Monday, October 11, 2010

A celebration of Wiltshire's Industrial History at Bradford on Avon  

The Kennet & Avon Canal brought the industrial revolution to the rural Wiltshire towns of Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge and the local Trades Union Council has organised a day when speakers will give an insight into the impact that mechanisation had on the lives of working people — and the discontent and troubles that resulted.  

The rise of the canals was inexorably linked with the industrial revolution it fuelled — without one there could not have been the other. 

In 1802 the Somersetshire Coal Canal made a junction onto the Kennet & Avon Canal at Dundas (between Bath and Bradford). It was built primarily to carry coal from the Radstock coalfields to fuel steam power and increase mechanisation. 

The greatest impact of the canal on towns such as Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon was the building of factories for powered machinery. Beam engines powered by steam were swiftly introduced into these new and substantial factories and many were purpose-built for such powered machinery. 

A series of talks throughout the day will include the Trowbridge martyr, Thomas Hellicker, a 19-year-old apprentice mill worker who was wrongly hanged for a fire that destroyed a mill in Semington, the Swing Rebellion by agricultural workers in Wiltshire and the rise of Chartism in the county.

Talks will be given on: “Thomas Helliker and the Wiltshire machine-breakers” by Prof. Adrian Randall, Birmingham University, “Captain Swing rioters” by Nigel Costley Secretary, South West Region Trades Union Congress, “Chartism in rural Wiltshire, 1838-1842” by Steve Poole, Principal History Lecturer, University of the West of England, “Strikes and Socialism in Swindon in the 1960s and 1970s” by Derique Montaut, Labour Party Leader, Swindon Borough Council and “Phyllis and Idris Rose: Trowbridge communist councillors” by Dave Chapple, CWU and Rosie McGregor, UNISON.

Wiltshire History Day
Saturday November 6th 2010
St Margaret's Hall, Bradford on Avon, 10am to 2.30pm
Admission is free
The event is organised by Wiltshire (White Horse) TUC

For further details contact Andy Newman on: 07764 563855 or email him at:

Read more about Thomas Helliker at: Thomas Hellicker — the Trowbridge Martyr

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