Sunday, 26 March 2017



Many thanks to John Harvey for this and the next 3 photographs.

Many thanks to John Harvey. 

Many thanks to John Harvey. 

Many thanks to John Harvey. 
Taken by Mark Metcalf 

Friday, 24 March 2017

28 April talk and walk in Halifax on events in 1842..

The 1842 Strike - blood on the streets of Halifax

Join author Catherine Howe on a guided walk of the sites where, at least, six workers were shot or sabred to death and hundreds injured by the military when they struck for democratic reforms in August 1842. 

Friday 28 April 2017 
5.30pm start 
Halifax Central Library 

Chartism was the first ever working-class movement. It demanded: universal (male) suffrage, equal electoral districts, secret ballots, annual Parliaments, payment for MPs and no property qualifications for MPs. With just 8 per cent of adult males possessing the vote these were radical demands. 

To help obtain these demands the People's Charter petition was signed by over 1.3 million, including 13,000 from Halifax. On 14 June 1839 it was rejected in Parliament by 235 votes to 46.

In autumn 1839, South Wales miners and ironworkers revolted and twenty died when they were shot down by armed soldiers in Newport. Disturbances in Sheffield, Dewsbury and Bradford followed. Meanwhile, whilst industrialised workers, including many children, continued to be killed in factories, mills and mines, Parliament also remained indifferent to their fate. 

In May 1842, a three million strong petition was handed into Parliament and again swiftly rejected. 

In early August 1842 miners walked-out in the Black Country, which led to lay-offs in the neighbouring Potteries. Within days, workers in Lancashire were being laid-off. Spotting an opportunity to direct the situation the Chartist leaders incited more walk-outs. There were fatal consequences when workers and the military clashed at Preston and Blackburn 

On 15 August 1842, thousands assembled at Skircoat Green just outside Halifax to greet strikers from Lancashire. The authorities had decided to meet force with force and had sworn in 200 special constables to serve alongside 150 soldiers. Yet with thousands also arriving from Bradford to support the strikers then this force was insufficient to prevent the mills from being stopped by protestors, who entered and removed a few bolts or 'plugs' in the boilers so as to prevent steam from being raised. 

With Halifax at a standstill a large meeting was held on Skircoat Moor the following morning. The men and women of Halifax were aware that those arrested the previous day were being escorted by the military to nearby Elland railway station. 

Missiles were thrown at troops and, at least, three were badly injured in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to release those arrested. 

Afterwards some of the crowd moved back into Halifax town centre where the riot act was read and troops, still smarting from the humiliation that morning, fired into the crowd before attacking it with their sabres. Henry Walton, from Skircoat Green, received a fatal sabre head cut. By the time the sustained attack had ended hundreds had been injured and, at least, six were dead. Many protestors were also arrested and a number served terms of imprisonment that ultimately killed them.

Catherine Howe is the author of HALIFAX 1842: A Year of Crisis, which superbly details these fateful events.

On Friday 28 April at 5.30pm Catherine will lead a 90-minute guided walk round some of the locations where - in the battle for greater democracy - many lost their lives and  afterwards there will be a toast to their heroic efforts. 

Organised by Calderdale TUC.

@calderdaletuc  For more details contact Peter on 07882 196491 or Mark Metcalf on 07392 852561 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

King Teds 'the best ever in Sheffield'

When International football first kicked off across Europe at the start of the twentieth century the idea of Germany - or any other continental side — beating England was regarded as unthinkable. One man who predicted that there may well come a time like this week when England would face Germany as outsiders was the Sheffield Wednesday legend Fred Spiksley, whose remarkable career on the pitch was matched by his time as a coach and manager off it.

Spiksley was the first man to coach on three continents. He began by coaching the Swedish national team in 1911 and then moved on to Germany where he was thrown into prison with his son at the start of World War I. They later managed to escape. 

In the 1920s, Spiksley enjoyed success with teams in Peru, Mexico and America, where he helped set up and support fledgling football associations and encouraged a passing game with the ball being kept on the floor.

On his return to England in 1924 he became a coach at Fulham, where after he left he complained that his attempt to “improve the scientific side of the game… became impossible as I was up against the old order to ‘sling the ball about.’ “

Spiksley took over in charge at Nuremberg in the 1926/27 season and he went on to become only the second — and last - Englishman to mange a German side to the Championship there. The match Interviewed shortly after his success he commented on the much better training facilities in Germany than in England and said “European countries are still far behind England generally at present, but what will be the case in 20 years’ time…….It hurts to be teaching players of other countries to beat us at our own sport, and I am thinking of returning home, though my club has become one of the best in the country.”

