and armed with various sorts of weapons, forced the door of Mr. William Wright, of New Radford, when about seven of them, having obtained a light, rushed up stairs into the workshop, or shops, where they demolished twelve point net lace-frames; and with such vengeance did they exercise their lawless authority, that the frames, which were principally of superior worth, are rendered of very little value. It is very singular, that three of the these frames belong to Mr. Benjamin Topham, of Pentrich, Derbyshire, and were broken about four years ago, in his shop, at that village, along with a number more, two of which have made very little work, and the other none since they were repaired. One of the other frames belongs to Mr. Platts of Nottingham, four to Mr. Wright, and three to Mr, Waynman, lace-manufacturer of Nottingham, who is Mr. Wright's principal employer, and one to Mr. Cole, lace-manufacturer. The loss thus occasioned must be very great; but this is not all, for the depredators, not content with the mischief thus done, very materially damaged or destroyed (principally the latter) about thirty-one yards of net which was upon the frames, and took away six yards. The clock face in the house was struck with great violence with a hammer, and the corner cupboard was beat in pieces. Mr. Wright was away from home. Mrs. Wright and family were kept in their respective rooms while the mischief was going on, but, as these nightly violators of property and domestic repose had twice to go down stairs for a light, the guarded parties had opportunity of seeing them, and they agree in stating that seven men were in the shop, while Mrs. Wright thinks she saw twelve men that stood watch on the outside.—When the workmen, as those, we understand, are called that actually do the mischief, had completed their purpose at Mr. Wright's, they immediately went in the house of Mr. Mullen, close by, the door of which they broke into pieces, and then rushed up into the workshop, where they demolished seven point net lace-frames, six of which belonged to Mr. Waynman above named, and one to Mr. Mullen—one was left uninjured, and is generally understood, from the watchword of alarm being given from without. They also took from Mr. Mullen's, fifteen yards of net and a shirt, and left an instrument behind them like a tomahawk; they also broke the clock. It is proper to state, that the depredators, in order to render their mischief more complete, broke many of the globes, which contain a mixture of water and aquafortis, and which are used by the workmen in winter evenings to add to the brilliancy of their light, and cast the corroding contents upon the frames.—It seems singular, that neither Mr. Mullen nor his wife heard them; the reason assigned is this, which is a very feasible one, and, from the respectability of Mr. Mullen's character, is universally believed—he had more liquor than he usually takes in an evening, which caused him to sleep very soundly, as he had been in bed about an hour: and Mrs. Mullen, who was also asleep in bed, is very hard of hearing. When these daring offenders had completed the object of their violence, they discharged several pistols—shouted, as though in triumph, and then retired. Two persons are in custody on suspicion.
In fact, Topham of Pentrich had been the target of 3 separate attacks by Luddites during their previous heyday in the midlands.

The Tory Nottingham Journal of 15th June 1816 also carried a (somewhat differing) report about what occurred (which, in this case, was reprinted in the Tory Leicester Journal of 21st June 1816):
Frame Breaking.—We had hoped that the fatal rencontre at New Basford, in the Autumn on 1814, had effectually subdued the spirit of Luddism; and that we should hear no more of these criminal excesses, the commission of which had struck terror throughout this neighbourhood, and placed the lives of all who were concerned therein in perpetual jeopardy during the remainder of their existence. Unfortunately this hope has not been realised; and we have this week the painful duty of announcing a partial renewal of that most atrocious system, and the destruction of eighteen point net lace frames, at New Radford.—In the dead of the night of Saturday last a part of men, armed with pistols, &c. (top the number, it is supposed, of 30 or 40), beset the house of Mr. Wright, in Chapel Street, New Radford, and after placing scouts at the different avenues, a part of them forced open the door and proceeded to demolish the frames in the workshop, which they effectually accomplished. Whilst this was carrying on, others of the part  placed themselves as guards over the inhabitants of the house, in their beds, threatening them with death if they offered to stir, or give the least alarm. A woman, however, on the opposite side of the street, being awakened by the noise then attempted to raise the neighbourhood with her cries, but she was compelled to desist, on some stones being thrown at her accompanied by the snapping of a pistol, which fortunately missed fire. The party then made good their retreat, previous to which they broke an eight-day clock, standing in the house. The frames were employed by Mr. [Waynman]. Besides the above frames, there was a narrow frame in the workshop,m which was left untouched.—Whatever hopes might have been entertained from the effects of the petition forwarded to Parliament, this week, praying for a regulation of the trade, &c. it can scarcely be expected that the representations of the Workmen will meet with much respect, when it is known, that a certain body of them continues arrayed in open hostility to the property of their employers and the laws of the land.

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