Sunday, 26 March 2017

Luddites in Loughborough and Arnold

Deciding what to blog about that might interest you is becoming harder and harder, especially as in the last couple of weeks I've been out and about a little bit more than usual - well, when I say usual, I mean since September last year when I started my online course, which is taking up most of my spare time - and some!!

I've already told you about the branding event I went to, but I've also been to several talks recently: a Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society talk on Luddites in Arnold; a Friends of Charnwood Museum talk on Nanpantan Hall, and a talk in Heanor about nineteenth century policing in Derbyshire. If that weren't enough, I've also been to a book launch - of the Castle Donington volume of the Victoria County History series, in Donington Hall; a play about the Luddites in Loughborough, held at the Swan in the Rushes, and a play in Stratford about a [Ro]man who was Brutally killed (1). Little wonder I'm a bit behind on my course! 

At the LAHS talk, given by Bob Massey (2), we learned of the Luddite connection to Arnold, in North Nottingham, which at the time of the attacks would have been a small, forested village, a part of Sherwood Forest. I've heard Bob speak on the topic before and he really does make it come alive: his enthusiasm for the Luddite story is catching. Bob told us that the, I don't know, let's call it the movement, was started in Arnold. He made suggestions as to why this was the case, including the fact that almost 2/3s of the population of the village was involved in framework knitting in the home. 

Around 1812, when harvests were poor, and the country was paying the price for fighting the Napoleonic wars and the 1812-15 war with the United States, Britain also experienced a trade depression. Frames became more sophisticated, and bosses began to employ unskilled labourers (colts), who commanded lower pay rates than their skilled counterparts. The products made by the colts were inferior, but skilled workers were being offered the lower pay rates associated with the colts, and it is this that the Luddites were fighting against, rather than a general disgruntlement with the advancing technology. 

Between the years of 1811 and 1812, there were many attacks which included attacks on Arnold, and there were many more both in the East Midlands and in Yorkshire. Framework breaking became a crime punishable by public hanging, and Bob told us that 29 Luddites were executed, and 34 transported.

Down at the Swan in the Rushes in Loughborough, one sunny Sunday afternoon in late March 2017, the Luddite attack on John Heathcoat and John Boden's factory in Mill Street (3) was acted out, and we witnessed one such execution, as James Towles was hung at the "New Drop", in front of the County Bridewell, Leicester (4), at the bottom of Horsepool Street (5), Leicester, for his part in the "Loughborough job". This public execution took place in November 1816, and was witnessed by large crowds. I don't know who was the Keeper of the County Bridewell at the time, but until a few years before this (until 1804) this post had been held by Daniel Lambert. 

Back to the performance of the play, Last of the Luddites, by Chorus Theatre, and based on a book of the same name by local Loughborough man, Ian Porter (6), which told the story in an imaginatively unbiased way, reporting, via short court scenes, the events from the point of view of the witnesses, the jury and the victims. Central to the movement was Ned Ludd, from whom the Luddites got their name - if, of course he was real! The true story of Ned Ludd is not known, and many and various theories were explored throughout the play. Lord Byron (7), a supporter of the cause, as he perceived the Luddites were simply trying against all odds to make ends meet, also made an appearance.

Punishment was meted out to the Luddites who attacked Heathcoat and Boden's factory in Loughborough, and Heathcoat moved his factory to Tiverton (although it is thought he had already decided to do this before the actual attack), where he built houses and facilities for his workers, on a par with those provided by Cadbury for his workers, at Bournville (8). 

At the conclusion of the play, the audience were encouraged to meet the cast, and ask questions centred around either the play itself, or the Luddite movement in Loughborough.
Here's a few pictures of the event.

(1) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare


(3) Mill Street is now Market Street, and the factory, which later became Wright's Mill, was situated where Iceland is today.

(4) A Bridewell was a house of correction, or prison, modelled on Bridewell Prison in London. Leicester's was on Highcross Street and you can still see some remains of this today. 

(5) According to an article in the Leicester Mercury, Horsepool Street is now Oxford Street in Leicester - difficult to imagine how this connected with Highcross Street, now with the underpass in the way. 

(6) Porter, Ian (2015) The last of the Luddites. Loughborough: Panda Eyes Publishing. 9780957102798

(7) The poet, Lord Byron, gave a speech in the debate in the House of Lords on the 1812 Frame breaking Act. see particularly the final paragraph which describes the condition of some of these frame breakers. 


And a shameless plug for some of my previous blogposts:
Various posts about the connections between Loughborough and Tiverton, Loughborough, Luddites and Lace, Picnic in the Park 2016, etc..

