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Luddites 7

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Reward Poster

Left, details of the one hundred guinea reward offered in Huddersfield for information on persons involved in the destruction of machinery

Mill owner William Cartwright was one of the first to introduce cropping frames into his mill at Rawfolds, Cleckheaton in 1809. Other local mills soon followed the example. William Cartwright became a figure of hatred in the local towns and  villages and word soon got out that regardless of Luddite threats more new cropping frames were due to arrive at Cartwrights Mill. The local luddites led by William Hall acted quickly laying in wait that night on Hartshead Moor.

They ambushed the wagons carrying the new cropping frames. The drivers were seized and taken prisoner until the new cropping frames had been totally destroyed.
No doubt buoyed by this recent success, at their next secret meeting at the Shears Inn a more ambitious plan was hatched to attack Cartwright's Rawfolds Mill and destroy the existing despised machinery. They planned to attack the mill the following Saturday night 11th April. That night as arranged they left their homes and local inns at different times, so as not to arouse suspicion, before making their way to the prearranged  muster point in the field behind the Dumb Steeple. They were met there by the Huddersfield Luddites led by King Ludd, George Mellor. They were now some one hundred and fifty strong. King Ludd's army must have been a strange sight that night. Lined up in the field they were armed with all sorts of weaponry, some with guns and pistols, but the majority armed with old swords or home made weapons. At the head of the army men carried the great enochs to carry out the destruction. To avoid recognition they wore masks or blackened their faces. They were also dressed in all sorts of strange attire, many of them dressed in carter's smocks, others had their coats turned inside out, some had put their checked shirts over their clothes and a few had actually dressed themselves partly in women's apparel."
This strange army still growing in number set out on its three mile walk to Rawfold's Mill. Along the way at a prearranged point they joined together with the Luddites from Leeds. They now numbered near three hundred strong.
William Cartwright was no fool, he knew an attack was likely and had made provision. He was also a captain in the Halifax Militia so had some understanding of military tactics. The mill had been fortified, the doors had been strengthened, the stairwells set with heavy spiked rollers to crush any attackers and a large acid carboy (a large glass contain holding several gallons of acid) was kept ready on the roof to be  poured on any attackers. Cartwright, along with four trusted employees and his dog, were sleeping on the premises along with five soldiers who had been detailed to guard the mill.

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