Spiksley, a man who as a player won every available honour then going and who became the first player to score a hat trick for England against Scotland in 1893, did return home. 

He found it impossible to find another coaching job with a professional club. That failed to prevent him trying to get his ideas across to young people and in 1929 he recorded what is believed to be the oldest speaking training film in the world and in which Pathe News use a slow-motion camera to show the ‘finer intricacies’ of ball control. Part of the video is available online.

Spiksley then went on to coach young boys at King Edward VII School between September 1933 and November 1936. On his first day there he removed his bowler hat and when he used it as a ball to demonstrate his skills the boys were thrilled. The King Edward school football teams over the next few years went on to become arguably the best Sheffield has ever had. Fred’s remarkable achievements were recognised when the Ardath Tobacco Company included King Edward VII school football team in their football cigarette photograph collection in 1935/36 alongside top football teams of the day such as Sunderland, Arsenal, Everton and the 1935 FA Cup winners Sheffield Wednesday. Fred maintained his links with the school until after WWII. 

Spiksley’s life on and off the pitch has been recorded in FLYING OVER AN OLIVE GROVE: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF FRED SPIKSLEY,  a flawed football hero, which is available in the Wednesday megastore, Waterstones and on Amazon. The book has been highly praised by such as Henry Winter, Gordon Taylor, Marti Perarnau, Colin Murray, Chris Dawkes, Paul Hawksbee and many more. The authors, who are available to do free talks and presentations about Fred Spiksley and Victorian football history, are seeking to make the book into a film. 

* There is actually TV coverage of the 1927 Final at:-

Friday, 10 March 2017

Joseph Hardman - Lakeland Photographer 1893-1972

Excellent book at:-

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Support for fairer land value tax growing

Support for fairer land value tax growing 
Could replace council tax and business rates 
Support is growing for a tax on the rental value of land. Supporters believe it would be a fairer way of collecting tax than levying it on income or enterprise, and believe it could help prevent land speculation, boost house building and reform land ownership. 
A land value tax (LVT) was first proposed in the late 19th century by the American political economist Henry George. A number of countries around the world, including Denmark, plus local authorities in parts of North America have adopted forms. 
LVT is based on the belief that the economic value derived from land should belong equally to all members of society because nature provides it free and ownership owes nothing to individual effort. Someone who owns land near to where new shops, transport links and housing are to be built, for example, will be worth more, despite no effort on their part. 
Full rental value 
LVT supporters believe that those wanting the exclusive use of land should pay the full rental value to the wider community through a tax paid to the government. They argue that LVT would lead to a more efficient land market as it would oblige landowners to develop vacant and under-used land or to make way for others who will. It would also prevent tax avoidance or evasion as land, two-thirds
of which in the UK is owned by just 0.28 per cent of the population, cannot be hidden. 
George’s ideas were advocated by Winston Churchill and a smaller version of LVT formed part of Lloyd George’s 1909 People’s Budget. The Labour government included LVT in the 1931 Finance Act but the subsequent national government, dominated by the Tories, scrapped land valuation and thus made the collection of the tax impossible. 
In 2013, Green MP Caroline Lucas was unsuccessful with her private member’s bill that sought parliamentary backing for research on “the merits of replacing Council Tax and non-domestic rates in England with an annual levy on the unimproved value of all land”. 
The Green Party, Lib Dems and Co-operative Party included LVT in their manifestos at the 2015 general election. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has expressed support for LVT. 
Pilot scheme 
Last month a report by the London Planning Assembly Committee made three recommendations. They were: to assess powers needed to implement and operate a LVT that would replace council tax, business rates and stamp duty; commission an economic feasibility study in a defined area of London; and then implement LVT in a limited area. 
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has responded positively, saying: “The idea of a land value tax pilot is a good one.” Khan is set to discuss the idea with the Treasury as he does not have the powers to implement the recommendations in full. 
The shadow secretary of state for housing, John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, has now said he is “interested to see how a wide range of ideas like LVT might, at a time when developers and speculators under-use land, shake up the system and help build the genuinely affordable homes we need”. 

Lucas meanwhile remains committed to LVT and believes that in addition to it being “a replacement for regressive forms of taxations it has the potential to reform the scandalous shape of land ownership such that land is distributed more fairly”. 

BBC News rewrites Zeebrugge disaster story of March 1987

The BBC news this week rewrote history in its coverage of the events of 7 March 1987 when the ferry 'Herald of Free Enterprise' overturned in the Belgium port of Zeebrugge and 191 passengers and crew members lost their lives. According to the state broadcaster the deaths were the result of a crew member failing to close the bow doors as it departed from the port. This led to water flooding in to the ferry and overturning it.

