Thursday, 1 December 2011

1st December 1811: Derbyshire Luddites spare Pentrich frames from destruction, this time...

On the same evening as Luddites were taking action in other parts of Derbyshire, a group made a visit to the Derbyshire village of Pentrich. Their actions that night suggested they were not wholly familiar with the area, because they insisted upon inspecting frames in several of the houses there. The Derby Mercury of 12th December 1811 carried a particularly vivid description of events:
"Soon after midnight ... the Frame breakers, armed with weapons, arrived at Pentridge, and proceeded to the house of Mr. B. Topham; banging at the door, they demanded the key of his workshop ... On opening his door, they presented three guns ... threatening to blow his brains out if he did not comply with their demands. He told them he had no Frames of the description they were in search of (for cut up work,) nor were there any in the town, and having somewhat appeased them with conciliatory language they left his house, one of them (thanking) the man who sent them thither. After going to a few other shops in the village they departed, without doing any mischief, but threatening to return some future night and destroy those Frames that were worked at an under price, or by those persons who are termed Colts."

This activity suggests that the Derbyshire Luddites were not only conducting an audit of the Pentrich frames and working practices, but had realised that an intimidating show of strength may be sufficient to bring hosiers into line. The Luddites would return to Pentrich sooner than many that night may have thought.

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