If you want to explore some of the locations in Loughborough that have associations with the Luddites, pop over to my virtual walk - or, better still, go for an actual walk around the area!!  

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2017). Luddites in Loughborough and Arnold. Available from: [Accessed 26 March 2017]

Sunday, 19 March 2017

From the rooftops of Loughborough Part 1

Last Saturday was a bit of a dull day, and I didn't much feel like doing anything, so by the time I managed to galvanise myself into action, the sky had darkened and the temperature dropped. The furthest I felt like walking was into town. 

Despite the dank weather, Queen's Park was resplendent with some beautiful daffodils
Daffodils at one of the entrances to Queen's Park

Lovely to see teenagers out and about, and it is them I have to thank for the idea of this post! Yes, ok, I've been to the top of the car parks in town and taken photographs before, but it has been a while, and I don't think any of those pics ever made it to the blog, so now seemed as good a time as any!!

Sadly, I don't have time to make this into a quiz, like I did with the pub pictures a very long time ago, so I'll share some pics I think you might like, and I'll caption them so you don't have to guess where they are - although some of the angles are a bit odd some might be a bit harder to place in context! So, here goes, let's start on the top of the Somerfield car park (entrance on Packe Street):
The Town Hall through the trees

Across the park: The old mill on Devonshire Square

The Carillon in the distance

Across the Granby Street car park to the old mill on Devonshire Square

The Town Hall

The HSBC Bank in Market Place

What used to be a furniture shop beside the car park

The Generator building on Packe Street

The Town Hall clock

The rooftop of the HSBC Bank in Market Place

The top of the NatWest Bank in Cattle Market

Our beautiful Carnegie public library
Next up, the views from the Carillon Court car park:
The Bell Foundry pub on Swan Street

The former office of the Loughborough Echo on Swan Street

Above the Halifax on Swan Street

Chimney tops, corner of Swan Street

The Masonic Lodge

The tower of All Saints with Holy Trinity church

Entrance and exit to the Carillon Court car park

The top of the library, with The Towers hall of residence in the distance

The Carillon peeping out over the top

The Town Hall from another angle

The HSBC in Market Place

The back of the 1920s shops on Market Street

The bell above the clock in Carillon Court

Looking down onto George's Yard

The allegorical figure atop Lloyds Bank
Well, that's two car parks, only another one to go, but I think I'll save that one for another time. I'll leave you with this picture though, as this was mentioned at a recent talk I went to, which might be the subject of a later post:
Southfield House, now home to the Register Office, formerly the home of William Byerley Paget

See you soon!

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2017). From the rooftops of Loughborough: Part 1. Available from: [Accessed 19 March 2017]

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Branding the town

I was lucky enough recently to attend an event at the re-furbished City Hall in Leicester, formerly home to the Willie Thorne snooker club! The hall has been beautifully restored and whilst some of the fittings, like the clock, are the original art deco artefacts, much has been faithfully reproduced, making the interior decor seem authentic.
Inside City Hall Leicester

The art deco clock in City Hall Leicester

Anyway, the event, attended by interested people and representatives from interested organisations from across the Midlands and beyond, was on town branding for heritage organisations.

As you might expect of a conference being held in Leicester, we heard from various presenters about Leicester's 2000 year history, about the stories of Leicester and about the vision for the future of Leicester. But, we also heard from the experience of the likes of Nottingham, with their world famous brand that actually makes promoting other aspects of the city - like the castle and the caves - difficult; from Lincoln, with its obvious cathedral-based heritage that eclipses everything else; from Stamford, the perfect example of a small market town; to Grantham, a town struggling with its heritage and image - Newton or Thatcher?

After lunch we were put into groups based on our own geographical area, and I found myself on a Charnwood table. Those of us who live in Charnwood can appreciate the difficulty of trying to brand an area that contains Leicestershire's biggest market town, a couple of small towns, and numerous small villages, all of differing character. Oh, and 90% of Bradgate Park!

Focusing on one branding necessarily excludes many others. So, for example, if we were to identify the area using Loughborough as an example, then we might use images of the Carillon, the Great Central Railway, the canal, Taylor's Bellfoundry, Ladybird Books, but the villages might struggle to identify with this. Similarly, if we were to brand the area by focusing on Bradgate, for example, then the people of Loughborough would probably be saying "when was the last time we saw a deer in the Market Place?".
Deer in Bradgate Park

In the end, I think we plumped for suggesting Taylor's Bellfoundry as the focal point of the area and to tell the story of Charnwood, through its connections with the town of Loughborough, the canals, the railways, and roads, it being the only bell foundry left in the country now that Whitechapel is likely to close, its long association with the area and the spread of its products world wide. But we could just as easily have chosen to brand using Swithland slate, a material used throughout Charnwood as roofing material, and other building material. Or Mountsorrel granite. Or ...
The closing of the Whitechapel Bellfoundry, as reported in The Times, 11 March 2017
The Carillon in Queen's Park, Loughborough

A roof of Swithland slate

The Great Central Railway station at Loughborough

On the Grand Union canal, Loughborough, the Boat Festival

The former Ladybird factory on Windmill Road, Loughborough

The cast of the Great Paul bell, made by Taylor's, in Queen's Park, Loughborough

Now, where's that picture of Mountsorrel granite disappeared to?

