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Luddites 4

This section contains 17 pages use the Navigation Links at the bottom of the page to navigate.

Gig Mill

The installation of gig mills like the one above was increasing rapidly by 1812.

In 1812 Enoch and James Taylor of Marsden near Huddersfield, who were originally blacksmiths, acquired the right to produce cropping frames. During their time as blacksmiths they had produced agricultural implements and tools, among theses tools were large heavy hammers. These same hammers would later play a part in this tale.
At around the same time the economy was in crisis. Britain had long been engaged in the war against Napoleon and now the Americans had introduce a foreign trade embargo .

Due to this, taxation was high and export or import of goods nigh on impossible. The harvests of 1810 and 1811 were poor and by 1812 the price of corn was at an all time high. Wages had been reduced to improve profitability but still several mills had gone bankrupt. Looking for further ways to improve profitability, the introduction of the cropping frame seemed the ideal solution. The cropping frame had been in existence for 20 years or so but were not widely taken up in Yorkshire. There had also been an uneasy stand off between the cropper's institutes and the mill owners. The croppers had managed to get a government sponsored committee to undertake an enquiry into the effect of introducing the cropping frame in 1812. Prior to this there had been some acts of violence against mills using the new technology. Unfortunately, the committee was unsympathetic and by 1812 the use of the unpopular technology was increasing rapidly.
The situation in Yorkshire was at the same time to some extent being mirrored in the Nottinghamshire stocking and lace making industry, where the uptake of new methods and machinery had initially increased production but also decreased the value and quality of the finished product. In this time of financial uncertainty the mill owners of Nottinghamshire responded in much the same way as their Yorkshire neighbours, more machinery was ordered to reduce skilled staff thereby reducing wages. Poverty among the mill workers was reaching starvation point when violence erupted. A local man known by the name of Ned Ludd (whether this was his real name is not known) led the workers to attack the local mills where they selectively set about destroying the machines. They could easily have destroyed all the machines or burned down  the mills but this would only have worsened their plight so only the specific machines blamed for their poverty were destroyed.

Shears Inn

The Shears Inn where the Yorkshire Luddites held council to plan their future deeds. The building has changed little since that time.

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