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First memorial to Luddites unveiled in Liversedge
The world’s only memorial to the Luddites, who rose up against mill owners 200 years ago, has been unveiled at a park following a £30,000 refurbishment.
Sparrow Park, in Liversedge, created by Spen Valley Civic Society from derelict land, is just yards away from the Shears Inn in Halifax Road where the Luddites swore secret oaths and made plots.
The memorial shows a wool cropper in a defiant pose, with a child tugging at his apron. An information board tells the story of the poverty-stricken local workers, whose livelihoods were put at risk by increasing mechanisation in mills.
On April 12, 1812, a band of 150 Luddites attacked Cartwright Mills at nearby Rawfolds with hammers. Two of the men were shot.
Civic society president John Holroyd unveiled the eight-foot stainless steel statue on Saturday.
He said: “It has been six years in the planning, design and construction and this is the culmination of a lot of hard work.
“The Luddites are certainly part of the history of the area and we must not let that history be forgotten or the struggle of the working people in those days who had no representation or rights.”
Kirklees Council's Area Committee paid for the artwork, produced by artists Peter Rogers and Alex Hallowes, a couple who run Xceptional Designs.
Miss Hallowes said the child’s face had been modelled on their four-year-old granddaughter, Freya.
The statue could only be constructed after Mr Rogers spent three months building a seven ton press at his workshop in Lincolnshire.
Miss Hallowes said: “We thought a lot about what the civic society had said to us about understanding of the changes that were occurring in society at the time, rather than the Luddites being just an anti-progress movement.”
Alan Brooke, 59, who was at the unveiling dressed as General Ned Ludd, said: “They were an inspiring example of fighting against massive odds.”