So no mention of the fact that the ferry owners, P&O, had ruthlessly reduced the turn around times between docking the ferry and its return to Dover with crew members forced by management to work to an almost impossible time schedule. All, of course, designed to cuts costs and boost profits. The ferry — and others operated by P&O - often departed with its bow doors closing rather than departing after the doors had been fully closed. The result was a tragedy in which it should not be forgotten that many crew members — including plenty who died as a result — were heroes as they ignored their own safety to rescue as many passengers and fellow crew members as possible. The BBC coverage must have left those crew members who are still alive today extremely hurt. It left me feeling very angry. 

P&O, of course, expressed regret for the tragedy but nevertheless pushed on with trying to maximise their profits by cutting jobs, lengthening the remaining workers hours and cutting their pay. On 6 February 1988, 2,300 seafarers, all members of the National Union of Seamen (NUS) began strike action against a company that had just announced record profits of £51.7 million. For almost two months P&O ferries lay idle. But when the National Union of Seamen leadership were threatened with an injunction of the union’s funds if they balloted all its 21,000 members for strike action they climbed down. 

Then at Easter 1988 the company announced that it had de-recognised the NUS and was pulling out of the Industry's National Maritime Board agreements. Sealink NUS members in Dover, recognising that this was an attack on the union in general and the rights of seafarers to defend themselves, decided not to cross the P&O picket lines.

It was thus Sealink management who took the NUS to court for secondary picketing as NUS Sealink members across the country escalated their actions and all Sealink ships came to a standstill. The key now was to stay out and get others out. Flying pickets were needed to take the message to all ports throughout the country.

The courts ordered the sequestration of the NUS assets. At first, with his members supporting him, NUS leader Sam McCluskie threatened defiance and the potential for mass defiance of the anti-trade union laws opened up.

But after just 9 days, and only 3 days after a 2,000 strong supporters' march in Dover, the union purged its contempt and ordered Sealink workers back to work. Sealink workers reluctantly agreed, leaving P&O workers on strike on their own. The workers were not prepared or able to disobey their union leadership.
Ultimately this was the key point in the strike, a threat to all ferry operators in Britain became replaced by a dispute between an increasingly isolated workforce and a confident anti-union international employer supported by the Government, Police, Media and Courts.

Strikers continued picketing, money continued to be raised for families and to maintain the support kitchens operating in the Dover area, speakers continued to raise the issues at meetings and demonstrations. Yet the strategy to win the dispute remained absent, indeed many strikers seemed reluctant to even ask 'how to win?' as the dispute dragged on until it was formally abandoned by the NUS after 16 months. A few years later in 1991, the P&O executive chairman, Sir Jeffrey Stirling, was made a Baron in Margaret Thatcher’s resignation honours list. He still sits today in the House of Lords. 

Mark Metcalf

Derby Silk Workers strike plaque

In March 2015, Unite unveiled the world’s first dual-purpose trade union banner, whereby historical images of a Derby strike pre-dating the Tolpuddle Martyrs have been combined with a twenty-first century communication Quick Response (QR) code. When scanned by a mobile phone this leads people to a website which encourages them to get involved by informing them of the nature of the protest.
The banner states We Honour the Derby Silk Workers 1833-34 and is carried on the annual commemorative march organised each weekend before May Day by the Derby Trades Union Council.
Honouring the sacrifices made by early trade unionists, the banner pays tribute to a moment in history when up to 2,000 Derby silk workers left work in November 1833 to June 1834. Following the repeal of the Combination Acts in 1824, the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union, in which Robert Owen was prominent, was established with an important branch in Derby that included weavers, iron workers, builders and silk thrusters.

When silk manufacturer, Mr Frost, discharged one of his employees, his fellow workmates walked out in support. Within a week 800 people, in a town of 24,000, were affected. When many local employers then declared they would not employ trade unionists, another 500 walked out and by February the numbers had leaped to 2,000. Attempts to persuade strike-breakers imported from London led to many strikers being imprisoned.

The strike continued for many months but eventually collapsed as starvation set in. Many strikers were subsequently victimised and never worked in their trade again. Nevertheless, in late 1834, the Dorchester Agricultural Labourers at Tolpuddle took up the struggle for trade unions, which only exist today because of the sacrifices made by the likes of the Derby silk workers, Tolpuddle Martyrs and London Dockers of 1889.

In 1934 a plaque was erected by Derby Trades Union Council that commemorates the struggle of Derby Silk Workers a hundred years earlier. It is mounted outside the Silk Mill Museum. 

Many thanks to Bill Whitehead for sending these photographs. Bill’s book, costing £2.20, on the strike remains available for sale at:-