"In every place there is a story that should not be forgotten." - E.F.

Sometimes, the human being expresses his disagreement with the inequalities that appear in the most abrupt and authoritarian way, breaking with the established order and putting social stability in check. It's that in some way the discontent and the rejection of certain phenomena, constitute for some groups a reason to carry out and justify massive violent mobilizations.

The Great Rebellion

At the beginning of the 19th century, textile workers in England saw their working and living conditions worsen due to the use of machinery in agricultural and industrial tasks, which caused longer and harder working hours, reduced the demand for labor and imposed lower wages.

As a result of this, in 1811 a movement known as Luddism arose, led by artisans who protested for several years against the new machines that were destroying employment. This social movement promoted the rejection of machines and automation and dedicated itself to destroying textile machinery as a protest against the degradation of their working and living conditions. It's that industrial looms and the industrial spinning machine introduced during the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) threatened to replace artisans with less skilled workers.

This social protest movement, which emerged during the harsh economic climate of the Napoleonic wars, began in Nottingham and quickly spread throughout England in the following years. His main areas of operation were followed by the West Riding of Yorkshire in early 1812 and then by Lancashire in March 1813.

In the Ossett area, five miles north-west of the South Yorkshire border and historically in the county of Yorkshire, a major cotton and woolen mill known as Foster's Mill had been in operation since the mid-18th century until finally a Luddite uprising, the fateful April 9, 1812. This building employed many workers and was owned by Joseph Foster (1693-c.1790), a wealthy wool manufacturer who carried on the trade of his parents Richard (c.1648-1730) and Hannah Foster of Ossett and was committed to the social and religious causes of the village.

Although the construction of this textile mill significantly increased production, the installation of steam engines took place near the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) and at a time when many people in Ossett were still producing woolen cloth in their homes using weaving machines.

The competition between these first industrialists demanded technical improvements that allowed them to manufacture faster and cheaper, causing a cascade of inventions that multiplied the productive capacity, especially highlighting the use of the steam engine in those first factories, which aroused the hostility of spinners and weavers because it reduced the amount of labor needed.

"At the start of the Industrial Revolution steam engines were installed at Race's Mill in Dudfleet and Foster's Mill on Engine Lane in 1795."

R.L. Arundale en Proud Village, A History of Horbury in the County of Yorkshire.

Foster's Mill stood until 9 April 1812, when a mob of between three and six hundred Luddites from the Spen Valley, West Yorkshire, armed with guns, axes and pikes, caused extensive damage to machinery and property by destroying this and other mills, it's shear structures and tissues, along with a series of windows.

This impending attack based on the oaths of 19th century English textile workers completely destroyed the textile machinery. They rebelled against manufacturers using machines in what they called "a fraudulent and deceptive manner" to circumvent standard labor practices.

The Luddites would gather at night in the wastelands surrounding the industrial cities for maneuvers and military exercises. Before the introduction of machinery, cultivators were highly paid skilled men, but after this they were quickly reduced to penury.

"Resistance to the implementation of new textile machinery and the factory system was shown when Luddites, who blamed the new factories for depriving weavers from earning a living in a time of widespread hunger and poverty, destroyed Foster's Mill."

"That fateful April 9, 1812, hundreds of people armed with guns, axes and pikes destroyed the dazzling mills and leveled Joseph Foster's mill."

The events that occurred at Foster's Mill on April 9, 1812 prompted the Swan Arcade British folk music vocal group from Bradford to compose a song in 1976 entitled "Foster's Mill". This tune from their Matchless album refers to the 1812 Luddite rebellion at Joseph Foster's mill.

Come, all you croppers stout and bold, let your faith grow stronger still, for the cropper lads in the county of York have broken shears at Foster's Mill.

Oh, around, around we all do stand and firmly swear we will, we'll break the shears and windows too and we'll all set fire to Foster's Mill.

Come, all you croppers stout and bold, let your faith grow stronger still, for the cropper lads in the county of York have broken shears at Foster's Mill.

Oh, drear and dark it is the day when a man has to fight for his bread; some judgment sure will clear the way and the poor to triumph shall be led.

Come, all you croppers stout and bold, let your faith grow stronger still, for the cropper lads in the county of York have broken shears at Foster's Mill.

Swan Arcade - Foster's Mill (1976)

Bill Price (1944-2016), the English record producer and audio engineer who worked with The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Guns N'Roses also did a Foster's Mill song. This version appeared on his 1972 album "The Fine Old Yorkshire Gentleman".

This space has been created to remember the event of April 9, 1812 at Foster's Mill, an Ossett cotton and wool mill owned by Joseph Foster.

This website is developed by Westcom, Ltd., and updated by Ezequiel Foster © 2019-2022.