Hi again Readers
Well my book is nearly ready for publishing and will soon be uploaded to Amazon. Still a few loose ends but its currently at 58,000 words plus. My book cover and a couple of illustrations are now complete. In the meantime here is the Prologue which sets up the story. Please remember every word is copyright. I will be sharing some illustrations very soon. In the meantime enjoy the following which I think will be the final version………
It is the month of May in the year 1844. There is deep unrest in the East Midlands . The town of Nottingham has a well-deserved reputation for rebellion and insurrection associated with political radicalism. It was at the centre of the Luddite disturbances between 1811 and 1817. These troubles were sparked by the introduction of larger framework knitting machines which produced inferior “cut-ups”. The town also saw some of the worst rioting in the country when the second reform bill was rejected in October 1831. The working man still has no vote and now the Chartists are gaining popular support, especially from within the dominant textile industries. Local Chartists draw much of their strength from the chronically depressed framework knitters. These are semi-skilled men working in a stagnant industry. In August 1842 a Chartist campaign for “a fair days wage for a fair days work” resulted in a nine day strike. At a meeting on Mapperley Hill 5,000 men assembled and 400 were arrested by troops from the barracks. Now the framework knitters are up in arms again. With the closing of the “German season” word has reached the framework knitters of the town that hosiers have been paid higher prices in Derby than in Nottingham. Another strike has been called. Most men have joined Lodges of Oddfellows and have been paying in monthly dues to provide a fund for such an emergency. Most men obey the call to stop work though some “knob-sticks” in Hyson Green have carried on working. The strike should not have affected the more skilled and more highly paid lace workers. They too are made idle when the lace manufacturers close down their premises as do most of the Merchant Hosiers. Nottingham’s riotous reputation has already forced one hosier to re-locate to peaceful Devon. Now serious trouble is expected with a series of strike and grievance meetings called by the Lodges to be held in town. Nottingham’s ruling elite are the most concerned and have the most to lose. They control the town through their positions on the council. They fill the important roles of magistrates and aldermen. They hold the positions of mayor, high sheriff and under-sheriff. They can call out troops from the barracks in the park by the Castle. They can call upon the relatively new town police force. What they cannot do is easily control huge crowds of angry men who can form very quickly in Nottingham. Damage to property is expected. Broken windows will be the least of their troubles. What is most feared is the deliberate firing of premises. In addition the many buyers from the London Commission houses will not return until the autumn. There is no incentive for the owners to keep their premises open with little demand for their finished goods.
Saturday 18th May was the last day of work for most framework knitters before the strike. With the merchant hosiers closure of their numerous warehouses it was now impossible to take in “cut-ups” for finishing and seaming so putting entire families out of work. The familiar thump and running click made by over four thousand framework knitting machines was no longer heard in Nottingham or Radford. As most men had been paid by their masters on the Saturday there was still money to be spent. There could be no further work until after the various lodge meetings at the very earliest. These were due to take place at the King George on Horseback Inn on Wednesday 22nd May. Some took the opportunity to carry out repairs or maintenance on the knitting machines. In some premises the machines were disassembled, moved and then re-assembled. This was heavy and thirsty work and was the cue for some to find a nearby Inn.
One framework knitter from New Radford set off from Birch Row in the early afternoon of Monday May 20th. Passing the Falcon Inn he looked through a window and thought he saw his wife and oldest child sitting inside with another man. Stepping inside his worst fears were realised. He believed his wife was still in the workhouse. He had made plans and none of them included his wife and children. He walked towards them, sat on a stool and said angrily “Well there’s always summat!” He stared at the wall for a good few minutes then looked at his wife and said “If you had been a bit longer I should have been off to America!” This tense and fraught meeting was not what his wife was expecting and they parted and went their own ways. Twenty four hours later the woman and her children were all missing.
The proper authorities were prepared for trouble and riotous assembly, quite possibly some damage to property. They could never have expected the seemingly unconnected sequence of events that followed. The events would test both the town and country police, cause consternation for coroners and shock both Sheriff and Under Sheriff and the ruling elite. Something was afoot, someone was upset and making new plans……….
Copyright@ Mike Sheridan 2013 All rights reserved