[Coal Mining Broadside]. Intended Meeting on the Town Moor, on Monday, the 21st Inst. Of Upwards of Ten Thousand Pitmen. Newcastle: Fordyce and Rewcastle, 1831. First Edition. 4to. Unbound. Broadside. Good+. Single sided broadside, approximately 185mm x 250mm in size.
Date in ink above the printed date (giving the month and year), remnant of paper to reverse of gutter edge where removed from an album, probably slightly cropped, lightly browned but quite clean.
Under the leadership of Thomas Hepburn (1796-1864), a Primitive Methodist, the miners of Hetton had, in 1825, formed a union, ‘The Colliers of a United Association of Durham and Northumberland’, but this “soon failed, and it was not until 1830 that Hepburn began to build the first effective organisation. The immediate issue was the conditions of the yearly ‘bond’ under which the miners contracted for employment, each individual miner agreeing to work at a specified colliery for the subsequent twelve months. In February and March 1831, just before the yearly bond was due for renewal, the miners under Hepburn’s leadership stated their grievances at meetings in the coalfield; then on the Town Moor, Newcastle, on 21 March, 1831, some twenty-thousand miners from forty-seven collieries met to demonstrate their claims. Their demands led to a lockout on 5 April, and the dispute lasted for over two months before a twelve-hour day for boys was gained. In the aftermath of victory, Hepburn was elected paid organiser of the Pitmen’s Union of the Tyne and Wear in August 1831” (Bellamy and Saville, DLB III:99)
The victory was short-lived, almost immediately the employers attempted to withdraw from the agreements, with large numbers of blacklegs imported into the coalfields and union members refused employment and evicted from company houses, and by the autumn of 1832 ‘Hepburn’s Union’ was dissolved and Hepburn himself was unable to find work at any colliery in Durham and Northumberland.
The printers [William] Fordyce and [James] Rewcastle went into partnership together in 1831, but by 1834 Rewcastle had gone into partnership with Sheppard. Fordyce later wrote History of Coal … and the Working of Collieries in 1860. (See Hunt, The Book Trade in Northumberland and Durham to 1860, pages 36, 77 and 83 and Wallis’s Supplement, pages 15 and 38-9).
Not in COPAC