Twenty Pounds Reward - A notice from the Enoch Wood Scrapbook

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Date:28th of January 1831

Description:Goldenhill colliery owner Robert Williamson, writing from Longport, here finds himself at the centre of an industrial dispute.


Miners at his pit have formed a 'combination' in an effort to improve wages and conditions.


Williamson has responded by taking on other miners (later called 'blacklegs') in their places - but they in turn have been threatened with violence in anonymous letters.

Steam engines and mine buildings have also been targetted.


Williamson states his determination to punish any 'illegal violence ... as I may think proper.'

Informants are offered a £20 reward. With today's 'purchasing power,' this reward would be worth around £1,250.

Early trade unions

Early trade unions were often known as 'combinations' or 'associations.'

They were barely recognised by employers or by the government of the time.

Three years after the publication of this notice, the government would attempt to crush these early unions, on the basis that they had 'adminstered illegal oaths.'

Four Dorset labourers, transported to Australia for this offence, became celebrated by the labour movement as the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs.'

However, it took many years for unions to become widely recognised as valid organisations.

This item, printed by M. Brougham of Burslem, is now among the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


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