The Plug Riots of the 1840s: violent and significant steps on working people’s long road towards justice and equality.
Like many mill towns, the small settlement of Hyde, seven miles to the east of Manchester, grew rapidly in the first half of the nineteenth century. Cotton mills and coal fields defined it and thousands moved in from the surrounding countryside to live and work there.
Conditions for the spinners, winders, weavers and the rest were poor, and in years of depression were worse than miserable. Protests for fair pay and for political representation of the new working class were common and yet harshly rebuffed by the powerful.
One man who lived through these times was James Shore: a machine mender, a Chartist, a rioter and a convict. He was also a son, a husband and a father, and his story amounts to far more than that of a lengthy prison sentence.
He was a man who sacrificed his freedom for the prize of equality, who could glimpse its light in the distance, but who was born too early to bask in its glow.
Blessèd are the Meek is a story based on historical truth.
Tameside Archive Centre, Cotton St East, Ashton