DAY IN TODMORDEN
28 July 1832
Reform Bill was finally passed in 1832, after a long and difficult
process. Before this bill, voting was restricted to the wealthy
landowners. With the coming of industrial wealth to the cities such
as Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool etc. it was thought time that
more of the people should be given the right to vote.
1831 a Reform Bill was defeated and in October that year serious
riots broke out in Bristol, Derby and Nottingham. The castle at
Nottingham was burned down and members of parliament who opposed
the bill were attacked and their homes vandalised.
new Reform Bill was introduced by December the same year and this
one had more success and was given Royal Assent on 7 June 1832.
not everyone was satisfied with the terms of the bill, which allowed
only men who occupied homes with an annual value of £10 or
more to vote. This still meant that only one in seven men were eligible
to vote. So the Chartist Movement
was formed and they wanted Parliamentary reform to go further and
drew up a People's Charter which contained six points:
A VOTE for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and
not undergoing punishment for crime.
THE BALLOTT-To protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
NO PROPERTY QUALIFICATION for Members of Parliament thus enabling
the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich
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 interests of the country.
EQUAL CONSTITUENCIES securing the same amount or representation
for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies
to swamp the votes of the large ones.
ANNUAL PARLIAMENT thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery
and intimidation, since though a constituency might be bought once
in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency
(under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelvemonth;
and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able
to defy and betray their constituencies as now.
was all in the future and at the time, the Reform Bill of 1832 was
a great step forward with rejoicing all over the country. Todmorden
held its own celebrations and they were observed by William Helliwell,
a visitor from Canada, but a native of Todmorden who had emigrated
with his parents in 1818 when he was seven. You can read their story
kept a diary and wrote the following account of the day's
events. Some of the spelling has been altered to make it easier
to read, but it is mainly as William wrote it.
morning 28 July 1832,
bid the people here all goodbye as the time for my departure drew.
I thought it probable that I could not see them any more.
came down to Todmorden to witness one of the greatest days that
ever was seen in this village. It was the procession in honour of
came over the fields from Stansfield Hall to Jump Clough Bridge
and when I got there I was surprised to see the Buckleys weavers
marching with a band of music at their head. The men walked first,
four deep, and the girls followed, all in their best bib and tuckers
all in copt.
Taxes Englands Curse
Grey and all true Reformers may they
prosper and their opposers be Damd to eternal
is a specimen of their Ensigns which I noted down on the spot.
marched with three bands of music playing down as far as Lob Mill
and there turned round and came back and was followed by a pair
of looms in a cart and a man weaving calico and another winding
bobbins, with an oaten cake and a red herring nailed fast to the
top of the looms, and ever and anon, the bobbin winder would take
a bit of the cake and offer the weaver a small bit.
had a large…..tile suspended from the looms with the inscription
Poor Looms and
exportation of cotton yarn
weavers wages 9d. per day of twelve hours
procession went up the Burnley Road as far as the church and turned
round. I stood on the top of the ridge above the church, from which
elevation I had a good view of the whole column which reached from
the Blind Lane end to Bloomleys across the canal bridge, all four
the procession had passed I went to Dr. Gleadhills and took dinner,
and then the doctor and me went up to Waterside to see how they
was all coming on there.
field where the people was dining is in front of the factory and
is about an acre. Above the gate was decorated with flowers, the
letters Reform formed of wire and covered with flowers and suspended
down from the gate. From the gate to the other side of the field
there was a large booth erected and covered with calico, with two
tables. Here all the beef and pudding was cut up and served out,
everyone bringing his own plate, knife and fork. There was 24 tables
at right angles with this ??????? and all covered with calico, about
20 yards long.
was an orchestra erected at the head of the booth and a band of
music playing all the time the people was dining. Here was all the
ladies of the Waterside and many of their friends with medals suspended
from their fair necks, cutting up beef and pudding and seemed to
enjoy the scene very much.
beef was of the best possible quality and the pudding was very rich
Hunters Pudding. The ale and porter was excellent and in sufficient
Messrs. Fielding work people had finished all that would, came,
and such crowding and shoving to get to the table, I never saw before
in my life. When a slice of beef was cut, a dozen hands would grasp
at it, to the great danger of the hands being cut by the carving
eating was over, Mr. John Fielding made a speech in which he spoke
of the Reform as being of universal franchise and hoped that the
time was not far distant when every Englishman would eat roast beef
and plum pudding every day.
this time the ale and porter had made many of them forget their
poverty and groups began to dance on the green with a spirit and
animation not often witnessed and ????? the music, the dancers and
the vast crowd of people, all in their Sunday finery, made one of
the most picturesque scenes that I ever saw in my life.
seven o'clock, Mr. John Fielding put up a balloon, somewhat larger
than a beer barrel. It ascended nearly perpendicular until it got
as high as the surrounding hills and then the gas being all exhausted,
it came down again. It fell just on the other side of the canal.
the evening as I was going down York Street, I heard a fiddle and
dancing going on up ?????, so I went straight up to them and there
was some 18 or 20 showing the light fantastic toe. Here I got hold
of a bonny red cheeked lass dressed in white and took two or three
turns on the floor, as merry as any of them.
slept that night with Doctor Gleadhill.