At the 3 May monthly meeting one of the topics discussed was the potential for a major celebratory event to commemorate the Luddites executed in York in January 1813. If you would like to be involved and have energy and ideas – read on!
To commemorate the Luddites who were imprisoned, transported and executed at York in January 1813 and rescue their names from ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’
To correct popular misconceptions about their aims, ideas and methods, especially the idea that they were ‘anti-technology’
To draw out the links between the Luddites and their struggles with issues in modern society and the problems we face in dealing with them and to show their contemporary relevance
To put York’s connection firmly on the map
[The trials ran from 2 January1813 to 16 January 1813. The equivalent dates for 2013 would be 5 January to 19 January. The first executions were on Friday 8 January 1813, when George Mellor, William Thorpe and Thomas Smith were hung and their bodies taken to the County Hospital for dissection and the body parts dispersed. The second executions were two batches of seven men each on Saturday 16 January, following which the bodies were handed over to the families to be carried on carts in a procession back to their homesteads in the Pennines.]
Based on this scenario, it is proposed to do the following (all subject to feasibility and change):
Tuesday 8 January 2013 – Memorial for the Hanged Luddites – Public meeting with speakers – Luddism and Technology
Wednesday 16 January 2013 – Memorial for the hanged Luddites – Public meeting with speakers on the history of the Luddites and their modern relevance
Saturday 19 January 2013 c. 11 a.m. Street theatre and procession to commemorate the execution of the Luddites and link their struggle to the those of today
Saturday 19 January 2013 – evening ‘Wake for the Luddites’
What is to be done?
1. We need to organise speakers and venues for the two talks and seek to involve other organisations in York in supporting these events either financially or in kind (e.g. space).
2. We need to organise supporting events such as an exhibition in the city centre, to explore the possibility for setting up and unveiling a permanent memorial, to attract media interest and arrange publicity.
3. We need to organise a route for the proposed procession which takes in the site of execution (Tower Street), the Court and Castle (Eye of York), the former site of the York County Hospital (off Monkgate) and culminating either in Parliament Street (for speeches, music, street theatre) and/or an indoor venue (in the event of bad weather or as a final event). We need to work with the authorities to facilitate this.
4. We need to seek the involvement of a wide selection of people to make the procession event fun, theatrical and serious but celebratory: theatre groups, musicians, bands, re-enactors, drummers, etc (all ideas and volunteers welcome)
5. We need to decide on the precise format of the evening ‘wake’, making sure it is good fun and a reward for everybody who has helped make the events a success
Everyone is invited to come up with ideas, including ones not considered so far, and to chat around with friends and associates you think might want to come on board, especially with the Grand Procession
Over the next two YAH monthly meetings we will take stock of progress and decide what is likely to be possible and firm up the plans