More than 140 gather 198 years after weavers uprising turned to tragedy

More than 140 people came together to commemorate the 1826 weavers uprising and Chatterton Massacre.

The public gathered at Chatterton Pease Park near Stubbins on Sunday, April 28. Across four days in April 1826, tens of thousands of ordinary people rebelled.

They were desperate, starving, and tired of not being heard by the local mill owners. When all else had failed, the weavers and other local people turned to mass protest and targeted property destruction.

They destroyed more than 1,100 power looms. The response of the government was to meet starving weavers with violence. At least six people were killed by soldiers at Chatterton on April 26, who fired more than 600 bullets into a crowd of 3,000 protesters. Many were wounded and at the time newspapers reported that the number of dead at Chatterton were likely to be in double figures.


The 198th commemorations included music and historical readings about the massacre, as well as the naming of those who died and the laying of a wreath. The commemorations started and with The True Levellers Samba band, which marched down Chatterton Old Lane and into the peace park.

The Samba band aim to make as much noise as possible to represent the sound of the thousands of protestors who headed into Chatterton on the fateful day of the massacre.

The Water Brass band, who have a very long history themselves, then performed several songs, including a version of ‘Gresford’, known today as ‘the ‘miners hymn’.

There were also three songs by the Ramshackle Wailers, one of which was specially composed for the commemorations about the starving weavers, and a song by a local folk band, who performed a song they had composed on the events at the Dandy Mill in Blackburn on April 24, 1826.

Dr David Scott, chair of the Weavers Uprising Bicentennial and one of the main organisers of the commemorations this year, said: “The weavers uprising is a very important event in the history of Lancashire. It deserves to be remembered, both for the courage of the protestors to make a stand, but also to acknowledge the woefully inadequate response of the government to their plight.

“They were met with steel and bullets rather than bread and opportunities to live a dignified life. What happened across the four days of the uprising was a tragedy, only equalled by the tragic avoidable and premature deaths of thousands of people in its aftermath because the people were left without work, food, or the basic means to survive.

“The uprising leaves a scar upon the beautiful landscape of Pennine Lancashire and the descendants of those killed or sacrificed in the interests of laissez-fare capitalism should have the opportunity to pay their respects to their ancestors.

“We hope that the commemorations this year – which aim to shine a spotlight on the events and correct popular misinterpretations about the motives of the protestors – will be an important steppingstone as we collectively work with heritage sites and other key partners across Pennine Lancashire for the 200th Anniversary networked events in two years’ time.”