An introduction to the history of the luddites

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An introduction to the history of the luddites

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Their nuptial happiness was short lived. This episode illustrates the nature of much of the evidence which follows. But even then it is very difficult for those who have not worked in a mine to imagine the conditions, even if vividly depicted. From numerous scattered references and a couple of more detailed accounts we are however, able to build up a fairly comprehensive picture of work in local collieries in the period before the emergence of modern legislation and technology ended mining practices which, in some ways, had changed little since the Middle Ages.

This is a very localised study, covering only about square miles on the periphery of the Yorkshire coal field but, apart from being of intrinsic local interest, it is hoped that this will complement broader studies and serve as a reminder that the mining industry of the industrial revolution was typified by the small colliery in a rural setting, rather than by large scale operations with which later deep mining has become associated.

An introduction to the history of the luddites

Although this account is not primarily concerned with the techniques and economics of mining, a brief outline of its development is necessary. In John Kaye was digging coal at Rowley for use at Woodsome Hall 5 and by there was a colliery at Honley and several in the Emley-Flockton area.

However, another large landowner, Sir John Lister Kaye, worked his own collieries near Flockton under an agent.

It was not a case of simple, mechanical cause and effect, but of complex action and reaction of each industry or economic change upon many others.

Some direct relationships are nevertheless evident. The development of canals undoubtedly facilitated the transportation of coal and locally we have clear illustration of this. Sometimes there was a direct link between mining and textile capital.

Kaye in the Flockton area. In the Clayton West area where the proposed line was to run, only 30hp of steam power was in use and it was supplied by local coal. The reasons for the contraction of local mining can not be ascribed simply to the advent of the railways, which in some cases may even have had a beneficial effect.

Coal production reached a peak in withandtons being produced by Huddersfield not including Flockton and Holmfirth collieries respectively, declining in toand 87, tons.

The period of this essay therefore covers the heyday of mining in the area. But, whatever the changing patterns of coal production between andworking conditions changed little for those underground. The depth and thickness of local seams will be referred to below in the context of specific collieries.

In general they varied from 18 inches or under one at Greasy Slack colliery at Meltham Mills in was only 16 inches in the Holme Valley to 36 inches plus in the Flockton, Breistwhistle and Cumberworth areas. The coal was worked at the face of the benk by the collier using a hammer, wedges and a pick and lifted or shovelled into a corve to be transported to the pit bottom by the hurrier.

Hurriers were as vital to the operation of a colliery as were the colliers. They were invariably children or women and as in textiles and many other trades in the industrial revolution, coal mining could not have developed without the exploitation of this source of labour power.

These were originally dragged like sleds but, by the s at least, rails were coming into general use.

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At other pits the size of corves was probably different — in the Halifax area they varied from two to five hundredweight. Other hurriers worked under the supervision of colliers who were their fathers or other relative.

An introduction to the history of the luddites

After the loss of one son in a roof fall two years earlier, John Sedgewick had to practically drag his son James to begin work in Westwood pit at Honley in Once underground the boy soon disappeared and was not found for four days. He was in the old workings where his brother had been killed, hoping to die in the darkness rather than to have to work in the pit.

This may have been the extreme reaction of a frightened child, but real fear must have been experienced by many of the hurriers at some time.

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Some children did not come from mining backgrounds. The child weighed only 41 pounds and was so unfit for work that the collier had to send him back.

The treatment of hurriers varied — but physical punishment was common. At Emley in an argument between two boys about the right of way in the gate resulted in one hurrier tipping the on-coming empty tub off the rails. The hurriers were usually paid by their colliers.The Luddites were weavers in England in the early 19th century who were being put out of work by the introduction of machinery.

They responded in dramatic fashion by organizing to attack and smash the new machines. This account was written about 20 years ago and ‘vanity published’ as a pamphlet.

It was intended to be a readable story suitable both for those interested in social conditions and in local history. IMPORTANT: New Structure for the Modern History SourcebookAs of January 20 , the Internet Modern History Sourcebook has been completely reorganized.

At first the Luddites were simply a group of organised artisans who did not believe in the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution and took serious action to prevent or even simply outright destroy them. Their stories started in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire but they didn’t end there.

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The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about to sometime between and This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system.

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