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Park memorial plan in tribute to the Luddites; 200 years on ... gone but not forgotten.

Byline: LINDA WHITWAM

IT IS 200 years since the Huddersfield Luddites took up arms against their employers and the new machinery which cost them their jobs.

Although the working men lost the struggle and their ringleaders were hanged, they have not been forgotten.

Now the Luddite bicentennial is to be commemorated with a monumental piece of artwork in a new public park in Liversedge.

Spen Valley Civic Society is inviting artists to come up with ideas for a two-metre high landmark as a fitting memorial to the croppers and other textile workers who fought for their livelihoods.

The area around Huddersfield was one of the main centres of Luddite rebellion.

The society has been awarded pounds 14,500 by Kirklees Council's regeneration fund to pay for the sculpture and new copies of an out-of-print leaflet on the Luddites.

The memorial will be located in a tiny new park of just 300 square metres which is currently being created in the historic heart of Hightown, Liversedge, opposite the old Town Hall in Halifax Road.

The newly-named Sparrow Park will contain information boards on Liversedge as well as the Luddites. It is being funded by a pounds 20,000 grant from the Veolia Environment Trust, which is funded by a tax on domestic landfill.

The park is near the historic Shears Inn, which still stands today. It was here that the croppers met one night in April 1812 before lying in wait on Hartshead Moor and ambushing wagons carrying new cropping frames.

Shortly afterwards, on the fateful night of April 12, some 150 croppers attacked Rawfold's Mill. The Luddites were repelled by armed soldiers and two lost their lives.

Max Rathmel, chairman of Spen Valley Civic Society, said: "The Luddites are really well known in our part of Kirklees, but people are not so clear on the facts.

"Local people like the story and its rebellious nature. The croppers were cocking a snoop at authority and were doing something, rather than being trodden on.

"We wanted to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Luddites. We think the croppers were entirely justified - people were starving to death - and we will be dealing with the anniversary sympathetically."

Any artists interested in applying for the commission should email lescivic@btinternet.com. Deadline for initial submissions is August 23.

The unveiling ceremony will take place on April 12, 2012, exactly 200 years after the Rawfolds Mill rebellion.

The artwork is just one in a series of events planned in Kirklees to mark the bicentenary of the Luddite rebellion. ? On Monday 30 people packed into a room at the Albert Hotel, Huddersfield, to hear a talk on the Luddites by well-known local historian Alan Brooke.

He told of the attempts by local croppers to use the law to defend their livelihoods against the encroachment of machinery in the early 19th Century. Despite laws in place to limit the use of machines, magistrates sided with the factory owners.

The meeting, organised by the Huddersfield Anarchist League, heard from current textile workers about the more recent rate of change in the industry.

Also in attendance was Richard Holland of the Luddite200 Organising Committee. This is a national body established to support, encourage and promote Luddite commemoration events.

Those attending agreed to establish a local committee and to hold a meeting in the near future.

CAPTION(S):

* DEATH PENALTY: Seventeen Luddites were sent to the gallows at St George''s Field, York, above; Luddites smash power looms in a weaving shed, left, and the Croppers Song, far left, which was sung by the Yorkshire Luddites and sums up their exploits
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jun 9, 2011
Words:599
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