Town Hall, Manchester — Reading the Riot Act. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]

The Home Office dispatched the Horse Guards, the Royal Artillery, and other regiments from the south by train to Manchester at the request of local Magistrates. Sir Robert Peel and his Cabinet discussed the situation in the north for two hours before deciding upon military action, the Lancashire Yeomanry having already been called out.

Saturday, 13 August 1842 in the north and west Midlands was marked by considerable labour unrest. The ILN the following Saturday reported insurrections at St. George's Fields, Liverpool; bread riots at Manchester; a mob of 5,000 expected to arrive at Bolton; at Salford's print-works rioting; at South Staffordshire and Warwickwickshire a colliers' strike (protesting 14-hour working days); and a battle between a brick-throwing mob and a detachment of the 72nd at Preston, rendering Captain Woodford unconscious.

Scenes: "Town Hall, Manchester. — Reading The Riot Act." (12 cm high by 15 cm wide); "Messrrs. Wilson's Mill, Salford" (7 cm by 15.3 cm); "Back Entrance to Messrs. Wilson's Mill" (5.7 cm by 14.7 cm).

Wednesday Morning. —This town remains nearly in the same state as yesterday. None of the cotton-mills are at work; but an expectation exists that a portion of the workmen will, in a short time, resume their employment. It is plain, from what has occurred at the meetings of the working-classes, that a large body of them disapprove of the resolutionwhich the Chartists have, in some instances, succeeded in carrying, — that labour shall not be resumed until the Charter becomes the law of the land. [233]

Related Material


"Disturbances in the Manufacturing Districts." The Illustrated London News. 1 (20 August 1842): 233.

Last modified 10 July 2013