The history of the Luddites fascinates me and it’s something I hope to properly immerse myself in one day…
The story is something I keep meaning to pitch as an OU/BBC co-pro, though there are already other BBC Radio 4 vehicles that would make a good home for the story:
- In Our Time comes to mind in the first instance, and would provide an opportunity to review the overtones of revolution and the clampdown on secret societies that were prevalent at the time and which presumably coloured the state response that turned Huddersfield into a garrison town.
- The Long View might take another tack, providing a look at the nature of innovation and the human response to it in a time of price hikes: economic factors had a role to play in fomenting civil unrest, as a hike in wheat prices made the daily bread unaffordable, particularly for those skilled workers whose trade was being replaced by mechanisation.
A recent BBC documentary featuring Huddersfield’s Simon Armitage* on The Pendle Witch Child used animation to nice effect as a way of dramatising that story from just over the border, and could perhaps also work as a way of retelling particular elements of the Luddite tale on television. Armitage’s probation officer background that perhaps stood him in good stead for appreciating the social context of the Pendle witch trials, and this could again be brought to bear when considering the 1812 rebellion: the York trials that resulted saw 17 men being hanged.
* who was born in Marsden. Perfick. It couldn’t be much more of a local story to him!
In the meantine, here’s a round-up stub for BBC content on the topic of the Luddites… Please let me know of anything I’m missing…
- Were the Luddites Right?: BBC Radio 3, debate [available]
- The Luddite Lament: BBC Radio 4, seen through the lens of folk song [available]
- Looking for Luddites: BBC Radio 4, @billt on the Luddite trail [not available]