Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wakefield Socialist History Group events

The Wakefield Socialist History Group has organised a programme of events for the remainder of this year.

On Saturday 6th September the Featherstone Massacre Commemorative Guided Walk will start at 2 p.m. at the Bradley Arms, Willow Lane, North Featherstone.  
The walk will include a graveside oration and a tour of places in Featherstone itself associated with the massacre.
In the summer of 1893 Yorkshire mine owners -faced with a fall in the price of coal- demanded that miners accept a 25% reduction in wages. The miners resisted and on 28th July they were locked out.
The dispute dragged on and after seven weeks money was increasingly tight.  Miners knew they needed to step up their action so they began to stop the movement of coal.
On 6th September the manager of Featherstone's Ackton Hall colliery, a Mr Holiday, arrived at the pit to find a large picket of miners demanding that the loading of smudge for sale be stopped.  Holiday eventually agreed. But the next day miners discovered wagons with Bradford destination tickets being loaded with smudge.  The miners felt they had been conned, so they toppled the wagons over.
Holiday, fearing widespread unrest, called for help and the military -in the form of the South Staffordshire Regiment - were soon sent in.
However the troops and the magistrate Bernard Hartley JP were confronted by a large crowd in Green Lane.  The magistrate read the Riot Act but when the crowd didn't disperse live rounds were fired. 
One man, James Gibb, was shot through the right breast.  He died in a local surgery the following day.
Another man, James Duggan, also died in Clayton Hospital, Wakefield after surgeons were unable to stop bleeding in his leg. Many more people were also wounded.
Jurors at Duggan's inquest were instructed to return a verdict of "justifiable homicide."  Jurors at Gibb's inquest refused to acquiesce in this way and expressed regret at the "extreme measures" taken on the night in question.
The Bowen Commission later set up to inquire into events was a complete whitewash.  The Home Secretary, HH Asquith, did agree to pay £100 to each of the deceased families but still didn't admit any culpability.  Henceforth Asquith was known as "Assassin Asquith."

On Saturday 1st November at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield at 1p.m. there will be a meeting, WW1: From World War to World Revolution. The speaker will be Stephen Wood.  A free light buffet will be provided.

Then on Saturday 6th December again at the Red Shed at 1p.m. there will be a meeting, Eco-Socialism: Green Socialist Ideas Past and Present.  The speakers will be Adrian Cruden (eco-socialist, Green Party member and blogger) and Mike Davies (Alliance for Green Socialism)  Again there will be a free light buffet.

1 comment:

  1. From Wakefield Socialist History Group:

    Over 30 people braved bad weather to commemorate the Featherstone Massacre on Saturday. John Gill, a local socialist historian, spoke of the background to the events whilst Alan Stewart, Convenor of the Wakefield Socialist History Group, gave the graveside oration.

    The next group event is a meeting, "WW1: From World War to World Revolution" at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield on Saturday 1st November (1-4pm). The speakers are Stephen Wood (a local trade unionist) and Dave Sherry (author of "Empire and Revolution").
    There is no charge, all are welcome and there is a free light buffet.

    On Saturday 6th December there will be a further meeting at the Red Shed (1-4pm) on "Eco-Socialism: Green Socialist Ideas Past and Present." The speakers are Adrian Cruden and Brian Else (both from the Green Party), Mike Davies (Alliance for Green Socialism) and Garth Frankland (Left Unity). Again entrance is free with a free light buffet.