Remembering the Chartists…
It has been a busy few months for our Radical volunteers. Recently Bob Sproule and Barbara Sanders attended this years Blackstone Edge Gathering. You can find out more about that and how the attendees at the Gathering heard about Pendle Radicals below…
Bob Sproule: The Blackstone Edge Gathering is a long standing event which celebrates Chartism, a political movement which flourished in Britain during the early to mid 19th Century. One of its aims was to create a better standard of living for working people, especially those that experienced both hard working and living conditions.
The event therefore pays tribute to individuals such as Ernest Jones who was a leader of the chartist movement in the 1840s. It is particularly noted that in 1846 Jones addressed a gathering on Blackstone Edge which over 30,000 people attended. Moved by this experience, 30,000 people gathering at one spot, from all different directions, Jones wrote a poem commemorating the event, which you can read here!
The following is organiser Gwyneth Morgan’s account of this year’s event, which she has kindly allowed us to share:
This year about 30 of us braved the cold and trudged up to the gathering place under cloudy skies. But there was a clear view of Pendle, a hazy view of surrounding towns, Manchester and the hills of North Wales. And it didn’t rain.
Nine of us walked up from Todmorden, past the Basin Stone where Chartists used to gather, along Gadding’s dam, past one of Simon Armitage’s stanza stones, on to the White House to meet up with others, and then finally up to the gathering place below the rocky outcrop at the end of the Blackstone Edge ridge. Four others walked up from Littleborough, and the rest assembled in the carpark below the White House pub and walked up from there.
Two, alas, headed off in the wrong direction and only reached the gathering place after everyone else had left. Hopefully they’ll be able to try again next year.
We sang and we picnicked, but this year didn’t linger long as it was so cold. Behind us three climbers were scaling the outcrop and before us a couple of paragliders were circling.
Andrew Bibby read some of Ernest Jones’s words, taken from reports of his speeches in the contemporary press.
Bob Sproule spoke about Pendle Radicals, a project organised by Mid Pennine Arts and how he aims to create several walking routes as an outcome of this. (Look out for a future blog for more information about this…)
Thanks to everyone who turned out in the cold to join the gathering, but special thanks to the speakers and to Barbara Sanders and Moira Hill for leading the singing.
Pictures by David Hedley, Barbara Sanders and Bob Sproule.
Once again we see proof of how inspiring Pendle is for people past and present. If we reflect upon our Radicals cast list for example, it was Pendle Hill that inspired George Fox in the founding of the Quaker movement and it was a trip to Pendle that inspired ‘radical rambler’ Tom Stephenson, leading to the creation of the Pennine Way.