Chartism and the General Strike
The People's Charter
Chartism was the largest working class political movement of the 19th century. A huge gathering was organised by Union leaders at Kersal Moor to allow working class people to listen to Chartist speakers, a meeting we see in the series. The People’s Charter contained six demands; all aimed at making elections fairer and inclusive of all men of all classes, and included the demand to allow all men over the age of twenty-one the right to vote.
In 1842, after the Charter was rejected twice by Parliament, factory and mill workers across the country went on strike in retaliation, as we see in the series.
At Quarry Bank, in August 1842, 500 ‘turnouts’ arrived at the mill, which Robert Hyde Greg had closed on their approach as a safety measure. The mob demanded the Mill be opened and the workers let out.
It was reported that none of the workers wanted to join the ‘turnouts’, but that the mob would not leave until ‘they saw the hands dismissed’. Robert employed all able bodied men as special constables who patrolled the village and the neighbourhood as a protective measure.
A half company of 60th rifles were stationed at Wilmslow for extra protection. There was very little damage done to Quarry Bank Mill compared to others in the area, the shop and the Apprentice House were ‘gutted’ for provisions. After three weeks the mob moved on and the workers went back to the mill.