Background

Basin Stone
A Chartist meeting at Basin Stone. Painting by A W Bayes

Chartism was a political movement which flourished in Britain in the early and middle years of the nineteenth century. Its aim was to achieve democratic government and a better life for working people, particularly those enduring harsh living and working conditions in the newly industrialised cities. Massed rallies, addressed by popular speakers, were a feature of the movement.

In 1846 Ernest Jones addressed a gathering of 30,000 people on Blackstone Edge. He was so moved by the experience of thousands of working people converging on this spot from all directions, that he wrote a poem commemorating the event. He indicated that this should be sung to the then popular tune of Battle of Hohenlinden.  There’s a full account of this here.

Ernest Jones’s diaries are held in Manchester City Archives. You can see a photograph of his entry for the day he spoke on Blackstone Edge here. (Scroll down to the end of that page.)

Mike Sanders talked to the 2013 Gathering about that meeting.  You can read the text of his talk here.

An article in the Red Republican dated  29 June 1850 and headed “To the Chartists of Yorkshire and Lancashire”,  records Julian Harney’s acceptance of an invitation to come along to the Blackstone Edge demonstration on  14 July that year.

Julian Harney's response to "the Chartists of Yorkshire and Lancashire" 1850
Julian Harney’s response to “the Chartists of Yorkshire and Lancashire” 1850

remembering the Chartists