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Chartist Riots 1842

Chartist Riots at Marple

In 1842 there was a general strike by mill and factory workers who were concerned that due to overproduction the mill and factory owners were preparing to cut the workers wages by half. These people were called Chartists. The men in charge of the Chartists, (described as a mob) at Marple were Christopher Doyle of Manchester and Joseph Taylor of Marple Bridge.

On Wednesday, 10th August 1842, about 200 men marched on Shepley's Mill, Marple. The mill owner, Mr. Shepley and a parcel of men assembled on the Macclesfield canal bridge (Shepley's Bridge, br.4) and were told by the mob that "they wanted the hands turned out of the mill". Shepley stopped the mill and turned out the 500 to 600 workers.

There was then a meeting at Marple, (just under 1000 people) of Chartists, on 15th August, 1842. After many speeches, Joseph Taylor, Chairman of the meeting, was elected to go to Manchester as a representative.

The meeting was adjourned to  Posset bridge where the delegate, Taylor was to receive "proper instructions".  The mob headed by Doyle and Taylor and armed with sticks and bludgeons, then moved on to the Marple canal junction. Here they stopped 7 or 8 boats, tied them to the side of the canal and chased away the horses. They told the boatmen if they were to go any further they would sink the boats. The mob then moved on to Top Lock on the Peak Forest canal where they started to "pull the lock to pieces". They pulled the bolt out on which the door of the lock moves, and threw the lock door across the canal. A great cheer went up when this was accomplished by 200-300 of the crowd still there (the removal of the bolt took about 20 minutes). The navigation of the lock was stopped by this action for 2 days. This action would also have affected the Macclesfield canal.

The Stockport Advertiser of 26th August, 1842, reported that On Monday (22nd August) morning a meeting of colliers and other unemployed operatives took place on a plot of ground called Torkington Lane, near Hazel Grove, who afterwards proceeded to Marple and succeeded in stopping Messrs Shepley's works.

Messrs Shepley's mill at Marple resumed work on Tuesday (23rd August) and has not since been interfered with.

Originally Shepley's was first turned out on 10th August according to the trial, as noted above, and it looks like at least some of the mill's workers had returned by Monday 22nd August, only to be turned out again by the colliers.

I am most grateful to Noel Brindley for this item of history.