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Luddites 6

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Rawfolds Mill

A period drawing of William Cartwrights Rawfolds Mill at Cleckheaton.

One man was destined to become the acknowledged leader of the Yorkshire Luddites. George Mellor became a frequent Saturday night visitor of the Shears Inn. Only twenty two years old and working as a cropper in his step-fathers dressing shop at Longroyd Bridge, he and several friends formed the nucleus of the local luddites. His youth, enthusiasm and fluency made him the ideal leader and he commanded great respect. His men even crowned him with the title "King Ludd".
King Ludd at the head of his men, reinforced by other supporting groups from the surrounding area, carried out raids around Huddersfield smashing cropping frames and gig mills with large smithies hammers they called "Great Enochs". Referred to with a sardonic note that "Enoch makes them now Enoch breaks them"; Enoch Taylor both produced the hammers and cropping frames.
Demands in writing were issued to the mill owners calling for the removal of cropping frames and gig mills but had little effect. So the raids went on. The luddites grew in numbers and the organisation probably by now had mustered together over three hundred men.
The luddites were beginning to have a free hand to do as they pleased. Initially there had been little violence but now as the movement gathered momentum acts of robbery and violence became more common place.
The authorities seeing law and order slipping away began to fear revolution so now tried to regain control. Rewards were offered for information and severe sentences handed out to those found guilty of involvement. Large numbers of special constables were recruited and sworn in to help uphold the law. (Many of whom were of dubious character and more interested in any potential reward to be earned.) The military were also called in to restore order but only small numbers could be spared from the ongoing Napoleonic war. Plus other than the secret meetings and raids there was little opportunity for them to take any action. The mill owners began to take things into their own hands fortifying their premises and hiring private armed guards. The military also came under pressure to provide guards for some of the more affluent and powerful owners.  

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