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2017). Branding the town. Available from: [Accessed 12 March 2017]

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Kendal Troutbeck Scotland Carlisle and the Loughborough connection Part II

So, back to connections between Loughborough and places I've recently visited! Picking up where I left off, a few more connections with Dumfries before moving off to the Western Highland and Islands of Scotland.

The Dumfries War Memorial is a tall obelisk-type structure in the centre of the town, which is a little different from ours, a carillon sitting gracefully in the centre of the park that was created in celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1899.
War Memorial Dumfries town centre
War Memorial, Queen's Park Loughborough
Now, as you know, Leicester has fairly recently uncovered the bones of a certain King, and reconstructed the face: fittingly our King is now safely buried in the cathedral. So, Leicester has the bones of King Richard III; Dumfries has the skull of Robert the Bruce!

Skull of Robert the Bruce (reconstruction) Dumfries Museum
There are toy shops and toy shops! Loughborough's toy shop is in the former Alliance and Leicester Building Society building, but there are many buildings in Loughborough to match the toy shop in Dumfries. 

The toy shop in Dumfries
Loughborough's Carnegie Library
The ironwork around Dumfries reminded me of similar work of the Loughborough iron founder, John Jones.
Ironwork in Dumfries

The work of the John Jones iron foundry in Loughborough Cemetery
Like Loughborough, as there in many towns, there are ghost signs to be found in Dumfries.

Ghost sign in Dumfries
Ghost sign on Nottingham Road, Loughborough
Thankfully, we managed to find an Indian restaurant to dine at in Dumfries, so we felt right at home!   
Indian restaurant in Dumfries

Whilst in one of the many museums associated with Robert Burns, poet, I spotted a painting of an eighteenth century man, who simply reminded me of Robert Bakewell, agriculturalist of Dishley
Unknown man in Robert Burns museum, Dumfries

Robert Bakewell mosaic at Dishley

Leaving Dumfries, we headed off to Portsonachan where we were greeted by a herd of deer!
Ornamental deer at the Portsonachan Hotel
Deer at Bradgate Park, January 2017

Oban was an interesting place: we went for a walk up Pulpit Hill and then walked back along the road adjacent to the Irish Sea. After a wonderful seafood lunch, we walked up the other side of Oban to McCaig's Tower, a folly in the shape of a Roman coliseum. Although rather different, it did remind me of Old John, high up on the hill at Bradgate Park.

McCaig's Tower, Oban

McCaig's Tower, Oban

A rather odd view through Old John in Bradgate Park

It was lovely to see a water fountain in Inverary, but it was a shame it was surrounded by bins!

The water fountain in Inverary

The Fearon water fountain in Market Place, Loughborough
The builders were using slate to re-roof some of the traditional buildings in Inverary and this reminded me of the gravestones that had been the subject of some of my recent blog posts.
Slate in Inverary
Swithland slate gravestone

In Loch Lomond, I was very taken with the paddle steamer - not sure I've seen anything quite like that in Loughborough! But I also spotted some kind of boiler in the boiler room on the lakeside, which reminded me of the talk that the Chair of the Swannington Heritage Trust delivered to the Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society meeting a couple of weeks ago

And in Carlisle, I spotted a carriageway arch that had a date inscribed on the top: as far as I know, we have plenty of carriageway arches in Loughborough, but none with dates.
Carriageway arch in Carlisle with a date carved centre top
Plain carriageway arch on Ashby Road (to the left is now Purple Pumpkin Patch

Another carriageway arch reminded me of one on Ashby Road, because it had a carved man's head on it, although our man's head has more wild hair. 
Carved male head on carriageway arch in Carlisle

Difficult to see, but lions head carved into carriageway arch on Ashby Road

I'm sure there were plenty of other connections that reminded me of Loughborough whilst I was visiting Cumbria, Scotland and the North West of England, but I'm sure you've seen enough now!!

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2017). Kendal, Troutbeck, Scotland, Carlisle and the Loughborough connection part II. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 5 March 2017]