Friday, 1 May 2015

Pull the Plug - Ring the Change

As a contribution to the "Revolution" theme at City Daily Bloggers I am taking a close look at the Monument to Hyde Chartists outside Hyde Town Hall.

Pull the Plug - Ring the Change is the motto on the front of the sculpture below which are six panels that create a timeline of events.

1802 THE HEALTH AND MORALS OF APPRENTICES ACT prohibited night work for children and limited day work to twelve hours.

1819 THE FACTORY ACT - limited child labour to 72 hours a week, with a minimum age of nine years.

1833 ALTHORP'S FACTORY ACT - limited children between nine and thirteen to ten hours per day and stipulated that each child had to be given two hours of schooling each day.

1847 THE FIELDEN'S ACT - fixed working day at ten hours for women and all young persons under eighteen years of age.

1853 Act passed stating that children could only be employed between 6am and 6pm with one and half hours for meals.

1875 The minimum working age of children was raised to ten. In 1891 to the age of eleven, twelve in 1901, and fourteen in 1920.

The plague on the side reads:
Pulling the Plug, Ringing the Change

This statue
was jointly unveiled by
Lord Pendry of Stalybridge
and the Executive Leader of Tameside
Council, Councillor Roy Oldham C.B.E.
on 28th November 2002 in
the presence of the living
relatives of the original
Chartists of Hyde


The 1st of the panels on the rear of the Monument to Hyde Chartists expresses our gratitude to the Chartists who did not ask for reform but demanded it and were even willing to die for it.

The 2nd of the rear panels tells the history of the movement.

The Chartist Movement of 1838-48 was one of the most remarkable upheavals ever known in the history of Britain. The townspeople of Hyde played a particularly important role in 'ringing the change' for social and political reform. Notably John Bradley (clogger) of 8 Manchester Road, Hyde, who was responsible for helping to frame the 'Declaration of Hyde Chartist', which demanded the proper recognition of rights for the labouring classes.

On 14th August 1848 a band of Chartists, armed with guns, pistols, swords and pikes marched through Hyde at midnight. They were determined to effect a stoppage of the mills for a month by drawing the plugs of the boilers and thus bringing all the machinery to a standstill. These occurrences became known as the 'Plug Riots' and even today the expression 'pulling the plug' is still commonly used.

There follows a list of 18 men who were convicted for their part in the riots and sentences imposed on them.

The 3rd of the rear panels sets out the Six Point Charter
1 A vote for every man 21 years of age, of sound mind and not undergoing punishment for a crime.

2 The Secret Ballot - to protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.

3 No Property Qualifications for Members of Parliament - thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of choice, be he rich or poor.

4 Payment of Members - thus enabling an honest tradesman, working man or other person, to serve a constituency when taken from his business to attend to the interest of the country.

5 Equal Constituencies - securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing smaller constituencies to swamp the votes for larger ones.

6 Annual Parliament - thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since though a constituency might be bought once every seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under the system of universal suffrage). In each ensuing twelve-month period, and since, members, when elected yearly, would not be able to defy and betray their constituencies as now,
The petition was presented to Parliament in 1839, 1842 and 1848, and each time it was rejected. Eventually it did become law with the exception of the Annual Parliament.

The 4th of the rear panels details 19th Century Working Conditions.

The 5th of the rear panels details the conditions for children and women who were treated as second class citizens in the mills. Children as young as five and six were forced to work up to 12 hours per day. One mill owner sent wagons to London to bring back girls aged 8 to 14 from orphanages and foundling house to work in the mills.

The 6th of the rear panels gives details of the Chartist Movement.

'Chartism' was so called because it was based around a 'a charter of rights for all', including the right to vote. Chartists believed that many of the evils of the day could be remedied if Parliament was further reformed and made truly representative of the people.

At a meeting, organised by Joseph Rayner Stephens, a crowd of 4,000 marched into Hyde via 'Flowery Field' armed with banners and firearms. Hyde was one of the first towns to build a public institute to the Chartist cause. The Working Men's Institute was opened in 1838.
"Declaration of Hyde Chartists"

1 No division or distribution of a man's property much less his life.

2 We want our rights as Englishmen.

3 We want a fair and equal representation in Parliament and a free vote in making laws.

4 We declare the present Property Parliament unfair.

5 We want no Poor Laws Amendments Act.

6 We want every man, rich or poor, to not only have a vote, but to be ably to stand as a candidate for any Borough or County.

Looking from behind the Chartists of Hyde memorial.

Visit other contributions to the Revolution theme at City Daily Photo.


  1. Interesting History and fine photos - a comprehensive take on the theme.

  2. Great lines on the view from behind the memorial!

  3. very interesting history and excellent memorial... Thanks...

  4. Comprehensive indeed- this is something that doesn't come up in history classes in much detail here. The work as a whole is very impressive.

  5. Very fitting monument to those who worked so hard and tireless, often at great peril, to create a better world for all of us. Unfortunately, we all too often forget how much better our lives are nowadays compared to those who struggled for us and how much of it we owe to our forebears.


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