Northern England town planning Luddite anniversary

Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:18am EDT
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By Michael Taylor

HUDDERSFIELD, England (Reuters Life!) - The people of Huddersfield are rising up again, but this time it's to celebrate the city's 19th century local weavers rather than smash modern technology.

The northern English town of Huddersfield was home nearly 200 hundred years ago to the secretive Luddites, weavers armed with muskets and hammers who roamed the countryside attacking the textile mills which threatened their livelihoods.

Once they were the scourge of northern England, murdering mill owners and smashing machinery, but a vow of silence and the industrial decline of the 21st century mean that finding any tangible remains of the movement -- whose name has become an English catchphrase -- has become a bit of a challenge.

Now Huddersfield member of parliament Barry Sheerman is meeting with historians, museums and locals to come up with ideas to celebrate the bicentenary of the Luddite movement.

"We want to recognize the part the Luddites made in our struggle for democracy...and recognition of organized labor," Sheerman said.

Sheerman said he is in discussions with various national museums in the United Kingdom, to build a Huddersfield center or museum to commemorate the Luddites and social change.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council, which administers Huddersfield and surrounding areas, also said there are plans to launch a new heritage trail and blue plaque scheme for Huddersfield, which may include Luddite links.

Luddites met and planned many of their attacks at public houses dotted around picturesque countryside, using numbers instead of names, wearing hats and coal-blackened faces.   Continued...