UNEMPLOYED RIOTS - SHEFFIELD 1922
Whilst I was researching a bit about Thomas Jessop, the main benefactor in the building of Jessops Hospital for Women in Sheffield, I came across a report in the New York Times referring to a riot that had occurred outside the company's works the previous day - May 15th 1922
It is a well known phrase that working class history is a hidden history and it looks as though this is a case in point. None of the local history books I checked mentioned anything to do with the riots and so I was even more surprised when I cam across an article in the The London Times dated 18th August 1922 about yet another riot in Sheffield three months later. The two incidents seem to share a certain familiarity!
UNEMPLOYED RIOTING AT SHEFFIELD
POLICE BATON CHARGES
At Sheffield yesterday a crowd of about 3,000 people came into conflict with the police at the works of Messrs. Jessop and Co. The unemployed, headed by the extreme section, have, during the past few weeks, been visiting various works in the city to prevent men working. The crowd yesterday assembled at Attercliffe and marched to Jessop's works in Brightside-lane.
Two constables were guarding the gates. The crowd tried to rush the gates, but were unsuccessful. One of the constables was struck across the mouth with a stick and disabled. He was assisted into the offices, and his colleagues drew his baton and charged the mob. He disabled several of the attackers, and by this time a couple of mounted policemen had arrived. They were met with a volley of stones, sticks, and other missiles, and had to retreat.
The crowd then turned to the offices and smashed practically every window in the building. Reinforcements had been telephoned for and a motor coach containing 40 policemen, accompanied by a squad of mounted men, arrived. The mounted men drew their truncheons and charged the crowd, which scattered in every direction. One arrest was made and things became quieter. The foot police formed a cordon across the road and prevented approach in the direction of the city.
When it was thought that the trouble had been subdued the foot policeman and their prisoner returned to Sheffield, escorted by the mounted men. As they passed Hawke-street a demonstration was made by a crowd which had gathered there, but they dispersed on being charged by the mounted police.
I have posted these two reports to the site in the hope that someone can add to this "forgotten part" of Sheffield's history. If you can, please contact me
There is also a co-incidence. Exactly one year earlier, on August 18th 1921, The Times carried the following report
COMMUNIST RIOTS AT SHEFFIELD
MORE ARRESTS YESTERDAY
(FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT) SHEFFIELD, AUG 17.
Communist riots took place in Sheffield today on the occasion of the bringing before the magistrates of the 11 men arrested during a disturbance which occurred outside the offices of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph last Friday.
The trouble started today at 11 o'clock, when the rioters marched up from the headquarters to the neighbourhood of the police court and several thousands blocked the street. A stone thrown at a constable broke a shop window. There followed a charge by mounted police, and in a very short time the street was cleared. The main body of rioters was broken up and there were several spasmodic outbursts in various parts of the city. At a demonstration in Fitzalan-square one of the leaders appealed to the police to throw down their truncheons and have done with the job. This man was arrested. Another riot took place on a piece of spare ground in Bowstreet. In Bridge-street, close to the Communist headquarters, there was a baton charge after the police had been stoned by the rioters and here more arrests were made. Further outbreaks took place later in the afternoon and there were more arrests. In the neighbourhood of the police court shops were barricaded and windows boarded up. The rioters had armed themselves with stick, stones, iron piping, and other missiles, and these were freely hurled.
At the police court only two cases were concluded today. Alphonso Wilson (see below) was charged with inciting persons to commit a riot and attempting to cause disaffection among members of the police force in a speech to a crowd of 5,000. He was committed for trial. John Henry Bridges charged with obstructing a police officer while in execution of duty, was fined 40s and bound over to keep the peace. The other cases will be tried tomorrow.
There appears to be no connection whatsoever between the two incidents. The 1922 report referred to the "unemployed" rioting whilst the 1921 report has the "communists" rioting but in both cases, several thousands felt strongly enough about their grievances and the injustices that were inflicted on them to take to the streets.
Source Information: Dwelling 227 Ridgeway Street Census Place
Manchester, Lancashire, England
Family History Library Film 1341951 Public Records Office Reference RG11 Piece / Folio 3984 / 119 Page Number 77
Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
George A. WILSON Head M Male 29 Manchester, Lancashire, England Engine Model Keeper (Maker)
Sarah WILSON Wife M Female 29 Grantham, Durham, England
Alphonso WILSON Son Male 5 Salford, Lancashire, England Scholar
Ernest WILSON Son Male 3 Salford Scholar
William H. WILSON Son Male 1 Manchester
The Times, Aug 18,1922; pg. 7; Issue 43032; col B
New York Times May 16 1922
The Times, Aug 18,1921; pg. 5; Issue 42802; col B
"When a well packaged web of lies has been sold
gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly
preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic."
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