This year marks the Bicentenary of the Luddite uprising - a protest against the new machinery that was introduced into the textile industry to improve quality and efficiency but threatened skilled craftsmen's livelihoods - and as a Huddersfield-based craft company, we are proud to be helping to preserve the skills that made up such a huge part of Huddersfield's history.
We would like to thank the Luddite Link portal for the following history of the Luddite movement. More information can be found on: Luddite Link
"The Luddite movement began in the early 1800's, and affected large parts of the textile industry, with the most affected group of tradesmen being the croppers, who used enormous shears to smooth the surface of the woven material, and were renowned for their strength and skill.
Faced with the loss of employment, high wages and status, the croppers and other textile craftsmen reacted violently, smashing up the machines that threatened their existence. These instances of machine breaking occurred in many parts of the UK, including Nottingham, Lancashire and Cheshire, but the most violent protests happened in Huddersfield. A number of Yorkshire manufacturers were bringing together the new technology, which allowed textile production to come under one roof in the large mills of the county and threatened a significant number of jobs.
In Huddersfield alone there were over 13 late night attacks on mills and instances of machine breaking, culminating in a massive attack on Foster's Mill in Horbury. From this attack, the famous Luddite saying was born; "Enoch hath made them, Enoch shall break them," as the rioters were smashing cropping frames made by Enoch Taylor, using sledgehammers made by the same company.
The tide began to turn when 100 Luddites marched on Rawfolds Mills, the owner, William Cartwright was ready for them and had stationed soldiers at the mill. The ensuing battle lead to the death of two Luddites.
Not long after this the Luddites ambushed and shot dead leading textile producer, William Horsfall, as he travelled between Huddersfield and Marsden. In total, 17 men were hanged for their involvement in Horsfall's murder, following a long investigation, which saw more than 1,000 troops brought in to occupy Huddersfield that summer.
Even now, there are still organisations, like the Neo-Luddites, who are campaigning, not for the abolition of all technology, just the technology that aids unemployment by replacing the role of a human worker. Many historians believe that it was the Luddites original goal to remove technology that was harmful to society, not simply to destroy all new technology." The University of Huddersfield is also running a day seminar on 12th May entitled: "Enoch's Hammer: The Luddites and Other Early 19th Century Protest Movements." For anyone wishing to learn more from the region's leading Luddite historians visit the University website: Huddersfield University