On the 16th August 1819, a huge crowd of people gathered in St Peter’s Field, Manchester to hear Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt and other noted radical speakers calling for parliamentary reform. At least 17 people would die of injuries received on the day, and around 700 suffered serious wounds at the hands of local armed forces. There was a popular outcry, and the radical press named the incident the ‘Peterloo Massacre’, a mocking reference to the Battle of Waterloo.
August 11, 2018 - Richard Moss
A number of commemorative medals were produced following the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, but this one, recently acquired by the People’s History Museum in Manchester, is believed to be one of the earliest. Its closeness to the terrible events of the notorious massacre of August 16 of 1819 when 18 people in a crowd of […]
This is part of a metal-tipped stick of the sort carried by constables in the 1800s. It was used in 1831 during the arrest of Dic Penderyn who was wrongly convicted and hanged for stabbing a soldier during the Merthyr Rising in South Wales.
Throughout the 1800s Britain became a busy industrial nation. People migrated in increasing numbers from the countryside to towns and cities to work in new factories and mills. Working conditions were poor and dangerous, injuries from machinery were common and workers – including children as young as six – worked long hours. Overcrowding, limited diets and polluted water led to widespread disease and early death. New Lanark, a village on the River Clyde near Glasgow, was a revolutionary industrial and housing complex, combining a cotton mill with purpose-built housing, education and social care for its workers and their families. The ideas put into practice here marked the beginning of cooperative socialism.
The humble miner’s safety lamp is, arguably, one of the most important inventions of the 1800s. The industrial revolution saw coal overtake wood as the most important fuel source for new industries and cities, with an ever increasing demand driving production and placing pressure on safe and efficient extraction. A lamp that could light the way, without causing a disastrous explosion, was as essential a piece of a miner’s kit as a pick-axe.
Before the 1800s, complex woven designs were created by hand. This was very labour-intensive. As a result, patterned fabric was extremely expensive. In 1804 Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752 – 1834) developed the Jacquard Loom, which mechanised the production of patterned textiles. The loom contributed to the transformation of textile weaving from a ‘cottage industry’ run by close-knit families of skilled workers, to a focus of mass production on an industrial scale.
Karl Marx is regarded by many as one of the greatest of political thinkers and one of the most influential voices of modern times. His famous work written with Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, was a call to arms to the oppressed of the world and forms the basis for the modern communist movement that exists today.
This gilded bronze statue, known as the ‘Golden Boys’ (and also the ‘Carpet Salesmen’!) honours Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch. They are shown studying steam engine plans. Together these three revolutionised the steam engine – the technology that would literally drive the industrial revolution.
This illustrated novel by Frances Trollope (1779-1863) was published in monthly parts in 1840, costing one shilling apiece. It tells a fictional story of Michael Armstrong, based on the real-life hardships, exploitation and suffering of children in the workplaces of the Industrial Revolution. It was the first novel about industrial life in Britain and made an important contribution to the campaign to reform conditions for workers – especially children.
In 1834, six farm workers were arrested and transported to Australia as a result of banding together to improve the miserable wages of farm labourers. The maltreatment of the ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’, as they became known, helped pave the way for the creation of trade unions and the protection of employees’ rights.